Moon Knight episode 4 — out now on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar — was yet another humdrum episode of a TV show that’s made a habit of them, but by the end of it, I was left more intrigued than I have been so far with the Oscar Isaac-led Marvel Cinematic Universe series. Of course, I’m also cautiously optimistic owing to multiple factors. For one, just two episodes are left in Moon Knight‘s run. Dealing with a major distraction while also figuring out its endgame will be a lot to do in two episodes, moreso for a series that has routinely given us episodes in which barely anything happens for 50 minutes. Moon Knight hasn’t instilled any confidence in its abilities yet, but it could still suddenly produce something wholly brilliant and pathbreaking.
It’s not as though what Moon Knight might be doing is that unique to begin with. Moon Knight episode 4 ends by suggesting that Marc Spector (Isaac) has been essentially dreaming everything so far. He’s just a patient at a psychiatric hospital, where he got the idea of the Steven Grant personality from an ‘80s movie playing on TV, and everyone else we’ve come to know is just a fellow patient or a member of the staff. To me, this sounds like Marvel Studios riffing on Legion’s series premiere — Noah Hawley’s visually inventive FX superhero series that started out in a mind-boggling fashion — except with the script flipped in a way. Or is it? We’ll only know once we see next week’s Moon Knight episode 5.
I really hope Moon Knight creator Jeremy Slater knows what he’s doing, because otherwise Moon Knight is going to end up at the bottom of the MCU Disney+ pile where it already belongs.
Moon Knight episode 4 — directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, and written by Michael Kastelein — opens where we left off, inside the Great Pyramid of Giza. Osiris’s Avatar Selim (Khalid Abdalla) places the stone Khonshu, trapped in what’s known as a ushabti, near an earthen lamp. As Selim walks away and the camera pulls back, we see how many other gods have seemingly been imprisoned in stone over the years.
Following the title card, Moon Knight episode 4 jumps back to Steven and Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy) in the desert where the previous episode ended. While Steven is still unconscious, someone starts firing at them. I’m guessing it’s Arthur’s men? Layla leaves the passed-out Steven, heads to their pick-up truck, and hides inside. It actually works — the attackers find Steven’s body and think he’s dead. Just then, Layla re-emerges with a red flare to attract attention, and then ducks behind the truck again, but when the henchmen follow it, they discover she’s not there. Layla uses the distraction to throw another flare to blow up the ammunition that’s on the vehicle.
Hearing the commotion, Steven wakes up bewildered in Moon Knight episode 4. On the road towards Ammit’s tomb in the morning, Marc — via the truck’s side mirrors — tells Steven to give the body back. But Steven notes that they had a deal: when Marc was finished with the Khonshu business, he would disappear. Well, Khonshu is gone now, so in a way, he’s done. Layla, sitting next to Steven, points out that she should have been told about that deal, since Marc was part of her life too. However, she admits, more to herself, that Marc would have “wanted to lone wolf the whole thing” anyway. She’s really growing on Steven, if you haven’t been following the clues.
As Steven and Layla reach Ammit’s tomb in Moon Knight episode 4, they discover an extensive amount of work has already been done by Arthur’s men. They will need to find another way to reach the tomb before them. As they look for supplies, Marc tells Steven he needs to be scared. Now that there’s no more Khonshu, it also means no armour, no protection, and no healing. It’s why he needs to give control to Marc, who’s better equipped as a fighter, but Steven points out it’s the same body, so he thinks he can figure it out with muscle memory. That’s a dumb argument, but okay. Plus, he has Layla, Steven adds. Yeah, that definitely counts for more.
While Layla rigs Steven for the drop inside the tomb, she tells him that he smells like Marc, and out of nowhere she goes in for a kiss as Moon Knight episode 4 continues. Wow, Marvel dropped two tiny clues, and then just went for this? I’m sorry, it does not feel justified to me. And before the kiss can happen, Steven blurts out that Marc is trying to protect her from Khonshu. Oh lord, someone save this guy from himself. As a perplexed Layla looks on, Steven explains Marc is doing it because Khonshu wants her as his next Avatar. Which is fine, except that Khonshu is imprisoned in stone right now, so that’s a bit of a moot point. Layla, now annoyed at both Marc and Steven, says she needs honesty not protection.
