Within the first couple of minutes of the Moon Knight finale, Arthur Harrow says his goodbyes to his adversary’s lifeless body, foreshadowing the show’s final twist: “I’m sorry it had to be this way, Marc Spector, Steven Grant, whoever else might be in there. Sometimes we need the cold light of death before we can see reality.”
Throughout the season, one of the show’s biggest questions was whether there was another identity sharing Marc and Steven’s body, which would explain the occasional moments when neither of them had any control or awareness of their actions. As it turns out, the hidden alter was Jake Lockley all along.
Despite Harrow’s forewarning at the start of the season finale, “Gods and Monsters,” Lockley doesn’t even appear in the episode itself—just the destruction he leaves behind, not unlike his violent and mysterious intervention in the show’s third chapter. Rather, Lockley’s grand introduction is withheld until the last possible moment, in the season’s one and only post-credits scene. “You wanna know something?” Khonshu asks Harrow, as the villain is escorted from the Sienkiewicz Psychiatric Hospital to Khonshu’s fancy new ride. “Marc Spector truly believed that after he and I parted ways, I wanted his wife to be my avatar. Why would I ever need anybody else when he has no idea how troubled he truly is? Meet my friend, Jake Lockley.”
The stinger makes for an exciting final moment to the finale, and yet the decision to wait until after the season had essentially ended to introduce Lockley is one that will surely be polarizing for viewers. Fans of the comics had been searching for signs of Lockley’s arrival since the start of the series, and Moon Knight left enough clues for even viewers who were new to the title character to recognize that another alter could be coming. Perhaps the more stunning development here was the Moon Knight creative team’s choice to effectively cut the finale’s climactic battle sequence short by injecting yet another blackout for Marc and Steven and deferring the Lockley reveal to its aftermath.
“Gods and Monsters” still has its fair share of payoffs, though, including Marc and Steven finally finding peace and understanding in each other to the start of an unlikely, yet perfect union between the goddess Taweret and her new (if supposedly temporary) avatar in Layla. Together, the hippo and the archeologist team up to transform Layla into a superhero in her own right: the Scarlet Scarab. Between giving Layla the godly assist and helping to save Marc and Steven from the Duat after Marc went back for Steven, Taweret is the real MVP of the finale:
With a running time of about 35 minutes, excluding the end credits and the “previously on” segment, the finale is by far the shortest episode of the season—and one that probably could’ve used some extra runway to craft a more satisfying conclusion. “Gods and Monsters” rushes to its resolution, reviving and reuniting Marc and Steven to join a freed Khonshu in a CGI showdown of the gods and their avatars, as Ammit and Harrow take on Khonshu and Moon Knight, in addition to the newly formed duo of Taweret and Scarlet Scarab. (Marvel just can’t help itself, with Ammit and Khonshu’s outsized brawl in Cairo basically reenacting Godzilla vs. Kong.) Ethan Hawke’s Harrow goes out with a whimper, first being supplanted by the even bigger bad in his crocodile goddess Ammit, and then being (presumably) killed in a post-credits scene to propel the introduction of Lockley. Meanwhile, the remaining Egyptian gods of the Ennead are rendered useless in quick succession, as Ammit eliminates their human avatars within moments of being released by Harrow, with no indication of what happens to any of the gods in the night’s aftermath. (In fairness to Osiris, though, the god did allow Marc and Steven to return to the land of the living, so at least he can be forgiven for not intervening more.)
Although it was a bit of a mess regardless, the verdict for the finale ultimately depends on whether it was the conclusion to the entire series or just to its first season, as the future of Moon Knight remains unknown. “Gods and Monsters” delivers an ambiguous ending for Marc and Steven, who return to Steven’s flat in London after making a pit stop at the psychiatric hospital for one last chat with Dr. Harrow. It seems as if the two have found the most symbiotic Marvel relationship since Eddie met Venom: The duo are a package deal now, with an impressive ability to cycle between their superhero personas on a whim. They even found the time to buy a second goldfish to symbolize their newfound duality. And yet their ties with Khonshu have been cut (as far as they know), and neither of them has any idea that the vengeful god is manipulating another alter sharing their body.
Moon Knight had always been billed as a six-episode event, but the finale leaves more loose ends than Marvel Studios has in previous shows, most of which have been limited series (with the only clear exception being Loki, whose second season was confirmed in its finale). Deepening the mystery, eagle-eyed fans on Twitter spotted a potentially significant hint about the fate of the series earlier this week, as Marvel Studios teased the “epic series finale” before deleting the tweet and rewording it to the “epic season finale.” If Moon Knight comes back for a second season, the series will have all the time it needs to resolve the compelling story that it started but couldn’t quite finish in six installments.
Regardless of whether it comes in the form of another season on Disney+ or on the big screen, Moon Knight seems primed to return after a solid origin story unfolded over the past few weeks. Given that Oscar Isaac nailed the role(s), including a tremendous performance in last week’s emotional journey into Marc’s past, the Moon Knight franchise could become an intriguing corner of the MCU moving forward.
