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Moon Knight recap: series one, episode three – danger in the pyramids

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight.
Coming into his own … Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight. Photograph: Disney+/Marvel Studios

Spoiler alert: this article is for people watching Moon Knight on Disney+. Do not read unless you have seen episodes one to three.

Is three the magic number?

Layla’s passport.
Going on a trip … Layla’s fake passport. Photograph: Disney+/Marvel Studios

And so to episode three. Prior to the series starting, Disney made the first four episodes available to reviewers. Many claimed that this episode was where things went a little askew – Empire said this is where the plot became “nebulous and occasionally hard to follow” – and while I did share that view when I watched the first four episodes in one go, my opinion has changed since rewatching one a week in order to write these recaps. Maybe bingeing on a show hampers your enjoyment and understanding.

We began with Layla getting a fake passport and confiding in the forger about how confused she is by her husband’s alter ego, Steven – while making reference to the dangers of going back to Egypt.

Out in the field, Harrow and his acolytes celebrated the fact that they had found Ammit’s tomb, in a scene that could have come straight from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. David Ganly as Billy even laughed like Sallah.

Three’s a crowd

Oscar Isaac in Moon Knight
Here’s looking at you, kid … is that Marc, Steven or someone else? Photograph: Disney+/Marvel Studios

During the rooftop fight, we saw Marc doing the scrapping and Steven in the reflection, then when Marc jumped out of the taxi and the thugs ran off looking scared, he said, “That wasn’t me.” Later, when he came to with a knife in his bloody hands, bodies all around him, he had no recollection of killing those men and neither did Steven. Who did it? Is Khonshu taking more direct control of his avatar, or is there a third ruthless personality we haven’t seen yet? The moment the thug fell to his death reminded me of a scene from The Spy Who Loved Me, only “Where’s Harrow?” was the twice-repeated question rather than “Where’s Fekkesh?”

Dark side of the moon

Khonshu, Steven and Layla, turning back time.
Angering the gods … Khonshu, Steven and Layla turning back time. Photograph: Disney+/Marvel Studios

Khonshu’s signal of causing an eclipse prompted a meeting with the other Egyptian deities, the ones who banished him the last time they saw him. So Marc went inside the Great Pyramid of Giza with just an excited Steven for company and met his fellow avatars. Yatzil, the avatar of Hathor, the goddess of music and love, was friendlier than the others, even hinting at a romance between her boss and Khonshu once upon a time. We also learned that the gods had abandoned Earth, which explains why they didn’t intervene when Thanos decided to wipe out half of the universe’s population. (How many of future MCU plotlines will have to introduce narrative points to explain why entities with supreme powers didn’t step in to stop the mad Titan? First Eternals, now this.)

Once accused, Harrow denied that he was hoping to resurrect Ammit, and that Khonshu – jealous, paranoid and unhinged – was not to be trusted, nor was his avatar, an unwell man who doesn’t know his own name.

As if proving the charges levelled at him, Marc tried to strike Harrow. “We will not tolerate violence in this chamber,” was perhaps a deliberate nod to “You can’t fight in here, this is the War Room,” from Dr Strangelove, or perhaps it wasn’t and I just couldn’t take it seriously. Whichever, the trial was over and Khonshu/Marc/Steven left disappointed, but not before Hathor revealed that there was another way to find the tomb of Ammit. He must find Senfu’s sarcophagus, recently sold on the black market – Senfu being the only person to record the location of Ammit’s tomb.

Given Harrow is nearby and has located Ammit’s tomb, would it not have been easier to track him down, rather than chase after the sarcophagus? Marc Spector is supposedly an expert tracker, and by this point had Layla to help him, not to mention the assistance of a god. While I enjoyed the episode, this seemed like a strange plot development.

Mogart

Anton Mogart … a bad man.
A bad, bad man … Anton Mogart. Photograph: Disney+/Marvel Studios

There is something about men who ride horses shirtless then slip on a silk robe, still sweaty from the mock jousting competition they’ve been staging in their palace compound while surrounded by henchmen, that makes me think “This guy seems like a baddie.” I was right – such instincts! Anton Mogart is clearly not a good person, and will be back to settle his obvious beef with Layla, if nothing else. Harrow, meanwhile, hinted at knowing the truth about the murder of Layla’s father, and Marc’s reaction to the topic suggested that he, too, knows exactly what happened.

The fight scene in the compound gave us more of a glimpse of Moon Knight’s powers, and showed better cooperation between Marc and Steven when in their Moon Knight/Mr Knight guises.

Finally, to the desert, where Steven came into his own and even won over Khonshu, who had previously described him as “the worm”. Khonshu turned back the hands of time to show the position of the stars 2,000 years ago, thereby angering the gods. Again, wouldn’t it have been easier just to find Harrow and steal back the scarab than reposition every star in the galaxy and have Khonshu locked in stone? Is Marc dead without Khonshu’s power, or merely unconscious?

We left the episode with Harrow issuing a chilling warning to Khonshu’s statue, that he was going to do what Khonshu could not, but that he owed his victory to him and the torment he suffered while serving as Khonshu’s avatar. Episode four can’t come soon enough.

Notes and observations

  • Fans of Orange Is the New Black might have recognised the forger in the opening scene. That’s the British actor Barbara Rosenblat, seen sans hair as Miss Rosa in the prison drama.

  • Meanwhile, Ann Akinjirin, who plays Bobbi, is best known for playing Alissa in I May Destroy You.

  • The information on Layla’s passport states that she will be 28 on 28 October – the same birthday as the actor May Calamawy (although she is slightly older in real life). Given the issue date and expiry on the passport, it suggests she survived Thanos’s finger-snap. That said, this is a fake passport, so it could be all incorrect. One thing that is correct is the seven-year validity – that’s how long Egyptian passports last.

  • That date of birth was the day Stargate was released in cinemas, which stars Kurt Russell and James Spader, and features a whole host of Egyptological imagery and references.

  • Back to Moon Knight and in the scene with the other avatars, we see representatives of Hathor, Horus, Tefnut, Osiris and Isis.

  • When Layla is greeted by Bek at Mogart’s yard, he mentions Madripoor. It’s a fictional island in south-east Asia seen extensively in X-Men comics and, more recently, as the place Power Broker operated in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. At last, a tie-in to the wider MCU.

What did you think? Were you confused? How will Marc free Khonshu and how will he manage without his Moon Knight powers? Have your say below …

• This article was amended on 14 April 2022. It is the character of Marc who enters the Great Pyramid of Giza, not Steven as an earlier version said.

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