Down in the tomb in the next scene of Moon Knight episode 4, Steven and Layla discover there are six paths. Thanks to his knowledge of ancient Egypt, Steven realises the whole structure is based on a symbol: the eye of Horus. Six paths for six senses; Steven explains. Together, they decipher that the Avatar would be Ammit’s voice — so they head towards the route that leads to the tongue. On their way, they find bullets and what look like chunks of meat, which is ominous to say the least.
As Steven climbs half a floor to look for a different exit, they hear someone approaching and do their best to hide. A creature comes in with a human body, places it on a table with the blood and meaty bits, and starts poking into it. However, the creature soon discovers Steven and Layla, forcing them to run in different directions in Moon Knight episode 4. Steven drops something from above and thinks he has squashed the creature, but its voice can be heard soon after, implying that it’s alive or that there are more of them.
Moon Knight episode 4 then follows Layla who arrives at a hollow place that has a big drop into nothing. As she sticks her back to the wall and tries to sidle her way through, she’s grabbed by a creature and pulled into darkness. Surprisingly, Layla seems somewhat unscathed, quickly using a flare to impale the creature in the eye, and throwing it into the giant pit. She almost falls herself, but recovers just in time. As Layla climbs back up, she spots Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) across from her in the distance.
Cut to Steven whose alternative exit has landed him in an inner chamber. There, he spots Macedonian symbols next to a sarcophagus, which are apparently unfamiliar to someone as knowledgeable as Steven. Talking to himself and the audience in Moon Knight episode 4, Steven notes that “he” insisted on being called Egyptian. There was only one pharaoh who was Macedonian, Steven points out, which means he has found the long-lost chamber of Alexander the Great. Ah super, the Egypt cliché train continues. First Giza, now Alexander. What’s next, a chase down the river Nile?
Anyway, Moon Knight episode 4 then takes us back to Layla and Arthur who are chatting about her archaeologist father now. He would be thrilled to know that Egyptian gods walk among us, Arthur says, before pivoting to Marc again. “Your husband is in more pain than anyone could bear, but he still hasn’t told you the truth.” An annoyed Layla shoots back: “You’re obviously dying to, so why don’t you go ahead, the floor is yours.”
Before that can happen though, Moon Knight episode 4 switches to Steven who is now panicking with his great discovery. “Everything inside me is screaming not to open this thing,” he says, with Marc replying via a reflection: “You want Harrow to get to Ammit first?” That convinces Stephen, and he opens the sarcophagus. And since Alexander was the voice of Ammit — going by their earlier deduction — he tears up his throat and face to get to the ushabti.
Back to Layla and Arthur again. “Your father was murdered by mercenaries,” Arthur tells her in Moon Knight episode 4, and Layla responds with the obvious: “You’re saying Marc was one of them?” Arthur claims Marc remembers everyone from that day, but one especially, a man wearing a fuchsia scarf with scarab details. The details are enough to bring Layla to tears, and she rhetorically demands to know whether Arthur is done, before walking away. Arthur shouts at her to wake up — just as his minions arrive to tell him they’ve found another way to Ammit’s tomb.
Layla arrives in the same room as Steven, who is rejoicing, having found the ushabti. But Layla is in a different mindspace now, in Moon Knight episode 4, still reeling from her conversation with Arthur. She wants to talk to Marc, and wonders if he can hear her. Before Steven can get in a word or two, Layla shouts: “I need to talk to you, Marc,” which brings him out over Steven. Oh wow, that’s a neat trick. Layla wants to know if Marc killed her father. “Of course not,” Marc forcefully says. But Layla realises that he was there when it happened. Marc explains that his partner got greedy and executed everyone at the dig site, including him, but he didn’t die even though he should have. It’s implied that Khonshu saved him. “That’s the reason that we met; you just had a guilty conscience,” Layla hits back, flabbergasted.
