TV Review: Moon Knight, Episode 5

By Matthew Moorcroft

Highest Recommendation

  • Directed by Mohamed Diab
  • Starring Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham, Ethan Hawke
  • TV-14

At both it’s height and it’s lowest, the MCU has mostly stayed on the course of being tame in much of it’s content – well, variably. It’s flirted with darkness before and Phase 4’s output so far as been notably on the more thematically heavy end on the spectrum, but the promise of Moon Knight was that it was going to finally address darker topics. And while prior episodes were a strong foundation, Asylum finally bears witness to that promise.

Similar to WandaVision‘s incredible penultimate episode, Moon Knight steps back and focuses solely on the backstory of our lead character and his innermost psychology. Sure, there is cool Egyptian stuff in the background going on and there is a Hippo Lady leading the charge, but ultimately it has zero interest in that stuff other then cool window dressing. It’s all there as a vehicle for character dissection, and from a story perspective that’s immediately far more interesting then simply going through the motions of it’s fantasy storyline.

From the start of the episode, it pulls you in with vividly surreal imagery and jump cuts that are disorienting, but they slow down as the episode progresses as Marc finds some stability in his trauma. If anything, this episode is the closest we’ve gotten to more Legion, and while Moon Knight has never been as surrealist as that show has been it doesn’t need to be. It’s equally as effective in different ways, and the way they are able to show very little but say so much is mostly thanks to Mohamed Diab’s continued fantastic work on the show. Some of the best camerawork on the show is here and while it’s not overly flashy there is something about the way Diab continues to use reflections and the moonlight as both indicators of Marc and Khonshu but also simply as a visual guide.

But honestly this is a one-man show for Oscar Isaac, who has to portray himself for the majority of the runtime and run the gambit of emotions on two distinct yet equally traumatized characters. Isaac’s performances is nothing short of miraculous here and ranks among the highest of the superhero pantheon in terms of sheer acting; it’s one of the few times during one of these things where awards consideration is deserved wholeheartedly and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t at least in the conversation. The depths he is able to take not just Marc but Steven as well is a feast and really brings this episode to the top of the pile.

In fact, once the episode reaches it’s climax, the episode commits to a twist that’s gutsy yet necessary and I commend it for sticking the landing. The final moments of Asylum are grim, yes, but showcase the need for moving on and accepting your trauma as a part of you. Your scales balance out when not when you remove the horrible things you’ve done but only when you’ve accepted it as a part of yourself, and there is something powerful about that acceptance also leading to losing something along the way; whether that be your childhood or even an actual person depends on the scenario.

And with one episode left to go, Moon Knight has set the stage for a finale that has a lot to live up to. If anything, this proves that the best the MCU has to offer on a consistent basis isn’t it’s action or it’s fun easter eggs. Instead, it’s the character work and development that’s integral to the initial success of the comics, and this is one of their best, most rock solid examples of that.

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