By George Bate
REVIEW: The following review contains spoilers for Moon Knight – Episode 4
Things certainly took a turn for the weird in this week’s Moon Knight. Episode 4, aptly titled “The Tomb,” incorporates elements of The Descent and Raiders of the Lost Ark in following Marc/Steven and Layla as they arrive at the location of Ammit’s tomb and try to put a stop to Harrow’s attempts to resurrect the evil God.
The comparisons to The Descent and Raiders of the Lost Ark are not applied lightly in discussing the latest episode of Moon Knight. The bulk of the episode is spent in and around the location of Ammit’s tomb, which is a maze in the shape of the Eye of Horus. It is here that the MCU gets closer to the horror genre than ever before as an undead Egyptian priest, who is as disturbing as he is terrifying, hunts after Marc/Steven and Layla. The tension infused in this episode is only rivaled by the series’ pilot. Situating episode 4 in such a contained, disorienting environment allowed the creative team to play up horror tropes as the protagonists continue their Indiana Jones-style quest.
As noted in previous episodes’ reviews, Moon Knight sometimes struggles under the weight of an overabundance of story. There are so many lofty concepts introduced and the viewer is often plummeted in the middle of a narrative that has been moving forward for some notable time previously. In episode 4, this approach to storytelling hinders Moon Knight’s attempts at delivering emotional moments and conflicts for the protagonists. Harrow informs Layla that Marc Spector was one of the mercenaries who assassinated her archaeologist father, Abdallah El-Faouly. The episode’s big emotional moment comes when Layla confronts Marc about this apparent betrayal. The problem with this, however, is that the lack of backstory makes these moments rather unemotional and difficult to care about. Viewers have never been introduced to Layla’s father and have only been exposed to the effects of his death on his daughter in fleeting comments here and there. Layla and Marc have a significant history that the viewer has only had a glimpse into. So, similar to how Steven is likely perceiving this situation, it’s difficult not to feel a little distant from the emotional conflict at play here.The same can be said for the reveal that Ammit’s avatar was Alexander the Great, something that may be cool for history buffs, but does little to move the story forward.
Episode 4 will be remembered, however, for its closing 10 minutes or show, during which the series is completely turned on its head. In a turn of events reminiscent of the twists seen in the series Mr. Robot, Harrow shoots Spector, who suddenly wakes up as a patient in a psychiatric hospital. He is told, as is the audience, that the events of the series so far were conjured from Spector’s fractured and distrubed mind, rather than reflective of reality. Harrow is not the cult-like figure seen previously, but, rather, Spector’s therapist. In these frantic final moments, Spector finds Grant in a sarcophagus and then they both bump into a hippopotamus-headed being in a hallway. All this makes for a delightfully surprising twist in Moon Knight’s fourth episode. The series as we knew it has seemingly taken such a stark turn that will be so intriguing to explore in the final two episodes. The ending of this episode reflects what makes television so great – an episode throws a wrench into things, draws to a close, and leaves fans aghast as they wait for the next week’s reveals.
Moon Knight’s fourth episode beautifully takes influence from The Descent and Raiders of the Lost Ark in telling an adventurous, contained story this week. The series remains hindered by having too much story occurring off-screen prior to the events of the first episode, which impeded upon the effectiveness of episode 4’s emotional moments involving Layla, her father, and Marc. That being said, a wacky, Mr. Robot-esque twist delightfully takes the series in a completely unexpected direction, making it hard not to count the days until the story is continued next week.