Moon Knight finally soars in a strange Indiana Jones inspired chapter that’s probably the TV series best episode to date – warning spoilers ahead. Episode 4, ‘The Tomb’ opens precisely where we left off, with poor old Khonshu trapped in a statue, stripping Marc and Steven (Oscar Isaac) of their powers. Just when it seems things couldn’t get worse, Harrow’s cultists arrive on the scene, and with dorky Steven currently at the wheel, Layla (May Calamawy) is forced to deal with the mercenaries.
It was an excellent way to open the episode that demonstrates Layla’s agency (and badassery) in an effective – if brief – way that avoided the damsel in distress cliche. Once Steven and Layla escape the thugs, though, it’s cleverly backed up with Layla scolding Steven and Marc for making deals without involving her, as though what happens to her husband shouldn’t involve her.
I really liked this scene. Sure, it was over in a flash, but too often, in action movies and similar stories, we’re in the orbit of the title character. They’re the moral arbiter by which all other characters are judged, and having Layla point out the selfishness of Marc and Steven’s deal was a nice reminder that the hero’s perspective isn’t always necessarily the right one. It sets up a nice dichotomy between Harrow and Steven/Marc. It seems all of Khonshu’s avatars are misguided in some way.
We then get a bit of Steven versus Marc fighting over the body, which features possibly the best line of the series so far. You never expect to squirt coffee out of your nose, but someone threatening to throw themselves off a cliff just to get back at their own alternate personality was so absurdly dark it had me cleaning my monitor at 8:00 am.
Moving on from my freshly ejected bodily fluids, we then indulge in some Indiana Jones-style adventuring that takes up the bulk of the episode. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by this part of the episode. I was expecting your typical tomb raiding tropes but what we got was Marvel’s first full-on horror scene since the action movie Blade, complete with zombies, blood, and viscera (who thought bodily fluids would come up again so soon?).
The horror stuff is very well done, with directors Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson clearly having read Steven Spielberg’s big book on ‘How to tease a monster’. We don’t see the creature properly for some time, just its pruned flesh, making the final undead reveal all the more horrifying. It looked scary as well. This isn’t a mummy made of toilet paper either. It’s a proper Nekromantik looking shrivelled corpse (although, luckily, appearances are where the similarities end).
Anyway, during the battle with the mummy, Steven and Layla are separated, and Harrow (Ethan Hawke) makes his appearance. At this point in the series, we know how manipulative Harrow’s honeyed words can be. Unsurprisingly, he turns Layla against Marc (not Steven) by revealing that he led the mercenaries who killed her father.
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The ensuing confrontation between the former lovers forms the emotional crux of the episode, with Isaac and Calamawy acting their socks off. The pain on Marc’s face as he tells Layla the truth is heartbreaking, but it’s nothing compared to Layla’s anguish and anger knowing the man she loved helped murder her father. It’s a shame Harrow had to come along and stop the scene by shooting Marc which brings us onto the episode’s final mind-bending turn.
As our hero lies dying, we cut to a psychiatric hospital where Marc is being kept. The entire series we’ve been watching is seemingly the product of Marc’s fractured mind, with Moon Knight nothing but an action figure and Harrow a doctor in the facility. This turn alone would be enough to leave most scratching their heads, but it doesn’t end there.
As Marc refuses to accept the reality of his predicament, he runs through the hospital, eventually discovering a sarcophagus in one room. Opening it up, he finds Steven, who is apparently real and just as disturbed by the situation as Marc. So what’s real and what’s not? We’ve no idea and don’t get us started on the giant talking hippo that appears at the end or that mysterious third sarcophagus.
All of the stuff in the hospital was brilliantly screwy. It’s not often you write that a series being confusing is a good thing, but it’s what I’ve been waiting for with Moon Knight. The comics the show’s based on have always enjoyed a cavalier relationship with the coherent, so seeing the series finally take the plunge into the avant-garde was a delight.
If you love the Marvel, check out our guide on how to watch all the Marvel movies in order, or if you can’t wait for the return of the Sorcerer Supreme, we have a piece on Doctor Strange 2.
Moon Knight episode 4 review
Moon Knight gets weird and we love it