Moon Knight Episode 3 Reaction, Theories, Thoughts, and Observations

The third episode of Marvel’s Moon Knight continues the dazzling adventures of Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Moon Knight, albeit with a little more clarity. The pieces are starting to come together, even if the show’s overarching mystery has yet to fully reveal itself. Let’s break this sucker down.

It’s worth noting Moon Knight has loads in common with Marvel’s Eternals, which also dealt with gods attempting to live amongst the mortal beings of Earth without directly impacting the status quo. The tone of Eternals and Moon Knight is a serious blend of mysticism and humor sprinkled atop the action, rather than serving as the focal point of every scene. Notably, each features legit superstars in important roles, which may account for the increased focus on story and character.

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I’m not sure where I was going with that observation, other than to say … I like the direction Marvel is headed. Sure, Eternals was mostly a bloated chore, but it was also wildly different from anything the Marvel Cinematic Universe had produced which made it kind of exciting. In the same vein, Moon Knight isn’t the most spectacular entry in the long-running comic book franchise, but it’s setting up elements that are rather interesting. I don’t think I’ve been quite as invested in the MCU since the early days when Tony Stark and Agent Coulson playfully hinted at S.H.I.E.L.D. and the larger comic universe.

The latest episode opens with Layla (May Calamawy) preparing for her trip to Egypt, or her former home and a place where she might “have burned too many bridges,” according to a woman name Lagaro. We learn a bit more about Layla’s past – notably that her father died under mysterious circumstances. Hint: it’s probably Marc’s fault, to some degree, which fuels my belief that Marc (or some form of Marc) is the actual danger of the story and will need to be put down by Steven via some sort of self-sacrifice, leaving the powers of Moon Knight to fall to Layla.

Some sites have suggested Layla is meant to be Marlene Alraune, a character from the Moon Knight comics who likewise lost a father and fell in love with Marc. I’m steering clear of possible spoilers so I can keep my perspective fresh. Suffice to say, there’s a wealth of material out there for you to explore should you desire to know more about the characters in the show.

Anyways, Arthur and his beautiful hair are wandering through the deserts of Egypt using the magical GPS scarab thing and finally discover Ammit’s tomb. He’s genuinely pleased with himself and brushes off any negative remark with, “Who gives a f***, Ammit’s here!”

Next, we cut to Marc hauling ass across the tops of some buildings, before he stumbles onto three men who have just murdered another man. “Oh shit,” Marc says nonchalantly, “you killed him? I needed to talk to that guy.” Oscar Isaac is great.

An insane action sequence follows where Marc and Steven wrestle over control of their body. Though, if I watched the scene correctly, it seems there’s a third entity that occasionally takes hold and causes brutal bloodshed. We know it’s not Marc because the show makes a point of showing him open his fist to slap one of the bad guys around. It’s likely not Steven, either, unless he’s a bloodthirsty sociopath pretending to be a meek and submissive goofball.

At any rate, we get some more of those Memento-style smash cuts that cleverly bypass the violence and jump straight to the gruesome aftermath. The first time, Marc wakes up in a car on his way to the airport; and the second sees him come to right smack dab in the middle of full-on murder. Neither Steven nor Marc know what’s going on, and it’s a little weird that Khonshu doesn’t offer much explanation either. Unless it is Khonshu.

As an aside, I haven’t said enough about Khonshu’s design. At this point, I’m not sure how much we’re supposed to trust the guy, but with his giant beak and floating head, he looks quite intimidating. Again, I haven’t read the comics on which the series is based, but I love the design of the character.

Moon Knight Posters Shows Off the Mysterious Scarab

Following the manic action, Khonshu decides to direct message the gods by creating an eclipse that must throw the entire world out of balance. No matter, the gods listen and assemble to hear Khonshu’s cries against Arthur and his damned hair within the Great Pyramids of Giza. Unfortunately, the Moon God’s “Arthur is a jerk” proclamation doesn’t hold much water against Arthur’s “Yeah, well, he’s a bigger jerk” cries, and the pair are dismissed by the hoard of “Avatars” who seem very quick to dismiss what amounts to a pretty big deal — end of the world stuff, y’all. Rude.

