Moon Knight Recap: Tell Them Your Stories (Episodes 4 & 5)
We’re running a recap series of Moon Knight on Disney+. There are spoilers, duh! You’ve been warned.
Since the gods locked Khonshu away in an ushabti prison, Marc, Steven, and Layla are on their own to track down Ammit’s resting place before Arthur Harrow’s death cult can release the goddess’ judgment on the earth. But we’re all adults here, which means chances are good you’ve seen enough installments of Indiana Jones and The Mummy to know exactly how this plays out. The heroes band together to solve the temple’s mysterious puzzles, and by doing so, lead the bad guys straight to the prize.
But before that, Layla finally learned the hidden truth of her husband’s mercenary life, that Marc was a member of the hit squad who murdered her father during a botched raid on an archeology dig site. It was Marc’s guilt for aiding and abetting that led him to the brink of suicide before Khonshu “rescued” him and gave him a new purpose: Protect the vulnerable and deliver Khonshu’s justice to those who hurt them. That’s the night Marc became Moon Knight, and it’s also the event that set him on a path to meet Layla in the first place. The only problem is, he never disclosed the origins of why he crossed paths with his orphaned wife in the first place.
For Layla, this is every bit the mindcuss you’d think it would be.
Full disclosure: I practically failed out of Bible college. I’m not a pastor, nor do I claim to be a biblical scholar. I understand the text never specifically allows divorce when you find out your spouse is complicit in your parent’s murder. But if God says you can divorce someone for cheating on you, then I have to imagine that’s a type of infidelity that would be hard for any marriage to overcome.
Layla has every right to kick Marc’s patricidal butt to the curb. But that reckoning never entirely comes because before Layla has the chance, Arthur Harrow, gun in hand, swoops in and kills her husband.
The credits roll. The show is over. Marc and Steven are dead. Dead as dead. See you at the Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness premiere on May 6.
But not so fast.
A sedated Marc awakens inside a mental hospital brimming with Egyptian relics and characters from the previous three episodes. And his therapist is an ASMR-speaking, mustachioed Arthur Harrow, who’s assuring Marc that the entire Moon Knight charade is a construct of Marc’s mind, as is Marc’s alter ego, Steven Grant.
In fact, we catch our first glimpse of the O.G. Steven Grant, who’s actually the main character of a low-budget adventure series called Tomb Buster, a series that Marc used to own on VHS as a kid. That’s odd. What are the chances his Steven would share the same name and traits as a straight-to-video movie?
Marc races through the hospital until he finds Steven locked away in a sarcophogus. The pair make their escape until they’re blocked at the exit by a walking, talking anthropomorphic hippotomus. Which — as nerds like my wife instantly recognized — is the goddess Taweret, protector of mothers and children during pregnancy and birth.
Taweret says she’s there to usher Marc and Steven to the Field of Reeds (aka, the Egyptian afterlife), but their scales must be balanced first, lest they spend an eternity languishing in the Sands of Duat (aka, the Egyptian realm of the dead). And in case you missed a tiny bit of exposition during this part, she tells them that unbalanced souls are already “being judged or condemned to the sands before their time.”
In other words, it sounds like Ammit has already been unleashed back on the land of the living.
This unsettling turn of events is all the convincing Tawaret needs to make an exception by granting safe passage to Marc and Steven’s resurrection through the Gate of Osiris. The only condition: Marc and Steven must still balance their scales before they arrive at the gate.
The rest of episode five settles into what I think ranks as the darkest emotional exploration I’ve seen in a MCU property as Steven uncovers the forgotten childhood that Marc has spent a lifetime trying to conceal. Because of course, the memories were never forgotten at all. Marc alone has borne the burden of a childhood marred by a dead brother and a violent mother who blamed Marc for his brother’s premature demise. Marc is the abuse survivor who was robbed of the chance to mourn his brother’s death by both an abusive mother and an emotionally passive father who failed to protect Marc from his mother
And that’s how Steven lived the childhood Marc never could. He was Marc’s safety net, the byproduct of Marc’s fractured mind, the dissociative personality born to shield the tortured child from the chronic stress of a traumatic childhood.
So it’s no wonder Marc’s scales have never balanced. There is nothing balanced about any of this.
As the guy who can pull up a Pedro the Lion lyric for any occasion, I’m reminded of a line from the song “Black Canyon” off 2019’s Phoenix album:
Tell them your stories
If you carry them by yourself
The gorier the details the more you walk alone in hell
Marc doesn’t carry the story by himself anymore. Steven knows it, and when it comes to his role in Layla’s father’s murder, Layla knows it, too. And because this is a Marvel show and not real life, that’s all it takes in the heat of the moment.
The scales balance, and Marc and Steven are ready to return back to life and unleash Khonshu’s justice against Arthur Harrow and Ammit.
We end the penultimate episode with a fight sequence as the pair fight off a horde of condemned souls breaching the ship and trying to drag them down to hell. Up to this point, Marc has always been Steven’s protector, shielding him from the things he felt Steven was never meant to see or experience. But now a newly “balanced” Steven finds the courage to fight off the crowd and return the favor, protecting Marc and sacrificing his life to send Marc back to the land of the living.
Which means that for now, it’s “laters gators” for Steven as we head to the finale.