“Hey!” said the giant blue hippopotamus. “What?” said everyone else. Last week’s episode ended on a major WTF moment, and Moon Knight doubles down on the weirdness in ‘Asylum’ to take the series into some impressively unexpected places. Is this Marvel’s oddest, most exciting drama yet?
Back in Dr Harrow’s (Ethan Hawke) office in Putnam Psychiatric Hospital, Marc (Oscar Isaac) is told that he’s insane – his mind “a pendulum swinging between sense and nonsense”. Covered in cuts and bruises from all the imaginary fights he keeps starting with the other patients, Marc’s reality is clearly a traumatic one. Unable to process it, he skips back to the hippo in the hallway and meets Taweret (Antonia Salib) with Steven back by his side.
“This will really bake your noodle, but I’m afraid you are actually quite dead,” confirms Taweret – explaining that, yes, she is a giant hippo, and Marc/Steven are currently in the realm of the Duat. Not so much an afterlife as an intersectional realm of consciousness between heaven and hell, Marc /Steven are actually (maybe?) on an ancient barge sailing through an endless night desert towards the gates of Osiris. Taweret yanks out their hearts and weighs them on a set of scales against an ostrich feather – if they balance before the end of the journey they’ll get to enter the paradise of A’Aru. If they don’t, they’ll get thrown overboard and frozen in hell sand for eternity.
It might all sound a bit mad, but the setup here comes straight from the ancient Egyptian religion – and the rest of the episode cuts deep into some very real psychology. Knowing they have to balance the scales of their own minds, Marc and Steven run through the hallways of their own memories trying to fix themselves – a big expensive MCU metaphor for psychoanalysis in action.
At the root of everything is a childhood trauma that Marc has been trying to forget his whole life. Steven catches a glimpse of the moment Marc failed to stop his younger brother from drowning as a boy, skipping through moments of his past ever after as his mum (Fernanda Andrade) blames him for the death – beating him as a child and ignoring him as an adult.
First putting on an English accent as he sits sobbing under a film poster for adventurer “Dr Steven Grant’, Marc ’s dissociative personality disorder brings Steven to life as a way of hiding from the pain and abuse he’s suffering at home – eventually separating completely as he stands outside his mum’s funeral. In Marc’s head, the moment also coincides with a memory (made up?) of the time he sold his soul to Khonshu after the same bloody desert battle that killed Layla’s archaeologist dad.
— Moon Knight (@moonknight) April 26, 2022
“Do you think Marc created Steven to hide from all the evil things you think you’ve done in your life, or do you think Steven created Marc to punish the world for what your mother did to you?” asks Dr Harrow, helping Steven to finally realise that he’s the made-up part of Marc’s broken personality.
With the revelations finally coming to a head (with the heartbreaking moment Steven confronts Marc with his own trauma “You were just a child. It wasn’t your fault”), the death ship finally docks at the gates of Osiris. The scales still aren’t fully balanced so Marc and Steven have to fight off a couple of undead souls (literally fighting their own demons) before the inevitable finally happens – Steven is dragged overboard and frozen into sand, giving Marc the release he needs to enter A’Aru on his own.
It’s a pretty perfect ending to a pretty perfect show, but there’s still a whole episode left…
- Marc confirms that his desert raid was ordered by “Bushman”, meaning Raul Bushman – the same mercenary leader who fought Moon Knight in the comics (and who later gets his face sliced off before being resurrected by The Hood to fight alongside Ghost Rider as a zombie).
- “That ’tache and haircut is very Ned Flanders” Steven tells Harrow, confirming the existence of The Simpsons in the MCU.
- The song played at the end of the episode is ‘Más Allá Del Sol’ by Manuel Bonilla, with lyrics translating as: “Beyond the sun, I have a home”. Surely this isn’t the end of Marc’s story though?
‘Moon Knight’ airs every Wednesday on Disney+