How 'Moon Knight's Backstory Actually Explains The (New) Confusing Plot Twist
Moon Knight episode 4 spoilers: uh, what the hell. The last 15 minutes of the episode subjected us to a series of seemingly inexplicable events that, while admittedly looking very cool, might make some viewers wonder if this is gonna be one of those shows where they just throw random crap at the walls and see what gets good ratings. But fear not: those events are very much explicable if you simply look at Marvel's recent-ish Moon Knight comics. (Yes, Marvel still makes comics.)
To recap, the episode seemed to continue the series' usual "Indiana Jones with superpowers and also mental health problems" vibe until our protagonist, Marc/Steven/(Jake?), gets shot and seemingly dies. At that point we transition into what appears to be an even more shameless (and considerably lower budget) Indiana Jones "homage" starring an adventurer who shares Steven's name and unconvincing British accent. It then turns out that this film is being watched by a doped-up Marc in some sort of mental institution where he's surrounded by people who look like the other characters in the show, including his closest personal relationship: that mute golden statue street performer.
A psychologist who looks like the show's main villain implies that everything that happened in the previous episodes was a fantasy created by Marc's mind. Marc rejects that (because "the entire MCU has been taking place in a mental patient's mind" would be a pretty lame plot twist), and then things turn even weirder when he comes across a sarcophagus, opens it, and finds ... himself. Or his Steven Grant alter ego, anyway. The two Oscar Isaacs try to escape the mental institution but end up running into Taweret, an Egyptian hippopotamus-headed goddess who should look familiar to Lost viewers, since a statue of her foot also accounted for some mind-#@$%ing moments in that show.
Marvel Studios, Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Well, this entire turn of events bears a great resemblance to Marvel Comics' 2016 Moon Knight series, which starts with Marc in the mental asylum along with people who look like his allies from previous comics -- including Crawley, the comic book version of the statue guy.
The comic also plays around with pastiches of other genres: instead of the Indy ripoff movie starring "Steven Grant," we suddenly shift to a reality where Steven is a Hollywood producer working on a Moon Knight film. There's also a film noir reality starring his cabbie alter ego Jake Lockley and a sci-fi reality where Marc Spector battles alien werewolves on the moon (we're crossing our fingers that Disney+ will spend a full season in that one). After jumping back and forth between those settings, Marc is finally forced to acknowledge that he's not right in the head and that his alter egos are part of his fractured psyche, leading to a moment that was intentionally homaged in episode 4 according to the show's head writer: Marc hugging himself.
Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics
Like in the show, the comic has a moment where Marc is taken to a psychologist who tells him his previous adventures weren't real, and her name provides the biggest clue to what's going on here: Dr. Emmet. Emmet turns out to be the human avatar for Ammit, the Egyptian goddess Ethan Hawke has spent four episodes trying to resurrect, who created the whole mental institution setting as a way to drive Marc (even more) insane and undermine her rival, the god Khonshu.
But wait, did Marc die or not? Yeah, probably -- that's sort of what he does. Moon Knight has died at least four times in the comics but luckily for him, the Egyptian gods are pretty good at resurrecting people. Since Khonshu is currently indisposed in the show, in this case it might have been Ammit who brought Marc back to toy with him or use him as part of a plan, like in the comics. So, is Marc mentally ill? Oh, definitely, but the whole "mental patient" thing is still a fantasy most likely created by a villain. Anyway, better start beefing up the budget for those space werewolves episodes, Disney!
Top image: Marvel Studios, Marvel Comics