At this point, I’ve made my feeling about Moon Knight fairly clear. The first half of the six-episode series seriously dented my enthusiasm for Marvel TV shows. Then, I came away even more underwhelmed when I returned to give Moon Knight a second chance.
As noted in last time, I had every intention of dropping the series after four episodes and not even finishing Moon Knight. However, the reaction to my critical opinion of the show from Marvel fans was passionate, to put it rather mildly.
Many readers argued that it was unfair to judge the show without having finished it first. So, after much reflection, I decided the only course of action was to solider on through the Disney Plus series, and see this journey through to the bitter end.
Giving Moon Knight one final chance
Before jumping into my thoughts Moon Knight’s final two episodes and the series as a whole, a bit of context. I feel like it's it’s important to argue that you can express a valid opinion on a TV show without having seen every single available episode of said series.
For example, I didn’t need to watch more than a single episode of vapid Netflix cooking show Is It Cake? to know the series wasn’t to my tastes. Plus, I’m willing to bet the vast majority of people bashing Selling Sunset on social media haven’t watched all 44 episodes before expressing their strong dislike of the glossy reality series. A narrative-driven show is a beast of a different variety, though.
Nevertheless, I was determined to go into Moon Knight's last two installments with an open mind in the hopes of finally finding something about the series that would grip me. If I was going to give the show a third chance, I was going to do it properly.
After watching Moon Knight to the end, I do still maintain an overall muted opinion of the entire series as a whole. That said? I was pleasantly surprised by several aspects of Moon Knight’s final two hours.
Moon Knight’s penultimate chapter is a winner
The biggest twist in Moon Knight episode 5 is not Marc/Steven waking up in a psychiatric hospital and being greeted by a hippopotamus-headed woman. Instead, I was surprised by how the up-to-this-point lackluster show suddenly gets quite good.
Episode 5, titled "Asylum," explores the backstory of both Marc Spector and Steven Grant. And for the first time in the series, I actually felt engaged by the show’s protagonist. Sure, his late-stage development doesn’t retroactively make Marc/Steven an interesting character in the previous four episodes, but it sure does make for a compelling hour of television.
Episode 5 really let Oscar Isaac's talents shine as well. I’ve argued that for the first four episodes of Moon Knight, Isaac has been saddled with a character who is little more than a collection of quirky personality ticks, but in this time Marc Spector finally has some substance. The revelation that Spector created his alternative persona to escape his feelings of guilty and traumatic upbringing was a real gut punch.
This stronger, laser-sharp focus also helps the episode and stands in stark contrast to much of Moon Knight, which squandered any potential with frequently uneven pacing and screentime dedicated to Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) and Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy), who came across as rather dull.
I’m not suggesting that "Asylum" is one of the greatest episodes of television you'll see this year. It’s by no means perfect, the Egyptian mythos is still underutilized and the episode is understandably weighed down by the bagged of what came before. Nevertheless, considering up to this point I’d thought Moon Knight didn’t have a single standout episode, I was just pleased that when the credits rolled I was actually eager to see what came next.
Moon Knight doesn’t quite stick the landing
Unfortunately, Moon Knight episode 6, "Gods and Monsters," veers closer in quality to the first four episodes of the show. Although I will say, it’s still an improvement and kept me entertained throughout, which is certainly more than the sleepy middle chunk of the show did.
The interesting character exploration of Asylum is instantly traded for pure spectacle, and to the show’s credit, I was highly impressed with the special effects. The scenes of the titan-sized Egyptian Gods Ammit and Khonshu fighting looks just as good as anything from Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Plus, it was nice to see Moon Knight back in action after being absent for so long.
However, all this extravagantly expensive CGI can't quite make up for how rushed Moon Knight’s conclusion feels. This final episode attempts to cover quite significant ground at almost warp speed. If someone like me, who is hardly the most invested viewer, found this frustrating, I can imagine the rush to tie things up greatly disappointing someone more engaged with the show.
As for the big Moon Knight post-credits scene where we learned Marc/Steven actually have a third personality, Jake Lockley, who is still paired with Khonshu? I loved it.
It’s pretty clearly telegraphed during the final confrontation with Harrow, but that doesn’t make it any else effective as a closing twist. In the wake of this development, I'm actually surprisingly excited to see where the character goes next. There's no denying that the finale leaves Moon Knight in a pretty interesting spot.
Maybe Moon Knight should have been a movie
My biggest takeaway from enjoying the final two Moon Knight episodes more than I expected, was that I wish Moon Knight had been given his own movie instead of a Disney Plus series.
While I’ve seen some fans express gratitude that a slightly more high-concept hero was given additional time to be introduced to the Marvel audience, from my perspective the six-episode series had about two hours of pretty solid material, and then an awful lot of filler.
Episodes three and four are the most egregious example of this. These episodes dramatically slow the pacing down and feel extremely meandering. The core story of Moon Knight doesn’t really support the show's nearly five hours total runtime, which led to plot points being stretched and my interest rapidly dwindling as a result.
Stripping away the fluff and converting the project into a feature could have done wonders for Moon Knight. This would have allowed for a tighter focus on Steven and Marc's backstory with a few extended action sequences thrown in for good measure. Perhaps that’s the Moon Knight we got somewhere out there in the multiverse?
My persistence paid off (just about)
I think the most remarkable thing about the final two episodes of Moon Knight is that they’ve done just about enough to get me at least reasonably excited to see the character pop up in future MCU projects.
I can’t say I’m particularly interested in a possible Moon Knight season 2, but if Steven Grant/Marc Spector/Jake Lockley pops up in some other Marvel show or movie, I’d be curious to see how the character interacts with others. That may not sound like high praise, but after four episodes of Moon Knight my enthusiasm for the hero was pretty much zero so it’s definitely a pleasant surprise to end up here.
In this case, my decision to reluctantly persist with Moon Knight did in fact pay off, just about. However, it should be noted, that as someone fortunate enough to write about TV shows, among many other things, for a living, I had extra motivation to finish the show. Had I been watching Moon Knight without that additional incentive, I definitely wouldn’t have given it a third chance to win me over.
Now that I’ve seen the entire show and can make a definitive judgment on Moon Knight, I’m still no great fan of the series. It’s a cut above the likes of Falcon and Winter Soldier and Hawkeye, but not by a great distance. One really good episode just isn't enough to excuse the show's saggy middle and rushed ending.
At the very least the final two episodes clearly demonstrate the potential of the character going forward. Fingers crossed that the next time he appears in the MCU it's in a project that really utilizes him to his fullest.