Introducing: Scarlet Scarab
While the surprise appearance from another of Spector’s personalities gets the final word of the season, May Calamawy’s Layla El-Faouly is the one who steals the show. She helps free Khonshu from his imprisonment at the Great Pyramid of Giza and rejects the god’s offer to become his avatar, choosing instead to serve the delightful hippo god of women and children. Taweret could hardly subdue her excitement at the prospect of the team-up, puppeteering the corpse of Osiris’s human avatar to let her know and nearly blowing their cover in the process:
While her new moniker is never mentioned, Layla dons a cool new suit to become—as a little girl is here to remind us—the MCU’s first Egyptian superhero: Scarlet Scarab. Layla already had proved herself to be a fearless, formidable fighter (almost too formidable, if anything, as she continues to kill people), and her progression from being the “little scarab” to the Scarlet Scarab is well earned. I’ve written in previous recaps about how Moon Knight remade Marc’s forgettable love interest from the comics, Marlene, into a stronger character in Layla, but “Gods and Monsters” takes that transformation a step further by combining some of Marlene’s backstory with elements pulled from a Marvel comics superhero who appeared for only a brief stretch from the late ’70s into the early ’80s.
Professor Abdul Faoul, who used an ancient artifact known as the Ruby Scarab to become the Scarlet Scarab, was a protector of Egypt who appeared in comics such as Invaders and Thor. (Layla’s father’s name in Moon Knight is even Abdullah El-Faouly, which would’ve been a big hint if not for the hero’s obscurity.) Marvel Studios has made clever use of little-known or outdated characters in past projects, but—thanks in large part to a push from director/executive producer Mohamed Diab and consulting producer Sarah Goher—Calamawy’s Layla is perhaps the best instance of upcycling to date.
By the end of the episode, Marc/Steven is/are separated from Layla after their bond with Khonshu is broken, so Layla’s fate, and whether she decides to remain Taweret’s avatar, stands as one of the season’s biggest loose ends. Layla’s journey into Ammit’s tomb in the fourth episode already had me hoping for her own Tomb Raider–style spinoff, but now that she’s a full-fledged superhero, Marvel Studios needs to make it happen.
Jake Lockley and the Future of Moon Knight
It took so long for Moon Knight to introduce Jake Lockley that, even after the fourth episode’s mystery sarcophagus seemed to all but confirm his impending appearance, his absence in last week’s “Asylum” started triggering flashbacks to my (and many others’) false belief that the villainous Mephisto would show up on WandaVision. But finding the right amount of foreshadowing for the season’s big twist for both Moon Knight fans and newcomers was a challenge for the show’s creative team from the jump.
“We knew right from the beginning that fans were going to be on the lookout for references and clues that Jake Lockley is going to appear in the show,” head writer Jeremy Slater told Marvel.com. “It was really just a balancing act that definitely involved my team of writers, but also involved the directors, the executives, and ultimately, all the way up to [Marvel Studios president] Kevin Feige, in terms of how many breadcrumbs are we dropping? Is this a satisfying reveal? Are we telegraphing it too much? Or are we not telegraphing enough?”
In addition to the sarcophagus, and the brutal (though blacked-out) violence in the third episode, Moon Knight had been leaving subtle clues of a third alter through its effective use of mirrors and reflections throughout the season—even as early as the premiere, after Steven wakes up at home following the cupcake car chase.
Had Lockley been introduced in earnest before the finale, it could’ve taken away from the strength of the penultimate episode’s exploration of Marc’s dissociative identity disorder, as the focus needed to stay on Steven discovering the truth of his existence as Marc processed his childhood trauma. But while the difficulty of striking that balance between satisfying superfans’ expectations and honoring newcomers’ attachments to Marc and Steven is understandable, the decision to delay the reveal until, you know, after the season ended rather than during that blacked-out sequence in the episode’s climactic battle remains puzzling. (This might also just be a symptom of Disney+ limiting how much violence it will allow Marvel Studios to show on the platform.) Regardless of how it happened, though, Jake Lockley—one of Marc Spector’s original alters from the comics—is here at last, and instead of being a New York cabbie, he seems to serve as Khonshu’s personal driver and speaks only in Spanish. And along with Khonshu (and his fresh, comic-book-inspired suit), Lockley is riding around in Mr. Knight’s car, which comes straight from Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s popular Moon Knight run:
In Lockley, the ever-manipulative Khonshu has found a loophole in his and Marc’s renegotiated agreement, as neither Marc nor Steven knows Jake exists. Now Khonshu can continue his mission to bring his bloody justice to the world without anyone second-guessing him, as Jake seems to take no issue with disposing of workers at Harrow’s psychiatric hospital to carry out Khonshu’s demands. Marc Spector and Steven Grant made extraordinary progress together over Moon Knight’s six episodes, but there’s clearly still much work to be done. This season was a refreshing departure from the Marvel norm in many ways (even if this finale fell into some familiar pitfalls), as it managed to stay isolated from any connections to the rest of the MCU from beginning to end (outside of the occasional Easter egg). Now those who enjoyed the exploits of the newly established on-screen character will wait to find out when, and in what format, they’ll see Moon Knight again.