Marvel’s Moon Knight: The Friendly Type (Episode 3) Review
*This Review Contains Full Spoilers*
Moon Knight has delivered some standout elements, mainly Ethan Hawke’s performance as Arthur Harrow, that set it apart from other entities in the MCU, but its latest episode continues its struggles to deliver on bigger promises and ultimately be more than just ANOTHER MCU show.
For months leading up to Moon Knight’s release, there were teases of how Moon Knight would be unlike anything in the MCU. It would be hyper-violent they said. It would be more horror-driven like the comics they said. While the premiere showed some great teases of these aspects, the two episodes that have followed have struggled to maintain and emphasize these elements and have been replaced with typical MCU comedy and lackluster story-building. Episode three ends up featuring the most action of the series thus far, but besides a dark moment of Marc (Oscar Isaac) being impaled with spears while wearing the suit, the action is far from brutal or bloody. It’s honestly not even the most ambitious action in the MCU and although the music from Hesham Nazih makes Moon Knight’s presence epic, the same just can’t be said when he’s in action.
A big part of Moon Knight not living up to expectations, at this point, is also that the sense of horror and darkness around Moon Knight and the powerful Moon God Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) has pretty much dissolved in this episode. It’s no longer scary or foreboding to see Khonshu since Marc talks to him very casually and the battle between Steven and Marc isn’t as fierce or frightening anymore. It is fun to see Steven pull out the rug from Marc in a fight by taking over the body and having him wake up in a cab, but now these blackout sequences feel like censorship for the bloodier, more horrifying moments of the series. Frankly, this series really needs something like what Falcon and Winter Soldier had with John Walker killing someone as Cap because it was a moment that felt game-changing and stood out. This series doesn’t have much like that right now and could honestly use it since what it’s currently providing feels a little stale.
While it’s nice to have Steve more in the background in this episode, things don’t feel like they change much with Marc leading. His brutish attitude isn’t all that remarkable or memorable and his relationship issues with Layla (May Calamawy) feels thin despite some strong performances. Isaac continues to deliver some solid work and Calamawy nails the emotional parts of Layla yearning to understand what’s going on with Marc, but this series still hasn’t delved deep enough into Marc’s mental health much and it’s really holding itself back. Arthur bringing it up during a big meeting between the gods was one of the best parts of this episode, but this series has yet to capitalize on it and it’s causing Marc and Steven to come off like two basic polar opposite personalities clashing. We still don’t even know how Marc became Khonshu’s avatar and it’s tough to see what the series is waiting for in giving viewers answers.
Hawke has pretty much had to put Moon Knight on his shoulders with his continually compelling performance, but he carries it well. Arthur is once again the best part of Moon Knight with how he finds great ways to stay in control and let his darker side out in interesting ways. The way he walks into a trial with the gods and ends up successfully turning the tables on Marc and Khonshu making them look like the bad guys. Hawke is just phenomenal here creating a compelling intellectual villain that’s complex and somehow always manages to stay one step ahead of everyone. Every scene with him is just perfect and if the series continues to utilize him well, Arthur will easily rank among the best MCU villains of all time.
Now, while most of this week’s Moon Knight episode is just fine, there are some standout moments that could provide an interesting path forward. The MCU has definitely struggled to make big factions satisfying or genuinely impactful, like the Time Lords in Loki or the celestials in The Eternals, and that doesn’t change too much with the Egyptian gods so far. It’s a shame that most of the avatars are nameless and lack distinct personalities, but their appearance could mean that we’ll get more of them later and Khonshu might even have a love interest. He won’t be getting involved with it anytime soon though since he gets imprisoned in stone for his actions in helping Steven and Layla find Ammit’s tomb. The sequence of Steven and Khonshu moving the stars is undeniably awesome and visually stunning and it’ll be interesting to see Marc be forced to go forward without him.
Moon Knight still has some good parts to it that make it an interesting watch, especially its main antagonist, but it really needs to establish a more distinct identity for itself otherwise it’s simply going to fade into MCU obscurity.