But before their conversation can go any further, they are interrupted by the imminent arrival of Arthur’s men. Marc tells Layla to scoot while he holds them off — with Alexander’s axe. Sorry, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud; he’s literally brought a knife to a gunfight. As Arthur walks in behind his gun-toting men in Moon Knight episode 4, he realises it’s just Marc. Khonshu is gone. “You’re a free man, and with that freedom comes choice,” Arthur tells Marc, as he stretches his hand out for the ushabti. “Right now, you have a very important decision to make.” But of course, Marc does the foolhardy thing and takes on two of Arthur’s approaching men. In response, Arthur shoots him through the heart. As the second bullet goes through, Marc falls backwards, into the tiny pond behind him.
Moon Knight goes into a different space then. Marc’s body sinks into the water even though there isn’t that kind of depth, before disappearing into the darkness below. And what emerges from that is an adventure movie with a 4:3 aspect ratio featuring a middle-aged guy and a teenager called Rosser, who come across a dead body. Rosser wonders if this means the treasure is gone, but in the distance, the man spots a statue of Coyolxauhqui, calling it the lunar god of the Aztecs. (Khonshu is the Egyptian lunar god, by the way.) Rosser says he doesn’t know anything, “but you’re Dr. Steven Grant”. Wait, what? Excuse me? Is Steven’s personality based on a movie?
It seems so, as the camera zooms out on a very different Moon Knight episode 4, revealing it’s a movie being watched by patients in a psychiatric hospital. “Donna” (Lucy Thackeray), Steven’s boss from the museum, is also here. There’s the guy who played Anton Mogart’s bodyguard Bek (Loic Mabanza), alongside a woman who’s drawing something that looks a bit like Khonshu. Even one of Arthur’s right-hand men (David Ganly) who pretended to be a cop in episode 2, is here, attending to our protagonist who’s a patient. Layla is also a nurse here. And Moon Knight is just an action figure in his hand. He calls himself Steven as he stares at his reflection — he still has ankle bracelets and now they keep him tied to his wheelchair — but he’s called Marc by the attendant.
Sorry, has Steven/Marc been making everything up? Did we just go Legion season 1 here? Soon after, in Moon Knight episode 4, Arthur — his doctor here — is speaking to him – though he’s really speaking to us, the audience, in an attempt to explain what’s going on. He notes that Marc has a “great bit of difficulty separating what’s real from what’s not.” Marc, the wheelchair guy, has associated himself with a movie called Tomb Buster — which might sound like Tomb Raider, but it’s written in an ‘80s movie title style like Indiana Jones — and everything that Marc says apparently stems from that movie. Be it his Steven persona, or that he works for a lunar god.
With the heavily sedated Marc unable to respond, Arthur continues on Moon Knight episode 4: “We don’t live in a material world, we live in a psychic world.” Take the pen for an example, it can be a writing utensil or a chew toy, depending on whose hands it’s in. Marc thinks he’s being played — after all, everything in Arthur’s office is Egyptian themed. Has the cultist Arthur put Marc in a weird metaphysical space, or has Marc always been in an asylum like Legion’s David Haller?
Marc tries to get away from Arthur and runs out the door. The lights on the ceiling are moving — suggesting something is off — before Marc hides in an empty room as Moon Knight episode 4 reaches its conclusion. Except there’s a sarcophagus there, and his lookalike emerges from it. Marc and Steven are in different bodies now, which definitely seems to support the “weird metaphysical space” theory. As Marc and Steven move through the hospital, they spot a shaking sarcophagus in another room, but ignore it and move on. As they continue tip-toeing, a hippopotamus in clothes befitting wealthy ancient Egyptians steps through of a swinging door and cutely says hi, which makes both Marc and Steven scream. What is going on? We’ll find out next week in Moon Knight episode 5.
(For those wondering, the end credits song on Moon Knight episode 4 is Egyptian trap artist Wegz’s 2019 single دورك جي. That loosely translates to “Your Turn Is Here”. It’s available on Apple Music and Spotify.)