Marvel Mondays – Moon Knight: Episode 2

Plot summary: Steven meets Layla, the wife of his alter ego, and is thrown into the lion’s den of Arthur Harrow’s cult and their mystical war.

Notes

Episode Title: ‘Summon the Suit’

Air Date: April 6th, 2022

Directed: Justin Benson (1) & Aaron Moorhead (1)

Written: Michael Kastelein (1)

Steven’s version of the suit is referred to as Mr. Knight, who in the comics is generally a little more suave, cerebral and puts greater emphasis on brawling compared to the more theatrical ‘main’ Moon Knight costume that uses gadgets. Think Daredevil vs Batman.

The two police officers are credited as Bobby and Bobbi. They are named for a pair of antagonistic orderlies in the mental health facility Marc is kept in from Jeff Lemire’s seminal run.

In the scenes where Marc and Steven talk, Oscar Isaac was acting across from his brother.

The QR Code on the door to the storage unit links to a free comic download for an issue of Werewolf by Night. There was another in the first episode next to one of the exhibits for a different issue. There is heavy speculation there will be a Werewolf by Night Disney Plus special this Halloween.

Recap

Steven wakes up and returns to work where the security footage does not match his account of the events of the previous evening. He’s fired and offered assistance from mental health specialists.

Tracking down a storage locker he found a card for alongside the hidden phone last episode, he finds the mysterious golden scarab, guns, and an American passport for Marc Spector.

The two personas argue and Steven threatens to turn himself in, despite Khonshu’s objections. He runs into Layla, who tracked his phone.

She still believes Marc is doing a ‘bit’ and reveals he recently served her with divorce papers (which Marc claims is to protect her).

Two police officers arrive to question Steven, with the guns and passport giving them cause to arrest him. But instead of taking him to a police station, they drop him off at a commune run by Arthur Harrow, who claims to have been Khonshu’s former avatar.

The cult leader pushes his noble mission statement, but when the subject turns to punishing evildoers before they even commit crimes – including the murder of children if necessary – Steven objects.

Harrow’s people demand he hand over the Scarab, as it points the way to Ammit’s tomb, forcing Steven (and a returning Layla) to flee, as Harrow conjures another Jackal.

Layla tells Steven to “summon the suit” and he eventually manages it, but it’s a different version and he proves inept in combat, so reluctantly hands control over to Marc and his version of Moon Knight, who kills the Jackal.

Marc maintains control and tells Steven that he has to repay his debt to Khonshu, or else the god will take Layla as his new avatar, and promises that Steven will never see him again once the mission is over.

Steven pleads for his body back but Marc refuses, with their body waking up in Egypt some time later…

Review

I enjoyed this episode a little more than the first, and continue to enjoy the work of Oscar Isaac, but am still not yet enamoured with the series overall.

Giving Steven more people to talk to was a wise decision, regardless of how well Isaac took to carrying the debut outing, and Layla brought some fun energy, while Arthur Harrow and his various minions had a stronger sense of character as well.

Hapless Steven being caught in the middle of this weird mystical conflict, the literal summoning of two versions of the suit, Harrow conjuring his Jackal beast and all the talk of a war of Egpytian gods was more compelling to me personally. I should remind anybody who finds that statement odd that as I said last week, knowing what Moon Knight’s deal is and where they’re likely going deflated a little bit of my engagement in the first episode.

After a mere tease of Moon Knight himself at the end of last week’s episode, we got to see some more prolonged action as he engaged in a so-so parkour sequence, luring the Jackal into a chaotic aerial combat sequence that culminated in him basically slam dunking it onto a spike. Nice idea, but in typical MCU fashion, it was visually muddy, robbing the fight choreography of its full impact.

Speaking of the Jackal and the rooftop chase, a smart way to mitigate costs was the creative decision that only certain people can even see the creature. That made for some decent physical comedy as Steven and Layla got beaten up by an invisible presence, and cut down on how much footage they needed of a ‘meh’ CGI monster. The opening scene with the security footage showing no creature, and making it look like Steven hallucinated the entire thing, staring vacantly at the camera after emerging from the bathroom was nice, and I like when the Moon Knight comics wade into ‘is he actually just extremely mentally ill?’ territory.

