Warning: The following review contains major spoilers from the season one finale of Moon Knight “Episode 6” and also Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
There’s a moment in the season one finale of Disney+/Marvel’s Moon Knight when the good guy God Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham) tells the bad-girl god Ammit (Sofa Danu) in the midst of their battle, “I only punish those who have chosen evil!”
Clearly Khonshu forgot to mention the innocent Disney+ viewers who’ve been lost in what is arguably been Marvel’s most confusing series to date.
In this great multiverse thread that Marvel has set up between last year’s movies like Spider-Man: No Way Home and TV series WandaVision and Loki, the studio has moved beyond those measured, pristine orchestral movements to utter, Byzantine chaos in regards to storytelling. Despite the lush production value of Moon Knight, its exotic locales, gripping action, and great use of standards (the finale opens with the sublime Earl Grant tune “The End (of a Rainbow)”), the story was indeed a slog between alter-realities and a poor man’s dissociative identity disorder. At times, it felt like Marvel was trying to put their own spin on Mr. Robot, but even that was significantly more clever, and hooking.
And, yes, this labyrinth storytelling runs amok in this coming weekend’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. While that indeed connects, natch, to WandaVision, and winks at No Way Home, it’s so in-and-out, and in-and-out, one loses track of what’s right-side up plot-wise.
And throughout all of this, where the heck is the new multiverse baddie, Jonathan Majors’ Kang the Conqueror? I know, I know, Moon Knight isn’t connected to the greater multiverse motif that’s being established (at least at this point in time). But can we get some dooming Kang cameos? Anywhere?
Improv guru Del Close used to preach to his students to play their comedy at the top of their intelligence, but when Marvel plays to the 1% who truly know who these comic book characters are, what hope is there, Disney, in crossing these projects beyond the faithful to a greater audience? Should Doctor Strange 2‘s opening grosses come in lower than expected ($160M+ domestic, $300M WW), it’s only because the confusion that ensues in the sequel doesn’t play broadly. In regards to complexities in the Disney+/Marvel series, perhaps that’s part of the streamer’s algorithm: To confuse and Easter egg-out viewers to the point where they need to rewatch episodes continually.
The latest example of Marvel keeping the general populous of dummies in the dark, is in the first epilogue of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness where a female action star shows up as a new superhero colleague to Doctor Strange (we’ll leave it to Google to tell you who she is). While such precious shenanigans delights fanboys, how about, Marvel, we call a duck a duck, and just simply tell us who the heck she is and why her cameo is so important?! All it takes is a few more seconds of dialogue.
This leads us to tonight’s grabber in the coda of Moon Knight. We learn that the superhero has a third personality, in addition to Marc Spector and Steven Grant (both played by Oscar Isaac) and we see that’s Jake Lockley. Who is he? He’s a rough-around-the edges cab driver (seen here tonight behind the wheel of a Rolls Royce) who’s highly connected in the criminal underworld. It’s just another personality Moon Knight/Khonshu can pull from.
Essentially the character reveal indicates that there’s bound to be a second season of Moon Knight.
Essentially, Khonshu wins in the season one finale. In the epilogue, we see Ethan Hawke’s cult leader Arthur Harrow (who has been Ammit’s avatar) is punished to the Asylum realm where Steven and Marc have been imprisoned toward the latter part of this season. Harrow, in a wheelchair, is wheeled by Harrow out to the Rolls Royce. Harrow gets in the backseat where he’s sitting across from Khonshu. The God never had any plans to take an avatar in Marc’s wife, Layla (May Calamawy), rather it appears he had Jake in his arsenal.
Earlier in the episode, Harrow unleashes the alligator Goddess Ammit. All season long, Harrow has been wielding his purple stone-staff, reminiscent of the destructive infinity stones we saw in Guardians of the Galaxy, and color-wise, a nod to Agatha Harkness’ power. Ammit, of course, wants to keep Khonshu down. Khonshu appears to Layla in the tomb where Harrow is doing all of his magical funny business with Ammit. Khonshu needs an avatar, but Layla isn’t game for possession.
Cut to Marc standing in the fields of gold universe, a place where Sting would feel well at home. Hippo Tawaret (Antonia Salib) tells Marc that his other personality Steven is gone, and to enjoy his peace. Marc finds Steven frozen in the desert and unfreezes him. We then see Marc resuscitated in the water, in the Cairo time realm where Khonshu and Ammit are at war. Marc and Steven regain the Moon Knight suit, which means there’s greater hope for the world. The two negotiate with Khonshu and he agrees to release the both of them after they quell Ammit. In the midst of this, Layla becomes the avatar for Tawaret, turning into a winged, Wonder Woman-like hero who later battles alongside Moon Knight against Harrow. Marc/Steven and Layla are no match for the powerful Harrow, and there’s an extensive back-and-forth between the trio. Harrow zaps Moon Knight with his purple wand telling him that if Ammit was left to rule, young Randall’s (Marc’s younger brother) life would have been saved, and his family would have been happy.
This fight results in Harrow having the upper hand as he stands on top of Moon Knight, thrusting his purple staff into his chest. But then the superhero has a blackout. Marc comes to with the staff broken in his hands, and Harrow dead. Layla and Steven/Marc take Harrow’s body to a tomb to weave a spell, and bind Ammit to Harrow’s body. Their chanting puts Ammit back into Harrow, who warns “You can never contain me, I will never stop”. Khonshu wants Marc to kill Harrow/Ammit, but he shows mercy. “You want them dead, do it yourself,” Marc tells Khonshu
There’s a blip where Steven/Marc wake up in the Asylum, still a patient to Harrow’s shrink. But somehow, the two have the psychic upper hand as the episode ends with Marc/Steven waking up in the latter’s London flat; their foot still attached to the bed. All of this before the events of the finale’s epilogue, described previously, occur.
Of course, what got the duo back to London, was Marc’s emphatic order to Khonshu, “Now release us!”
Amen, Marc, you speak for us all.
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