The Classic Moon Knight Villain Referenced In The Latest Episode

This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of "Moon Knight."

Episode five of "Moon Knight," titled "Asylum," features a string of (rather emotionally heavy) reveals about Marc and Steven (Oscar Isaac) that are integral to understanding their individual journeys and how they merge. In episode four, after Harrow (Ethan Hawke) shoots Marc in the chest, the latter finds himself inside Putnam Psychiatric Ward, making him question the very nature of reality, and who he is, as a person.

However, with Marc reuniting with Steven and the mere presence of the Egyptian hippo goddess Taweret, things take an even more fantastical turn, as it is revealed that they are on their journey to the Egyptian underworld, the Du'at. As the hearts of those who pass through the underworld are weighed against a single feather (Maat) to determine their worthiness, Marc and Steven must undergo the same procedure. But their scales don't balance, as they need to be completely open and honest with one another.

In their efforts to unravel childhood memories, and parts of their lives that the other (mostly Steven) has not experienced, we experience various flashbacks for both characters. Marc's dark memories include the archaeological raid that led to his mercenary partner slaughtering everyone on the site, including Layla's (May Calamawy) father, Abdulah. This is when a "classic" villain from the "Moon Knight" comics is referenced: Raoul Bushman.

Content warning: This article contains mentions of childhood abuse, trauma, and heavy topics surrounding mental health issues and medical gaslighting/manipulation.

One of Moon Knight's biggest comic book enemies

Bushman is revealed to be Marc's commanding officer during his mercenary days. After he wandered off in a fugue, dissociative state during his stint in the military and found himself discharged, Marc became a gun-for-hire under Bushman's command. In the comics, Bushman is a noted terrorist mercenary, armed with the reputation of also being a notorious drug dealer and a brutal killer. Due to the trauma he underwent as a child, Bushman turned to violence pretty quickly, going to great lengths to make himself appear menacing (he brands himself with a human skull tattoo on his forehead and wears steel teeth). Bushman has also worked alongside Jean-Paul DuChamp, who was briefly referenced in episode one as a contact on Marc's burner phone. 

"Moon Knight" goes into the depths of Marc's transformation into Khonshu's avatar. Marc and Steven witness the memory of the fateful night, and Marc mentions how Bushman changed his plans to simply raid the site, deciding midway through the mission to execute all survivors. When Marc resists, Bushman (who is never seen on screen) shoots him and leaves him for dead. Just when Marc is about to end his own life, Khonshu takes advantage of his traumatized, fractured psyche and manipulates him into being his avatar.

The comics follow a similar storyline (excluding the inclusion of Layla and Abdulah's characters, who are Dr. Peter Alraune and Marlene on the page). After Marc assumes Khonshu's armor, Bushman becomes one of Moon Knight's regular foes. The comics see Bushman attempt to go after Marc several times, as he believes that he is somehow deserving of the status Khonshu enjoys, and he attempts to prove this (rather pathetic) point by targeting Marc's love interest in the comics, Marlene.

Why it's best for Moon Knight to not introduce Bushman

First and foremost, the way in which the "Moon Knight" narrative is currently unraveling does not require Bushman to step in as another big baddie, as the show is capable of finding its own footing without resorting to every "Moon Knight" comic villain. Moreover, given Bushman's roots in the comics, he comes across as a dated, racial stereotype as opposed to a complex, layered villain with compelling motivation, and given how the show has handled its source matter, Bushman's presence is unwarranted (and perhaps, counterintuitive) at this point in the show.

Furthermore, episode five digs deep into the layers of Marc's trauma, which ultimately led to the creation of his first alter, Steven. "Moon Knight" is less of a superhero origin tale and more of a narrative that deals with mental health issues that weigh upon an individual, and how empathy and acceptance are ways to help a person feel loved and cared for, which is exactly what Steven does when he tells Marc that it is not his fault.

Dealing with abuse, on any level and extent, is a truly harrowing experience, and the act of embarking upon the process of healing can be a deeply uncomfortable one, but made bearable when one is seen and acknowledged by another, and one's own self. Marc and Steven already have a lot on their plate, and adding a menacing and problematic figure like Bushman to the equation would hardly help the narrative progress in meaningful ways.

Then there's Harrow, a villain in the real world who is also present in Marc and Steven's psychological limbo while they're journeying across the Du'at, making the experience more distressing and fragmented for the duo. Harrow is manipulative both as a cult leader and a doctor within Marc and Steven's psychological construct, and "Dr. Harrow" gaslights Marc under the guise of being a benevolent, well-meaning ally. These aspects, combined with the utter chaos unleashed by Harrow via his attempts to resurrect Ammit is taxing enough, and it remains to be seen how Marc and Steven navigate these already-complex waters moving forward.

That's all so much more interesting than Bushman.