As far as episodes go, about 75% of my way through “this episode” is when I started to truly enjoy Moon Knight. The previous two episodes have shown only a mild display of the majesty of being an avatar of the gods, but in the climax of this episode, we see Steven and Khonshu wielding the stars and spinning the world back 2,000 years, turning the sky into ribbons of light. If there was ever a moment when I was excited to watch the next episode of a show, it is here.
But let’s go back to the beginning of this episode, directed by Mohamed Diab and written by Beau DeMayo, Peter Cameron, and Samir Pirzada. It picks up with Layla making a fake passport with an associate of hers, a forger played by Barbara Rosenblat (of Orange is the New Black fame). She must follow Marc to Egypt, a place where she doesn’t seem too welcome since she seems to have a penchant for stealing artifacts and bringing them back (if that were the case, wouldn’t she be ousted by London?)
In Egypt, Harrow has hit Ammit’s tomb and is informed that Marc is now in Cairo. Specifically, he is chasing down some of Ammit’s followers. The fight sequence is decent, delivering some humor as well as action in classic Marvel style. But, the tables turn when he catches his reflection in a knife and Steven quickly takes over the body to prevent any more bodily harm. The next time Marc wakes up, he’s in a taxi headed to the airport. He manages to chase the same followers again, but this time when he blacks out and wakes up, he has his hands on a knife that is buried into the follower’s stomach.
Khonshu pushes Marc into threatening one of the young followers, the last remaining lead, by holding him over a cliffside, assuring him the kid would talk. Well… he is more loyal to Ammit than he is to survival and the kid falls to his death. So, the question is, who killed the other followers? I mean, we all know it’s Jake Lockley right? I say that not knowing if Jake shows up but it feels so obvious, seeing as we saw how reluctant Marc was to actually kill the followers and we know Steven would never do it. And looking back at the other episodes, it seems clear that there are some choices being made that neither Steven nor Marc would do. There’s a third driver behind the wheel.
This episode also does a lot to show off Khonshu’s powers beyond just what a film crew might create to make it seem like a dark and stormy night. He not only rearranges the sky, but he can block out the sun. Man, the people of this earth have sure been through a lot haven’t they? Not that a sudden eclipse or a psychedelic sky is anything close to say Tiamat emerging from the Indian Ocean, but seriously, is there a multiverse portal we can jump into to a calmer universe?
Summoning a sudden eclipse brings together the other Egyptian gods, and brings together a meeting of the Ennead. It’s meant to bring Harrow to justice, but Arthur Harrow’s natural charisma leads the gods to mistrust Khonshu. And Khonshu isn’t exactly presenting the most solid case as Harrow turns the group of gods against him by noting that Marc is a man who needs help and is unstable. Unwilling to meddle in the affairs of humans without solid proof, the gods reject Khonshu’s claims.
One of the avatars, Yatzil (Díana Bermudez) quietly points Marc toward the sarcophagus of the Medjay Senfu, who is the last person who might know about Ammit’s tomb. But that’s easier said than done since Senfu’s sarcophagus was picked up on the black market and Marc, as a non-Egyptian, doesn’t stand a good chance of getting around. Good thing Layla is here!
The two sail down a river taxi to meet with Anton Mogart (Gaspard Ulliel), a collector who has Senfu. The trip in the taxi brings up past memories, particularly the memory of Marc and Layla’s wedding. If it wasn’t obvious already, Marc is clearly very much still in love with Layla but will do anything to push her away in order to protect her. He openly tells her that he’s never been able to talk about anything real or let other people help him.
They arrive at Mogart’s estate and although Mogart is cautious, Marc is allowed time alone with the sarcophagus and Steven realizes that there’s a code that needs to be solved. Too bad there isn’t enough time to solve it as Harrow arrives. He shows off a bit of his power to Mogart, which leaves him enthralled. He is also clearly actually able to see the true natures of people because he reveals information about Layla that she’s never shared. That her father was murdered and staying away will prevent the wounds from his murder from reopening, but she’s also held back by the fact that her husband won’t tell her the truth. Something that Layla notes later that she’s never told anyone.
