Moon Knight episode 3 ramps up the action and sees Oscar Isaac wow in the lead role, but the supporting characters lose their way – here’s our review.
Spoilers ahead for Moon Knight episodes 1 and 2.
Moon Knight began as a series focusing on the unfortunate life of gift shop worker Steven Grant, when he discovers his ‘sleepwalking’ actually hides his real problem – a superhero alter ego. From the very start, the show has relied on Isaac’s excellent acting ability and more questionable cockney accent. Now, we get to see him in his element.
Following Marc Spector taking over as the dominant personality and his arrival in Cairo, episode 3 follows his journey to find Ammit’s tomb without the magical scarab, and stop Ethan Hawke’s cult leader Arthur Harrow from freeing her. To do this, he needs to gather some intel.
As much of the series so far has focused on Steven’s perspective, we’re only just beginning to get to know Marc. This could easily feel like a cycle of constant character introductions as we’re introduced to each facet of the character’s personalities, but it turns out to be thrilling. While Steven is still coming to terms with the situation, Marc is unerringly competent and an incredibly accomplished fighter. And we finally, finally, get to see him in action.
The build up to this moment feels entirely worthwhile on account of the exciting choreography, most of which is at the beginning of the episode. Isaac handles himself well in the dusty rooftop brawls he finds himself part of. What’s unfortunate is the fact that this initial scene is more interesting than the damage he deals when he’s properly suited and in possession of his Khonshu-granted invulnerability.
We get to see more of the suit design, with its cool cape with crescent-reminiscent edges, as well as getting more of the suave Mr. Knight suit. However, these scenes are let down by the CGI (which remains a little bit ropey), and the fact that Moon Knight’s movements seem very inspired by Batman. There’s a particular cape swishing moment that the episode could probably do without.
Isaac doesn’t just impress in the action sequences, but also continues to delight in his dialogue delivery as both Marc and Steven. It’s also nice to see them reach a point in the story where they begin to collaborate a bit more. But just when you think the two of them have everything figured out, the script throws a pleasant curveball that introduces yet more mystery. Mystery that comic readers may have been expecting and hoping for.
Problems arise when you turn your attention away from Isaac and the script’s handling of the main character. There may be more action, but too much exposition and dialogue remains an issue. It attempts to make this more interesting by bringing in more supporting characters, but these are mostly hollow exposition deliverers, with barely any attempt made to give them much personality.
Ethan Hawke, previously one of the show’s strong points, begins to show his limitations as its big bad. Now three episodes in, his performance is becoming increasingly one note. This is partially down to the script not giving him much to work with, but there’s not much variety in his line delivery either, and it doesn’t feel like he’s trying particularly hard to do something interesting with his fairly dry material.
But while Hawke’s character gets less interesting by the episode, Marc’s estranged wife Layla (May Calamawy) has yet to be interesting at all. The first few minutes are dedicated to a completely unnecessary scene designed to give away more of her past, but the show never treats her as though she’s important. It’s an unfortunate case of her being a stock female character – a romantic interest designed just to provide support. She just happens to have the knowledge and resources that Marc and Steven need, and the willingness to provide them at the right time. She’s a catalyst for telling more of Marc’s story, not someone with an interesting story herself.
Episode 3 has been an exceedingly mixed bag. If you’ve been waiting for the action to start, then this will be very exciting. But watching it leaves the sinking feeling that the Moon Knight series may not hold together that well by the end.
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