Episode 3 of Marvel’s Moon Knight picks up in Egypt, and viewers are treated to Marvel’s spin on Egyptian mythology. We also get more backstory on this character, and fill in some blanks. There is also some interesting commentary on mental illness, and the stigma that exists in the real world. Through it all, Moon Knight manages to keep the chaotic tone it set at the beginning of the series.
Actual Egyptologists may find a lot to object to in this series. For amateurs like this writer, there are some interesting stories to explore. Having Egyptian gods inhabit human avatars is an intriguing way to bring Egyptian mythology into a modern context. It’s a same viewers didn’t get to see more of these avatars, since there was clearly a lot of opportunity to tell more stories here. Marc and Steven (Oscar Isaac) clearly aren’t alone.
This episode featured a deeper exploration of the mental health of its main character. Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) weaponizes Marc’s mental illness, by completely undermining him in front of the council of fellow avatars of Egyptian gods. There’s a point being made here – Egyptian gods are willing to listen to a cult leader rather than a man with mental illness. As far as we’ve come in taking the stigma out of mental illness, is our real-world all that different?
On this note, Steven and Mark are finally working together in this episode. This tension of two sides of a personality battling for control has been fascinating to watch unfold. It was healing in a way to see reconciliation and an acknowledgement that both aspects of this man can co-exist at the same time. It was a valiant attempt on Marvel’s part to show this reconciliation, and that mental illness doesn’t exist separately from people themselves.
More than previous episodes to this point, this episode made a point to tie Moon Knight to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Aside from the classic Marvel fight choreography that’s instantly recognizable, there’s been little tie-in to the broader MCU to this point. In a callback to The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, unscrupulous “preservationists” (Anton) were clearly involved in the shenanigans in Mandripoor. Of the ways to tie this show into the MCU, this was an odd choice. It felt included simply for the purpose of reminding us Moon Knight is in fact a Marvel show. It was ultimately unnecessary.
This episode featured a more in-depth look at Marc and Layla’s (May Calamawy) relationship. It was emotionally devastating in the best possible way. Layla has so far been far under-utilized in this series, and it was great to see her being the boss she’s more than capable of being. These two have great chemistry, and hopefully, we’ll get to see more of it as the series continues. Their relationship so far seems to be one worth fighting for.
Unfortunately, like in the previous two episodes, the Jewish representation was lacking. This may have been the closest Moon Knight has ever gotten to acknowledging its titular character’s Jewishness, by acknowledging that he is in fact not Egyptian. While Jewishness is built into this character in subtle ways, including a deep thirst for knowledge and Steven’s British accent sort of based on a Jewish community in north London, there’s still no explicit acknowledgement of this part of the character. There was a tiny bit of Jewish theology expressed in the fact that rather than the Egyptian gods staying on Earth themselves, they selected humans to do their work in the world on their behalf. It’s definitely a stretch, but it’s all the show has given us so far.
When we end this episode, it seems we’re heading for another shift in the series’ tone. Clearly, the characters are going to have to navigate their way under increasingly difficult circumstances. The show has maintained such a chaotic tone, balanced with emotional character beats so far. Hopefully, as Moon Knight enters its second half, it can continue coming into its own.
New episodes of Moon Knight air Wednesdays on Disney+.