A week after the Moon Knight premiere introduced Steven Grant, the second episode of Marvel’s latest Disney+ property pulls back the curtain on his better-known alter ego: Marc Spector. Many of the opener’s lingering questions were quickly answered in the second installment, and with only four episodes left in this six-part limited series, Moon Knight is already picking up steam.
Last week’s “The Goldfish Problem” welcomed us into the world and mind of Steven Grant as he started to realize that, just like his pet goldfish Gus, strange things were happening in his life that he couldn’t account for—whether it was asking a coworker out on a date or taking a trip to the pet store (to buy a new Gus). The answer to Steven’s strange problem is Marc Spector. “Summon the Suit” maintains Steven’s perspective, but Moon Knight dedicates its second chapter to introducing Spector, with details of his backstory dispersed through conversations with his wife, Layla, a couple of (potentially fake) detectives, Khonshu, Arthur Harrow, and Spector himself.
While this storytelling strategy of integrating Marc into Steven’s life builds on Moon Knight’s growing mystery and heightens Steven’s constant state of confusion and fear, it also forces the second episode to deliver multiple waves of exposition that gradually bring Steven and the audience up to speed. Detectives Fitzgerald and Kennedy, who both work for Harrow, reveal to Steven that Marc is an international fugitive: a mercenary whose team raided a dig site in Egypt and executed the archaeologists. But Spector’s mysterious life also comes into focus via kernels of seemingly incidental information that help paint a picture of who the “man in the mirror” is, such as when Layla wonders aloud whether Marc is on speaking terms with his mother again as Steven explains that his flat belongs to his mom.
However, the most direct introduction to Marc comes in a conversation between him and Steven, which takes place after Steven discovers Marc’s secret storage unit. Steven finds a bag containing Marc’s passport, his gun, and the all-important golden scarab, which finally prompts Marc to explain the developing situation to Steven—with just enough information about their now-shared life to thrust Steven into a panic attack. “I serve Khonshu,” Marc explains from Steven’s reflection. “I’m his avatar, which means you are too, sort of. We protect the vulnerable and deliver Khonshu’s … justice to those who hurt them.”
Less than 24 hours after Harrow first mentioned “avatars” and spoke of real-life Egyptian gods, Steven finds out that he’s (sort of) the avatar for Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon, whether he’s ready to accept it or not. (And he’s definitely not.) Marc has evidently been serving Khonshu for some time now, carrying out his will no matter how bloody his fists get in the process. The god has been haunting Steven’s every move, berating him for being inferior to Marc at every opportunity, but now Steven knows Khonshu’s name, too, and he learns much more than that about the god over the duration of the episode.
As Spector receives a proper, if stilted, introduction, “Summon the Suit” also provides the road map for the rest of Moon Knight. When Steven is apprehended by Harrow’s henchmen, Harrow reveals that he was Khonshu’s former avatar, and that Khonshu has been banished by the other gods. But Harrow also tips his hand, explaining to Steven that the scarab is a compass leading to Ammit’s tomb, and that he and the rest of Ammit’s devout followers intend to bring her back to life. “Khonshu punishes those who have already walked an evil path—his retribution comes too late,” Harrow tells Steven. “By the time his ‘Fist of Vengeance’ arrives, people have already suffered. Ammit knows this too well. She tears evil up from the root, casting her judgment before any evil is done. That’s why we must resurrect her.”
These first two episodes of Moon Knight serve as something of a two-part introduction to the series, with Steven Grant and the audience walking hand-in-hand into a world where it isn’t always easy to distinguish between what’s real and what’s happening in Steven’s head. By the end of the second chapter, yet another world-endangering threat to the MCU has been exposed, in the form of the looming return of a god prepared to cast her mortal, moral judgment on everyone (even children). And after largely sidelining Khonshu’s favorite avatar for two weeks, Moon Knight ends its second episode with Marc in control of his and Steven’s shared body, signaling a shift in perspective as the series heads to Egypt.
Who Is Layla El-Faouly?
“Summon the Suit” may serve as an entry point to the life of Marc Spector, but much of what we learn about the former mercenary comes courtesy of the arrival of his (soon-to-be-divorced) wife, Layla. Although she made a muted debut in a brief, confusing phone call with Steven in the premiere, Layla rides into this week’s installment on a moped to save Steven just as he’s running away from a terrifying Khonshu.
