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Moon Knight episode 2 review – one hell of a double act

Moon Knight leaps into action in an exciting second episode that gives us some idea of where this new Disney Plus MCU TV series is going

Moon Knight episode 2 review: Mr Knight

Our Verdict

Moon Knight had my curiosity, but now it has my attention.

Moon Knight leaps into action in an exciting second episode that gives us some idea of where this new Disney Plus MCU TV series is going. Picking up where the first episode left off, ‘Summon the Suit’ opens with Steven (Oscar Isaac) sheepishly heading to work at the museum after the confrontation with Harrow’s (Ethan Hawke) summoned Anubis monsters.

While Steven’s (or should that be Marc’s) transformation into the hooded hero Moon Knight wasn’t caught on CCTV, the footage clearly shows what appears to be Steven smashing up the museum’s artefacts. Though his co-workers sympathise with his condition, Steven is swiftly let go from his job, prompting him to track down who this Marc Spector (also Oscar Isaac) really is.

His search leads him to a storage facility where he’s confronted with the hideous truth: Marc and Steven are two alternate personalities sharing the same body. It’s here that the episode really got going for me. Isaac is clearly a very talented actor and is able to bounce between the two identities with exceptional grace, giving both Steven and Marc their own personalities through body language alone.

Steven is nebbish and shy, while Marc is confident and strong. There’s one scene early on where with just a glare you know Marc is in control of the body (even though the script doesn’t even entirely trust the audience to understand and drops a clunky line “that’s not me”).

I also really enjoyed the way directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, and their cinematographer Gregory Middleton, shot the Marc and Steven scenes. They played with the idea that Steve and Marc can only talk through reflections really well, finding clever ways to bring Marc into conversations, even when Steven’s driving the body, like him being reflected in cutlery.

During the storage locker scene, Khonshu also makes an appearance in a scene that gave me flashbacks to Morbius’s attempts at horror. Unlike Morbius, the sheer weirdness of the moon god made the scene far more horrifying than the monster movie’s recent attempts at scaring me.

Following his spooky appearance, Khonshu continues to whisper in Steven’s ear, behaving less like a god and more like a ”toddler throwing a temper tantrum”, as Harrow puts it. I liked it. It’s very odd, but it gives scenes an offbeat energy when you know there’s a 10ft tall bird-headed guy just hanging about invisible, waiting for the moment to tempt Marc into putting his fist through someone’s head.

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This episode also properly introduces Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy), an adventurous archaeologist and Marc’s wife. After some back and forth with Steven, who clearly has a thing for his alternate identities wife, we learn some of Marc’s backstory. Calamawy does a good job with the material she’s given, even if it is a bit thin.

Basically, she’s upset that Marc’s trying to protect her despite being capable of looking after herself – something she demonstrates towards the end of the episode when she helps fight off Harrow’s followers. I hope now we’ve got her backstory out of the way, she can do a bit more than deliver exposition and protect Steven, but only time will tell if that’ll happen.

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Speaking of Harrow after the lover’s reunion, Steven is quickly captured by Harrow’s followers in the London police. It’s here we get a lot of Hawke, who delivers his deliciously evil plan with such conviction you’d almost buy into it if it wasn’t absolutely harrowing.

Harrow wants to unleash an ancient god called Ammit, who will use its power to judge the guilty before they commit their crimes. Basically, it’s the plot of Minority Report with a sprinkling of genocide. Naturally mortified at a plan that would kill people who are innocent, Steven refuses to give Harrow the Scarab that Marc stole in the last episode during their European jaunt.

Moon Knight episode 2 review - Oscar Isaac as Steven Grant

This leads into the show’s big action set piece as Steven attempts to summon the armour of Khonshu by picturing a suit. Instead, he ends up looking like an overdressed baptist preacher – the MCU’s version of the Mr Knight personality – and gets the snot beat out of him. Relinquishing control to Marc, the mercenary personality takes over, becoming the real Fist of Khonshu and dispatches Harrow’s CGI monster summons.

I’ll be honest, the Mr Knight stuff was fun, but the Moon Knight fight scene was pretty mundane Marvel stuff. Not exactly bad, but not exactly creative either, although we do get that sweet trailer shot of Marc jumping between buildings with the Moon in the background. The real drama, however, comes when Marc realises that in the fray, the pair dropped the Scarab meaning Harrow can now find Ammit’s tomb and free the god.

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This leads to a pretty heartbreaking argument between Marc and Steven, which really shows off Isaac’s acting chops. When Steven asks for control of the body back, and Marc coldly tells him ‘no’, it broke my heart. There’s not much time to pity Steven, though, because Khonshu makes another appearance where he basically sets up the next episode by telling Marc it’s time to go to Egypt.

In my initial review, I wrote that Moon Knight might be relying too much on weirdness to see it through, but I wonder now if that was unfair. There’s clearly more going on than I gave the series credit for, with Hawke and Isaac giving the TV series their all. I’ll be honest, I’m still waiting for that ‘wow’ moment that convinces me this is great and not just good. I also want Layla to get a little more focus. All that said, there are plenty of episodes to come, so I’m cautiously optimistic.