Moon Knight, Ep. 4: It’s Getting Trippy in Here!!!

SPOILERS for Moon Knight Episode 4, “The Tomb.” Yes, ALL of that episode.

Just when I’m like, “Oh, this is very Indiana Jones,” things took a turn. But more on that in a minute, after the cut.

Me explaining this show to myself from two months ago.
  • Those are a lot of deities trapped in stone: When Osiris’s avatar puts Khonshu’s ushabti (the stone statue he’s trapped him), that statue is surrounded by dozens of others. And all their deities are whispering to each other. Exactly how many deities have the Ennead (the main group of gods) trapped in stone over the millennia? And why? Like, is there a set of criteria for what gets you trapped in stone? Khonshu knew rewinding the sky would get him trapped. Is it like, if people notice your divine power too much, you get trapped? I want to know and don’t want to know. There’s a fine balance to world-building; sometimes creators don’t give you enough information (Tolkien not describing the Watcher in the Water or the Balrog clearly), and sometimes they give you too much (Star Wars: The Clone Wars telling us exactly how Yoda found Dagobah, how the Force works, and how people become Force Ghosts).
  • Steven is still a cinnamon roll: Okay, so I don’t know if kissing Layla was a good idea, since she’s still married to Marc. (And Steven’s the one who refused to sign the divorce papers!) But the kiss was so awkwardly sweet! And he told her the truth about why Marc’s pushing her away. Because Steven Grant is in touch with his emotions, and that’s why I love him!
  • Layla saves herself!: Okay, I have more thoughts about the second half of the episode than the first, but Layla fighting off the Heka guard (the zombie-mummy creature) was AWESOME! In a previous generation of TV show or film, Steven or Marc would have shown up to save her, but she kicked butt all on her own! That makes me smile.
  • Steven in Alexander the Great’s tomb is the cutest: If you’ve ever geeked out about ancient civilizations and/or mythology, then you know why Steven’s so excited to be in the tomb. And it’s so adorable to watch! And then when he has to get Ammit’s ushabti by putting his hand in Alexander’s mummified mouth…well, it should be horrifying, but it’s hilarious because of Steven’s reactions and Marc’s encouragement. (“Sorry, Mr. Great!”)
  • And then it gets WEIRD: The episode was good up to the point where Harrow shoots Marc, but then it gets delightfully nuts! I know when the episode transitions to the all-white psych ward, I was like, “Is this the afterlife?” But then we started seeing characters who were still alive in the main story (Layla, Donna, the human statue guy who appears as the bingo caller, and Arthur Harrow). If you’re going to re-watch any part of this episode, choose this section. There’s much more to catch here on a second viewing than in the first part of the episode.
  • The psych ward scenes remind me of one episode of Smallville and one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Before I explain, I have to say that these reminders are good things. I feel like we’ve been trained to think, “Oh, [Work B] reminded me of [Work A], so it is extremely derivative and NOT GOOD!” But works of fiction (especially in the same genre) influence each, and that’s how genres grow and change. Anyway, both Smallville and Buffy have a single episode each where the plot revolves around the superpowered protagonist waking up in a mental hospital, finding out that their crazy adventures are all hallucinations that are part of a larger mental illness. In the Buffy episode (which would have aired first), the episode flashes between her in the mental hospital and her having her usual adventures in Sunnydale, and she has to choose which world to live in. Of course, she chooses the colorful world of Sunnydale, and everything is back to (para)normal. Except that at the very end of the episode, we see the Buffy in the mental hospital going catatonic, implying that that world might be the “real” one. (But the series never brings this possibility up again.)
  • This part of Moon Knight is structured more like the Smallville episode: In Smallville, Clark Kent (who’s in college at this point, I think) wakes up in a mental health facility, and he’s confused. Everything is brand new to him, but little things keep reminding him of the speculative fiction world that he came from. For instance, in this point in the series, Clark was working to bring down Lex Luthor’s metahuman project, 33.1, so he sees a sign in a meeting room that says “Maximum Occupancy: 33.1.” Clark has also been working with Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) at this point, so he sees a random janitor named Oliver Queen, who is the facility’s Employee of the Month. (Props to my sister for remembering these details from that Smallville episode.) Buffy kept its main world and the mental hospital world largely separate, but Smallville brings the main world into the mental health facility world to make the protagonist and the audience question and fight against this new reality that’s being pushed onto them. Similarly, Moon Knight brings people and things from the main narrative into the psych ward to make us question what we’ve seen up to this point in the story. Has this crazy adventure all been in Marc’s head?
