The second episode of Moon Knight may be among the strongest of the series, after a solid premiere episode. The second episode managed to maintain the chaotic energy of the first, and, if possible, ramp it up to another level. This episode gave us a deeper look at the characters viewers have been introduced to, and gave us all a lot to think about.
Even more than the first episode, Moon Knight’s second episode dove deeper into Steven Grant’s (Oscar Isaac) mental illness. As a reminder for anyone not familiar with the comic books on which this character is based, the original character had what was incorrectly referred to as Multiple Personality Disorder. In reality, this version of the character is meant to have Dissociative Identity Disorder.
If you’re looking for an authentic, accurate portrayal of this illness, you still unfortunately won’t find it here. That being said, the show treats Steven with a lot of compassion, and there’s something to be said for that. His seeking help is a poignant moment, and it’s near impossible not to have your heart go out to him. It’s true what he says, he isn’t broken, he just needs some help and he’s not alone.
A little bit of Marvel slipped out this episode, with a mocking tone, specifically taking a dig at parts of the show’s ridiculous premise. It’s all in good fun, however. If anything, the show’s self-awareness makes this series all the more endearing. As a character, ‘Moon Knight’ could be considered an “out-there” character, even for Marvel. It works when Marvel themselves acknowledge this.
We get to see Layla (May Calamawy) in the flesh, rather than just a voice on a phone, and she’s a revelation. It’s so incredibly heartbreaking to watch her try to guide the man she thinks she knows to remember her and himself. These two have such fantastic chemistry that makes every moment they’re on screen together a joy to watch.
This episode gave viewers a deeper dive into the Moon Knight backstory. Not only does the Egyptian god Khonshu have to be what seems to be an intriguing past of his own, it’s revealed that Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) is closer to Moon Knight than was previously thought. This particular angle on Harrow’s cult itself, including it’s origins was an interesting one, even if it may not totally come together in the end.
Moon Knight took yet another page from DC’s playbook by giving viewers an absolutely Batman-esque philosophical exploration of the ethics of preventing crime before they’ve been committed. Marvel is historically notorious for introducing fascinating and difficult ethical or philosophical ideas, only for them never to be discussed or brought up by anyone ever again. Will Moon Knight be the exception? There’s only one way to find out for sure.
Viewers also got to see more of the contrast between Steven Grant and Marc Spector through the introduction of the “Mr. Knight” suit. Isaac can clearly play both to perfection. This entire character, or duality of characters, is an interesting take on the concept of bodily autonomy. Who takes over “the body”, and who decides? There seems to be a lot of conflict around this. Hopefully, the series will continue to show this push-pull dynamic, since it’s working.
Sadly, as strong as this episode was, there was still a glaring lack of Jewish representation in one of Marvel’s most clearly Jewish characters. In a time where so many discussions are rightly being had about representation in media, it’s too bad that Marvel made the choice to not show this part of the character at all, or at least keep it very quiet. Particularly when the disgusting stereotype of Hollywood being “controlled” by the Jewish people, it’s ironic that so much Jewish representation needs to be fought for still.
The end of the episode is enthralling, and it sets up the rest of the series, or at least the next episodes, very nicely. Finally, we’re returning to where everything began for this character. Past and present are set to collide on multiple fronts. If Moon Knight can carry the tone set in this episode forward, it may prove to be one of the most unique entries Marvel’s released to date.
New episodes of Moon Knight air Wednesdays on Disney+.