At the heart of the second episode for Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight, titled “Summon the Suit”, is the question of Justice and how it is meted out. One of the common criticisms from non-Marvel fans is the lack of depth to the shows and movies produced by the studio but I think they are missing what lies at the heart of these stories.
Spoilers ahead for “Summon the Suit”, the second episode of Moon Knight, so don’t read if you haven’t watched the episode.
The use of the jump cuts was gone from this episode, largely because we actually get to see the dual personalities of Marc Spector and Steven Grant interacting more directly in this episode. Seeing Steven learning more and more about Marc and his dealings was quite intriguing, particularly because Steven is so far out of his depth as the meek, mild-mannered man in the middle of supernatural horror. One can only imagine how discombobulating it would feel to find out about this entirely separate life that you have no memory of.
This point is hammered home with the introduction of Layla El-Faouly, portrayed by May Calamawy. Layla is Marc Spector’s wife and she is incredulous when faced with Steven, who keeps insisting he isn’t her husband. It’s only later on in the episode that she truly begins to grasp that her husband isn’t the only person inhabiting his body. I can imagine the same thing would occur in real life with a significant other who is learning long after the fact that their partner has dissociative identity disorder and meets the alters of their partner. May carries herself well in the episode, showing that while she is not supernaturally imbued like Marc (due to the latter’s deal with Khonshu), she can hold her own when the need arises.
The crux of the episode for me, though, is the conversation between Arthur Harrow (with Ethan Hawke absolutely nailing the performance of the villain) and Steven Grant. Oscar Isaac uses physicality, inflection, and facial expressions to really show us as the audience the difference between the two alters. During the scenes with Harrow and Grant, we learn that Harrow was the previous Avatar of Khonshu, serving as the Egyptian god’s fist of righteous vengeance. How Harrow left the service of Khonshu is not discussed but it’s possible Khonshu abandoned Harrow in favor of Marc at some point in the past, or possibly for another Avatar.
Harrow admits that his quest to free Ammit is wrapped up in a desire to see evil removed from the world by judging people before they’ve committed any evil. In this way, it is not dissimilar to the film Minority Report, where pre-crime (specifically murder) is punished as if the person about to kill someone is punished as if they did. There is a certain amount of logic to Harrow’s supposition. If you can remove a person from the population before they commit an evil act, you prevent the evil act from occurring. But as Steven points out, this means you’re judging an innocent person for something they might do, not something they have done. Khonshu, for all his bluster and apparent disregard for his Avatars, exacts justice (or vengeance depending on your point of view) on those who have committed an evil act. Steven also points out a flaw in Harrow’s logic, specifically in the example of a child being judged by Ammit. If the child is meant to grow up and do something evil later in life, Ammit would see no issue with killing that child to prevent the act from occurring. The core of this argument between the two characters and their outlooks is the balance between free will and predetermination.
Essentially, the heart of the matter is this: can you be judged for something you might do or should you be judged for something you have done?
The closing scenes for the episode were quite hilarious and terrifying, with Steven donning a form of the Moon Knight suit (referred to as Mr. Knight in the promotional material) while fighting another of the jackal creatures that only he can see. I say hilarious because much of the fight is done with Grant and Layla fighting an invisible creature, reacting as if they’ve been struck or grappled. When Steven does grant Marc full control of the body, the full Moon Knight garb is donned, showcasing how much more lethal Marc is when he’s in control.
Now that the story has shifted to Egypt to pursue Harrow after he’s gained control of the golden scarab (which will direct him to Ammit’s tomb), I’m intrigued to see how the story will balance Marc in control rather than Steven (and if Steven will regain control at an inopportune moment). So far, I’m enjoying Moon Knight and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There’s more than enough action set pieces to satisfy the casual Marvel fan, with just enough meat on the bone to satisfy people like me who enjoy a good story.
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