We also got out first taste of Mr. Knight, which the series has decided is the version of the costume that Steven conjures when he’s in control of their shared body, while Marc summons the traditional suit. That’s an understandable decision to make, as the comics sometimes leave it a little vague as to why he switches between the two looks. Unfortunately, this first portrayal of Mr. Knight was tantamount to character assassination for me. I know they’re really into the idea of Steven doing slapstick (and Isaac is good at it), but if they stick to the idea Mr. Knight is an idiot who can’t do anything, I will be deeply upset, because it’s such a cool character design that if anything is the more serious persona in the comics. I’ll let it slide this first time, and he did pull out the little clubs, hinting at him possibly picking up some of Marc’s combat aptitude later.

The whole ‘they’re everywhere’ thing continued, with the police revealed as agents of Harrow, and their hidden commune was a nice idea, but the villain element isn’t quite clicking for me yet, largely because all the fighting is happening with bad looking CGI monsters. The storage locker sequence was probably the strongest in the episode, with the nice Steven/Marc confrontation and then Steven running away from the spooky Khonshu, borrowing some imagery from horror movies.

Very intrigued by their endeavour to convince us they’re in Egypt next week (and possibly for the entire rest of the season). They filmed most of the series in Budapest and Atlanta, but did spend a week in Jordan, so hopefully we get some nice exteriors.

Most Marvellous Player

It’s probably going to be Oscar Isaac every week, isn’t it? He got something resembling competition this week, as May Calamawy made her first physical appearance as Layla, Ethan Hawke was able to do a little more with Arthur Harrow than last week, and even Khonshu was better from my perspective.

Layla was decent, but all she can really do is be bemused by her husband pretending to be somebody else. I hope as we spend more time with her, Calamawy can show more of her stuff. At least the character has been changed from a blonde American to an Egyptian. Harrow’s scenes in the commune are more nuanced than what we saw last week, but this character still isn’t really anything to write home about. I enjoyed him predicting everything Khonshu was saying.

I’ll refrain from commenting on F. Murray Abraham’s casting every week and instead say I enjoyed his work here much more than the overly posh sardonic behaviour we saw last time. This was a far more irritable, dangerous sounding entity, and Abraham clearly gets what they’re going for, laying seeds that perhaps Khonshu is not to be trusted.

But yeah, it’s clearly Oscar Isaac. He’s still shockingly good at the silly little English twit stuff and dialled that all the way up to 13 when he debuted as Mr. Knight, filled to the brim with unwarranted confidence. Seeing more of Marc Spector for contrast really highlighted the work Isaac is doing, as he’s free to make Marc borderline villainous, completely unconcerned with trying to portray him as likeable. The moment where Steven realises he’s a prisoner while Marc ignores his pleas was brutal.

Villain Watch

More of the same, really.

Arthur Harrow is a little better, and his claim that he was the former Moon Knight is an interesting wrinkle. I can’t say I expected a debate about the ethics of Minority Report in this show, but it works, given Egyptian mythology’s famous weighing of a person’s heart and Ammit as a figure of judgement. It’s also valuable shorthand to try and develop a villain the scripts don’t have as much time for as their central character and his own personal mystery. We all understand this philosophical dilemma, so minimal monologuing is required.

He summoned another Jackal, and it looked worse here than last time because it had to appear for longer and in better lighting. As mentioned above, they tried to get around that by making it invisible to Layla and the bystanders. If these are going to be functionally the main source of combat throughout the season… yikes.

Ammit and Khonshu’s personal war being the backdrop of the series works, as they represent differing perspectives on justice. Ammit is of course openly presented as evil, due to being a crocodile lady who devours those found unworthy, and the series adds (via Harrow) that she’s more than willing to kill children for their future crimes etc. But I’m glad they’re making no bones about the fact Khonshu is far from a friendly mentor to Marc/Steven/Moon Knight, who are basically openly hostile to him. Targeting Layla as a prospective replacement adds stakes too. I’d be intrigued to see these gods (and the rest of their pantheon) take a larger role later on.

Plugs

My MCU podcast, Ben & Matt’s Marvellous Journey has returned, with myself and Ben Phillips taking a look back at Marvel’s 2021 projects. This week: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.

My other recap column, The Matt Signal Beyond, which takes a look back at Batman Beyond, is coming to an end soon. This weekend I wrap up the remaining Beyond comics. I plan to do one final weekend looking back on both BTAS and Beyond as a whole the week after.

Published by

Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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