Side note: once again, we have an ancient organization that has lived on Earth for a long time, but none of them thought they should step in to help out with Thanos? Egyptian gods, the Ten Rings organization, the Eternals = a bunch of lazy jerks who could have saved a lotta people. Just sayin’. And no, I don’t buy this whole, “we’re not allowed to interfere” malarkey.

Luckily, Yatzil, Avatar of Hathor, sends Marc to find a medjay named Senfu, who “was tasked with recording the location of the tomb.” Marc must find Senfu’s sarcophagus (which was stolen and sold on the black market) in order to find Ammit’s tomb … and this is starting to feel like a Marvel-sized version of National Treasure.

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Marc bumps into Layla in a local market and (wouldn’t you know it) she knows exactly how to find what he needs. The pair journey to find a man named Mogart, who currently possesses the desired sarcophagus — something Layla knows because “she asked around.” In other words, don’t worry about details, just go with the flow. (Imagine if the sarcophagus had been sold to some guy in New Jersey! That would’ve thrown a wrench in the proceedings.)

After a brief conversation about their troubled relationship, Marc and Layla discover a shirtless Mogart playing El-Mermah games, which, according to Egypt Today, have quite the history:

“In Upper Egypt, there is an Egyptian heritage that is not properly recognized, called El Mermah. It is a traditional competition between the tribes. It begins in the second half of the Islamic month of Shaaban, at the same time as the festivities of “Mouled Sidi el-Qenaway”, the birthday of the Abdul Raheem el-Qenawy and many other holy individuals.”

So, yeah, this is how the extremely wealthy Mogart spends his evenings. Apparently, the game ends just as Marc and Layla arrive and the trio banter about this and that before reaching Sefu’s tomb. Since Marc has zero appreciation for Egyptian history or Studenwachen texts, he asks for Steven’s advice and we suddenly remember that Steven exists. That’s not a knock, in fact, credit to Isaac for crafting two likable characters capable of holding our goldfish-like attention from episode to episode.

Steven helps Marc solve a puzzle from ancient cloth that is about as exposed as ancient cloth can get and before too long, Mogart yearns to get back to playing El Mermah and pulls a Mace Windu: “This party’s over.” Arthur and his greasy ass hair arrive to confound matters further. Layla pleads for Mogart to ignore Arthur because “he’s gonna kill millions,” but Mogart is still miffed that she hasn’t complimented his High Hefner-styled bathrobe.

Arthur, as he’s prone to do, hints at Marc’s involvement with her father’s death; and true or not, “he’s gonna kill millions,” so let’s stay focused here Layla.

We then get our first real action sequence in the show following a few brief skirmishes in previous episodes. Marc goes full-on Batman by sneaking away from his captors, transforms into Moon Knight, and swoops down from atop a structure so that his cape forms an actual moon. He wraps his cape around Layla to stop some bullets, then does a nifty spin move that sends the bullets back to the faceless attackers. (If only killing the actual bad guy was as simple.) There’s some great fist punching and death by moon-a-ranging.

Meanwhile, Layla gets into her own skirmish with one of Mogart’s bodyguards, but swiftly pulls an Ilsa Faust and easily kills the dude with a necklace/knife contraption she probably should have pulled out much earlier. There’s also a great bit where Steven takes over the Moon Knight persona, which morphs into the white-suited Mask character from the previous episode, and tries to calm things down. That goes about as well as you’d expect and the bumbling character quickly relents control back to Marc, who puts the finishing touches on the action.

