Five episodes into Moon Knight and we find ourselves at the penultimate episode. Looking back on the show thus far, it feels like quite a lot has happened. And yet, it also feels like not much has happened. This issue is felt more so than usual in the fifth episode “Asylum”, which offers some crucial backstory for Marc and Steven but little else during its runtime.
The episode picks up where we ended last week, with Marc and Steven coming face-to-face with the goddess Taweret, who reveals that they are in fact dead and in the Egyptian interpretation of the afterlife. With their hearts on the scale of judgment opposite a feather, Marc and Steven must find a way to balance their souls to be given passage into paradise, lest they be damned forever. To do this, they must open up to each other and unearth the past.
If there’s one thing that Moon Knight will be known for, it will be that it gave Oscar Issac the stage to really flex some acting chops. He gets to act opposite, well, himself but each of the two personalities is so different that it’s quite a treat to see Marc and Steven arguing with each other. In this episode, doors to the past are opened and we learn that in Marc’s youth, an accident led to the death of his brother, which in turn turned his mother into an abusive drunk, full of hatred towards her son, whom she blamed. Marc, unable to cope with his mother’s abuse, creates Steven as an escape. Over time, the two personalities would become blurred together, as one would seemingly take over from the other without permission. Steven, mortified that he was “created” and that his life was a lie, doesn’t take this news very well, whereas Marc counters that his life was at least normal and that his memories aren’t as painful.
However, the scales don’t balance and the dead come for Marc and Steven. A short fight ensues and Steven ultimately saves Marc by accidentally sacrificing himself, an act that balances the scales. Hopefully, that isn’t the end of Steven, as he was a unique personality within the brain of Marc, who is still very much alive. I’m curious though that if there’s a third personality, as I’ve theorized, why the scales would have balanced. I was sure that we’d see the third identity revealed during this episode of “tell-all”, but in the end, he remains locked away.
A lot has yet to happen in the show and there’s only one episode left and it does have me wondering how it will unfold. Marc has to get back to his body, free Khonshu and defeat Harrow all in one episode, all while potentially revealing a third personality and having Steven maybe come back. Things are seemingly getting a little crowded and that problem is exacerbated by the fact that “Asylum”, and most of Moon Knight for that matter, feels padded. I feel like we could have gone through the revelations in this episode in half the runtime without any major changes. The big reveal this week was that Steven wasn’t the original, which is something I think most of us assumed already, and the episode felt like it lingered too long on the past.
I haven’t mentioned this issue either so far, but I feel it should be addressed now, but the CGI in Moon Knight does feel alarmingly weaker than in the other Marvel shows. When shows like The Mandalorian/Boba Fett use the volume to create believable CGI backgrounds, Marvel’s obvious greenscreens feel very dated. What’s more, is that Moon Knight’s just feels weak compared to the other MCU shows.
“Asylum” was an episode with much-needed revelations, great character beats and solid work from Oscar Issac. But it also feels a little underwhelming and padded, especially when you consider the six-episode order. I wonder if this show would have been better off as a feature-length movie, to be honest. Let’s see next week if Moon Knight can stick the landing.
Closing thought, but I wonder if we’ll see Christian Bale’s Gorr the God Butcher in an after-credit scene next week setting up Thor: Love and Thunder? You heard it here first.