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‘Moon Knight’ Episode 1 Recap: Oscar Isaac Discovers His Marvel Action Hero Alter-Ego

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Mar 30, 2022
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The first episode of Moon Knight takes Steven Grant on a wild ride.

Marvel Studios

The first Marvel Cinematic Universe show of 2022 is here, with Moon Knight’s season opener on Disney Plus on Wednesday. This introduces Steven Grant, played by an utterly charming Oscar Isaac, a gift shop assistant at a London museum with a deep (and unappreciated) knowledge of the Egyptian gods and culture.

That’s just one side of the character, though. He wakes up chained to his bed, with a series of security measures so he knows if he’s been on a mysterious sleepwalk at night.

It’s time to take a mindful walk to the SPOILER area so we can see what Steven-with-av’s deal is.

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The Full Moon Knight is rising

The episode makes it clear that Steven is struggling with another personality. Marc Spector has taken Steven away from his quiet Egyptian geek life and taken him on international spy adventures while he sleeps. Even more brutally, Marc asks a woman out (did he use Steven’s London accent?), makes him miss the date, and lets him take the consequences.

At extreme moments, Steven faints and wakes up to find that he has committed an act of intense violence as Marc. There’s also another rather mean voice (F. Murray Abraham) in his head, calling him things like “worm,” “idiot,” and “parasite,” and he encounters a terrifying giant mummy with a bird skull. It’s a lot for the poor boy.

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Moon Knight takes care of things in the final moments of the episode.

Marvel Studios

When Steven is chased through the museum by a beast, he talks directly to the confident badass Marc for the first time and gives control to his other personality so Marc can save them. Dressing up as Moon Knight for the first time, he absolutely beats the monster, destroying the museum bathroom in the process.

Marvel’s Dark Spector

This series takes us into deep Marvel territory, as Moon Knight was not a well-known character among non-comics fans prior to the show’s announcement. He has had multiple comic book series since his 1975 debut and a tortuous history.

Former US Marine Marc Spector, operating as a mercenary in Sudan, turns on his ally Raoul Bushman after he murders an archaeologist while the man’s daughter watches. After being mortally wounded by the rather vicious Bushman, Spector dies in front of a statue of the Egyptian moon god Khonshu. The ancient deity revives Spector, with a mission to serve as the ‘knight of the moon’.

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Marc Spector’s mental illness is the result of a trauma he suffered as a child.

Marvel Comics

Spector, who is Jewish, struggles with dissociative identity disorder caused by the discovery in his childhood that a family rabbi was actually a Nazi deserter and serial killer of Jews. (This story is chilling, but amazing.) This mental illness can cause people to detach from their memories and surroundings.

“Dissociative disorders usually develop as a way of coping with trauma,” according to the Mayo Clinic, noting that children are more likely to let go of themselves than adults. “A child who learns to dissociate in order to get through a traumatic experience may use this coping mechanism in response to stressful situations throughout life.”

Moon Knight’s main personalities include Spector, billionaire businessman Steven Grant (Steven’s show version is obviously a bit different) and taxi driver Jake Lockley.

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This brings him to a lovely European village and a number of considerably less lovely cult members, led by the mysterious Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke). The crowd disperses and bows to this charismatic leader, who engages in a dark ritual that involves tattooing the scales on his arm while a man presents himself.

‘You are a brave man. Offering your soul for judgment. Wanting to serve our goddess before she wakes up,” Harrow says. “I condemn you in Ammit’s name, with only a fraction of her power.”

Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight

Arthur Harrow is a big fan of judging people.

Marvel Studios

The scales turn green and the man survives, but the lady who follows isn’t so lucky. The scales are turning red despite her claim to have lived a good life; Harrow says the judgment may be something she will do in the future. She drops dead almost immediately.

Harrow later tracks down Steven at the museum and explains that the Egyptian goddess Ammit grew tired of waiting for sinners to commit evil deeds before punishing them. So it’s kind of a Minority Report, where people are biased for crimes they’re expected to commit. Ammit has been captured by her fellow gods, and Harrow is on the hunt for a golden scarab that Steven (or Marc) stole – presumably this artifact is part of his quest to free the goddess.

When Harrow tries to convict Steven, the scales go wild, suggesting that the “chaos” of his multiple personalities is throwing away Ammit’s power.

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Gods of Egypt

Steven gives us a short tutorial on a “supergroup of Egyptian gods” known as the Ennead, mentioning Horus, Osiris, Tefnut and Shu, before evil manager Donna cuts him off. The others are Atum, Geb, Nut, Isis, Set, and Nephthys; these gods were once worshiped in the ancient city of Heliopolis.

It is generally a group of nine, as Horus is not always included. In Marvel Comics, these creatures come from a pocket dimension and look a bit like the Asgardians or Eternals. It is likely that the show will move in the same direction and associate Ammit and Khonshu with it.

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Oscar Isaac played the villain in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Fox

Observations and Easter eggs

This may be Oscar Isaac’s first MCU role, but it’s not his first live-action Marvel role. He played the titular villain in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse (or “the one where Oscar Isaac is blue”). It’s one of the weakest of Fox’s X-Men movies and largely wasted Isaac’s talents playing an ill-defined villain. Apocalypse is a pretty big villain in the comics, so hopefully Marvel will give him another try some day. The studio got the X-Men cinematic rights back when it acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019. On the animated side, he spoke to Spider-Man 2099 in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s post-credits scene in 2019. He will return to that role in Across the Spider-Verse in October. Given the show’s focus on Steven’s mental health issues, the credits suggest viewers wanting to learn more visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Moon Knight’s first appearance was in Werewolf by Night No. 32 from 1975, in which he fought protagonist Jack Russell in his lycanthropic form. Marvel Studios’ unnamed Halloween special will reportedly be based on Werewolf by Night, but it’s unclear if Moon Knight will appear in it. In addition to countless missed calls from “Layla” on Marc’s phone, Steven scrolls through the name “DuChamp”. This is a nod to Jean-Paul DuChamp, better known as Frenchie, the Moon Knight pilot in the comics. We don’t know if he will appear on the show. “Avatars, blue people. I love that movie.” Marc is full of praise for James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi mega-hit, which came under the Disney umbrella as part of the Fox acquisition. The sequel will be released in December. He also calls the Avatar “anime,” presumably referring to the much-loved animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender (which has nothing to do with Cameron’s film). “If you’re Gus, I’m the fucking queen of Sheba.” This character appears in several religious texts, most explicitly in the Bible to bring a bunch of gold, jewels, and spices to King Solomon. of Sand, originally released in 1981. The lyrics reference faith and spirituality, which will no doubt resonate with the cult leader.

Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, April. 6, when Moon Knight Episode 2 reaches Disney Plus.

Richard Knightwell of CNET contributed to this report.

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