By Josh Reilly B.
The first four episodes of Moon Knight, the latest MCU series to debut on Disney+, shifted right into the heart of the story as Steven Grant, also known as Marc Spector, began to learn more about his mental illness, dissociative identity disorder, along with the hidden world of Egyptian gods and avatars.
In many ways, the first four episodes were Grant’s origins story as he was introduced to his other side and this massive world that, until that point, he believed to be a fictional aspect of Egyptian culture. In episode 5, which took a turn away from the structure of the previous outings and shifted gears to be a truly weird, stunning chapter in this grand Marvel universe.
As teased at the end of the last episode, reality isn’t quite what it appeared to be in the initial episodes of the show, and what is real and what is not real remains unsolved heading into next week’s finale. Marc Spector is shown in a mental institution ran by Ethan Hawke’s Dr. Harrow, not a villain but merely a psychologist trying to help his patient. Despite Harrow appearing good natured as a doctor, there is still a sinister undertone to his behavior, something which could suggest that what audiences witnessed in the first four episodes was indeed reality, as much as this outing tries to say otherwise.
Spector is not talking to Harrow at all times in this episode, however, as the majority of the chapter is him and his other personality, Steven, as they navigate an Egyptian purgatory like state, which they are in after being shot by Harrow. Again, it’s not clear if this or the mental institution (or both) is reality, although signs point to the former being accurate. Up until this point, Marc and Steven communicated to each other at times but were largely kept separate, but this episode sees them actually able to interact in a truly emotional way.
The interactions begin with some heartwarming scenes of how happy they are to see each other, but quickly turn into an origins story for both of them. The first four episodes, for better or worse, lacked a clear and definitive backstory for the character, but this week’s outing more than made up for it. Marc’s childhood is shown, including his mother’s turning on him after the accidental death of his younger brother. It’s a story that is tragic in every way, and that this episode resonates emotionally so much must surely go down as one of the greatest achievements of the MCU so far.
Oscar Isaac is a big reason why the episode is so impactful, as the star plays off of himself brilliantly and nails some of the most crucial emotional moments. Scenes like a young Marc’s birthday are already tear jerkers, but Oscar Isaac brings it full circle by showing just how much these moments impacted his mental health and overall well being, such as at his mother’s funeral. As Marc becomes so overwhelmed, Steven suddenly appears as a means to cope with these negative emotions. It’s an incredibly heartbreaking moment, and one that seals the fate of Isaac’s performance as the best get in the entire franchise.
Steven tragically died at the end of the episode, seemingly a necessary fate in order to stop Harrow. This episode reiterated what was already known about Steven, but in the most tragic of ways; he was a genuinely kind hearted, gentle person who manifested as a way to cope with unbelievable trauma, and whose “death” is truly heartbreaking. Again, Isaac nails this scene.
No flaws are in sight in episode 5 of Moon Knight as this outing must surely go down as one of the best that the MCU has ever made, on film and television. Oscar Isaac is a standout in the incredible episode and continues to take this series to new heights, and has wonderful chemistry with Ethan Hawke.