SPOILERS for Episode 1 of Moon Knight, “The Goldfish Problem.”
Well, the first episode of Moon Knight was an experience. And I mean that in the best way possible. It’s a bit darker than the usual MCU fare, but not as grim as Marvel’s recent Netflix shows. It’s trippy, but not so nutty that general audience members can’t follow it. And it’s just so much fun.
Since we only have one episode so far, I’m going to put my thoughts down here in list form because I don’t really have one theme or character to write about more fully yet.
- Steven Grant is a precious bean who must be protected: I love that Steven Grant appears to be an ordinary man when we first meet him. In the MCU, we so often meet dudes who are already badasses. The only exceptions I can currently think of are Steve and Bucky at the beginning of First Avenger. So it’s nice to see a guy who gets caught up in something much larger than himself and is just like, “HUH?!” And I feel like I usually see Oscar Isaac play tough guys and/or competent people, and Steven is a nice change from that. He’s playing bumbling really well, and I love it.
- As a former gift shop employee with mental issues, I feel solidarity with Steven: I worked in a local theme park’s gift shops for three seasons in the early 2010s, and I dealt with a lot of anxiety during that time. While a theme park isn’t a museum and anxiety isn’t Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), I still feel for Steven. Tourism-related retail can be tough, and it’s doubly tough when your mind isn’t fully together. And why is his boss, Donna, so awful? Please tell me she isn’t Steven’s boss by the end of this miniseries. Say what you will about the reality of Ancient Egyptian deities wandering around, but managers like Donna are a little too real!
- Engelbert Humperdinck’s “A Man Without Love” will be stuck in my head forever: That’s the song that accompanies Steven’s wake-up routine. It slaps harder than most crooning songs do (and I really like crooning songs). I had to find it and put it on one of my playlists because IT. IS. SO. CATCHY.
- Arthur Harrow’s (Ethan Hawke) followers treat him like a biblical prophet: I’ve watched the first episode twice, and I noticed on the second viewing that Arthur Harrow’s followers reach out and touch him the way people apparently reached out and touched Jesus. According to the Bible, anyway. (Or the Bible readings I heard in the Catholic Masses I grew up on, at least.) Often in these New Testament situations, someone suffering from internal bleeding or some other medical issue reaches out to touch Jesus, believes in him, and receive an instant cure. The touches Arthur received from his followers reminded me a lot of those New Testament stories.
- Arthur Harrow also gives off John the Baptist vibes: The way Arthur Harrow says he works “in Ammit’s name but with a fraction of her power” reminds me of how John the Baptist says “One who is greater than me is coming, and I’m not worthy to loosen the straps of his sandals” when people ask him if he’s the Messiah. Also, the way Arthur judges/weighs people’s hearts with his staff and tattoo is similar to how John the Baptist started baptizing people in the Jordan River. Oh, and they’re both a bit nuts, with John the Baptist living off of locusts and honey in the desert, and Arthur putting broken glass in his shoes and walking on it.
- I’m pretty sure Steven went to the Carpathian Mountains, not the Alps: Maybe I’m wrong, but the castle that Steven wakes up in front of looks a lot like Bran Castle, which is in Romania, in or near the Carpathian Mountains. That’s in Eastern Europe. The Alps are in Western Europe, covering Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and France. There’s also the Dinaric Alps, which go farther east, but they’re still different from the Carpathians. Moon Knight was apparently filmed in Budapest, so it makes sense that they’d use the Carpathians (or the Dinaric Alps). I’m just not sure why they’d call them the Alps when the Carpathians are full of myth and mystery (Americans tend to associate the Carpathian Mountains with Dracula). I know California Doubling is a thing in media, but I feel like we could just call a spade a spade in this case.
- Khonshu, God of the Moon, looks like a mummified plague doctor: That skeletal bird head that he has reminds me of plague doctor masks. That’s all I have to say about that. And yes, I know Ancient Egyptian gods often had animal heads, but still. Mummified plague doctor.
- Steven’s manager and coworkers really are THE WORST: When someone you work with says they’re being followed, you don’t say, “I don’t give a monkey’s!” and just move on. You figure out what’s going on and help keep your coworker safe. If you’re a service worker, you can run into some crazy people (even if they aren’t biblical-prophet-type cult leaders), and you need your coworkers to have your back those people decide to be weird (whether that’s insult you, verbally harass you, or threaten your physical safety). Yes, I know this is a TV show, but that sequence still bothers me.
- I like how the jackal monster is introduced: This monster introduction is a good example of the Nothing Is Scarier trope, where you see nothing at first until the monster arrives. When the jackal monster first shows up, we hear what sounds like a dog whining. Then, when we see the jackal monster, we never get a clear shot or closeup of it. We see enough to understand its shape and size, and how it’s a threat to Steven. So we see enough to be terrified of it, and the fact that we don’t get an extremely clear shot of it makes it even scarier because we don’t fully understand what it is.
- Khonshu’s voice actor has an Oscar: It’s true. F. Murray Abraham won Best Actor for playing Salieri in Amadeus (that historical fiction Mozart movie) back in the 1980s. But he focused on theatre and took smaller roles in Hollywood after that, so explaining who he is to my siblings has been, uh, interesting. Apparently, people born after 1989 didn’t have to develop an awareness of Amadeus when they grew interested in film. When I growing up, it seemed like everyone had an opinion about Amadeus and how historically accurate it was. I don’t know, that’s just a generational thing I noticed.
- I love how dramatic the theme tune is: Nothing more to add there.