Moon Knight has come to an end after six episodes and it’s simultaneously not enough screen time while also being too much screen time. The finale, Gods and Monsters, ended up largely being the one thing I feared it would be while also rushing towards the finish line. Let’s break it down.
The iclaim that Moon Knight being the one thing I didn’t want it to stems from my thoughts during my review of the first episode, where I stated I hope the show doesn’t become a giant CGI fight in the end. That’s, of course, exactly what happened. After Marc rescues Steven in the afterlife and Layla frees Khonshu, there’s a big battle between the now released Ammit and Khonshu. The two gods grew to Kaiju-sized creatures and duked it out next to the Great Pyramids of Giza. Now you know I like me some Kaiju action, but this just felt wildly out of place. Moon Knight has worked best when it feels smaller and focused on character. This episode, once more, feels like a style over substance Marvel finale and it’s starting to become a trend with the Disney+ shows, where the finale is the most underwhelming episode. And we know superhero finales can deliver, just look at the three Daredevil finales. Moon Knight’s finale just felt very rushed, cramming everything it could into brief forty-odd minutes of screentime.
I understood Marc not wanting to kill Ammit inside the mortal form of Harrow from a narrative point of view. The writers wanted to redeem Marc a bit for his previous actions. But I didn’t buy Marc having no conflict about sparing Harrow (and Ammit). Both are terrible beings and Marc didn’t feel that burden. I think Marc being on the brink of killing Harrow but having that struggle with Steven and Layla while Khonshu breathes down his neck could have been one of the best scenes in the show, but it felt so flat and rushed. I also didn’t really buy into Layla becoming the avatar for Taweret, the Hippo goddess from last week’s episode. Layla has been steadfast in her conviction to not become an avatar for any god after what Khonshu did to Marc, but opens up to Taweret. Again, I understand the story beat as desperate times, desperate measures, but I didn’t buy the rapid 180. There was no conflict, and Layla ended up being a cool superhero and didn’t struggle with it. The action was also something of a chore to follow. Shot at night and coupled with quick-cut editing, it wasn’t always clear what was even happening from time to time.
What’s more, is that Harrow is eventually murdered anyway by the third personality, whose revealed in the post-credit scene. After teasing the third personality throughout the show, Jake is relegated as a literal afterthought, a footnote to the show. Why build him up so much if only to put him at the end? The show is listed as a mini-series after all. It also feels rather open-ended, the finale, and I wonder if this “mini-series” will have a second season to wrap up some unresolved character beats, or if the show is simply washing its hands of the prime narrative and electing to not tell the rest of the story, which would be unusual. That said, I can’t help but think that Moon Knight would have been better off as a feature film. I liked the story, Marc and Steven a lot, but I found the show got lost quite a few times and that it felt a bit padded. Much like Loki, one shouldn’t have padding for a six-episode run. A tighter two-and-a-half-hour film thus would have kept the spirit of the story and characterization intact without dragging things out and deviating from the main story too much.
In the end, Moon Knight was a show with a lot of big and cool ideas. I loved the attention to Egyptian mythology and the internal struggle between Marc and Steven, brought to life wonderfully by a top-notch performance from Oscar Isaac, as well as the resistance towards getting superpowers, it felt very against the grain in many ways. But it also felt a little lost at times, as if it wasn’t sure how to go about telling its story. It wanted to be this trippy character study, while also being a supernatural action show. You can easily do both, but I found Moon Knight struggled to find its own identity, which is peak irony.
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