We’re back with another review of Moon Knight, the latest Marvel show on Disney+. This time around we’re descending into the depths of Ammit’s tomb alongside Steven (Oscar Isaac) and Layla (May Calamawy) as they try to prevent the deity’s resurrection and subsequent judging of all the people on Earth. I had high expectations going into this episode, but unfortunately it had some serious issues that make it the show’s weakest outing to date.
As always, full SPOILERS for this episode of Moon Knight follow below.
Moon Knight episode 4 review
Okay, so “The Tomb” centers around a trip to Ammit’s tomb. As always, the show does plenty of thing well; in particular, the acting from leads Isaac, Calamawy, and Ethan Hawke (Dr. Arthur Harrow) remains excellent, and the music choices continue to give the show a very different flavor from other Marvel series. It’s too bad, then, that issues with the writing hamstrung what should have been a climactic episode.
The episode opens with an upside down shot of the avatar of Horus placing the stone statue of Khonshu in a room filled with stone statues; presumably each one represents another god of the Egyptian pantheon who has been imprisoned. The shot rights itself as Horus’ avatar approaches the alcove where Khonshu will be placed.
It’s foreshadowing of the overall issues with this episode. Why did that shot begin upside down? If Moon Knight is trying to hint that things are awry, fine, but it feels more like the show is forcing something its creative team thought was cool on us for coolness’ sake, rather than because it was trying to actually convey anything meaningful. I realize this might sound a bit nit-picky, and if this were the only instance of something like this in “The Tomb,” it’d be easy to forgive. But it’s indicative of a writing issue that’s been building over the course of the series and comes to a head here.
Moon Knight plays fast and loose with the details
Layla and an unconscious Steven are in the desert after Khonshu’s star realignment trick at the end of “The Friendly Type.” A bunch of Arthur Harrow’s thugs conveniently show up to chase them around. Layla outwits them and destroys their vehicle by throwing a flare into the back of their jeep, which causes their ammunition to explode.
Would rounds for a machine gun, which are protected by a hard metal casing, actually explode if a flare was dropped on them? How did Layla know the exact spot in the jeep to throw her flare for it to land on the ammo supply, which is not visible from outside the vehicle? Moon Knight isn’t concerned with those kinds of details, and it’s hoping its audience won’t be either.
Those leaps of logic recur throughout the episode to the point of utter distraction. Marc and Layla arrive at Harrow’s camp and decide to “check for supplies,” because that’s what you do in an adventure movie when you stumble on an abandoned camp, yet Layla totally misses the blood all over the sand in the tent she’s exploring (never mind why it’s there in the first place). The duo stops multiple times to discuss their feelings for each other while exploring Ammit’s tomb, but the fact that, you know, they’re infiltrating a tomb filled with bad guys doesn’t seem to concern either of them. Layla and Steven take totally different paths through the tomb, yet somehow end up in the same place despite the fact that she crossed a chasm and the show only ever shows one entrance into the tomb. Oh, but don’t worry; Arthur Harrow somehow manages to pop up not only to taunt Layla and try to turn her against Steven, but then once again at the the tomb itself, at the exact moment when it could turn the tide in his direction. Because if Arthur Harrow has one real superpower, it’s appearing conveniently every single time someone needs to foil the good guys.
Whew. That turned into a bit of a rant, but you get the picture. Despite continuing to do plenty of things well, Moon Knight’s writing has gotten progressively lazier as the show has gone on, and unfortunately that has the adverse effect of making earlier stumbles — like Harrow’s sudden appearances — less forgivable in hindsight. “The Tomb” had so many instances like this that it was the first time the show really felt groan-worthy, which is really unfortunate because it’s doing so many other things right.
Back to formula
The final sequence of the episode brought things back around to the trippy nature of Moon Knight’s earlier episodes, which was at least interesting. After being shot by Harrow, Marc wakes up in an insane asylum surrounded by familiar faces from earlier in the series, like his boss at the museum, a pair of Harrow’s henchmen, and even Layla. Of course, Harrow is there too, but at least this time it’s seemingly because of Marc’s mental projections and not because of a plot contrivance.
Was Marc imagining everything? It’s such an intriguing mystery that the show needed to dispel it within 10 minutes. By the end of the episode, Marc and Steven are hugging it out and shrieking in unison as they come face to face with Taweret, the hippopotamus-headed Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. Is this some representation of Marc and Steven’s own personal trip to the Duat (Egyptian underworld)? I’d be surprised if it isn’t related in some way.
I’ve really enjoyed previous episodes of Moon Knight, so I’m hoping the show picks up the pieces for its final two episodes. Please Marc Spector, don’t break my heart.
- This episode had an actual mummy, and I mean the monster kind that chases people and gruesomely murders them. The fact that the mummy was putting people’s organs in canopic jars was a cool touch, but the fact that no one blinks an eye about living-dead mummies existing in this world is frustrating. I guess everyone has just seen enough movies to take this otherworldly creature totally for granted? It’s the episode’s tensest moment, but feels ultimately pointless because we’re not given any explanation for the existences of these mummies, or their motives. Presumably they’re there to guard the tomb. Presumably it’s not worth worrying about. You know, just a mummy in a tomb. Normal stuff.
- There were a few major info drops in this episode. Before descending into the tomb, Steven confesses to Layla that Marc is trying to protect her from becoming Khonshu’s next avatar. Then, once we’re in the tomb, we find out that Marc was actually present when Layla’s father (who has been mentioned once in the show so far) was killed. One of these moments worked very well and one fell totally flat because Moon Knight didn’t take anywhere near enough time to set it up. I’ll let you guess which is which.
- Okay, okay, I promise I’ll stop ragging on this episode…but can I just point out that Layla was in mortal peril twice and both times she overcame it with a trusty flare? If there is a POP doll made of her character and it doesn’t have a flare in its hand, I will be shocked.
- Who is in the other sarcophagus in the asylum? Is it Marc and Steven’s third personality? Those thugs that neither wanted to claim credit for killing last episode never came up, which disappointed me a little bit. I’m really hoping the show comes back around to that, and with only two episodes left, there’s not much time to do it.
Despite the cool sets, the music, and Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, and Ethan Hawke making the absolute most of what they got, the writing in “The Tomb” totally tripped up proceedings. Moon Knight is trying to tell a mind-bending story, but the writing is not air-tight enough to pull it off. It’s the show’s Achilles heel, and while it’s still totally possible that it could deliver a stellar ending, it’s much harder to be confident that will be the case after “The Tomb.”