Moon Knight Episode 1 Asks: Who's Marc?

"Moon Knight" has finally premiered! The first episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe show revolves around Oscar Isaac's Steven Grant, and the poor British Museum gift shop employee has no idea what the heck is going on for most of it.

We as the audience likely know a bit more than Steven if we've seen any of the trailers or coverage of the Disney+ show before today. That doesn't mean, however, that there aren't some delightful surprises in this inaugural episode. 

Read on for a breakdown of the ordeals that poor Steven went through in the "Moon Knight" premiere. 

Let's meet Steven with a V

We start off the episode with a cold open on ... someone's hands resting on a table and Bob Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand" playing in the background. We soon find out that those hands (and the forearm with the Egyptian-looking set of scales on it) are Ethan Hawke's (Arthur Harrow). We have some inklings of what Harrow's deal is, with Hawke recently calling his character a "sane lunatic." The opening scene confirms Hawke's "sane lunatic" statement — Harrow smashes a glass, puts the shards in his sandals, and then promptly puts them on. Harrow, it seems, is into some kind of methodical corporal mortification — something a sane lunatic would totally be into.

If we need another hint that "Moon Knight" isn't going to be like other MCU fare, the familiar Marvel opening looks the same but is overlaid with Engelbert Humperdinck's "A Man Without Love," a ballad with uplifting lyrics like, "Every day I wake up, then I start to break up, lonely is a man without love."

"A Man Without Love" is a good theme song for Steven, sadly; we see him go about what was most likely a regular day for him: waking up anything but refreshed, strapped to a bed surrounded with sand; feeding his one-finned fish while leaving a voice message to his mum; finally getting himself out the door only to miss the bus and arrive late to his job at the British Museum's gift shop.

It's at the museum we find out "Steven with a V" isn't respected at his place of employment, and that he is a big Egyptian guy, which is helpful in giving us the exposition we presumably need that there's a supergroup of nine Egyptian gods called the Ennead. We also find out Steven has a date with a lovely tour guide and has no recollection of asking her out.

After work, Steven relays these developments in his love life and how he loses chunks of time to one of those performance artists who cover themselves in gold and pretend to be a statue. It's a one-sided conversation, of course, but this "statue" bears a canny resemblance to the character in the comics named Crawley who is one of Marc Spector's good friends. (The credits at the end confirm that this man's name is, indeed, Crawley, though we don't know yet if this is just a nod to the source material or if statue-man will have a larger role later on.)

Even ancient Egypt had MacGuffins

Steven makes it home and tries to stay awake so he doesn't wander off in his "sleep" again. His efforts are in vain, however — throwing a Rubik's cube into the air and researching Egyptian gods can only work for so long (though it was interesting to see the line about the Ennead and the rift between god and man highlighted in the book he was reading). Poor, dear Steven eventually falls asleep and wakes up with a messed-up jaw in the middle of ... the Alps?

Here's where things start to get weird, folks! And I mean that in the best way. Steven hears the voice of F. Murray Abraham (aka the Egyptian god of the moon, Khonshu — although Steven doesn't know that just yet) ordering him to surrender the body to Marc. Viewers might know who Marc is (kind of), but Steven sure doesn't! Things get stranger still when he finds an Egyptian MacGuffin (a golden scarab) in his pocket and we see the first glimmerings of Khonshu behind him. Before Steven can get his bearings, however, a man from a window (a window Steven's body presumably jumped or fell out of) returns Steven's wave before trying to shoot him. Steven, understandably upset, runs away and tries to blend in with a crowd in the town nearby.

That crowd, however, is made up of members of the cult of Ammit, of which Harrow is their corporeal leader. Hawke's Harrow, who is really channeling some David Koresh vibes here, tells his/Ammit's followers that he's ready to use the scales to judge people. Some dude passes Harrow's test, which involves a cane and the dude holding hands with Harrow, but then a nice old lady doesn't pass and magically dies. Before she becomes deceased, she claims she's been good all her life. Harrow says he believes her, but that maybe she'll do something bad in the future. Ammit, just like the powers that be in "Minority Report," doesn't wait for someone to do something bad to knock them off, it seems, which is — among other things — ethically problematic. 

Who wants a cupcake?

Steven sees all this as well and then gets identified in the crowd. He tries to give back the scarab, but in an impressive feat of acting by Isaac, his body doesn't listen to him, most likely because Khonshu (or Marc) is doing all he can to keep the scarab out of Harrow's hands. Steven then blacks out, and we go with him, only to wake up when he does moments later with the men chasing him all bloodied and/or dead. Steven runs as Khonshu continues to yell at him and picks a cupcake truck as his getaway vehicle, because why not?

