The first episode of Marvel’s Moon Knight is now streaming, and it shows the superhero-focused Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) embracing its dark side. The chaotic and surreal show follows Steven Grant, a gift shop worker who lives in London and is struggling to keep his sleepwalking under control.
Steven sets up a complicated series of wards to alert himself if he goes for a nighttime stroll. He straps himself to the bed, pours sand around his room, and tapes his door so he’ll tear it if he leaves. There’s only one problem: he isn’t sleepwalking. He’s sharing his body with another personality.
Moon Knight is engrossing because it chooses to introduce audiences to Steven Grant first, leaving Marc Spector as a surprise for later in the episode. Steven is a great audience surrogate because he’s a regular guy who works a thankless day job and doesn’t know anything about battling bad guys.
The episode’s decision to tease viewers by never showing the fight scenes, only hinting at their aftermath, helps disorient the audience just like Steven feels confused by his condition. He wakes up in a village in the Alps, in the middle of a conflict with a dangerous cult. He’s in possession of a stolen amulet and has no idea what he’s doing, so his stressful encounters with the armed villains who want to stop him are outright terrifying.
The show also embraces how terrifying Moon Knight’s powers are for someone who isn’t familiar with the moon deity, Khonshu. Khonshu is a towering, mummy-like figure from Egyptian mythology that the show only hints at. At times, Steven glimpses the mysterious deity and can’t comprehend what he’s seeing. He writes his encounters with dangerous villains and long-forgotten gods off as dreams and nightmares.
However, things start to unravel for Steven when Arthur Harrow, the leader of the cult he stole the amulet from, tracks him back to London. Khonshu appears to Steven more often, demanding him cede his body to Marc, another personality that inhabits his brain. In these moments, the show embraces a horror aesthetic that sets it apart from the more lighthearted tone of the other MCU shows and movies.
Oscar Isaac is excellent in his dual roles as Steven Grant and Marc Spector in the first episode. The show will run for six episodes on Disney+ and audiences are eager to see Isaac bring the vengeful ancient guardian to life in the bizarre world of Moon Knight.