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'Moon Knight': Steven & Layla turn tomb raiders as we make sense of Episode 4's mind-bending finale
Monsters, secrets, and the shaky foundations of reality itself threaten to derail the adventure.
The race to beat Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) to the heart of Ammit's tomb kicked into high gear with the fourth episode of Marvel Studios' Moon Knight on Disney+.
Fresh off Khonshu's imprisonment by the other gods of Ancient Egypt, Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac) and Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy), rappel down into the depths of a fabled burial site, only to discover that decaying mummies are the least terrifying things lurking in the dark, far below the sands of the desert. Bloodthirsty monsters, explosive family secrets, and the shaky foundations of reality itself threaten to derail the adventure.
***WARNING: The following contains major plot spoilers for Episode 4 of Moon Knight***
After helping Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) turn back to the night sky in an effort to locate Ammit's tomb, Steven passes out. Not a great time to be unconscious because a few of Harrow's goons show up to take care of our heroes...with bullets. Recalling the actions of Alan Grant in Jurassic Park shortly after the T. rex escapes its paddock, Layla ends up saving the day with an emergency flare.
Steven conveniently wakes up just as the trouble passes and the duo heads out into the desert, following the star map to Ammit's final resting place, which has already been unearthed by Harrow and his people.
Marc shows up in a reflection to warn Steven that he's way out of his element. With Khonshu trapped, the suit and all the powers that come with it are gone. Marc — who suspects that his British alter ego is falling in love with his wife — requests control of the body, but Steven refuses, citing their arrangement that he'd be in total control once they were no longer bound to serve the moon deity.
Before heading down into the tomb, Steven reveals to Layla that Marc kept her at a distance because he didn't want her to become the next Moon Knight. Layla appreciates the honesty (something she didn't often get from her husband) and she and Steven share a bit of an awkward kiss before making their way below ground. The characters are both struck by the awe of the moment and Layla gives us a bit more intel on her father, who would have loved to see this with his own two eyes. To him, archaeology "was a dream worth dying for...and he did," she explains. Keep that in the back of your mind for now, it's gonna be an important bit of background shortly.
As they head further into the space — whose opulence suggests it was built at the behest of a pharaoh (aka Ammit's final avatar) — Steven and Layla find signs of spent bullet casings and blood. Lots of it. What were Harrow's henchmen shooting at exactly?
The answer reveals itself all too soon in the form of a zombified guardian of Ammit's tomb, which begins the rather gruesome process of disemboweling one of Harrow's mercenaries and placing the man's organs into canopic jars.
Once again, the show doesn't shy away from uncomfortable concepts and visuals in its effort to remain apart from the wider MCU for the time being. Moon Knight is a genuine breath of fresh air for a cinematic universe that's been going strong for over a decade now. Shaking up the formula is exactly what the Heka priest ordered.
Of course, the tomb's guardian gets wind of our heroes, forcing them to split up. Layla is attacked right next to a precarious drop, but manages to survive by using another one of her trusty flares. Meanwhile, Steven ventures into the heart of the tomb, containing the sarcophagus of one Alexander the Great, which implies that the legendary Macedonian conquerer was so successful because of Ammit's influence.
While still catching her breath, Layla encounters Harrow. The villain goes right for the emotional jugular, essentially confirming that Marc had something to do with her father's death. Back in the burial chamber, Steven reaches down into the mummified gullet of Alexander the Great and retrieves the ushabti containing the trapped Ammit. Layla shows up, demanding to speak with her husband.
Marc takes over the body and confirms that he was indeed present for her father's death, but wasn't the person who actually pulled the trigger. His partner (most likely Raul Bushman) got greedy and shot everyone on the dig site, including Spector. Marc was supposed to die, but as we all know, he was ultimately saved by Khonshu. It's a rather efficient way of recapping the hero's origin story from the comics without having to show it.
Marc claims he wanted to tell Layla the truth from the moment they met, but could never find the words to do so. "That's the reason that we met," counters a bitter Layla. "You just had a guilty conscience." There isn't much time for her to process any of these shocking revelations, however, when Harrow and his people show up, demanding the ushabti. Marc holds his own, taking out a few baddies before Harrow takes a page out of the Indiana Jones playbook and simplifies things by shooting Marc at point-blank range.
Marc falls backwards into a dark abyss, and the episode could have just ended here. From this point on, things get weird. Like really, really weird. Light and visuals return to the screen in the form of an old serial adventure film about a famed British adventurer by the name of...Steven Grant. Wait, what? The movie is revealed to be playing on a television in a surgically clean mental ward where Marc Spector and Layla are both patients zonked out on anti-psychotic medication. It seems as though Marc imagined everything (from the look of Khonshu to the Moon Knight armor), basing this wild fantasy on sketches and toys he's seen throughout the asylum.
This idea of questioning reality is a direct nod to the acclaimed Moon Knight comics run by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood in which Marc wakes up in a mental institution that has no record of his alleged tenure as a vigilante.
And again, the episode could have ended on this massive twist, but it keeps going. The "basis" for Harrow is revealed to be Marc's therapist, who desperately wants to achieve some sort of breakthrough with his troubled patient. Marc has a freakout, barrels through some orderlies, runs down the hallway, and sequesters himself in a room containing a wobbling sarcophagus with a panicked someone shouting to be released. That someone turns out to be Steven, implying that Marc is currently trapped within his own mind.
Marc and Steven make a break for it, spotting another wobbling sarcophagus (perhaps containing the identity of Jake Lockley?) and find their path blocked by a being who can only be Taweret, the Ancient Egyptian goddess of fertility and child birth. She seems friendly enough, but her appearance — a mixture of hippo and crocodile — is enough to make Marc and Steven shriek like a pair of little girls.
Maybe she can help them out once they're done screaming? But that's a problem for next week.
Moon Knight streams on Disney+ every Wednesday. Only two episodes remain.
If you're looking for more content set against the backdrop of Ancient Egyptian culture and mythology, The Prince of Egypt and The Mummy animated series (inspired by the beloved 1999 film) are currently streaming on Peacock. The OG 1999 live action The Mummy is also available on a variety of platforms.