The penultimate installment of the Disney+ series sees Marc Spector and Steven Grant trying to figure out the truth of their lives -- and reality? -- ahead of next week's big finale.
At this point in our mind-bending "Moon Knight" experience, we find ourselves questioning reality as much as we did in those first few episodes of "WandaVision" before that story found clarity.
In the penultimate episode of the latest Disney+ series, we did get a lot of clarity about Marc Spector and Steven Grant, in one of the most tragically heartbreaking sequences we've ever seen, but we still have so many questions about everything around them.
Episode 4 closed with Marc and Steven meeting face-to-face for the first time ever while trying to escape through the halls of a hospital's psychiatric ward. But rather than find freedom, they instead found Egyptian god Tarawet aka the lady with the hippo head.
What followed was a surreal trip through the Egyptian afterlife and inside the fractured psyches of two men in one. Before we quickly navigate all the twists and turns of the episode, we must pause to heap praise on Oscar Isaac for two incredible intertwining performances as both Steven and Marc.
He played both roles so individually and so convincingly, it was easy to forget we were watching the same performer twice on our screens. All of Marc's fear and anger, all of Steven's drive to know, and overall insecurities, were on full display. Everything from the voice to the face to their very body language was completely different.
It was like Tatiana Maslany on "Orphan Black," blowing people away with her ability to morph into such distinct personalities and then interact with herself. That feat scored Maslany all the award accolades, so could this six-episode jaunt do the same for Isaac?
As for the story itself, it couldn't be more tragic, while also being completely plausible as to the type of trauma that causes dissociative identity disorder. Marc and Steven were tasked with revealing their whole truths to one another as part of their journey through the afterlife.
Remember that they were shot and bleeding out last we saw them in what we believe to be the real world. Only we don't know what to believe anymore. Tawaret is guiding them to A'aru, or the Field of Reeds. Only, in order to go there, their hearts must be in balance, and they're not.
And so, they must re-enter the ship (which is the halls of the psych ward) to balance their souls by having Marc come clean to Steven about everything. And that's because Marc is the true identity, with Steven -- as hinted -- the coping mechanism for severe childhood trauma.
We get a hint of that right away when we see Marc and his little brother Randall putting on fake British accents as children during their adventure. Unfortunately, this would be the day that they go into the wrong cave while its raining, resulting in Randall's tragic death.
But that's not what triggers the creation of Steven. Marc's mother collapses into alcoholism and abuse, blaming Marc for the death of his little brother. That trauma is what creates Steven. And that's why in Steve's world, he speaks with his mother all the time and has a wonderful relationship with her. Steven is Marc's fantasy, so things are supposed to be pretty nice for him.
Unfortunately, this truth wasn't enough for them to find balance, and so the unbalanced souls of the Duat arrive to claim them. In their battle for survival, Steven taps into his own inner Marc to defend and protect the real Marc, but winds up sacrificing himself over the side of the boat, where the desert claims him.
In that moment, the scales balance and Marc finds himself in the A'aru amid the Field of Reeds. But he was just at Osiris' gate after convincing Tawaret to try and help them escape the afterlife by freeing Khonshu so he can revive, or at least heal their body. Tawaret agreed after seeing souls being judged before their time -- that's Harrow with that staff of his.
So now we know the truth of Marc and Steven, and we may have lost Steven in the learning, but we still have so many questions we need to see answered in next week's finale -- or in a Season 2 if not.
We're still sobbing over Steven's sacrifice to save Marc, and balance the scales, but is he really gone? If he existed inside of Marc's mind, wouldn't he still be there? His "death" balanced the scales, but that could mean he was integrated back into Marc's psyche? Or could he really be gone, and Marc has to learn to cope with his trauma without his coping mechanism? Maybe we could at least see him in a mirror from time to time?
How Can Marc Be in Balance and What Does That Mean?
Losing Steven put Marc in balance, but nothing appeared to change with him. He just excised this part of him. And yet, there were still two hearts on the scale, leaving us to wonder just what it means for him to be in balance. Especially because we still have the question of that blackout scene from a previous episode neither Marc nor Steven was aware of.
Is There Another Personality in There?
Comic fans know that there is another personality in there, namely Jake Lockley. There is a hint that he may be an even darker and more violent personality in a previous blackout sequence. But if there is another entity inside of Marc, then he should still be out of balance. He and Steven had to open up to one another, and Steven had to "die" for Marc to achieve balance. So is this other entity so deeply hidden it's not impacting his soul? Or does it not exist?
Who Was the Little Girl in the Museum?
In the very beginning of the series, a little girl in the museum asked Steven what it was like to be rejected from the Field of Reeds. Obviously, he had no idea what she was talking about, but here we see it actually happen. So what was that girl? She couldn't just be a figment of his imagination, because how would he know what was going to happen here? Was she supposed to be a warning for him, or a hint? And if so, who sent her, or what is she really?
A minor mystery easily explained by saying simply that maybe things took a dark turn in Steven's apartment and so Marc replaced his goldfish with a two-finned one to try and maintain the illusion. But we can't dismiss that Randall was drawing a one-finned goldfish in that flashback to their childhood, so that fin is a detail Marc would know well. How did Steven get a one-finned fish in the first place, otherwise. Unless, the goldfish didn't really exist at all and was just a creation of Steven's mind, much like those phone calls with "mum" were all in his head. If so, though, why change it to two fins?
