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Moon Knight Episode 2 Review

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  • Posted on 09th Apr, 2022 00:15 AM
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Marc Spector emerges in all his antihero glory as Moon Knight continues to establish itself as Marvel's first full-blown psychological thriller.

p>This review contains spoilers for episode 2 of Moon Knight.

Moon Knight has been framed as Marvel Studios’ first full-blown psychological thriller, with a hero who’s just as baffled as the audience when he blacks out and then comes to with a gun in his hand, covered in blood and surrounded by dead bodies. The first episode was at its strongest when it felt like no previous MCU project, indulging in startlingly gruesome violence and pulling no punches in its portrayal of mental illness.

After the end of the pilot veered into traditional Marvel territory with a CGI-filled fight scene, the opening of Moon Knight’s second episode – “Summon the Suit,” now streaming on Disney+ – mercifully puts the show back in psychological thriller mode. Minutes into the episode, Steven is facing criminal charges for “vandalizing a toilet,” and he can’t seem to prove that his bathroom brawl with an ancient Egyptian dog-monster actually happened.

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The pilot episode put the spotlight solely on the mild-mannered Steven Grant persona and only featured a few brief glimpses of Marc Spector. In “Summon the Suit,” the audience gets to know Marc. His origins and his role in the current plot aren’t rolled out in one giant, unwieldy, mind-numbing exposition dump like the “He Who Remains” monologue in the Loki finale. Instead, it’s doled out in nice bite-size chunks throughout the episode with clues like his criminal record and the contents of his storage locker.

Fixing The Recurring Problems In MCU TV Shows

Moon Knight adheres to a few of the common problems with the MCU’s streaming content – the premiere episode is all setup, the humor doesn’t always land, etc. – but it also fixes some of the most egregious recurring issues. The show avoids Phase Four’s annoying “mystery villain” trope. From WandaVision’s “Agatha All Along” number to Loki’s Kang-centric rug-pull, the MCU’s Disney+ shows have built up to big villain reveals at the expense of developing a real relationship between the hero and their enemy. Like Hawkeye’s Maya Lopez, Moon Knight’s Arthur Harrow is a delightful exception to this rule.

Ethan Hawke has a substantial supporting role in the show as a cult leader dedicated to the Egyptian god Ammit. Arthur has been forging a tangible, captivating on-screen dynamic with both Steven and Marc from the beginning. He’s taken aback by Steven’s curious line of questioning and, as Khonshu’s former avatar, he’s inextricably tied to Marc. After the first episode featured a meeting between the hero and villain (a rarity for Marvel’s small-screen stories), the second established their complicated history.

The MCU’s TV shows have previously been let down by storylines falling by the wayside. In its second episode, Moon Knight is following up on all the setups. Steven follows the storage locker key to a room full of exposition, he meets the mysterious Layla and learns who she is, and the conversations with his own reflection – teased in the first episode – take center stage here, rounding out Marc as his own character. These mirror conversations offer a fascinating deep dive into his splintered psyche, solidifying Moon Knight as Marvel’s riff on Fight Club. Not only does the eponymous superhero have two distinctive personalities; they have a love-hate relationship with one another.

With blood-drenched violence and volatile psychological disorders, Moon Knight plays more like a horror show than a superhero show. The second episode is even more horror-tinged than the first. Steven has a brutal street fight with an invisible jackal that drags people around by their feet like the ghosts in The Conjuring. Arthur is more akin to Hawke’s chilling turn as a child murderer in last year’s horror gem The Black Phone than typical supervillain performances. The hallway chases are being overdone, but at least they’re edited in an interesting way with rapid cuts and jarring freeze-frames.

Oscar Isaac’s Performance Carries The Show

After the pilot episode showed audiences a side (or a couple of sides) of Oscar Isaac that they’d never seen before, his incredible performance continues to carry the show in its second installment. In “Summon the Suit,” Isaac gets to shine as both Steven and Marc. He plays them as two entirely separate characters contained within the same body, bickering with each other. There’s a powerful moment toward the end of the episode with Marc kicking the glass containing Steven’s reflection.

This take on the character seems to be exploring the notion that Steven represents Marc’s guilt after a lifetime of sin. Steven’s persistent nagging about the amorality of murder prompts an explosive outburst from Marc. It’s difficult to make out, but this outburst seems to contain the MCU’s first uncensored F-bomb (he might just be saying, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” but it sounds an awful lot like “SHUT THE F*** UP!!!”).

Opposite Isaac, Hawke offers a sinister (pardon the pun) counterpoint with his mesmerizing turn as Arthur. Hawke isn’t hamming it up as a comic book villain. He’s bringing real depth and nuance to his character’s skewed perception of justice. He takes his Marvel role in Moon Knight as seriously as his roles in “cinema” like First Reformed and the Before trilogy. F. Murray Abraham’s rich, booming Khonshu voice continues to be a highlight and May Calamawy is a terrific addition to the cast as Marc’s Indiana Jones-esque badass wife.

“Summon the Suit” follows the same formula as last week, making fans wait until the final act for some Moon Knight action. But this one isn’t just a tease like the bathroom beatdown. Marc battles a monster across some rooftops before impaling it on a spire, all while beautifully silhouetted against moonlight. The MCU is sometimes criticized for its bland cinematography, but this sequence brings the high-contrast lighting and carefully considered composition of a comic book panel to life. Based on the game-changing final scene, trapping Steven in Marc’s reflection and dragging his avatar body to Khonshu’s homeland, the next episode will leave this formula behind and charge ahead into superhero spectacle.

MORE: Kevin Feige Reveals How He Convinced Oscar Isaac To Join Moon Knight

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