Moon Knight felt a lot like Indiana Jones or The Mummy with a dash of Alien last Wednesday, as episode 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series hit Disney Plus and had its heroes running around an Egyptian tomb. With moon god/mean bird skeleton Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham) imprisoned by his fellow gods, his human avatar Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) must battle cult leader Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) without his Moon Knight powers.
Marc is still extremely badass, and isn’t working alone. He’s working with his alternate personality, Egyptian mythology expert Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac with a London accent), and his estranged wife Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy) to stop Harrow from unleashing trapped death goddess Ammit upon the world.
Let’s party like we’re watching The Mummy in 1999 and explore some SPOILERS for episode 4. This show takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Marc and Steven meet
After Marc battles Harrow’s goons, the villain shoots him and is free to claim the ushabti (ancient Egyptian figurine) Ammit is imprisoned in. Marc sinks into darkness and we enter super cheesy Raiders of the Lost Ark parody “Tomb Buster” starring one Dr. Steven Grant. This was a movie Marc watched as a kid, and presumably served as the basis for his charming alternate personality.
We find Marc in a mental institution populated by characters from the show (including Steven’s mean museum boss as a patient, the human statue guy as the bingo host and Harrow’s police goons as orderlies), who’ve taken on roles as patients and staff. This location is also riddled with Easter eggs from the show, like cupcakes, a cuddly scarab, a Moon Knight action figure and a painting of a picturesque European town.
Harrow acts as Marc’s therapist (looking a little more buttoned down in his mustache and sweater vest) but Marc ultimately flees from his honeyed words. He finds a distressed Steven trapped in a sarcophagus and the two come face to face (double Oscar Isaac, we must all rejoice!). They embrace like brothers, and both remember being shot by Harrow.
This is presumably all happening in Marc’s mind, with various Easter eggs acting as fragments of his memories.
Who’s that hippo?
The final moments see Marc and Steven running into an anthropomorphic hippo in ancient Egyptian ceremonial garb.
“Hi!” she says sweetly, earning simultaneous screams from Marc and Steven.
This is Taweret (Antonia Salib), the ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility who acts as a protector of mothers and children. Unlike some of the other gods we’ve met in this show, she isn’t directly inspired by a comics character — a rare MCU original.
Her lack of an obvious comic counterpart makes it harder to speculate about her role, but she could have come to help unite Marc’s fractured mind and help him free Khonshu. Once the moon god is no longer stuck in a figurine, Marc will be able to access the suit’s healing abilities and fix up those bullet wounds.
Layla has a whole lot of heavy information dumped on her in this episode. Steven reveals that Marc pushed her away to save her from becoming Khonshu’s next avatar, and his honesty earns him a kiss from Layla (then Marc makes him punch himself in the face).
This episode also confirms that Layla is the MCU version of Marlene Alraune, Marc’s wife and sometime partner to Moon Knight’s vigilante activities in the comics. Harrow clues Layla into the fact that Marc was part of the mercenary group that killed her father and his team of archaeologists.
“My partner got greedy and he… he executed everyone at the dig site,” Marc says, noting that he was fatally shot after trying to stop the killings. He doesn’t say so, but he was almost certainly saved by Khonshu in exchange for becoming the moon god’s avatar — mirroring his origin in the comics.
In the comics, Marc’s partner was the ruthless Raoul Bushman and remained Moon Knight’s archnemesis in that medium. He isn’t in the show because the creative team felt he was too similar to Black Panther villain Erik Killmonger, head writer Jeremy Slater revealed in a tweet in March.
Observations and Easter eggs
- A bunch of ushabti containing other imprisoned gods are visible at the start of the episode, suggesting that the Ennead have been busy over the years.
- Getting a flashback to a younger Harrow and seeing him as Khonshu’s avatar would be awesome.
- It’s possible the guilt over hiding the truth from Layla exacerbates Marc’s mental illness, which hasn’t been named in the show yet. In the comics, he suffers from dissociative identity disorder due to a childhood trauma.
- Ammit’s ushabti has the head of a crocodile, much like she’s depicted in ancient Egyptian art. Hopefully we’ll get to see her physical form in the remaining two episodes.
- When Dr. Steven Grant is named, we hear a music cue that could have been lifted directly from John Williams’ Indiana Jones score.
- The terrifying monstrous guardians were presumably in the tomb to stop people from finding Ammit’s ushabti. Great work.
- The mental institution sequence feels like Legion, an excellent Marvel show that ran from 2017 to 2019. It isn’t part of the MCU, but is available on Hulu and could be a nice companion to Moon Knight due to its exploration of mental illness.
- Writer Jeff Lemire’s trippy 2016 comics run inspired this sequence, directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead told Entertainment Weekly.
- After Marc rescues Steven from the sarcophagus, they run by another and it’s shaking violently. It’s likely this contains another of Marc’s personalities — perhaps it’s Jake Lockley, who almost certainly stabbed a bunch of Harrow’s goons in episode 3.
Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, April 27, when episode 5 of Moon Knight hits Disney Plus.
CNET’s Richard Knightwell contributed to this report.
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