Moon Knight: Episode 1 “The Goldfish Problem” Review

Yes, that’s right! Marvel Wednesdays are back, at least for the release window of its latest show Moon Knight! I will strive to release my reviews/recaps on the release day of the episode each week, but won’t always be able to do so right away. As you can see today, it might take me a bit longer from time to time. Anyway, let’s get started – Spoilers ahead for “The Goldfish Problem”!

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight
credit: Marvel Studios

What was it about?

Steven Grant works in a gift shop and doesn’t sleep so well, but that’s just the beginning of a world of problems heading his way.

My thoughts?

So, unlike with many previous MCU projects, I actually knew very little about Moon Knight before starting the show. Seen as I feel very torn about the upcoming Ms. Marvel show, I figured it might be interesting to not have any preconceived ideas and just dive in. Well, that was one way to introduce a new character.

Basically, this entire episode was an introduction without many answers, but a lot of questions. We meet Steven Grant, get thrown into the chaos and confusion of his life, but just like him, still have no idea what’s going on. Hawkeye and WandaVision each released two episodes when they first came out and I wish that was the case here as well, because I just need more information. But let’s just break down what we actually learned this episode!

  • We open the series with a man performing some kind of routine. We only ever see him from behind but know that he has a tattoo of a scale, a cane with two crocodile heads on top and after he drinks from a glass, he smashes it and puts the shards in the shoes he wears and walks in. It’s a jarring opening sequence for sure, and at that point, we don’t even know yet that it’s Arthur Harrow as portrayed by Ethan Hawke – an important character in the series.
  • After a typical Marvel intro with some nice music, we switch perspective to Steven Grant, a gift shop employee with sleeping problems. The man seems clumsy, socially awkward, confused and dorky, and because he is portrayed by Oscar Isaac, it’s very easy to feel for him and his upcoming troubles.
Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant
credit: Marvel Studios
  • From here on out, I’m unsure how to describe the events that follow. Basically, Steven Grant, upon falling asleep, awakes in some random village in Germany where a seemingly omniscient voice tells him to not be stupid and surrender his consciousness to “Marc” again. We, as the viewers, barely get any more information that what Steven sees, feels or perceives. Maybe we notice a glitch in a reflection or see what lurks behind him, but we never get the full picture, so this is as confusing for us (at least it was for me) as it is for him.
  • Ultimately, it turns out that Steven lost two days, being chased by men with scale tattoos and guns after apparently having stolen a scarab from Arthur Harrow. He is likely our season’s “human” antagonist and serves the Egyptian deity Ammit, who weighs a person’s deeds and decides whether they are good or bad. Steven even gets followed back to London by Harrow and there he weighs him, but we do not see the result of whether he is found guilty. All that is remarked is that there is strong chaos within Steven.
Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow
credit: Marvel Studios
  • He feels like he is losing it as he keeps hearing voices, finds proof that a “Marc” has stashed items in his home and he gets followed by a mysterious figure (I’m betting on Khonshu – God of the Moon) until he gets ambushed during his night shift at the museum he works at. Trapped in a restroom, his reflection, Marc, begs Steven to let him take over before the monster gets in and eventually he gives in, giving us the first proper look at the “Moon Knight”, who downright demolishes the place with no mercy. That’s where we cut for the episode.
Marvel's Moon Knight
credit: Marvel Studios

I can’t help but note that Marvel writers really aren’t the most creative bunch when it comes to names. We’ve now had Steve Rogers, Stephen Strange and now Steve Grant. I mean, really?

I liked that the episode was called “The Goldfish Problem”, because it usually refers to bad memory (which Steven definitely suffers from), but in this case also literally refers to the main character’s goldfish getting switched out, which made him realize that something was off. I enjoy a good layered meaning.

There is so much left that needs to be talked about, aside from the general mystery of why Egyptian deities are using random humans as pawns.
Marc/Steven’s condition is called “dissociative identity disorder”, which is a real mental health disorder where people have multiple distinct personalities. Much like with Hulk/Bruce Banner or Green Goblin/Norman Osborn, you can’t really compare it to the real life disorder as Marvel often uses it to distinguish between a “human” and their “superpowered alter ego”. I’m not actually sure how I feel about it, but this feels like the first time where they will really go in depth on the mental health toll of his dissociative periods. This episode alone made me feel like I would lose sleep too, not knowing what’s going on at all anymore.

Furthermore, in the comics, I think that Marc Spector is usually the primary character that is followed, whereas Steven is some billionaire persona, which definitely isn’t the case here. They kept hinting at people in their lives as Steven kept calling his mother (who never answered) and Marc was dodging messages from a woman called Layla. I am somewhat intrigued what, if any, kind of role they will play.

As of yet, there were no stark references to previous MCU content, so it works well for anyone just wants to try a new show, but I’m curious to see if Moon Knights benefits from the weekly release or if the confusing and frankly maddening storytelling structure would have benefited from a binging concept. It’s too soon to tell, but I’m neither invested nor disinterested for the moment.


PREVIOUS MARVEL SHOW PILOT REVIEWS:


What did you think of the pilot episode for Moon Knight? Let’s chat!

5 thoughts on “Moon Knight: Episode 1 “The Goldfish Problem” Review

  1. I honestly didn’t feel like I was watching a Marvel show until the last few minutes, when the jackal monster showed up and we see Moon Knight appear. Before that, it just felt like some weird psychological thriller with action elements, but we got there eventually, and it was fun to watch. I’m looking forward to seeing how things develop in the next couple of episodes.
    Also, apparently they’re keeping Marc Spector’s Jewish origins in this series, which I’m happy about. Yay for Jewish representation in popular media (though I don’t think Oscar Isaac is Jewish himself).

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  2. I feel like Moon Knight is quite exciting to get every week since it’s a very suspenseful show! It didn’t feel much like it was part of the MCU – I really miss the whole infinity saga essence so I hope all these new characters can link, I’m finding it hard to picture Steven and all the others 😂 it’s hard to say what I think cause it’s only episode one, but so far I have mixed feelings!

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