Even though Marc shrugs it off, it’s obvious that Harrow knows exactly what buttons to push when it comes to the two of them, and likely the other people he comes across. But when Harrow shows off his power, Marc uses it as an opportunity to summon Khonshu’s suit and a fight scene ensues between all of them. It’s fine, as far as fights go. We get to see his cape in full form but the actual fight is not much to write home about. There is something to note that Steven and Marc seem to be in contact much more than before. Steven takes over the body quite easily, even when Marc doesn’t want him to.
Defeating Mogart and his men, Layla and Marc make a run for it with what is left in the sarcophagus. They find a spot in the desert to stop and Steven decodes the clues from Senfu. It’s interesting to see how quickly Layla softens to Steven compared to how guarded she is with Marc. Steven figures it out that it’s a navigational tool using the stars but the problem is that it is the stars based on a sky from 2,000 years ago and stars slightly shift over time.
Realizing that it’s time to step up but also that this will mean he will be entombed by the Ennead, Khonshu spins the night sky back in time to the night Senfu recorded the stars. It’s a magnificently beautiful shot as we see Steven and Khonshu flip through the night skies of nights past like pages through a book. The people of Cairo (and probably the world) look on in shock as the sky lights up with dancing lights and flickering constellations. Finally landing on the right night, Layla is able to capture the night sky and find the location of the tomb just as Khonshu is being locked away. He begs Steven to tell Marc to free him before he is gone, leaving Marc/Steven unconsious.
Now imprisoned, Harrow visits Khonshu’s statuette where he is trapped and confesses how much he enjoyed dealing out the pain as Khonshu’s avatar. He informs the trapped moon god, “I’m going to do what you could not. And when it’s finished, I want you to remember one thing. Your torment forged me. I owe my victory to you.”
- This episode is dedicated to Gaspard Ulliel, the actor who played Mogart, who tragically died earlier this year, January 19, 2022, at the age of 37 in a skiing accident. A beloved French actor, Ulliel was known for portraying the young Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal Rising, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in Saint Laurent, and Louis in Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World. His role in Moon Knight is his final television role and he has two more films to be released this year.
- Can this show get more like The Mummy? The vibes are much more present in the next episode, but Layla being the daughter of an archaeologist is not far off from Evie Carnahan being the daughter of a famous explorer. Plus, she’s doing the right thing by stealing back stolen artifacts!
- Layla, according to this forged document, was born October 28, 1994: A Scorpio!
- If you ever wondered what was inside the Great Pyramid of Giza, now you know.
- Although Khonshu comes off as quite a jerk, if he used to be good friends with Hathor, the goddess of love and beauty, music and dancing, maybe he used to be a cool guy? Then again, maybe those are just the things that are more likely to occur under the moonlight?
- Khonshu was a theater kid. When everyone else’s avatar has a normal voice, does he need to project his voice/scream so that everyone can hear? This guy likes attention. Plus, those flashy weapons and messing with the sky? Drama queen.
- If the Medjay sounds familiar then you’ll recognize another tie to The Mummy. In that movie, they are seen as Pharaoh Seti I’s personal bodyguards and tasked with preventing Imhotep’s return, Oded Fehr portrays Ardeth Bay, the chief of the Medjay. In actual history, Medjay refers to a nomadic group from Nubia but also to a group of guards/police force in the desert.
- Anton Mogart is also known as Midnight Man in the comics. While Mogart has a short-lived role in this episode, he was once an antagonist to Moon Knight. Although he starts off as a thief and collector, he was foiled by Moon Knight once. He fell into the river and his face ended up deformed when it was melted in a sewer. Driven mad, he begins collecting trash instead of treasures in the sewer. While not the most intriguing character, it is a nod to the character created by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz.
- After much searching and anagramming, maybe Marc’s cover name of Rufino Estrada is just a cover name? Still, it seems odd to throw that in without a reference to something else. Reader, am I missing something?
- I know it’s too much to ask for Marc and Layla to actually go on a honeymoon in the Maldives by the end of this season, but a girl can hope.
- El-Mermah (what Mogart was practicing on horseback) is one of the oldest fencing competitions in the history of Egypt, still celebrated in Upper Egypt during special occasions. Young Egyptian men gather on horseback to showcase their skill and also show off their horse skills.
- So, what was Layla doing in Madripoor with Mogart? Given Ulliel’s passing, I doubt we will see the character again in a flashback, but how badly did Layla double-cross him?
Moon Knight streams on Wednesdays exclusively on Disney+.