After finding Moon Knight’s third episode something of a disappointment, I am relieved to find the fourth showing the series back on track and working in an immensely satisfying fashion. We are largely back at protagonist Steven Grant’s point of view, which works so much more effectively for the series, as he and his alternate personality Marc’s wife Layla race to beat the villainous Arthur Harrow to the goddess Ammit’s tomb. While the weirder edges that made the first two episodes so enjoyable remain, there is for the most part a much more focused and driven narrative this time around. It very much works in the episode’s favour.
There is a strong influence of Stephen Sommers’ 1999 film The Mummy here, as Steven and Layla slowly make their way through the underground tomb. That said, it’s unclear if Sommers’ film ever got quite as confronting as the supernatural creatures found in this particular tomb. Egyptian mythology and ancient religious practice get a strong and visceral work-out, with some beautifully realised imagery and one hell of a disturbing sound effect. This combination of adventure and horror not only entertains, but provides the opportunity for character development. Steven and Marc’s conflict over control of their shared body gets pushed forwards, while Layla’s relationship with Marc encounters a new emotional test. It all climaxes in a tense confrontation inside a Pharaoh’s tomb, and then-
Then there is another unexpected development, akin to the best twists and turns of the dizzying series premiere. It is a shift that up-ends audience expectations not once but twice, ends on the most unexpected and hilariously bizarre note imaginable, and reinforces the exact reason why Moon Knight has largely been such a refreshing and wonderfully odd experience. It is a tremendous showcase for Oscar Isaac’s abilities, and a real stand-out among Marvel’s Disney+ serials to date.
On a visual level the episode absolutely sings, thanks to strong direction for Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. The pair also directed the second episode, and come to Moon Knight from a string of genuinely exceptional genre works including Spring, The Endless, and Synchronic. At the end of the previous episode I was left with doubts. At the end of this one I’m simply keen to find out what happens next – and what the hell is going on.