Plot summary: With Ammit unleashed, Layla must try to release Khonshu to save Marc, Steven and the world itself.
Episode Title: ‘Gods and Monsters’
Air Date: May 4th, 2022
Directed: Mohamed Diab (4)
Written: Danielle Iman (1) & Jeremy Slater (2) (story), Peter Cameron (3) & Sabir Pirzada (3)
As previously mentioned, Jake Lockley in the comics is another Marc alter, traditionally a streetwise cab driver.
Khonshu calls Layla a bug, and she was previously nicknamed ‘little scarab’ by her father. As suggested in a previous recap, she becomes a gender-bent version of the Scarlet Scarab in this episode.
The graffiti on the wall behind the little girl who admires Layla translates to ‘Khonshu is alive’.
This week’s QR code links to a comic where Moon Knight battles Kang the Conqueror.
Marc rejects eternity in the Field of Reeds, returning to the sands of The Duat, where he is able to revive Steven.
Back in the world of the living, Arthur Harrow seizes Ammit’s statue and returns to the Chamber of the Gods in order to free her, slaughtering the Ennead’s avatars.
Taweret manages to communicate with Layla, instructing her to free Khonshu from his own statue to try and fight Ammit.
Osiris permits Marc to return to life, with Khonshu in turn restoring his powers so that he can battle Harrow, now enhanced by Ammit.
Layla likewise becomes Taweret’s avatar, gaining her own special costume in time for a brawl between the two sides as the gods battle over Cairo.
Marc is seemingly defeated but blacks out and then wakes up victorious. He and Layla enact a spell to bind Ammit to Harrow.
Marc refuses to kill Harrow and demands to be set free. Waking up back in Steven’s London flat, the two alters begin their shared life together.
Harrow is later abducted from a mental health facility and brought before Khonshu. The god reveals a third persona sharing Marc’s body, Jake Lockley, who murders Harrow.
Last week I said how they had left themselves very little runway in order to land a whole lot of plane? Well, they definitely didn’t manage it.
Jake Lockley was at last confirmed as Marc’s third personality after a number of clues throughout the series. I simply don’t believe you can get away with making this the final reveal of a season. Or at least not in the way they did it. The blackout gimmick was cute at first, but to have the final confrontation with Harrow abruptly end thanks to unseen intervention feels incredibly weak. Especially as they basically go from that to Marc and Steven being freed from Khonshu and waking up back in Steven’s flat. No resolution whatsoever with Layla, because why the heck would you give the female lead of this tiny cast anything resembling closure?
Her transformation into Taweret’s avatar, a quasi-Scarlet Scarab (as I alluded to in episode 4’s recap), was a perfectly fine ‘good for her’ moment, but while the costume was tastefully understated, they could have worked a little harder to differentiate her from Falcon/Captain America. But her role outside of the action was painfully badly written, especially when talking to Taweret. Ditto Khonshu’s final lines. All of the dialogue felt rushed and placeholder, like they forgot to come back and punch it up.
Indeed, my enormous issues with episodes 3 and 4 were even worse here. There is truly no way to know if Harrow et al travelled for 10 minutes or 3 hours between the tomb and the pyramids. (Also, can you just walk up to the pyramids? I’m genuinely unsure!) People just DO things without any clear indication of why, and each action just raises more questions. You can do their work for them and say Layla knows the words to the spell because Taweret is acting through her if you’re feeling generous, but then how does Marc know them? And why can the other gods seemingly control and speak through their avatars, while Marc and Harrow have full independence and extra powers? Did Ammit endow Harrow with the ability to walk, run and fight without a cane? I’m not asking to be spoon-fed, and indeed going too far the other way is a huge problem with American television in general, but there should be a basic level of communication between creator and audience.
So yeah, basically the worst kind of Marvel finale. Driven entirely by ‘blah’ special effects, with unimaginative fight scenes that might as well be two hunks of plastic slamming into each other and nowhere near enough emotional payoff. I can’t imagine being told that I’d be bored by a giant kaiju fight by the pyramids, but here we are. And OF COURSE it’s another end of the world scenario.
Most Marvellous Player
Oscar Isaac, I guess. Truly, nobody else was any good, and even he was arguably at his worst in the series. You get a couple of minutes of Marc and Steven emotionally reconciling but everything beyond that is just an inferior version of what we’ve had before. The alter-switching paled in comparison to episodes 3 and 4. The fight scenes haven’t been good at any point, but these were some of the worst. The Asylum scenes weren’t as good either. Even the addition of Jake felt less impressive than the Marc/Steven divide, though it was basically one line of dialogue.
Poor May Calamawy is likeable, but hamstrung with bad material. Layla’s body switching from her own control to Taweret’s should have been better than it was, and her being forced to talk to random corpses and trying to string together the nonsensical plot beats was too tall an order.
Ethan Hawke completed his trajectory into embarrassingly generic villain, while Saba Mubarak arrived late to the party as the voice of Ammit. She was perfectly fine, but truly, who could care?
F. Murray Abraham wasn’t at his series best but also wasn’t at his series worst. His final lines of dialogue were atrocious and even an actor of his esteem couldn’t make them work.
Oh look, everybody, it’s Ammit! Yes, the crocodile lady was finally unleashed to bring premature judgement on the world, and it was just as dull as you’d imagine. The CG on her wasn’t quite as good as Taweret’s, likely because she’s meant to be colder, so you don’t get the little animation flourishes like twitching hippo ears, but overall it was a Very Okay design. She does exactly what you might have expected she would and is dealt with incredibly quickly.
Arthur Harrow being willing to accept he may be her first victim despite his attempts to redeem his soul is theoretically interesting, but this character is so underwhelming I couldn’t even care about that. Of COURSE he magically becomes physically hyper-capable and can run around and fight Moon Knight. Can’t just have the creepy cerebral villain be creepy and cerebral! Whatever, he’s dead now and won’t really be missed, which is WILD given he was played by one of the finest currently working actors.
The notion of Khonshu being the real villain all along is a relatively recent idea, but has been an entirely successful one in the comics. I’m sure it’ll work in a theoretical season 2, and he did look baller in the limo at the end here, but as I’ve said twice already, the writing was awful, undercutting the gross reveal that he is knowingly deceiving his faithful avatar(s) and working with Jake Lockley.
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 Eternals.
My other recap column, The Matt Signal Beyond, which takes a look back at Batman Beyond, has sorta/kinda come to an end. I want to write a little extra something about both BTAS and Beyond, but it may be a few weeks.