I just want to put it out there that this is a tentative comprehensive review based on the first 3 episodes and not an episode-by-episode breakdown, I want to avoid major spoilers or any plot points that could be ruined. With that being said, onward with the review!
The show begins with a torturous scene as one of our main characters performs a form of self-flagellation involving some glass and without a doubt, this certainly sets a tone of things to come. What was that ritual? Who are these people? These questions linger as we are pulled into a (mostly) standard character intro.
Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) doesn’t sleep well, has a somewhat dead-end job with no advancement, and has a boss that he can’t stand. As with every hero's journey tale Steven Grant is our everyman for this adventure into the unknown, and Marvel and Disney are determined to smack you over the head with this point. While the story is still strong it, does certainly fall into cliché territory in many areas but luckily doesn’t stay there long. The background mystery of why Steven is afraid of sleep and tracks his movement is ever afoot and helps overlook many of these familiar story beats.
Within the first episode, many questions are answered about Isaac’s characters' afflictions, and the way these gaps in time are presented is amazing. As with Memento and Fight Club before it, Moon Knight presents Steven Grant as the audience surrogate who discovers these mysteries of his mind and the outward environment at the same pace as the viewer. These flashes between character moments, after a fight or other action events, are a great change of pace from the familiar “boom, pow, explosion” affair that is standard in many Marvel properties. Within the end of the first episode, we finally get a full look at the Moon Knight costume and I would say it was well done for the MCU (the white tights just aren’t screen-friendly) though the mask isn’t my favorite. The second suit however is beautiful and genius in its usage, I certainly wish the mask was used in both versions.
As the first episode begins to wrap, we are also introduced to our antagonist, Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) as the leader of a cultish society. Hawke presents himself well and truly fits as the charismatic yet intimidating leader. This however, does not forgive Harrow for continuing Marvel’s villain problem of overly-simplified methods and motivations. Though I will say that he does evolve passed the “bad guy is bad because he is bad” as the series continues. Hopefully, Harrow will be fully fleshed out at our series conclusion. One of the most interesting connections to our main character and his alter ego Moon Knight comes and Arthur comes in the 2nd episode and does some great things to question character motivations but as of now doesn’t completely follow through.
I would like to also tout May Calamawy’s portrayal of Layla El-Faouly. While I am not familiar with the character in the comics she does an amazing job of playing this strong female lead. While her background is ambiguous in the episodes I have seen, I am hoping that she will shine through in the rest of the series. At the moment she parallels Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) as she is in the Falcon and Winter Soldier.
Moon Knight has a promising start with a mix of action, mystery, and exploration of a brand-new pantheon of Gods in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has dreamlike aspects that make the viewer question reality even among what craziness has already beset this universe. While it may not have the impact of LOKI on the larger universe, Moon Knight certainly presents new ideas that help it stand out from other Disney + shows available. I am excited to see where this story takes us, and the MCU as a whole!
Simon Welch aka Sime_on_Toast