How Much of What Steven Experiences Is Real?
If Steven is able to have full back-and-forth exchanges on the telephone with a loving mother that isn't real, how much of his life is actually just a figment of his imagination? Is it just auditory hallucination or does he have visual ones? That's why we question the goldfish. Or even the little girl in the museum? Everyone already sees him as eccentric, so interacting with things that aren't there wouldn't be too far out of the norm. But fake mom is clearly part of the coping mechanism. We can even justify fake fish as a subtle connection to his little brother. But we can't reconcile museum girl.
How Much of Steven's Life Is Marc Aware Of?
At one point, Marc tells Steven that he's not supposed to know about the horrible abuse they suffered at the hands of their mother, telling him that's the whole point of him. Steven is safe from the horrors of their childhood, and even the horrors of Marc's adulthood. But it begs the question of just how aware of Steven's life is Marc? If he replaced a goldfish, he might be fully aware. But there's been sequences to suggest that he isn't; though clearly he's more aware of Steven than Steven was of him. Or is it that he became aware of Steven after the death of their mother, which is when he said their lives started bleeding together, and was just more on top of trying to protect Steven. Did he understand later in life what Steven was and why he was?
After achieving balance, Marc finds himself in the Field of Reeds. Tawaret said that this is the endgoal of the afterlife journey, and that once someone finds themselves there, that's the end of the journey for them. So could he escape? Or could perhaps another identity inside of him be able to escape because only Marc achieved the balance to enter A'aru. He's gotta get out to battle Harrow, but Tawaret seemed to disappear when he got there, so if any of that is real, he would seem to be kind of stuck.
What Was Going on with Dr. Harrow's Office Scenes?
The question of reality is hard to ponder in such a surreal episode, but there's something extra jarring about the sequences in Dr. Harrow's office. Episode 4 ended with a fakeout that maybe none of what we'd seen so far was real and it was all Marc/Steven in a psychiatric hospital fantasizing this wild life. But even as they were exploring the ship/psych ward memories to reconcile their lives, we saw severe anxiety push both Marc and Steven (separately) into brief sessions with Harrow -- sessions that were sequential. So what are those scenes? Is that just part of the reconciliation journey, with Harrow serving to ask those direct questions and challenge them, or is something else going on? And we couldn't help but notice that the version of Marc/Steven we saw at the top of the episode, badly beat up and bandaged, seemed to be quieter and a little more out of sorts even than Marc and Steven in their scenes. Could this be Jake? It's never quite specified there. Maybe we haven't been getting the full story of what happened there?
Where Did Harrow Get His Staff?
In the real world, Harrow is using his staff to judge people prematurely in his efforts to resurrect Ammit and be able to basically kill people before they can do bad stuff. But where did he get the staff that could do that? Would the staff itself find balance in Marc now, as Harrow had a similar result when trying to judge Steven in the museum earlier in the season; and like Taweret, he'd never seen that before. So how does a human wind up with something so powerful, and can anyone wield it?
Speaking of their encounter at the museum, we can understand the demon dogs from hell not showing up on the security footage Steven looked at the next day, but why wouldn't Harrow show up? He was there, too, taunting Steven and harassing him. Or was he? We've seen scenes with Harrow outside of Steven, so we're pretty sure he's real? Is it just that he knew right were to stand so the cameras wouldn't get him? Or is the security guard who pulled up the footage perhaps an acolyte and the footage was doctored?
Who Are the Other Gods Imprisoned with Khonshu?
When Khonshu and Steven turned back the night sky and risked exposing the Egyptian pantheon to the humans, Khonshu was trapped in stone and stored in a room -- but he was most definitely not alone. It looks like a pretty popular form of punishment among the gods, so who all is in there with him? Will whatever might free Khonshu have the side effect of freeing everyone else from their imprisonment in that room? That could create a mess. Do the gods have good reason for all of those imprisonments; are there that many Egyptian gods out here messing things up? What did they do, and when?
Why Do the Gods Meet Through Human Avatars?
Do the gods need human avatars to be able to interact with one another? Judgment was passed in that forum when Marc and Harrow were brought before them, but it was also suggested that they meet regularly, always using these same human avatars. Even more, the humans are fully aware of their role, so what's in it for them? And why can't the gods just meet without these humans?
Will Marc Get the Girl in the End?
Of course, the biggest question is how it will all end. Will Marc revive Khonshu and stop the rise of Ammit? Can he defeat Harrow? Will Moon Knight become a more proper and traditional superhero? All of this seems inevitable, but it doesn't answer the most fundamental question. Does he get the girl? Layla isn't all that happy with Marc, but she was growing smitten with Steven. Of course, Steven is just part of Marc. If Steven's sacrifice means they've integrated, perhaps that would give Layla the best of both worlds -- unless Jake is in there, too, and one even meaner punk. On that note, would Jake get his own Moon Knight garb, like Steven had his dapper Mr Knight suit?
Hopefully, "Moon Knight" is prepared to answer all of our questions in the Season 1 finale, coming this Wednesday to Disney+.