TL;DR – After a while, the show has finally hit its stride, and while I wish it had happen sooner, it was good while it lasted.
Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this series.
End Credit – There is a mid-credit scene in Gods and Monsters.
Moon Knight Review –
We have come to the end of the complete series of Moon Knight, or indeed just its first season. At this point, it is hard to tell. However, as we have reached the end, it is time to look back at the final episode and how it wraps the series up, and how the season worked from start to finish, all as we explore the world of Egyptian Mythology, Mental Illness, and the underground artifact trade.
So to set the scene, we follow up from The Tomb & Asylum with Marc (Oscar Isaac) and Steven (Oscar Isaac) being very much dead after being shot in the chest by Harrow (Ethan Hawke) in the tomb of Alexander the Great. There is a chance of getting out, but that fails when Marc gets lost in the Duat and turned into a statue, while Steven finds himself in the Field of Reeds. Meanwhile, back in Egypt, Layla (May Calamawy) has tagged along with Harrow’s entourage, looking for a moment to kill him, when the goddess Taweret (Antonia Salib) speaks to her from dead corpses telling her to free Khonshu (Karim El Hakim/F. Murray Abraham). Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
One of my significant concerns coming into this final episode is that there was a lot of story to wrap up and only 44 minutes with credits to do it in. I feared that they would either have to rush through the conclusions or just leave story beats hanging. While thankfully, it does not resort to the latter, we do still get a bit of the first. The cliffhanger from last week is resolved in minutes, barely any time goes by, and we are already in the trademark MCU big 3rd act battle sequence. While it was a little disappointing that in a show looking at doing some interesting things around the depiction of the world fell into a routine quite quickly. Thankfully it was at least entertaining.
The MVP for this week has to be Layla El-Faouly, as played by May Calamawy. Not only does she get what might be the best costume reveal in the show with the reveal of Scarlet Scarab. But she is the one moving the story along and getting stuff done. I loved those moments when she acted out as Taweret as the pyramids crumbled around her. Even though the ending was a little too neat and tidy, I also liked that we did get Marc/Steven acting as a unit rather than competing forces.
The question then becomes, how did the show work as a whole? Here I am, well, a bit more mixed, unlike some other Disney Plus series like WandaVision and Loki, which started strong and then didn’t land the ending. Moon Night had the opposite problem, with it taking almost its whole run time before it landed with me. While I am sure it was intentional, much of the first part of the show felt unfocused, which probably would have been fine if not because this was a mini-series, and there was not a lot of time to burn. There were a lot of good fish-out-of-water moments for Marc in The Goldfish Problem, but this left Ethan Hawke’s dour Harrow to be the main driving force of the story. It also didn’t help that they were a bit wishy-washy when it came to some Egyptian Mythology elements.
While there were some interesting moments, and Oscar Isaac’s odd performance was enough to get me through, it was not until they killed Marc/Steven that the show actually improved for me. Exploring mental health and trauma through the lens of post-modern psychological institutions via Egyptian Book of the Dead iconography was the shift the show desperately needed. Even if they almost put a sign up saying “more than two personalities are going on here”, diving into what shaped Steven as a child and how it led to him now was a good choice.
To be frank, I don’t have enough personal or professional experience to say definitely, one way or another, it did feel like the depiction of dissociative identity disorder was not done with bad faith, which is a step up from a lot of other portrayals of Mental Health in wider cinema. At the core of the depiction is not demonisation but rather understanding, which was refreshing. While there were a lot of stand-ins with Hungary and Jordan subbing in for other locations, I did find that the location scouts, production designers, and set dressers did a better job than a lot of other productions set in this world. It was nice that they didn’t put a brown filter over everything. This helped sell the world, and composer Hesham Nazih brought it to life.
In the end, do we recommend Moon Knight? Yes, yes, we do. To be upfront, it took a bit to land with me. But Oscar’s performance and some of the weirder elements should be enough to get you through to where it starts to really shine. Given the mid-credit scene and the lack of many major MCU connections, I feel that this won’t be our last time in this world, and if that is the case, I would like to see where they go next.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Moon Knight
Directed by – Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson & Mohamed Diab
Written by – Jeremy Slater, Danielle Iman, Michael Kastelein, Beau DeMayo, Alex Meenehan, Peter Cameron, Sabir Pirzada, Rebecca Kirsch, and Matthew Orton
Created by – Jeremy Slater
Based On – Marvel Comics
Production/Distribution Companies – Marvel Studios & Disney+
Starring – Oscar Isaac, Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, Karin el Hakim, F. Murray Abraham, Ethan Hawke, Ann Akinjirin, David Ganly, Khalid Abdalla, Gaspard Ulliel, Antonia Salib, Fernanda Andrade, Rey Lucas, Sofia Danu & Saba Mubarak with Lucy Thackeray, Saffron Hocking, Alexander Cobb, Shaun Scott, Díana Bermudez, Loic Mabanza, Claudio Fabian Contreras, Sofia Danu & Oscar Isaac