REVIEW: ‘Moon Knight’ Episode 1-“The Goldfish Problem”

Moon Knight doesn’t hit the ground running as a superhero show. There’s certainly supernatural mystery in the air, but it is all very open-ended up until the actual Moon Knight reveal. We didn’t enter the realm of Captain America, Hawkeye, or even Thor, and it feels like the show exists in its own pocket universe within the greater universe. No one thing explains that feeling, but it certainly doesn’t rely on existing structures or even narrative themes and patterns. In that way, Moon Knight, if nothing else, feels fresh. The premiere episode certainly felt like a prologue and an introduction into some sort of outlier corner of the MCU. But the possibilities are practically endless.

This is an episode about Steven Grant. Steven Grant is an awkward, kind of fumbling, lonely, cowardly guy. But he’s also quippy. And the consistent humor Oscar Isaac brings to the role is truly the bedrock of everything that happens around Grant. The funny personality type does sort of feel like the MCU—letting the underlying character shine with or without the suit. Moon Knight in this episode is still a far cry from being as dead serious as the character historically can be. Grant, who does not know what is happening to him here, is like a mirror to a viewer who also is meant to be in the dark. But he will help you laugh a bit too. 

But the underlying story is without a doubt serious, and it’s heightened by not only the obvious supernatural evil presence of Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, but also by the suspense and tension of Grant’s mental state. While Grant’s other personality, Marc Spector, is not revealed until the end of the episode, the screenplay is brilliant to tease out areas where Grant lost control of his body to Marc. Grant sort of reawakens with jarring editing to a similar setting but with violence and bloodshed around him. While more than one personality of the main character will be explored over time, the episode’s focus almost exclusively on Steven Grant gives the series the ability to tell a Moon Knight story without starting from scratch while taking advantage of quite the character piece it has built right in.

The larger sequence where Grant finds himself awakened in a foreign place, where he meets Harrow, emphasizes how important Grant’s mental narrative is to the show. While Harrow’s background and goals are still a mystery, using Grant as the lens into this particular moment of the story gets rid of the origin story lag. It also is designed to make the viewer question what is and is not real in the show, and that is an exciting bucket of worms that is so characteristic of the character in his comic book history. And while this episode still has to lay some groundwork, the series has the potential going forward to have some phenomenal pacing and tell a story without skipping a beat. While the costumed Moon Knight only makes a very brief appearance at the tail end of the episode, the quick transition to him and the final shot being him on the move does quite a lot in terms of setting up the rhythm of the series.

Despite being fronted as an MCU superhero adventure, at this point, the series looks like a story about an unstable man who happens to find himself surrounded and overwhelmed by a foreboding evil plot involving Egyptian gods. The first episode of Moon Knight certainly shows off that it has the potential to be a very intriguing, suspenseful, and fresh story for the MCU. It can pretty much move in any direction, and that is not something a lot of comic book series can boast—it’s exciting.

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