Viewers finally got to see the Moon Knight episode that creators and critics have been teasing for weeks. The series’ fourth episode packs quite a lot into its runtime, but the only part that viewers are going to cling on to going forward is that twist of an ending. It was quite the exciting changeup, and it truly revamps the narrative on multiple levels and allows the psychological mystery setup to pay off dramatically. Comic book fans might recognize how eerily similar the psych ward at the end of the episode is to the popular Jeff Lemire-Greg Smallwood run, but it does not need that connection to carry its excitement forward. It does beg the question—between where the episode left the previous “reality” and where this new reality could go, how can Moon Knight possibly wrap this story up in a satisfying way with only two episodes left?
The episode pre-twist was notable for several reasons. It brought with it its own genre because with Khonshu out of the picture it turned into a more recognizable adventure a la Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider. Admittedly, it was not the most thrilling plotline the MCU had ever explored, but the wealth of Egyptian lore in Episode 4 was extremely interesting and packed a lot of potential into the series. Still, the pre-twist episode spent time adding major detail to not only the main story but also several of the characters. Had the episode not ended in a twist, there would have been a great deal of speculation leading out of this episode purely on the Arthur Harrow and Ammit plot. But, as we know, Harrow seemingly kills Marc Spector who drifts away through water only to reawaken someplace very different.
While the information in the pre-twist episode still, hopefully, brings value to the series later, it is difficult to expect any viewer to truly pay attention to that when Marc wakes up in what looks like a mental institution or psych ward. Everything we thought we knew is turned upside down, which brings the theme of wondering what is real and what isn’t back into the spotlight after the first episode. Moon Knight gave a sense of security with the reveal of Marc and Khonshu, and nothing had really suggested that they were not real or that the story was not taking place in reality. Now, Episode 4 spends its last ten minutes or so trying to convince you that none of it was real—sort of. The odd amount of Egyptian imagery and, of course, what looks like Egyptian goddess Taweret (whose stuffed animal we saw in the gift shop in Episode 1) suggests that this mental institution is not simply the true reality either.
So now Moon Knight is genuinely and beautifully under the “What is real?” umbrella. The already-phenomenal psychological aspect of the series will take center stage in a grand way going forward without a doubt. A psych ward—or some kind of projection of it—is the perfect place to dive deeper into the Marc/Steven psyche. There are many obvious Easter eggs (such as the cupcakes, Gus, maps, the adventure film, etc.) to suggest that what we watched of the series so far may have actually all been in Marc’s head. There is also a very eager extra sarcophagus like the one Steven was found in that has to be the most obvious tease of another personality of the entire series. Given how the episode ended, it looks like the next episode could have an escape-oriented theme with Marc and Steven working together as two different bodies. This is a perfect way to “bring to life” to both alters the amazing performance that Oscar Isaac has already put in with the characters so far. Watching them interact may very well be the highlight of Moon Knight.
While previous episodes felt as though they sometimes gave too little information or background on the major subjects of Marc Spector and Khonshu, it is almost certain that the events of Episode 4 and what it teases is coming will blow that whole issue wide open. We end in such an introspective place where the pieces of Marc’s life and mind are literally just scattered around him. It could be a perfect opportunity to journey into his mind and past.
As mentioned, the twist looks a whole lot like the Lemire-Smallwood run. That might mean the last two episodes of Moon Knight borrowed heavily from it. But even if the series does attempt a direct adaptation of the comic—which it almost certainly will not—it is not reasonable to fit that into two episodes. Even if the series seeks to merge elements of the Lemire-Smallwood story with the very original plot from the series so far, it still seems unlikely that two episodes is enough time. Overall, it is hard to picture how a twist of this magnitude could lead to a comprehensive and satisfying ending so quickly. Moon Knight could be another victim of the MCU Disney+ series curse of not quite sticking the landing. Or, it could keep surprising us like it has been.
In any event, Episode 4 might have just been the biggest “twist” of the entire MCU. Obviously some fans of the Moon Knight comics might feel less lost than those unfamiliar with them, but nearly the entirety of the first four episodes of Moon Knight were a far cry from how it looks like the series might try to tell the story from here on out. The jarring transitions between the two was one of the most enjoyably “What the f***?!” moments in MCU memory. It means that the series has to take the character’s psychological origins and backgrounds seriously story-wise and that requires going to places that other projects are usually uncomfortable with. There is certainly something wildly unnerving about what just happened in this episode. It is not unreasonably optimistic to think that the final two episodes of the series will make Moon Knight one of the most triumphant MCU installments.