It's this cupcake car chase scene, set to Wham!'s "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," where things get violently funny at Steven's expense (though the henchmen following him probably don't find it so funny). It's an action-packed scene that has more of an MCU feel to it, and it's also impressive from a production standpoint — did Marvel really drive a cupcake truck down this curvy road in the Alps? I'd love to see a behind-the-scenes making of this sequence because it's a great one that holds its own in a franchise full of big action scenes.

Steven and Marc keep flipping back and forth in the sequence as well, though we stay with Steven's point of view for the entirety of it. The goons are coming after him, things go dark and we "wake up" with Steven to find the goons dead and Steven holding a gun. The exasperated voice of Khonshu is along for the ride as well, getting more and more fed up with Steven until the van stops and Steven stares at the remaining goons, and then ... Steven wakes up back in bed in his London flat.

'I wonder what fishies dream about'

Steven thinks at first that what happened in the Alps was all a dream or some such rot. Then he notices that his sweet one-finned fish Gus now has two fins. That's not his only trouble — when he goes to the steak house for his date with the tour guide, he finds out he's actually two days late. It's Sunday, not Friday, and he's very sad and confused, and leaves an extra sad voicemail to his mum where he lied and said the date went great. 

At home, things don't get much better for him. He notices a loose board high up on his ceiling and finds a storage key and a cell phone inside. He turns the phone on and it rings almost immediately — it's someone named Layla, and she's upset and asks Marc where the heck he's been for the past few months. 

Steven, however, doesn't know who Marc is. Layla hangs up on him, and we hear the voice of Marc tell Steven to stop looking. "You're going to get yourself in trouble," Marc says. Steven is understandably freaked out and becomes properly terrified when the electricity goes bonkers. He runs to the elevator and it opens on a darkened hallway that has Khonshu rushing at Steven in a suitably horrifying way. Khonshu disappears before reaching Steven, though an old lady who enters the elevator becomes suitably perturbed by Steven.

Poor Steven then blacks out again and awakes on the city bus on his way to work. Harrow is on the bus, too, he realizes, and he catches a glimpse of Khonshu on the street. Frazzled and terrified, Steven flounders off the bus and rushes into the British Museum.

There is chaos in poor Steven

Harrow and Steven have a showdown in the museum. Harrow wants the scarab, and Steven swears he doesn't have it. We get more of an explanation of Ammit's willingness to kill those who haven't yet sinned, and Harrow also uses Ammit's cane to test Steven. Harrow's tattoo doesn't turn green or red, however, but fluctuates. "There's chaos in you," Harrow tells Steven before the latter runs away.

Poor Steven doesn't get much reprieve, however. While he's doing inventory at night, Harrow unleashes some supernatural jackals after him in the museum. He rushes to the bathroom and locks the door, but it's just a matter of time until the jackals break through. Time to get weird once again! (Or weirder, I guess, as things are already pretty weird.) Steven sees Marc in the mirror. "Let me save us," Marc says, and Steven agrees. It's here we see Marc for the first time in the body — the lights flicker, revealing hieroglyphics on the wall and the beginnings of the Moon Knight bandages wrap over Marc.

In a great bit of camera work, we then cut to outside the bathroom and move forward slowly. A sink comes out and crashes against the wall, and the camera jerkily moves its point of view from the sink into the bathroom, where we see Marc as Moon Knight making quick work of the jackal. It's a momentous scene! And it's the last thing we see before the credits.

This episode does a great job of teeing up the story in a compelling way — the choice to show everything from Steven's point of view until the very end made it more intimate than expected, and also set the stage for more than a few entertaining, Marvel-esque moments. I can't wait to see where things go in the next episode — will Steven get control back? Will he keep his job at the British Museum? And where did that scarab go anyway? There's mystery afoot, and I look forward to seeing where the story takes us. 

Before I say 'laters gators!'

  • Steven says, "laters gators" to his mum when hanging up the phone. Ammit is part crocodile — could Steven's "mum" be Ammit?! Probably not, though I do wonder who, if anyone, is getting Steven's voicemails, sending him postcards, and setting him up in that large flat. Perhaps Marc? Though the mum thing is weird, even for this weird show.
  • Khonshu isn't very nice to Steven, using words like "idiot," "parasite," and "worm." You could be a bit nicer, Egyptian God of the Moon.
  • One of the missed calls on Marc's cellphone is Duchamp, a French mercenary who was also friends with Marc in the comics. Will Duchamp show up later? Or is this just another li'l Easter Egg for us?
  • Don't feed fish sprinkles! No wonder the real Gus died!

New episodes of "Moon Knight" drop on Disney+ on Wednesdays.