REVIEW: ‘Moon Knight,’ Episode 5 – “Asylum”

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Moon Knight Episode 5 - But Why Tho

Moon Knight Episode 5 finally dives into the origins of Marc Spector/Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), and does so in a rather emotionally taxing way. “Asylum” immediately picks up after the events of “The Tomb“, as Marc and Steven encounter the Egyptian goddess Taweret (Antonia Salib).

Taweret reveals that the mental hospital the duo is trapped in is actually a boat traveling through the Duat, better known as the Egyptian underworld. With their hearts being weighed on the Scales of Justice, Marc and Steven revisit their past – including Marc’s childhood and eventual transformation into the Moon Knight – in order to achieve spiritual balance and return to the world of the living.

Director Mohamed Diab continues to explore Egyptian culture and myth in this episode, particularly when it comes to the Underworld. Many mythologies, from Greek to Hinduism, often get filtered through a Christian perspective when it comes to their take on the afterlife. Diab, alongside episode writers Rebecca Kirsch and Matthew Orton, takes a much more nuanced approach. Death here isn’t something to be feared, but a way to confront harsh truths and find a measure of peace afterlife. Salib is also a delight as Taweret, offsetting the series’ more heavy moments with an easygoing nature as she explains to Marc and Steven what’s going on and even has a set of notecards made of papyrus.

Make no mistake – there are some heavy scenes in this episode, particularly when it comes to Marc’s childhood. Two things that drew me to the character of Moon Knight were his struggles with his Judaism and his mental health, and both are addressed. The Jewish period of morning known as Shiva is shown twice, and the series also addresses the root of Marc’s Disassociative Identity Disorder -with a twist that both makes sense and is utterly heartbreaking.

Showrunner Jeremy Slater was true to his word when he said those aspects of the character would come into play. It’s no wonder that Marc ultimately fell into the way of a mercenary, and then pledged his life to Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham). All his life, he was carrying around immense guilt and saw the Moon Knight as a way to absolve himself from it.

The episode – and the series in general – wouldn’t work without an actor of Issac’s caliber, and he runs through a gauntlet of emotions in this episode. Both Steven and Marc have felt like distinct characters due to Issac’s mannerisms and performance, but here they approach a shared level of grief as Steven peels back the layers of Marc’s past. The scene that stood out the most features Issac stumbling down the street before collapsing to his knees and breaking down sobbing. I dare anyone who watches this episode to walk away dry-eyed. This episode continues the Phase 4 trend of putting the MCU’s heroes through their paces not just physically but emotionally.

Kudos should also go to Ethan Hawke, who plays a version of Arthur Harrow that’s a therapist; though he looks radically different with a sweater vest and moustache, his calm demeanor still masks an air of menace as he tries to convince Marc that his adventures as Moon Knight were pure fantasy.

My sole issue with the episode lies in the lack of Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy). “The Tomb” and the third episode, “The Friendly Type“, showed that Marc still carried immense guilt over not being able to save Layla’s father. The episode would have been a bit stronger had it shown those scenes, as well as his marriage to Layla. There’s a wealth of unresolved issues right there! As it is, I hope that Calamawy has a major role in next week’s finale – she’s been one of the unexpected highlights of Moon Knight and Hollywood should be knocking down her door after the series wraps.

Moon Knight Episode 5 is perhaps the series’ most emotional episode yet, as it tackles the themes of faith and mental health that form the character’s core. Given the series’ track record so far, I feel like the finale will end on a high note. And if this is Issac’s sole outing as Moon Knight, he can go out saying he gave it his all.

The series finale of Moon Knight will be available to stream on Disney+ next Wednesday.


Moon Knight Episode 5 - "Asylum"
  • 9.5/10
    Rating - 9.5/10
9.5/10

TL;DR

Moon Knight Episode 5 is perhaps the series’ most emotional episode yet, as it tackles the themes of faith and mental health that form the character’s core. Given the series’ track record so far, I feel like the finale will end on a high note. And if this is Issac’s sole outing as Moon Knight, he can go out saying he gave it his all.