Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight continues to bring us an original story in which similarities to a few of its more recent comic runs are always naturally found. Following Episode 1, we looked at how the show explored Marc Spector’s dissociative identity disorder compared to the comics. In Episode 2 Mr. Knight was introduced through a rather different take than in the comics and in Episode 3 Layla’s backstory, along with her dad’s, was approached and so we delved deep into how those same events were presented in both the original Moon Knight comic run and the more recent Lemire/Smallwood one. All things considered, and even though the series has shown us that it has taken inspiration from more than just one pivotal comic run, the aforementioned Lemire/Smallwood seems to be the Moon Knight volume we keep going back to. And the end of episode 4 was no exception.
There, we find Marc and Steven, waking up in a psych ward filled with characters and objects that have found themselves referenced throughout the entire show. From Marc’s wife Layla to other less relevant characters, from Khonshu references to paintings depicting an Austrian village in the Alps, everyone and everything that played a part in the story so far seemed to be there in one way or another. This all worked as an incredible twist since the sequence was designed to present itself after the viewer was already invested in the story through prior events and to set up the third act of the show (the final two episodes) unlike what we get in the comics. There, the same idea (introducing the reader to Marc being stuck in a mental institution) was used to set up the story itself, since it came right at the start of the run. The references were still all there: Crowley, Bobby & Billy, Marlene/Layla, and Dr. Emmet/Harrow but were presented in a way where who they were and what they represented was still something to be figured out. In magic terminology, while in the comics this sequence was the setup as the beginning of The Pledge, in the series it was presented as The Turn, ahead of the upcoming third act, The Prestige.
Another big difference from the comics is that in the show Marc and Steven get to the psych ward at a time when Khonshu is already imprisoned in an ushabti leaving Spector and Grant’s body without both its powers and its guidance. Here they seemingly can only count on themselves to figure out what exactly are their surroundings (and if they are, in fact, real or not) and how to escape them. As for the Lemire/Smallwood run, Marc is awoken in the ward by Khonshu himself. He’s the one who tells Marc what to do and when to do it to free himself and, in Khonshu’s words “Rise.”
And this brings us to a similarity between the show and the comics that might get even clearer in Episode 5, but that is already heavily hinted at by the end of episode 4. As Marc escapes the psych ward’s rec room things get a bit.. off. This gives us signs of how fabricated the reality seems to be. In the show, this is where he and Steven find a couple of sarcophagi and come face to face with the goddess Taweret making it obvious that this was no ordinary Mental Hospital. Something that will surely be confirmed in this week’s episode 5. Similarly, in the comics, it’s when Marc finally decides to follow Khonshu’s will and prepare to escape that he sees the orderlies’ true faces as Death Dogs, Egyptian jackals, something that helps him feel validated in his eerie feelings towards the place.
Then, as he finds his way through the building looking for a way out, he reaches the roof, where we are presented with one of the most ominous spreads of the entire run: New York City having been invaded by Seth, the Egyptian god of war, chaos, and storms.
If Marc and Steven end up finding something similar as they break free from what seems to be an intricate illusion we will surely see it in Episode 5. At the same time, and marking yet another way in which the series and the comic run differ from each other, it’s perhaps fair to say that while in the comics we were presented with a distorted vision of reality, the series will go beyond that and make, what seems to be the awakening following an extremely vivid dream, the dream itself.
Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight is streaming exclusively on Disney+ with episode 5 premiering this upcoming Wednesday, ahead of the series finale on May 4.