Let’s Talk about Moon Knight Episode 1-5
Okay, when last we last saw our hero heroes of Moon Knight, the big reveal indicated that they were living in an insane asylum, Arkham style.
Then, a hippopotamus in Egyptian formalwear waved and said hello. Now, we don’t know what to think about any of this. What in the Blue Hell is going on? Let’s talk about Moon Knight episode 1-5, the one ominously named Asylum.
Back in the Matrix
We start the episode with 1) a judgmental parent 2) a screaming hippopotamus 3) noted therapist Dr. Harrow.
Which of those is real? I mean, what is reality anyway? That’s what Moon Knight has forced us all to reconsider.
In the present, Marc Spector is definitely talking to Dr. Harrow, who looks a great deal like cult leader Arthur Harrow, disciple of Ammit.
Marc has somehow reset his memory to Putnam Medical Facility, which we learn is in Chicago, Illinois.
Harrow takes issue with his patient’s assertion that he’s not a real doctor, claiming that he feels real. Then, he acknowledges it’s not about him but patient.
Meanwhile, the no-longer Moon Knight scours the room for signs that he’s not the crazy one. At the moment, that’s a hard sell. Harrow reveals that Marc was just talking about a little boy, which will prove vital to the plot.
However, Marc resets any home of progress in the conversation, forcing the doctor to call for emergency sedation of his patient.
This shot comes with unexpected side effect of sending his mind back to Hungry, Hungry Hippo World, a more sinister place than it sounds.
Marc compliments his meds, while Steven has returned and speaks with the Holy Hippo. She asks whether they’re twins.
One answers yes, while the other says no. She sarcastically comments that they really cleared that one up for her.
Then, the kindly hippo tries to cheer them up by informing them that they’re both dead. Yup, Harrow shot them back at Alexander the Great’s tomb.
Nobody Likes a Funny Hippo
This new character, Taweret, is the friendly sort and wants to help the boys reach the afterlife comfortably. Most of her proclamations about the afterlife are played for laughs. She’s big on cards and recites these notes for informational purposes.
Apparently, the Mknight boys are in a transitory realm as they make their way to their final destination with the A’aru, the Field of Reeds in Duat, the Realm of the Dead. Obviously, only good boys and girls reach this destination, though. As we soon learn, the bad ones get trapped in Egyptian sand for all eternity.
Marc accidentally opens a door at the asylum, which leads to a sand-ship in the afterworld. Yup, that’s their ride. Taweret informs them that she needs to do a quick little test, which involves ripping out their hearts and measuring them on a balance.
If the hearts aren’t evenly measured, they’re swallowing sand for eternity. Since the boys have incomplete hearts, the scales refuse to balance. Taweret suggests that they search the ship for memories that could place their hearts in equilibrium.
Many of the windows involve Marc’s mercenary murders, while Steven’s highlights stem from magical stuff he did with Khonshu. A child’s cry causes them to travel to a new room, where they discover dead bodies. It turns out these are all Marc’s victims, including the one who would have been his father-in-law.
The Brother He Forgot
Eventually, Marc tries a new door and instantly recognizes the memory he doesn’t want to revisit. His parents are serving a picnic in the back when his mother asks Marc (NOT Steven) to keep an eye on his brother.
Yup, Steven is the imaginary person. Marc is real. You may wonder if the brother is named Steven, and the answer is no. Still, you shouldn’t get attached to the kid. Yes, it’s that kind of memory. The boys visit a cave, where only one of them survives the flooding.
Someone, a dead sibling isn’t the worst part of this childhood memory. After one son dies, the mother unfairly blames the other. She becomes an abuser. Have you figured it out yet? One day, the angry mother pounds on her son’s bedroom door. She wants to come in and whip him.
Marc refuses to answer. As he glances around the room, we notice a poster of Tomb Hunter. So, that part of the doctor’s office story at the asylum is real.
There is a fictional Dr. Steven Grant in movies, and Marc co-opts that idea when he suffers dissociative behavior for the first time.
His persona, Steven, takes control of their body before the mother enters. Then, she whips Steven instead. He’s there to take the punishment for Marc, not the other way around.
Becoming the Moon Knight
At this point, we watch one other of Steven’s memory. We watch him after he has left no prisoners, per his employer’s request.
The mercenary cannot live with his actions and has saved one bullet for the moment. He starts to pull the trigger, just as Khonshu speaks to him for the first time. The Moon God makes the broken mind an offer. He will save Marc in exchange for servitude as the Moon Knight.
Here’s something vital about the conversation. Steven views Khonshu as a snake taking advantage of Marc in a moment of weakness rather than as a savior. Back on the ship of the undead, Taweret tracks unique movement in the underworld. She recognizes unbalanced souls being judged before their time.
Steven and Marc agree that the only way they can help is to regain the powers of the Moon Knight. They ask Taweret to contact Layla in the world of the living. Notably, the hippopotamus doesn’t like this idea, as she has noticed that both men dislike and distrust Khonshu. He’s apparently not the good guy.
Taweret agrees to turn the ship around, Osiris be damned, to help humanity. She asks the boys to balance their souls before they reach their final destination. Steven will do anything to return to the land of the living. Meanwhile, Marc really doesn’t want to re-live that memory with his memory.
Back to the Office
So, he slaps himself until he returns to Dr. Harrow’s asylum again. I cannot help but wonder if/how Harrow is experiencing all these events. Notably, Harrow has deduced the secret in Marc Spector’s heart-shaped box. He knows that Mama Spector was a jerk.
This conversation is what leads to the breakthrough wherein Marc remembers, and Steven learns he’s fake. Marc already knew. This one bit of knowledge will reshape the way we watch the first five episodes.
We also must at least allow for the possibility that Harrow isn’t all bad and that some of his lies are true. Still, I think he’s probably the villain in the piece. After a while, Steven, not Marc, appears in Dr. Harrow’s office, a turn of events that pleases the therapist.
Here’s the final reveal in the episode. Harrow says that he last saw Steven after Mama Spector died. Steven didn’t know that was true. In the first recap, I said this: “Dude has a relationship with a fish and a mother whose voice we never hear. My money’s on her having died years ago.”
I was off by a bit. She had died two months ago, not years ago. Marc knows this and had attended the funeral. He refused to cross the street to go inside, though. You can and should think of Steven as Marc’s crash test dummy, the one who takes all the hits that the mercenary cannot tolerate.
Also, Steven loves Mama Spector. He cries at the news of her death. This personality doesn’t carry the hate that Marc does. Apparently, the moment when Marc appeared at the funeral, he lost control of Steven’s appearances. Now, they’re random and often inconvenient.
The Big Finish
Toward the end of the episode, reality shakes, as the sand-ship reaches the Gates of Osiris. Taweret comments that she’s never seen the gates so close to the world above.
That’s right, other avatars! Spector was telling the truth about Harrow’s plans to restore Ammit’s power! You’ve doomed us all, you fools!
Marc and Steven offer to help, but Taweret informs them that their souls never balanced. Sand zombies appear to drag them down to the abyss. Marc proves oddly useless in this fight. Thankfully, Steven has the epiphany that he can do anything that Marc can do. Warrior Steven starts clubbing everything.
Alas, in saving Marc, Steven gets dragged overboard and finds himself caught in the sand. He slowly crystallizes as Marc calls to him. Magically, Steven’s passion for his friend causes the hearts to balance. The sand-ship stops, and Marc awakens in the Field of Reeds. Alone.
So, we’re starting the season/series finale in the opposite place of where we began the season premiere. Marc is in control and has no idea what’s happening.