Let’s talk about the hippopotamus in the room. Moon Knight sweeps the rug out from everyone’s feet in episode four – offering a lot of answers, a lot more questions and an ending so weird it throws the rest of the series into complete chaos. Before all that though, we get a kick-ass horror film right in the middle of the MCU.
Bird-god puppeteer Khonshu is currently out of action so his avatars Steven and Marc (Oscar Isaac, playing two characters trapped inside the sam body) are on their own. They’ll be no summoning super-powered alter-egos Moon and Mr Knight in this episode. Luckily though, they still have Layla (May Calamawy). Running away from villainous cult leader Arthur Harrow and his goons after Steven blacks out, the tomb-raiding adventurer takes out an armoured truck with a flare – and leads the way to ancient crocodile goddess Ammit’s tomb.
Meek gift shop employee Steven knows he needs to be more like Marc – an all-action former marine – just as Marc knows he could learn something from Steven, and a kiss from Layla opens up a whole can of worms about which personality she’s better off with (and causes Marc to make Steven slap himself in the face).
The sparky chemistry gives way to some more ancient history lessons as the pair start exploring Ammit’s tomb, following a trail of hieroglyphic symbols (and a load of ominous blood trails) deeper into the crypt. Suddenly swapping Tomb Raider for The Mummy, the show goes full supernatural horror as we meet one of the zombies guarding the catacombs – making a creepy tutting sound and leaping around like a leathery blue monkey.
Gutting one of Harrow’s goons and stuffing his organs in a ceremonial jar, the mummy helps Marvel carry one of its scariest scenes to date – right before topping it again as Layla tries to escape over a crumbling nightmare chasm. Cue undead arms bursting out of walls, and a struggle that ends with a flare jammed in a dusty eye hole. Still reeling from the shock, it’s exactly the wrong time for Harrow to show up and tell her that Marc was responsible for killing her dad, the famed archaeologist Abdullah El-Faouly.
Meanwhile, Steven has made it to the main chamber and found the long lost tomb of Alexander The Great (who the show now rewrites as being the last avatar of Ammit – maybe explaining how he was able to conquer most of Europe, Asia and Africa). Reaching inside the corpse’s mouth, he pulls out the ushabti (a small figurine buried with its subject) of Ammit. At the same moment, Layla arrives and forces Marc to come out so she can ask him about her dad.
He didn’t kill Abdullah, he says, but he did see it happen – betrayed and shot by his partner right before the massacre started. Confessing all this just when Harrow turns up, Marc ends up getting killed for a second time, which is when things start to get really weird…
Cutting to a vintage Indiana Jones parody, we watch ‘Dr Steven Grant’ overact his way through a bad B-movie playing on a TV in the middle of a psychiatric hospital. Marc is strapped to a wheelchair, catatonic, watching the film on repeat while all the characters from episodes one to three pop up around him as patients and nurses. Wheeled into a doctor’s office (clutching an action figure of Moon Knight), Marc starts noticing a dozen different hospital details that seem to suggest he’s been dreaming the whole thing: Egyptian ornaments on the shelves, a painting of the Austrian location from the first episode, a goldfish in a bowl.
Even more confusingly, the head doctor is played by Ethan Hawke. Has the whole thing been in his head? Before we can get into all that, Marc busts out of the doctor’s office and bumps into Steven, both now existing as different people in whatever reality we’re actually in. And if that’s not brain-scrambling enough, the pair close the episode by opening a door on a giant blue hippo goddess, who waves and says hi. We have questions…
- Abdullah El-Faouly is known as Colonel in the comics, an Iraqi freedom fighter who takes Captain America’s super serum to fight back against American oppression. Killed by Hulk and Cap during a dubious Avengers battle in Ultimates 2 #12, Marvel are clearly taking a different route with the character here.
- The VHS tape Mark was watching on TV was called Tomb Buster, a parody so full of nods to Moon Knight’s influences that it even borrows a cheeky music cue from John Williams’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark score.
- Students of ancient history will recognise the hippo monster as Taweret, the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. What that has to do with anything is anyone’s guess though…
‘Moon Knight’ airs every Wednesday on Disney+