  • Take note of where Marc’s “favorite spot” in the psych ward is: When one of the orderlies (actually one of the “DC Fitzgerald and DC Kennedy” fake cops from the second episode) puts Marc’s wheelchair in his “favorite spot,” it’s in front of a window that clearly shows his reflection (which is how Marc and Steven communicate) and next to a goldfish (Gus!). The spot is probably supposed to be his favorite because it’s a reminder of the world he just came from.
  • I love how psychologist!Arthur Harrow is introduced in this section of the episode: In this section of the episode, Harrow is introduced voice first, with his physical form slowly coming into focus as Marc settles into their therapy session. This makes sense because as Ammit’s avatar, Harrow is her voice on Earth. It’s also the opposite of how he was introduced visually with no dialogue at the beginning of the series.
  • Let’s talk about the phrase “VHS player” for a second: It’s a VCR people. A VCR plays VHS tapes. I guess they decided that Harrow should say “VHS player” because some viewers might be too young to know what a VCR is. Not sure what a VCR was or a VHS tape did? Okay, so in the dark times before streaming, we when to these things called video stores, which were like in-person, physical streaming services. The store might be called Blockbuster or Hollywood Video or Family Video. In the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s, you’d go into the store, pick a few VHS tapes to rent for 5-7 days. Then you’d pay the rental fee at the front desk, take the tapes home, and watch them one at a time. You put the VHS tape in the VCR, which was connected to your TV, and then the movie played. And the VHS tapes had film wound on them, so when you were finished, you had to rewind them before you returned them so the next renter didn’t have to do that. Oh, and I remember watching some of the Disney Renaissance movies on VHS (like Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid) and seeing ads before the film itself for how they were putting the older Disney movies on VHS. That was a big deal because movies hadn’t been available to watch at home until the advent of VHS tapes and their main rival, Betamax (which never became as ubiquitous VHS tapes and VCRs).
  • VHS tapes are probably part of the reason for Steven Grant’s existence: So it looks like Marc got the idea for his Steven personality from this goofy Tomb Busters movie. I’m going to bet that it’s a movie he watched many times for comfort. Why? Well, Marc’s birth year is listed as 1987, so he’s a Millennial. (Oscar Isaac was born in 1979, so he’s an X-ennial, which means he was born in a year where people share experiences with both the Gen-Xer and Millennial generations. Why? Because there’s overlap between all generations.) Millennials and X-ennials comforted themselves with their favorite movies on VHS. We also watched lots of TV. It’s how we dealt with trauma. I meant that because DID usually starts with major childhood trauma, and I wonder if Marc watched that movie around the time he experienced the trauma that caused his DID (if it happened in childhood).
  • The sarcophagus reveal with Steven reminded me of Night at the Museum: The rattling and the screaming that Steven was doing inside the sarcophagus until Marc lets him out reminded me of Akhmenrah, sweet cinnamon roll pharaoh extraordinaire. Both characters are sweethearts who just want out of a gilded, existential prison. (Unlike Akh, Steven probably didn’t have to spend 54 years coming to life every night until he was let out.) And both are revealed in situations where you might expect something scary, but instead, you get a cute person who was trapped against their will and is, you know, happy to be out of a coffin.
  • I’m pretty sure the third personality is in that red sarcophagus: I think multiple people have theorized this, but I agree. There’s clearly someone in there, but I don’t think we know them like we know Steven and Marc. Also, I think that personality is the person who asked Steven’s pretty museum coworker out to the steakhouse.
  • Wow, what an ending!: Instead of discussing it, I’m going to leave you with this baby hippo that befriended a baby rhino. And the fact that Colombia has a hippo problem thanks to the late drug lord, Pablo Escobar.

Okay, that’s all for now! TTFN, ta-ta for now!

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