Marvel’s Moon Knight Season 1, Episode 5: “Asylum” Review

***Spoiler Alert***

Marvel’s Moon Knight, which has just dropped its penultimate episode called “Asylum” on Disney Plus, was not really about the cool-looking white hooded superhero Moon Knight they showed us in the promotional material. In fact, if you add up all these so far, in five episodes, there has maybe been less than five minutes of screen-time with the character, and perhaps a minute or two more if you count their suited, Deadpool-like version of the character, sans hood, that Steven Grant dreams up. Of course, there is one episode left, and one can only speculate: maybe that last hour will feature the hooded vigilante doing away with bad guys using his crescent-shaped weapons from the first minute to the end of the episode. As it stands right now, there wasn’t a lot of Moon Knight. The show was always about the two, or maybe three, identities that Oscar Isaac plays in the series, Steven Grant, Marc Spectre, and, perhaps, someone named Jake.

In the first batch of episodes, the show used a rather cliched conceit for when either Marc or Steven are talking to each other. A conceit that even Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers used when Smeagol and Gollum are talking to each other: a reflection. This rather obvious narrative device was finally done away with within the last episode, as now the two of them are running around separately in some kind of asylum that may be a version of the Afterlife. Last week’s episode ended with both Steven and Marc meeting Taweret, the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. This goddess, who takes on the form of a talking hippopotamus, tells them that they may not be able to complete their journey into the Afterlife until they can work out serious issues between the two of them. What is somewhat interesting is how the episode literalizes these ideas. While it’s not too original to have someone looking into his or her dark past by walking around what is essentially a mental hospital or creepy asylum, the notion of using a scale as a visual clue as to whether they have uncovered the truth is interesting. What’s more is, having the entire asylum placed on a literal boat sailing toward this Afterlife is also an interesting idea (and was foreshadowed briefly in last week’s episode when the whole place began to rock, much like a boat).

Most of this week’s episode is Marc and Steven going down the seemingly endless rabbit hole that is Marc’s past, and we learn that Steven was his creation, based on a fictional hero. This mental projection, of sorts, was put into play from when he was a child after he accidentally led his little brother to his doom. He has since never made peace with himself or his mother. The episode ends with only Marc making that journey on the boat.

Of course, there is always a chance that none of this actually happened. It’s difficult for the viewer to understand the stakes when the main character (both versions of him) is truly dead. The episode does hint that this could all be just some kind of hallucination, as there is a scene where both Marc and Steve look at various memories from past episodes by looking through the windows of different hospital rooms. All of these visions are essential events from previous episodes, save for one that might be a third personality, Jake.

At this juncture, the show has run into its biggest problem. The first episode was fun and exhilarating because the action scenes and the mystery carried the story. But now that answers are being served out in rather obvious ways, that initial exhilaration is gone. Also, the audience might not understand what the hero must do and what at least should happen in the final episode to finish this story. That is not to mention that an audience that loves superhero action hasn’t seen much of it in this show.

Despite being the penultimate episode, it almost feels that this one was filler. We did learn a lot about the history of both Steven and Marc, and we got a glimpse into the past of how Marc became Konshu’s avatar, actually witnessing Marc’s first transformation into Moon Knight. It was very cool, but nothing really happened in this particular installment. Next week, we’ll see how well the finale can wrap it all up.

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