A major part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase 4 has been about introducing new blood. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021) shone the light on the greatest martial artist in the MCU. “Eternals (2021)” expanded the franchise’s horizons and showed us the bigger (and God-like) players going through an existential crisis. “WandaVision (2021)” portrayed Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). “Loki (2021)” revealed the next Thanos-level baddie, i.e., Kang (Jonathan Majors). “Black Widow (2021)” and “Hawkeye (2021)” opened the door for Kate Bishop (Hailee Steinfeld) and Yelena (Florence Pugh). And with Disney+ latest offering, Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) has made his entrance.
The first episode of “Moon Knight” is directed by Mohamed Diab and written by Jeremy Slater. It features Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), Steven Grant/Marc Spector/Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac), and Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy). Understanding whether a story is set after Thanos’s (Josh Brolin) snap and Hulk’s (Mark Ruffalo) reversal, also known as The Blip, has become a big thing in the Phase 4 stories. Although it’s not explicitly stated here, it looks like “Moon Knight (2022)” is set in the post-Blip world. Some eagle-eyed fans have pointed out posters for the Global Repatriation Council (GRC), an organization that seeks to rehabilitate people impacted by the Blip. Also, unlike most MCU movies and shows, this is a globe-trotting adventure, starting from London.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Arthur Harrow and the Search for Ammit’s Scarab
“Moon Knight” probably has one of the gnarliest openings Marvel fans have seen in the franchise in a long time. It shows Hawke’s Harrow doing some kind of ritual by putting his hands on a piece of cloth. His hand has a tattoo of a weighing scale whose beams are the shape of crocodile heads. Then he proceeds to put a glass on that cloth, pours some liquid in it, drinks it, covers it with the cloth, smashes it with his cane (which also has two crocodile heads on it), puts the shards of that glass in his slippers, wears them, and just walks away. Later on, it’s revealed that the crocodile symbol is connected to the God that Harrow worships, i.e., Ammit.
Now, there’s a being in the Marvel comics called Ammitu or Ammut, inspired by an actual demoness or goddess in ancient Egyptian religion. In the comics, she’s known to be the Eater of the Dead, devouring those judged by Anubis by putting a mortal soul on a balance scale against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of order. There’s more to her, but it’ll spoil things. So, let’s keep it at that.
Later on, in the show, we see that Harrow has a cult-like following in a town where Grant finds himself. Harrow is seen spewing religious propaganda about making the Earth more like Heaven. But propaganda turns into horror when he weighs the souls of his followers, and an old lady dies for the sins she has committed in the past or will commit in the future. It’s quite possible that Harrow is acting as a conduit for Ammit and collecting souls for her to power up. Or maybe there’s no Ammit at all, and he’s collecting souls to stay forever young. Either way, he’s desperate as he aggressively goes after Grant to get the scarab that he possesses.
Steven Grant, Marc Spector, and the Fight for Control
We meet Steven Grant waking up in what’s apparently his apartment, with his leg tied to a wooden pole, sand around his bed (to keep track of his movements), and living with a one-finned fish named Gus. He works in the gifts section of the National Art Gallery, despite having in-depth knowledge of Egyptian history, spewing random trivia about Egyptian death rituals and Goddess Taweret whenever he gets the chance. He is bullied by his immediate superior, Donna (Lucy Thackeray), for constantly being late and trying to be the tour guide when he’s not. His best friend is a living statue, to whom he complains about not remembering how he reserved a date, thereby hinting at his unreliable memory.
Grant is seen trying to stay awake (because he is aware that he loses control of his body when he goes to sleep) by reading about Ennead, the meeting of the Gods of Egypt that hail Celestial Heliopolis. It is a pocket dimension that connects with Earth through an interdimensional gateway hidden in Egypt. But before we get to know more about that, Grant finds himself in a field in a different country altogether, being chased by gun-toting mercenaries. It’s there that we hear Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham) for the first time, requesting Grant to surrender his body to Marc and take care of the scarab that Harrow is after.
While escaping Harrow’s henchmen, we not only get to see Grant blackout in real-time, but also the kind of damage Marc Spector is capable of doing. But his blood-ridden adventure is cut short as Grant wakes up in his apartment, tied to his bed, with no footprints on the sand, and the tape still intact on his door. Grant feels relieved, thinking it is nothing but a dream. However, eventually, he finds out that a couple of days have passed, Gus has two fins (maybe Spector has replaced them), and he has missed his date. Additionally, he makes contact with Layla, and it’s hinted that he has lived a life as Spector, who has been covering up his tracks to convince Grant that he doesn’t move out at night.
“Moon Knight” Episode 1: Ending – Who Takes Over Steven Grant’s Body?
In the final few minutes of “Moon Knight,” after another jump in space and time, Grant realizes that everything that happened in and around that Swiss (that’s a guess) village with Harrow wasn’t a figment of his imagination. He did, in fact, kill a bunch of goons, narrowly escaped a bunch of falling logs and is now being followed by Harrow. So, he tries to warn the security guard to not let any dodgy people in. But he finds himself face-to-face with Harrow, who has covert operatives of his cult spread all across the museum, and requests Grant to give up Ammit’s scarab (while giving him a little mythology lesson about Ammit’s powers). Harrow lets him go, temporarily, after finding out that there’s chaos (as in the Chaos Magic that Scarlet Witch possesses, probably) in Grant.
While on his way out of the museum, Grant hears a dog-like sound and follows it. There we get yet another indication that whoever isn’t in control of the body can operate somewhat freely via reflective surfaces, as Grant moves forward, but his reflection (Spector) stays back to notice what the dog-like sound is coming out of. And it’s a demon resembling Anubis that Harrow has unleashed upon Grant. Things do get particularly hairy before Grant manages to make his way into a bathroom and lock himself in. As Anubis tries to claw his way into the bathroom, Spector confronts Grant through the reflections and gives him the pep talk he needs to relinquish control over the body and let Spector do his thing.
After a lot of persuasion, Grant finally lets go of the body, and Spector takes over to finally reveal the titular Moon Knight in all his glory. Well, we see part of it, and Diab makes us think that Anubis got him mid-transformation. But when it cuts to a shot from the hallway, we see a sink fly out, followed by Anubis, who then gets pulled back in and punched to kingdom come by Moon Knight. And then he dramatically walks into the camera, thereby establishing the fact that Spector is the one capable of summoning the Moon Knight suit, while Grant isn’t that adept at doing the same. Now, where does the suit come from? What does the suit have to do with Khonshu? What is Marc Spector’s mission? What’s the role of the scarab? What will happen if Harrow gets it? To get the answers to all those questions, we’ll have to wait for “Moon Knight” Episode 2.
“Moon Knight” Episode 1 is streaming on Disney+ and on Disney+ Hotstar.