Moon Knight S1E5 REVIEW: Our hero's trauma is finally laid bare in the stark moonlight

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham.


Moon Knight episode five dives down a rabbit hole of pain and trauma, never hesitating to drag us kicking and screaming through the shattered pieces of a hero's past.

Like Steven, we get to experience Marc's pain for the first time.

Every Knight needs a dragon.


Trauma. This specific brand of pain often accompanies our favorite spandex-wearing supers, defining their moral principles and propelling them onward in their journeys of righteous justice. Peter Parker's traumatic loss of Uncle Ben was the catalyst for Spider-Man's web-swinging adventures. One harrowing night in a Gotham alley traumatized Bruce Wayne, and pushed him to become the World's Greatest Detective. Our heroes overcome their trauma and rebrand it as a symbol for justice, a translation of pain to purpose. But this is an ideal, and trauma is not so easily dispensed with, even by our heroes. This is the idea that pervades episode five of Marvel's Moon Knight. Trauma cannot be misdirected, only faced. No matter how much it hurts.


The man within the suit carries his own weight, maybe even heavier than Egyptian deities.

Though Moon Knight is only slated for six episodes with no room on the horizon for a second season, I often find myself forgetting that such a short time remains to conclude the plot. Up to this point, Marvel has delivered a melancholy and tormented beauty of a series that manages to captivate even with whole episodes devoid of the titular suit. With one episode remaining to illuminate the remaining mysteries and conflicts, I have faith that we will all be howling at the moon with delight.


This sly reference to Indiana Jones did not go amiss.

Thus far, director Mohamed Diab has kept his promise to give us an accurate and true depiction of Egypt that counters the Hollywood caricature popularized by Indiana Jones and The Mummy, the former being specifically parodied in episode four. This commitment to authenticity applies to the Egyptian mythology as well as special care is given to the intricacies of an ancient civilization's belief system. Episode five uses this "realism" as an integral story tool, capitalizing on the mythology to emphasize character exploration and growth rather than tailoring the mythology to the story. The reclaiming of Egypt's identity from Hollywood reflects the overall ideas being investigated in this series, episode five representing the height of excellent execution.


This moment carries so much weight, but not in the way you'd expect.

I've often mentioned Moon Knight's motif of mirrors in previous reviews (1, 2, 3, 4) but episode five's deep dive into Ancient Egyptian beliefs affords a new approach to this motif, capitalizing on the idea of "reflection". This week's episode, aptly named "Asylum", gives Marc a violently therapeutic opportunity to reflect on his past and confront the fragmentation he's experienced his whole life (as well as giving us comic fans some much desired origin story).


Facing the past can be deadlier than the strongest werewolf.

Symmetry. Balance. Justice. Stability. These are all themes present of Marvel's Moon Knight, embodied and enforced by a hero who is flawed, fragmented, and in the dark. Traumatized. Episode one begins by showing us that Harrow constantly walks with glass in his sandals, each step an inevitable wave of pain — even still you can hear it every time Harrow walks. Marc also experiences this, every step bringing the unknown consequences of a traumatic weight. Though his mental illness isn't as physically visceral . . . it is. Straps adorn Steven's bed, Marc's marriage is torn apart by his isolation, and both aspects of our protagonist hate one another. We've seen this all and taken it in stride, but mental illness has been whispering (shouting) in the background, much like the way trauma haunts our hero.


Even our foes have things to teach us.

As an avatar of Khonshu, Moon Knight fights for justice to protect those who travel at night. For those in the dark, night creeping upon them either from without . . . or from within. He is the Moon, exposing darkness and illuminating safety through justice. Marvel's Moon Knight adheres to this principal with style and purpose. The representation of mental illness gives justice to a hero who will stand when standing may be the hardest thing to do. He has fallen time and again, but it's all right because, like the phases of the moon, he will renew and try again. We can all be this hero, even in those moments of darkest night. Just look up and have faith in the light.


Peace is possible.

You may be finishing this list thinking to yourself, "yeah ok, but who is this Moon Knight, anyway?". I'm glad you ask. Visit my Moon Knight Primer for a comprehensive answer and a thoughtfully curated reading list!

RECOMMENDED READING list! You can find these at your LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP, maybe even your LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, or even still online at Amazon. Moon Knight Epic Collection: Shadows Of The Moon (1980) By Doug Moench & Bill Sienkiewicz Moon Knight Vol. 1: The Bottom (2006) By Charlie Huston & David Finch Moon Knight: The Complete Collection (2016) By Jeff Lemire & Greg Smallwood Avengers Vol. 7: The Age of Khonshu (2021) By Jason Aaron & Gerardo Zaffino For some RECOMMENDED VIEWING from Moon Knight's esteemed directors, check out: Mohamed Diab's Amira (2021, available on Hulu), as well as Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead's Synchronic (2019, starring Anthony Mackie, available on Netflix), and The Endless (2017, available on Amazon Prime Video).


 

Austin Kemp read Batman #315 (Batman vs Kite Man) when he was 5 years old, and hasn't stopped reading comics since. Austin is a college writing teacher and has a masters degree in Comics Studies. Austin and his partner, Savanah, live in Massachusetts with their master, a cat named Chaplin.

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