It’s Marvel Wednesday and one of the few we get to experience while it lasts. So, we’re here to talk about Moon Knight – Spoilers ahead for episode 5 “Asylum”!
What was it about?
Steven and Marc have to balance the scale of justice in the underworld, reliving some of their most intense memories.
I’m going to level with you … I’m very confused. That’s not to say that I’m not enjoying the show, but I’m also definitely a little lost when it comes to the plot. I feel like Moon Knight is giving very mixed signals and I’m sure there’s hints at what is true, but I don’t like feeling this out of the loop. Let’s break down what we learned.
- Disappointingly, we don’t continue with the hippo goddess right away, but instead start with a bloodied Marc talking to Doctor Harrow at the psych ward again. It’s confirmed in the episode that he is in the Putnam Medical Facility in Illinois (which also exists in the comics), but something about the way “Marc” talked before/while he freaked out with his bruised face and got sedated, made me think that was Jake Lockley talking to Harrow, at least for a moment. Simultaneously, Marc and Steven spoke to Taweret.
- The goddess was a nice comic relief, but I somehow expected more from her appearance. Apparently, she is not trapped, but steers souls on a ship filled with their memories to the afterlife, indirectly confirming Marc truly was shot and died. The hearts of the dead must balance on the scale of justice, or the unclaimed souls will drag them off the boat. If the hearts are weighed and deigned worthy, the soul can move on to the Field of Reeds (A’Aru).
Taweret mentions that they are in the Duat, but that there are several (more pleasant) versions of the afterlife, one of which is the Ancestral Plane. This ties in to Black Panther, but can also be interpreted as Astral Planes, which frequently feature in Doctor Strange. It’s not much, but it’s a tiny sliver of the grander MCU.
- Since Marc and Steven’s hearts won’t balance, they have to embark on a journey through their memories and this is where the episode got really good! Be it about childhood trauma, Khonshu’s manipulation or grief, this was some of the best acting, editing and sound design we got to see on the show as of yet. Even with some scenes not taking up a lot of screen time, you could feel their immense impact.
It all reached its boiling point when we found out who the primary personality is and why the other one was created. I always suspected that Marc was the original personality and that it was odd that Steven’s mother never seemed to pick up the phone. Glad I was right with something.
Another thing mentioned by Taweret is that Steven and Marc’s hearts are incomplete. I interpreted it as a nod to Jake Lockley, their third alter ego, but still don’t have any confirmation of that.
- Taweret tried to steer the boat towards the gates back to Earth, but since the scales weren’t balanced in time, unclaimed souls were coming for Steven and Marc. I wasn’t so much interested in the fight scenes (opponents made of sand are always tricky), but rather the massive character development that Steven had gone through. Which is why it pained me even more to see Steven fight for Marc, just to ultimately fall off the boat and turn to stone. It feels like a betrayal to loose him so close to the end.
- Whether it was the loss of Steven or Marc’s ultimate acceptance of Steven being part of him, his scales did balance and the episode closes with him in the Field of Reeds.
I think my biggest gripe with the episode was that I simply didn’t understand the scenes that involved “Doctor Harrow”. Even if I grudgingly accept that Marc somehow manifested a psych ward for his journey to the afterlife, because he thinks he is crazy, why would Harrow constantly pull him out of his mind and dredge up memories? Why was “Marc” (I still believe that was Jake in the opening scene) have a broken nose in one instance and not in the next? It all speaks to the fact that the Harrow scenes aren’t the real ones, they are too inconsistent, but aside from this being a terrible portrayal of a psychologist, it feels ironic in the worst (illogical) ways that Harrow is ultimately the one that makes Marc and Steven reconcile with their shared identity.
With all my complaining, I really do want voice my respect for this episode too though. I thought that the exploration of Marc/Steven’s past and the way we got to explore his mental health through it was handled phenomenally. It was such a rough topic, but we really got to understand so much of the character’s history that had been kept from us thus far. Even though this was a big departure from the comic book origins, I thought it gave us some necessary depth, empathy and understanding for the man who eventually got manipulated to become Moon Knight.
Seen as this was the penultimate episode, I just have to wonder what we are going to try and wrap up in the finale. Are we still going to need to save the world from Harrow? Is it a priority to reunite Steven and Marc? Is the escape from the afterlife the goal? Was none of it real and there’s really just a person with DID at an asylum? All of it? Not going to lie to you, that seems like a mighty big task for one remaining episode, which will likely only be around 45 minutes long. I’d hate for the ending to be rushed, but I can’t help but worry a little bit. There’s a lot to be resolved!
PREVIOUS MOON KNIGHT REVIEWS:
- Episode 1: “The Goldfish Problem”
- Episode 2: “Summon the Suit”
- Episode 3: “The Friendly Type”
- Episode 4: “The Tomb”