The Moon Knight Comic Run That Inspired Episode 4

Spoilers ahead for "Moon Knight" episode 4.

It's hard to know what you're going to get with each new episode of "Moon Knight." The series has only six episodes to introduce Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac) to fans both old and new, and they certainly haven't wasted a second of it. Each episode pivots pretty seamlessly from one genre to the next — but nothing could have prepared fans for the hairpin pivot in the latter half of episode 4. Unless you're an avid reader of the Moon Knight comics, that is.

When episode 4, "The Tomb," first kicks off, it seems like "Moon Knight" has finally brought all its disparate influences together. Archaeological adventure flicks like "Indiana Jones" helped set the tone in episode 3, and it marries well with the horror influence from "The Mummy" films. Then, the unthinkable happens. Marc is, it seems, fatally shot by Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), but after falling into a bottomless abyss, Marc regains consciousness — and finds himself heavily sedated in a mental institution. He's not alone, either. His estranged wife, Layla (May Calamawy) is a patient, as well as Crowley, Steven's street-performing acquaintance. Even Steven's old boss, Donna, makes an appearance.

To make matters worse, Harrow's henchmen are now orderlies, and Harrow himself seems to be overseeing Marc's "recovery." He tells Marc that everything he's known, every adventure he's embarked on, was merely a delusion in his own head.

We live in a psychic world

This isn't the first time a hero is forced to fight a battle in his own mind: Countless films and shows have used the Cuckoo Nest conceit before "Moon Knight," with varying levels of success. It's not even the first time Marc Spector's reality has been challenged. The series owes a lot to a very particular Moon Knight comic, the 2016 run created by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Greg Smallwood.

In Lemire and Smallwood's "Moon Knight," Marc Spector finds himself in very similar straits. This time around, his psychiatrist is Dr. Emmett. She's a stand-in for the Egyptian goddess Ammut (who in the Disney+ series is called Ammit), and according to her, Marc has been a patient at the asylum for most of his life.

Though Marc eventually finds a way to escape with help from his friends, he quickly realizes that breaking free from these delusions isn't going to be easy. What begins as a quest to defeat the god Seth is actually more of a test created by Khonshu himself, and it forces Marc to confront everything he's ever known: his struggle with dissociative identity disorder and his alters, his fractured mind, his checkered past, and even his relationship with Khonshu.

Embracing the madness

This particular "Moon Knight" run comes the closest to reconciling all the inaccurate portrayals of DID in past storylines, as well as Marc's conflicting origins. By embracing Moon Knight's "lunacy," Lemire and Smallwood are able to create a truly gonzo adventure, one that allows Marc to embrace who he truly is — and break free from the cycle of manipulation that began when he first encountered Khonshu all those years ago.

It's not clear how much "Moon Knight" the series will be able to explore and adapt the adventures that Lemire and Smallwood first put to the page in 2016, but it's great to see such a stellar storyline finding its way into the MCU. Marc's story is undoubtedly in good hands, and though only two episodes remain in the series, it can only get wackier from here. 

Episode 4 of "Moon Knight" is now streaming on Disney+.