*Warning: The following article contains spoilers for episode 3 of Moon Knight*
After a spectacular first episode and an excellent second episode, Moon Knight calms things down in its third episode, which is also its weakest yet. There are some visually striking sequences peppered in, and a welcomed addition to the cast in the late Gaspard Ulliel, but its story-moving episode isn’t as strong as the first two were.
I think the biggest disappointment I had with this week is how standard the action looks and feels, compared to last week’s and two weeks ago. We were promised a “brutal” and unflinching series when it came to Moon Knight action. So far, the filmmakers delivered on that promise with aesthetically pleasing and kinetic action scenes that effectively blurred the lines between fiction and reality (and had some blood). When Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) summons the suit in Anton Mogart’s (Ulliel) backyard, you’re thinking to yourself “aw yeah, here we go!” after being teased (twice!) that Moon Knight is coming. But the overall sequence is disappointing to watch, save for a fleeting moment where Steven takes control mid-fight and becomes Mr. Knight. It made for a great comedic interruption, but the choreography, lighting, and editing feel surprisingly tame and unimpressive to watch.
Heck, I was more on the edge of my seat during the opening scene, where Marc chases some of Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke)’s henchmen around the streets of Cairo, and which he unwillingly switches his body from that of Steven’s. In one moment, Marc has stabbed their henchmen, thinking Steven has killed them. But the latter says he hasn’t. Then, who killed them? Moon Knight? Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham/Karim El Hakim)? Or another personality living in Marc’s body we have no idea about (hi Jake Lockley)? Or, heck, was the entire sequence a fabrication of Steven/Marc’s mind? I have no idea, but that traditional foot chase was so cathartic that it made us question the fabric of the episode’s reality.
And it’s not even the most reality-bending part of the episode. Marc goes into an audience with multiple Egyptian deities, possessed by Khonshu’s spirit, to accuse Harrow of conspiracy to release Ammit. It’s the best sequence of the entire episode and continues to pit an incredible rivalry between Isaac and Hawke, who are both chilling in this. Harrow’s calm as Harrow is disconcerting, while Isaac’s mind-splitting madness as Khonshu’s spirit takes control of his body is terrifying to watch. Both actors are on their A-game here, and their rivalry will only continue to accelerate. Harrow is always one step ahead of Spector, even if he and Layla (May Calamawy) think they have the upper hand. They never do.
Calamawy has a bigger time to shine in this week’s major action setpiece, and her dramatic relationship with Marc is much clear here. It seems as though Marc had something to do with Layla’s father being killed (we’ll surely know more in the next few episodes), and it’s part of the reason why he’s so distant from her. Either way, Calamawy is excellent here and continues to shine through the series with Isaac. They both have great chemistry together, no matter which personality takes control. She’s more joyous and carefree with Steven, in contrast to being distant and bitter with Marc, who is trying to shield her away from “the truth” to protect her (but we know that this never works out in any movie/TV series).
Their dynamic is bound to reach a dramatic apex in the next episode or two, and it’ll be exciting to see where the series will land after it happens. As Anton Mogart, Gaspard Ulliel is a welcomed screen presence. He tragically died last January, a day after the trailer came out, and we may never see the Midnight Man the way Ulliel and its filmmakers have envisioned it. But he’s an impeccable actor, always fully committing himself to the roles he played over his illustrious career and is magnifying here. Some will think his appearance was wasted, as he gets injured off-screen by Spector, but he’ll be back. Regardless of what happens with his character after the series ends (recast or not), we should appreciate Ulliel’s total dedication to playing Mogart and his own spin on the character, since this is his last on-screen performance before his death.
The episode ends with an astonishing sequence in which Khonshu turns back to the night sky so Steven and Layla can solve the map’s night sky enigma. And while the scene itself is a thing of beauty, especially for television, it strips, once again, of Marc and Steven’s ability to turn back into Moon Knight. It’s almost as if the showrunners want to keep the main character away from the suit when the main attraction is the suit! Still, I don’t want to judge this decision just yet, since episode four was teased by many critics as the most insane one yet, completely changing the direction of the series. When I received screeners for it, I opted not to watch it (since it was unfinished), so your guess as to what “insane” thing will happen in it is as good as mine. Let’s see what happens next week before elaborating any further on this decision…
The fourth episode of Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.