Moon Knight Takes A Gut Wrenching, Emotional Turn In Latest Episode, 'Asylum'

We're not in Egypt anymore! "Asylum," the fifth episode of "Moon Knight," has dropped on Disney+, and Marc and Steven (Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac) are making friends with a talking hippo, trying to balance their scales, and still striving to stop Harrow from freeing Ammit and killing millions.

The two go through a lot here, and it's also the most gut-wrenching episode we've seen to date (and one that may be a shock to those expecting a superhero romp). Read on for a spoiler-full recap of what went down in the fifth episode of Marvel's "Moon Knight," including those revelations about Marc/Steven's past.

Your mind is violently vacillating between sense and nonsense

We start out "Asylum" with a series of quick scenes: a cave overlaid with the sound of a boy screaming "help!"; a woman staring deadpan at the camera screaming, "This is all your fault!"; a shot of the talking hippo, Marc, and Steven screaming at each other; and a final scene of a bloodied Marc screaming in Dr. Harrow's office.

Besides being a great way to start the episode — the cascading screams are really effective on-screen — it also foreshadows much of what we learn by the end of it. An amazing scene from director Mohammad Diab and writer Becky Kirsch.

But back to the rest of "Asylum." Marc and Dr. Harrow (Ethan Hawke) are once again going at it, with Harrow trying to convince Marc he is a patient at Chicago's Putnam Mental Institution. According to Dr. Harrow, everything Marc has experienced this season — being an avatar for Khonshu, meeting a talking hippo, etc. — is a reality he has fabricated to escape the hardship he has faced in "real" life.

Marc seems to be swayed by Harrow's case but then tries to go after him once more. The orderlies inject him in the neck with a needle bigger than a turkey baster, and he finds himself back with Steven and the hippo.

You're actually quite dead

Steven recognizes the talking hippo as Tawaret, the Egyptian goddess of mothers and children. She informs Marc and Steven that they're quite dead from Harrow shooting them in last week's episode and that she's there to guide them through the Duat, the Egyptian underworld.

Why does the Duat look like a mental institution? Because that's what Steven/Marc's mind converted it to since its original form cannot be comprehended by humans. Marc is beginning to believe Dr. Harrow again and thinks this is all a construct of his mentally ill mind. He even says he'll open the door and see Crawley (!) and other patients on the other side. When he opens the door, however, we find ourselves on a ship traveling over the desert sands toward the Field of Reeds, the Egyptian's version of heaven.

Tawaret (who is delightful comic relief in this emotionally rough episode) politely pulls Marc and Steven's hearts out of their chests to weigh them against the feather of truth. If the scales don't balance, then they won't get to the Field of Reeds.

In a not-shocking turn of events, their hearts don't balance. Tawaret says this is because they weren't full, which seems to mean that there were parts of themselves that they weren't facing. The Egyptian goddess urges them to go back inside the ship/asylum and face the truth of themselves so the scales balance before they reach the Field of Reeds. If the scales don't balance, then the two will be taken by the undead in the sandsea and remain there, forever frozen.

Time to face the truth

Marc suggests to Steven that they kill Tawaret and take over the ship rather than go back inside. Steven thinks that is a terrible idea, and the two end up back in the asylum where they see past memories through hallway doors. They both end up in a cafeteria with a bunch of dead bodies sitting at the tables. These are the people that Marc has killed on behalf of Khonshu.

Steven is shocked at the number and Marc admits that when he faced off against them, he kept wishing he'd fail and they would kill him instead. That confession seems to help the scales balance somewhat, but then Steven sees a young boy and chases him, much to Marc's distress.

Steven ends up back in their childhood memories, where we see young Marc with his parents and younger brother, RoRo. My heart sank when Steven says he didn't know he had a brother, because it became clear at that moment that this little brother was going to die tragically. It turns out I was right, because the next scene has young Marc and RoRo going into a cave that floods in the rain. We then fall into a memory of RoRo's funeral, where Marc's mom blames him for his brother's death.

In a series of heartbreaking birthday memories, we see Marc's mom treating Marc horribly, constantly berating him and beating him, and blaming him for RoRo's death. Marc keeps trying to keep Steven from seeing these moments and pushes them into a memory from the desert.

Looks like we see Marc's Moon Knight origin story after all

This desert memory is full of dead bodies, including Layla's father. It's here where Marc mentions a mercenary assignment gone bad, when his leader, Bushman, ordered everyone from the dig site killed.

We then see Marc, half-dead, dragging himself to the altar of Khonshu. There, Khonshu offers Marc his life in exchange for becoming the god's fist of vengeance on Earth. Steven rightly points out that Khonshu was manipulating Marc right from the start while Marc counters that maybe Khonshu was just letting him be what he always was: a killer.

Poor Marc. He knows his mind is broken and he blames himself for his brother's death, so much so that he won't even let Steven see the final memory even if doing so would make their scales balance and enable them to go back to the land of living via Osiris' gate to stop Harrow and Ammit.

After a chat with Dr. Harrow, however, he finally lets Steven see the memory he wanted to hide — he's a young boy in his bedroom, and he creates Steven Grant, a character based on a movie not unlike "Indiana Jones."

Steven is understandably upset; he's just realized his entire reality, including himself, is a lie. Marc tries to comfort him and said he got to live a life thinking that his mom loved him, didn't beat him, and that she was still alive.

Balancing scales is tricky

Steven is shocked to find out his mum is dead and finds himself back in the asylum with Dr. Harrow. He finally comes to accept his mum's death, and we visit a memory from two months ago — their mother's funeral. Marc is outside drunk, unable to go inside and sit shiva. He understandably is an emotional wreck, and Steven takes over. It's this moment where Marc and Steven's lives start bleeding into one another.

Steven, knowing everything now, tells Marc it's not his fault that RoRo died. It's an emotional moment, and one that Marc and Steven think will finally balance their scales. Back on the boat, however, they find out that their scales still aren't balanced. Tawaret tells them that they can't go through Osiris' gate unless they are, and the undead from the sandsea come up to claim them. Marc and Steven fight them, and Steven really ups his fighting skills this time around.

It's not enough, however, and Steven falls into the sandsea! He scrambles to get back to Marc on the ship, but becomes frozen. Poor Steven! The act, however, appears to have balanced their scales? (I'm not sure how that does so, exactly, but let's go with it.) With the scales balanced, Marc finds himself at the end of the episode in the Field of Reeds, all alone.

We have one episode of "Moon Knight" left, and that episode has a lot of ground it needs to cover. We can't leave Steven frozen in the sandsea (at least I really hope not!), and then there's the whole Armageddon thing that Harrow and Ammit are getting underway on Earth. The series really took a turn in "Asylum," but it works well, and it makes the entire series something more than you might have thought it was after the first three episodes. I can't wait to see how the finale (hopefully) wraps everything up.

Before I say, 'laters gators!'

  • I have mixed feelings about using "laters gators" in my headline here, since we now know that's what Marc's mom said to him before RoRo was killed. So awful.
  • Marc calls Crawley by his name this ep. Does this mean he knows the gold statue guy in another capacity? Maybe he's secretly keeping an eye on Steven for Marc?
  • There's a nice "Black Panther" callout here to the Ancestral Plane afterlife. 
  • Bushman — one of the major villains from the Moon Knight comics — also gets a callout this episode as the mercenary responsible for killing Layla's father (and many other people).
  • "The little haircut, the 'stache there, very Ned Flanders." Sick burn of Dr. Harrow, Steven.
  • That third personality has yet to reveal itself .... perhaps we'll see him in the finale.

The final "Moon Knight" episode drops next Wednesday on Disney+.