The Best Action Scene In Moon Knight Episode 1 Withholds The Mayhem

Warning: major spoilers for episode 1 of "Moon Knight."

In the series premiere of "Moon Knight," entitled "The Goldfish Problem," is packed with a string of tense sequences, hurtling viewers head-first into the heart of the mystery. Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) lives out a lonesome, secluded existence, struggling to arrive at his museum job on time without falling asleep on the way there due to what seems to be a peculiar sleeping disorder. However, after Steven accidentally falls asleep one day, he suddenly finds himself in the Alps in the countryside, kickstarting a strange series of bizarre events where he finds himself in the midst of action.

What sets the action sequences of "Moon Knight" apart from Marvel's traditional approach to these scenes is how restrained it is, which works in the show's favor, given Steven's dissociative identity disorder, which he is initially unaware of. The entirety of the "dream" sequence is written, shot, and directed to perfection, posing more questions than answers, all while granting a refreshing dose of unstated action and genuinely hilarious moments that help set the tone of the Marvel show.

Laying the foundation for badassery

Steven is understandably confused as heck when he wakes up in the village, baffled by the voice in his head, the golden scarab in his pocket, and Khonshu's sudden demand to "hand back the body." Not knowing what to do, he waves at one of Arthur Harrow's (Ethan Hawke) men, who hilariously waves back, only to immediately chase Steven along with the rest of Harrow's men with guns a-ready. As Steven is not the quintessential "hero" in the scenario, he breaks into a run, attempting to blend in with the rest of the commune. However, he soon witnesses Harrow's power (thanks to the cane oscillation and Ammit's scale tattoo), and is soon singled out by everyone as the "mercenary," and he's asked to hand over the golden scarab.

The tension that is built here works well for what comes after. Steven is ever-polite, ready to hand back the scarab to avoid anymore trouble, but he is physically unable to follow through, due to Khonshu's iron grip on his bodily movements. The results are hilarious and tense, and Steven is soon surrounded by goons who try to pry the artifact out of his hands. This is where the scene elevates: his consciousness blacks out, Marc takes over, and by the time Steven is back in control, he is holding a bloody scarab and is surrounded by men who have clearly been beaten into a pulp — and he has no memory of doing so.

This directorial choice to not focus on the action and still deliver a sequence that focuses on it (albeit off-camera) is a refreshing choice for a superhero series, especially one helmed by Marvel. Even character-focused Marvel shows like "Loki" have been pretty direct in terms of action. To see Loki go exchange blows in a fight with his Variant or witness the impressive Dora Milaje face-off in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" is undoubtedly great. But "Moon Knight" takes a completely different route in terms of its action in episode 1, and makes it work within the context of Steven/Marc's unique psychological situation.

Chased through the Alps in a cupcake van

Going all-out when a protagonist is beating the bad guys up, especially during a chase scene, is obviously something we love to see. However, by choosing not to show the direct beats of telltale action, "Moon Knight" traverses into the territory of psychological horror/mystery, which helps retain the thrill even though we do not witness it firsthand. A case in point is when one of Harrow's men manages to jump onto the cupcake van and attack Steven when he is driving, and all he manages to do in retaliation is smush a cupcake on the assailant's face.

The identity-swapping is triggered whenever Steven is in great danger, and this is exactly what happens: the cut from Steven flashing in-and-out to him holding a gun while a henchman is dead and falling out the back of the van is simply aces. It highlights Steven's (and our) confusion, makes us laugh due to the gap between Marc's unhesitant brutality and Steven's anxious, utter bewilderment, and it's just a delightful element that works really well overall. This blackout effect happens a couple more times, and the editing in these scenes is seamless (much like the work in all of the mirror scenes, especially towards the end of the episode).

Apart from this, it is important to acknowledge how funny the whole action sequence is, be it Khonshu's constant commentary about Steven's incapability about handling things or the huge body count in the aftermath, much to Steven's shock. One particularly amusing moment comes when logs crash onto another car as a sort of divine intervention (perhaps it was) in a dire scenario. After Steven comes to his senses, he realizes that he is driving backward, which makes for an especially cool scene — one that ends with Steven suddenly waking up, putting a pause to the nightmare, at least for the moment. It's just one element that makes "Moon Knight" great right out of the gate.

The first episode of "Moon Knight" is now available Disney+, with five more episodes to come.