Marc and Layla drive to a secluded location and attempt to reconfigure the tattered cloth to no avail. Marc loses his cool and (despite Khonshu’s warnings) allows Steven to assume control for the time being. As a side note, Isaac does an incredible job swapping between the two characters. You literally see Steven emerge with little more than some raised eyebrows and a few subtle mannerisms. It’s pretty wild.

I digress. Steven is clearly smitten by Layla, but still manages to assemble the navigation map thingy. It is a star, very good, that’s great. After some back and forth, Khonshu decides to turn back the night sky so they can pinpoint Ammit’s location, even though he knows the gods will likely imprison him.

What follows is a glorious visual sequence, which shows the night sky literally transforming before our heroes’ eyes. As expected, the gods assemble and imprison Khonshu, which can’t be all bad… right?

Arthur, who had been rolling in a beat-up truck all day, heads back to the pyramids to lay some smack talk on his former master. It is strange how trusting the all-knowing gods are to this clearly bad man. Is it the hair? The blank expression? Do they not know about he and Khonshu’s problematic former relationship?

“I enjoyed dealing out pain on your behalf,” he tells tiny Khonshu. “Your torment forged me. I owe my victory to you.”

With that, the episode ends and we’re left with quite a few dangling threads at the midway point:

  • Is Khonshu good or bad? He is certainly casual when it comes to murder, but does seem intent on stopping Ammit from destroying the world. However, his outcries during the trial scene render him as something of a loose cannon. To say nothing of his complete disregard for Steven or Marc’s well-being. (Also, did anyone else think Isaac-as-Khonshu sounded like Christopher Lloyd? Or was that just me?)
  • Something is really wrong with Marc. What’s his deal? Did he kill Layla’s father? Does he have some horrible past that he can’t escape from? Or is he suffering from Sarah Connor-itis, or the struggle to remain sane with the weight of the world on your shoulders? The trial scene has him say, “I’m not well,” an admission that, luckily, draws much-needed support from one of the gods. Still, this guy needs to lie down for a nap when this is all over.
  • Khonshu is surprisingly tight-lipped after his humiliation during the trial. Kinda weird.
  • Arthur possesses the magical powers all villains have in that he can seemingly appear at any place at any time as the plot dictates. I imagine he traveled quite a bit in this episode unless the events took place within a mile or two of each other. But how would I know that?
  • Layla seems a bit taken by Steven during that late-episode desert scene. Or maybe she’s just vexed by someone else speaking through her husband’s body.
  • At some point, I imagine reincarnation comes into play ala The Mummy Returns. Is this a thing in the comics?
  • Who is the third identity lurking within or between Marc and Steven? They’re both quite surprised at the brutality on display during that early action sequence; and since Khonshu remains mum on the matter, I suspect it’s either him or some other evil force that’s hampering the Moon God’s power. Perhaps this connects to Khonshu’s reasons for wanting to destroy Ammit … maybe he doesn’t care about the world, but has some personal stake in her resurrection.
  • With the introduction of the Egyptian gods, does that mean we also have Greek gods? Christian gods? Are these beings even gods at all or merely powerful beings with powers akin to gods?
  • Finally, I read an article on CBR that hypothesizes Arthur is really Dr. Doom. I guess that makes sense, considering the giant castle at the beginning of the show. That would also explain why Ethan Hawke signed up for the part, unless he really wanted to act with a can. Even so, I’m not buying into this rumor just yet. It seems like every one of these Marvel shows begets X-Men-styled theories and none of them ever come to fruition. Fool me once, MCU…

I’ve said this so many times before, but this show is really interesting. I like the mystery and intrigue surrounding Marc/Steven enough to not care that we rarely see Moon Knight; and enjoy Isaac’s carefully crafted performance. At the midway point, I’m still not quite sure where this series is heading, but hope to the Egyptian gods it doesn’t end in another half-assed action scene with a cameo from a long-lost character from one those quickly forgotten Netflix Marvel shows. Even though that’s probably what will happen.


Marvel and DC