We’re running a recap series of Moon Knight on Disney+. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
Surprising precisely no one, Steven Grant’s heroic exit from the prior week was short-lived. After the goddess Taweret offered a newly-balanced Marc Spector entry to the Field of Reeds, Marc opted to gamble his life and rescue his Cockney better half from the Sands of Duat. The wager pays off. Marc saved Steven, and it’s no exaggeration that Steven rescued Marc, too.
“You are the only real superpower I ever had,” Marc encourages his other-self. More than being a sappy line meant to drag a reluctant tear out of my eye (which it did, congrats), Marc’s journey through the underworld taught him that Steven is neither an annoyance to hide nor a fever to break. Nor is Steven the childish coping mechanism of an emotionally-stunted Marc caught in his younger self’s arrested development. Marc spent his life thinking he protected Steven from his abusive parents. In reality, Steven was Marc’s safety scheme the whole time. Forget the Sands of Duat. Since he was a kid, Marc traversed hell several times over. And he did it with Steven.
This is a Disney show, so while we’re primed to accept the moral of Moon Knight’s hero’s journey as one of self-discovery and self-actualization, there’s something more happening here. The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is self-esteem.
With Steven caught in Marc’s embrace, and armed with the unconquerable power of loving his whole self, Marc, with Steven, returns to Cairo, ready to defeat Ammit and Harrow as the world’s newest, strangest dynamic duo: Moon Knight and Mister Knight.
Meanwhile, Taweret offers an embattled Layla the honor of donning a new supersuit of Taweret’s making. Layla accepts and joins forces with Marc and Steven as Taweret’s avatar, Scarlet Scarab. And no shade to Sam Wilson, but Layla made slicing, dicing, and gliding on metal wings look easy.
Harrow releases Ammit, and we finally see the goddess in her full, crocodilian glory. After two thousand years in confinement, she needs an avatar of her own and names Harrow for the part.
If you recall, Ammit’s whole thing is reclaiming unbalanced souls before they’re allowed to commit evil. By Khonshu only avenging evil after it’s already been conceived, Ammit (and Harrow) have reasoned that Khonshu is too late to the draw. How can Khonshu posit himself as the defender of the vulnerable if he allows the vulnerable to come under attack in the first place?
It’s a good question! One could even say that when it comes to existential threats to the reality and goodness of a loving God, this is the question to overcome. I remember one of my old philosophy professors, James F. Sennett, putting it this way: “Christian, if the problem of suffering doesn’t keep you up at night, you don’t understand it.”
The reality of suffering brought by the whims of evil men (or by random, meaningless chance) challenges our presumptions of an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving Father. If we desire a faith that inhabits the affections of those racked with grief and misery, we do ourselves no favors to ignore suffering and pretend it’s not as bad as it is. We fool ourselves to think we’ll find the answer in airtight systematic theologies that tickle our intellects yet bring few words of comfort on the receiving end of bad news in the emergency room.
And if you’re looking for the answer to this gargantuan problem in the words of this little article, dear reader, then keep looking. The only encouragement I can give is that we who question and struggle through theological contradictions are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who’ve questioned and struggled before us.
Interestingly enough, Harrow is appointed Ammit’s avatar despite his scales not balancing, which means even a goddess will bend her rules if the means justify the ends. By her reasoning, if Alexander the Great’s “balanced” failures brought about Ammit’s millennia-long confinement, then what’s the harm in letting an unbalanced soul like Harrow take charge at the judgment seat?
Like all great cult leaders, the rules don’t apply equally to the people at the top. The pretext of judging souls is Ammit’s window dressing to justify her pursuit of unobstructed, cosmic power.
I knew this whole time that Ammit was bad. But I didn’t realize she was such a dang cliché.
Color me annoyed that the “big reveal” of Marc and Steven’s third, more murderous personality, Jake Lockley, was concealed until the post-credit scene. The show has been teasing Jake’s arrival since the very first episode, with keen observers noting that mirrored images of Marc or Steven often revealed not one but two reflections, not to mention the periods of lost time when neither Marc nor Steven had any memory of what had just happened.
For almost fifteen years now, Marvel has primed us to wait through the credits for “extra” story points, but following the bad example of Spider-Man: Far From Home, these throwaway extras have become the place where key plots are now revealed.
On the bright side, Moon Knight is Marvel’s only Phase 4 project that has existed within its own bubble as a story confined to itself with no references to other films, shows, or events in the broader MCU. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but not since Guardians of the Galaxy—eight years ago!—has producer Kevin Feige let a project stand on its own terms. Assuming the good and best in all things, it means that a studio obsessed with eating its own tale still knows how to tell a solitary story without bogging it down with callbacks and in-jokes and Easter eggs.
But who am I kidding? Like a lot of you, I was front and center for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness opening weekend. If that film is what being “bogged down” with synergy looks like, then bog me all the way down. I loved it.
Next up on the never-ending MCU train: Ms. Marvel coming to Disney+ on June 8, and Thor: Love and Thunder on July 8. Until then, Laters Gators.