In “Summon the Suit” — this week’s episode of Marvel’s latest Disney+ series, Moon Knight, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead — we jump right into the aftermath of the action from episode one and find Steven (Oscar Isaac) and Marc (also Isaac) beginning to understand each other’s importance… if Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham) will get out of the way, that is.
Khonshu, you see, is feeling less than hospitable toward Steven. He wants it to be just him and Marc without Steven’s bumbling inclinations — especially since they’re embattled in a chase with Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) because of them. When they get Steven fired from the museum, however, that gives Steven free time to find Marc’s storage locker. Marc tells him they protect the vulnerable as Khonshu’s avatar, but also lets him know that Steven isn’t liked by the God of the moon at all. (Oh, the perils of being multiple people in just one body.) Shortly after, we’re introduced to Layla, played by May Calamawy, who is revealed to be Marc’s wife and who knows about the Moon Knight suit. In quite the meet cute, she recognises Marc and thinks he’s putting on an act as Steven. And of course Steven’s immediately smitten with another man’s wife after spending the first episode feeling lonely.
Now all of a sudden he’s Mr. Steal Yo’ Girl, with immense knowledge of Egypt’s history and hieroglyphics, which disarms Layla as she needs those skills as part of her mission to heist artifacts and return them to the cultures they really belong to. (You gotta love a decolonizing roguish archeologist who can ride motorbikes while her husband’s softie identity falls in love with her.) Steven just fully goes along with Layla despite Marc screaming in his head to keep her out of it and out of danger. Layla is fully capable of handling the scarab she was looking for… which she ends up stealing, along with this episode and everyone’s hearts.
When Steven thinks he’s been apprehended, he ends up in the back of a car and has a heated exchange with himself. I don’t know whose side to be on when Oscar Isaac fights with himself. Exposing that the three that happen to share a body aren’t in harmony, Arthur Harrow unlocks the car and welcomes Steven into his gentrified compound of positivity and sustainable living for another approach. He even offers him lentil soup — a thoughtful gesture, yes, but this guy’s still not trustworthy.
Ethan Hawke commands with seductive charisma as a totally good guy with totally good intentions. As Harrow, he relates to Steven that he once was where he is. He’s just trying to help someone who’s been exploited by Khonshu and dissuade him from letting himself be controlled. Khonshu assures he only does harm to those who have done wrong. Yet Harrow, who confirms that he was a former avatar of Khonshu’s, encourages Steven to see past the moon god’s empty promises of just one more job. Harrow lost faith in Khonsu long ago and tells Steven about serving a more just deity in Ammit. He asks for the scarab beetle compass to find her tomb and bring her back to continue to dole out righteous judgement — to get to the problem before it takes root. Steven here points out that the morality of a “crocodile lady” punishing people to death before they commit crimes seems unfair — like children for instance. But if it’s for the greater good, Harrow’s belief is to take action before harm comes to anyone.
This week’s episode really builds up Khonshu and Marc making peace with Steven being in the gang as they see his intellectual strength complimenting Marc’s brawn. It definitely has vibes of FX’s Legion which also featured a deity living inside the mind of a host, mixed with the sassiness of Venom. Khonshu isn’t an alien loser though, he’s given more through Abraham’s fun performance as a god with acerbic wit and centuries of IDGAF. Sidebar: Abraham won an Oscar for playing composer Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, which chronicled his bitter rivalry with Mozart and alleged Salieri caused his death. In Iron-Man, Obediah Stane (played by Jeff Bridges) plays a Salieri composition (“Concerto in Do Maggiroe Per Pianoforte eo Orchestra: Larghetto”) in the film’s pivotal pizza scene, diagetically clueing that he’s the Salieri to Tony Stark’s Mozart. Wild that Abraham is now in the MCU — and just a fun happenstance connection unless Khonshu is revealed to be as bad, as Harrow alleges.
Steven really comes into his own and he tries to remain in the driver’s seat of his body to help Layla when she shows up to get Steven out of there with the scarab. But when things go south with Harrow — who uses his crocodile-headed staff (Ammit’s gift to her first avatar) to unleash more jackals from below — Layla tells him to suit up for protection. This is how we get the dapper Mr. Knight variation of the Moon Knight suit. Steven’s in control and tries to take a less violent path in an outfit that’s not as tactical as Marc’s, but says it’s business time with a Daft Punk aesthetic. He gets his licks in but is just no match, so he taps in Marc to tag team — finally.
The action is very Guy Ritchie brawl when Steven gets a little ahead of himself and transitions into some Assassins Creed parkour as we finally get to see more of Marc in combat without the blackouts. They walk away victorious but realise that they lost the scarab in battle. Back near the compound Layla sees an unhoused person find the scarab and Harrow taking claim to it. He thanks the man for the good deed with a handshake that absorbs his soul while he thinks no one was looking… but Layla sees it all. So it seems Arthur is either abusing his powers or may be guided by another entity of the Ennead. (My guess it that it’s Set, the god of the underworld and personification of evil, who may have some control over Ammit through the staff. Maybe he’s who Arthur really wants to free.)
What’s curious is how soul/energy absoption has been a common thread in this phase of MCU storytelling, and specifically their connection to mythical objects. In WandaVision, Agatha absorbed the powers/life force of other witches while possessing the Darkhold. Then in Shang-Chi, Shang’s father Wenwu listened to the Ten Rings when a deity masqueraded as his dead wife through them. In the film’s last act, they pushed him into freeing the Dweller-in-Darkness, which along with its demons also fed off souls. These dark objects and Ammit’s staff might be connected to whoever the big bad is — and may lead to the reason why Moon Knight might end up being a part of the bigger MCU picture later on.
For now, we wonder which ancient evil is the real threat in Moon Knight and whether Steven will get what he believes is his body back. Marc does promise him after he’s repaid his servitude to Khonshu, he’ll go… but what does that mean if it’s Marc’s body, and if Steven is just an alias who took on a life of his own? While the two disagree on who drives the body, they do come to a reluctant understanding: better them than Khonshu taking the woman they love. Yep, plot twist! Marc tells Steven that Khonshu would prefer to have Layla as his avatar, and it probably has to do with her penchant for seeking justice being more sincere than theirs. And since they’re the only ones standing in the way of Khonshu getting that shot, they allow themselves to be his fist and follow Harrow to Egypt.
New Moon Knight episodes arrive Wednesdays on Disney+.