If you happened to see reactions from critics and members of the press who were able to see the first four episodes of Moon Knight, you undoubtedly saw a lot of people praising and hyping up the fourth episode. Now that you’ve watched it, you now know why. Here, we break down what happened and look into clues from the source material as to what this might all mean for the series.
We will spoiler details from the fourth episode. So, if you haven’t watched it yet only continue at your own risk.
After Moon Knight spends the vast majority of four episodes building up a now-relatively grounded story involving adventuring through Ancient Egyptian lore, artifacts, pyramids, tombs, and whatever else the franchise can get its hands on. Of course, Arthur Harrow appeared the be the main villain in his quest to serve/free Ammit to judge souls based on future wrongdoing. At the same time, our protagnosists are attempting to save the world from Harrow as the avatar of Ancient Egyptian lunar god Khonshu, which allowed them to summon divinely-granted suits—they still have not actually been named yet, but we know them as Moon Knight and Mr. Knight.
Most importantly, perhaps, is that our original protagonist, Steven Grant, learned he had another identity/personality named Marc Spector. The Marc reveal brought Steven into this fast-paced and dangerous plot as Marc was the one in contact with Khonshu and served as his Fist of Vengeance. The psychological implications of Steven and Marc’s dissociative identity disorder have been a loud-and-clear focus of Moon Knight so far. And it looks like it may very well increase the focus after Episode 4.
In this episode, Steven and Layla find the tomb of Alexander the Great. With it, they also have finally uncovered Ammit’s stone statue, which is similar to that we saw Khonshu get imprisoned in. Harrow swiftly catches up, and ultimately shoots Marc (who took control at this point) and seemingly kills him. We watch Marc float down through dark waters almost endlessly.
Suddenly, we cut to what looks like a direct-to-VHS movie where a young boy and an impressive adventurer and archaeologst by the name of Dr. Steven Grant are looking for atrifacts related to an Aztec lunar god. Marc then wakes up in what looks like a psych ward or mental institution with many callbacks and familiar faces. For example, random objects from early episodes (like cupcakes and a goldfish) appear in this place. Characters like Layla, Crawley, and Donna are also patients in the institution. And, of course, Dr. Arthur Harrow is Marc’s psychologist. There are numerous other Easter eggs involved, but the point is clear: did Marc simply imagine the “reality” we previously saw?
What Just Happened?
If you’re fresh off of Moon Knight Episode 4, the title question might be stuck in your mind. You are supposed to be confused, excited, and anxious to find out what comes next. If you enjoy the surprise and the mystery, this is good news for you, and you might want to avoid reading this whole article if you want to stay as unspoiled as possible. If you hate feeling confused, there is also good news for you if you keep reading this article.
So, let’s get into it. This is the point of Moon Knight where the viewer is now supposed to question absolutely everything. Obviously, the fact that Marc wakes up in a psych ward does much of that work, but how the last ten minutes or so of Episode 4 progress makes it even more complicated. It is clear from the later scenes after Marc wakes up that he is not simply in a typical psych ward having completely made everything up. Plenty of things are not quite right, but of course, he encounters Steven trapped in a sarcophagus, and the two personalities exist in separate bodies in the same place. If that isn’t enough to debunk much of the psych ward “reality”, the two come across goddess Taweret, a hippo-appearing being, who we saw as a stuffed animal in Episode 1’s gift shop.
Just in case it was not clear before—yes, you should be confused. Moon Knight has now gone out of its way to essentially discredit every “reality” it has presented audiences with. The “main reality” where we first met Steven—was everything one giant delusion of a mentally ill man based on some of his surroundings in the psych ward? If it was not entirely in Marc’s imagination, was some of it, such as Khonshu, real? We are now suddenly introduced to this “psych ward reality”—is it real? Probably not, but are the images of Steven and Taweret, for example, more delusions?
If you are dying for answers or at least some guidance, the solution may lie in the Moon Knight comics run you may have already heard a lot about. While looking at the source material for Moon Knight is certainly not “spoilers”, if the series adopts more of the comics’ plot lines, that could potentially ruin some surprises for the last two Moon Knight episodes. With that word of caution of the way, let’s look at what possibilities the Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood run coult hint at for the home stretch of the live-action series.
Lemire-Smallwood’s Inspirational Run
Moon Knight (2016) is one of the most popular comic runs of the Fist of Khonshu, but it also clearly inspired the creators of the Disney+ series plenty. After more than three decades of Moon Knight stories, Marc Spector wakes up in an insane asylum and gives evidence that he had been there since he was twelve. As such, all aspects of his Moon Knight life had been in his head. The comic run by Lemire and Smallwood jumps from perceived reality to perceived reality. We see versions of Marc Spector, Steven Grant, and Jake Lockley living their own lives, but the story jumps around in a way where each one questions their memories and realities. Like where Moon Knight seems to be going, the comics are entirely founded on the concept that Marc Spector’s mind (inlcuding his other identities) is complex, confusing, and potentially a rabbit hole of reality-beding.
This article is not the place to try and summarize the entire run or give every possible detail that connects the live-action series to that run, but it’s worth noting what Moon Knight has already clearly borrowed from. In both, Marc Spector wakes up and realizes he is in an all-white psych ward with some of his friends as other patients. His psychologist in the comics is Dr. Emmet, whereas in live-action it is Dr. Arthur Harrow. Still, Dr. Emmet is “revealed” to be a manifestation of Ammit, who we know Arthur Harrow is a follower of. Even the pair of orderlies, Bobby and Billy, made their way into Moon Knight. The appearance of Taweret at the end of Episode 4 also looks a lot like some of the Ancient Egyptian imagery that the Moon Knight comics highlight. Even more, Marc and his personalities were able to co-exist in different bodies in the comics.
Speaking of Ancient Egyptian lore connecting to the mental institution, much of the run presents Marc with a situation where the psych ward reality morphs into a version of New York City that appeared to be taken over by the Egyptian god Seth. So, Dr. Emmet would often take the form of Ammit, the orderlies as jackals, Marc makes deals with Anubis, he travels to the Overvoid, and more. At the same time, he would find himself back in the psych ward “reality” and being given electroconvulsive therapy or chastized by Dr. Emmet.
The ultimate adversary in the comcis run is actually Khonshu, not Seth. Turns out, much of the mental dismay and reality confusion is Khonshu’s doing, and the moon god is trying to completely break Marc’s mind so that Khonshu can essentially just use his body as his own. So, the run beautifully explores the dimensions of Marc/Steven/Jake’s minds and memories as they try to persevere through Khonshu’s cruel games and defeat the god they have been attached to for so long. The run ends with Marc taking control of his personality and defeating Khonshu, telling the deity that they do not need him to be Moon Knight. While Marc ends in a place where he stil cannot be sure if he is in true reality, he notes it is good enough for him, Steven, and Jake.
Where is Moon Knight Going?
Since Moon Knight is clearly taking a lot of inspiration from at least the very beginning of the Lemire-Smallwood run, there is always a chance the series will adapt even more from it. At the same time, Moon Knight has not otherwise been following a story that is clearly inspired by any particular run. That could mean that while the previously mentioned one may have some influence, the live-action series will ultimately remain a hybrid of decades of comics and new material. Considering that both the series and the comics want you to question virtually every aspect of reality, it would be naive to assume that Episodes 5 and 6 of Moon Knight will be predictable.
The first four episodes of Moon Knight are now streaming on Disney+.