In Layla’s conversations with Steven (which are really more like interrogations of the man she believes to be Marc), she acknowledges her previous adventures with Marc, how she fought alongside him to attain the golden scarab, and her understanding of Marc’s ability to summon his Moon Knight suit. But Layla can’t wrap her head around Steven, believing him to be another one of Marc’s “fake identities,” a likely reference to how Marc once seamlessly cycled through various personas in early versions of the character in Moon Knight comics—though it could be hinting at a longer history of Marc’s dissociative identity disorder that Layla wasn’t aware of.
What Layla doesn’t know about Marc and his fancy superhero suit is that Khonshu has his sights set on her as Marc’s successor, should anything happen to his current avatar. That’s why Marc has cut off all communication with Layla and is seeking a divorce, as he attempts to protect her by leaving her in the dark. Khonshu isn’t exactly a benevolent god; his motives to deliver “real justice” may be well-intentioned, but he’s also willing to use Layla’s life as leverage to keep Marc as his loyal servant and Fist of Vengeance. Khonshu may have saved Marc’s life, but that’s starting to sound more like a deal with the devil than anything else. “You were nothing more than a corpse when I found you,” Khonshu says to Marc near the end of the second episode. “You think you own this body? [Laughs maniacally.] It belongs to me.”
Layla is an original character in Moon Knight, and not much of her own story has been told yet. She’s been described as an archaeologist in the lead-up to the series, and her knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphics in the second episode hints at her expertise. Based on her relationship with Marc and her career choice, she appears to be an updated version of Marlene Alraune, who serves as little more than the stereotypical damsel in distress in many Moon Knight comics. Marlene is an important character in Moon Knight’s history, but the series seems to be seizing an opportunity to create a new and less generic character in Layla.
Introducing Mr. Knight
When Steven and Layla are escaping Harrow’s commune and another one of his rabid jackals, Layla urges him to “summon the suit,” just as Marc did to save their lives at the end of the premiere. At the last possible moment, as Steven is falling to his death, he summons the suit—just not the one that everyone was expecting.
Instead of landing on his feet wearing the ceremonial armor from Khonshu’s temple, Steven transforms into “psycho Colonel Sanders,” as an exasperated Marc characterizes his bodymate’s badass form. While Steven’s new look has yet to receive a name in Moon Knight, the suit is rooted in one of his identities in the comics: Mr. Knight.
In the comics, Mr. Knight is more of a detective than Moon Knight. In an intriguing invention of the TV series, Mr. Knight is essentially Steven’s superhero identity, while Moon Knight serves as Marc’s, with both suits now possessing a more supernatural connection that can be summoned to provide enhanced strength. Mr. Knight’s debut fight arrives in the first part of the episode’s lone action sequence, which provides a pretty ridiculous visual thanks to the show’s commitment to rendering the jackal as an invisible creature that only Steven can see:
As Mr. Knight, Steven manages to land one clean punch on the jackal, but the better fighter is clearly still Marc. After all, Marc is a former mercenary, and Steven is nothing more than a former gift shop employee. As the two continue to learn how to coexist within their shared body, will Mr. Knight prove to have advantages that Moon Knight does not, or will he (and Steven’s ever-entertaining accent) act as comic relief in contrast to Marc’s brooding Moon Knight?
Horror Moment of the Week: Meeting Khonshu (Again)
Two weeks in, Moon Knight has been sparing in its use of horror, with only a couple of scenes really intended to scare its viewers. The second episode relies again on a trick of flickering lights to create a startling moment with Khonshu, in another fun, if not somewhat redundant, sequence that finds Steven running for dear life down a dimly lit hallway. Khonshu seems hell-bent on tormenting Steven to bring Marc back into the fold, but, hey, at least now Steven knows what he’s up against.
Overall, Moon Knight has been pretty tame so far when it comes to horror and violence, especially in light of all the hype about it being a major tonal shift for the MCU. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige described the series as being “brutal” at times, but so far most of the fight scenes have involved a CGI jackal, and the most recent jackal confrontation mostly amounted to Mr. Knight punching the air.
Nonetheless, the series has gotten off to a solid start thanks to its clever, staggered storytelling in introducing the interconnected lives of Steven Grant and Marc Spector, along with a promising villain in Ethan Hawke’s Arthur Harrow, who really chose to break glass and dump it into his shoes before ever saying a word. There’s still plenty of runway for the series to take off, and the second episode ends with Marc overlooking Egypt, with its pyramids looming in the distance, which lends the impression that the show is just getting started. With all the introductions made, Moon Knight can now expand on the foundation it’s laid down and dive further into the world of Egyptian gods that Steven has been dragged into.