So, another year, another Marvel TV show. This time, Moon Knight, about a hero with mental health issues. Let’s have a look.
Steven Grant works at the British Museum in London in the Egyptian department. He has a sleeping disorder which forces him to tie himself to his bed to avoid waking up in strange places.
Unfortunately, despite his precautions, strange things start happening. Steven wakes in some mountain village, I think in the alps, with a strange voice inside his head. He has a series of blackouts. He meets a man named Harrow who kills a person with a magical staff, then blacks out, wakes up in a carnage, blacks out to a car chase, and so on. Each blackout ends with him deeper in blood.
During his sleep walking sessions, apparently, somebody else is in charge of his body. A man called Marc. Marc has somehow gotten Steven caught up in a mystical struggle between Egyptian gods. Steven is dragged along for the ride, even as the barriers between his personalities weaken.
I won’t spoil too much about Steven/Marc, but he clearly has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Oscar Isaac plays him, and he does a good job. I’m not a DID expert, but I read online this isn’t as far off the mark as some depictions. At the very least, this show does something different, by having a hero with a mental disorder. And it doesn’t immediately associate the disease with being a mass murderer or transphobic nonsense, as I’ve seen other shows do.
Layla is… well, you should watch the show. May Calamawy plays her; an actual Egyptian actress. Her character is interesting, although she is a bit underdeveloped in my opinion. Not illogical, as Steven/Marc are the show’s hero, but I feel more screen time could have been spent on her side of things. Anyhow, she is an interesting companion for Steven and Marc.
Ethan Hawke — Gattaca, Daybreakers, Training Day — plays Arthur Harrow, the bad guy of the show. I found him to be one of the most interesting characters, actually. He’s not your typical bad guy, just as Steven/Marc isn’t the typical hero. Like all good bad guys (good, as in well-written), Harrow is the hero is his own tale. His goals are noble, even if his methods are very disturbing. Again, I won’t spoil more.
Moon Knight is something else, that’s for sure. A lot of shows use DID, but they often do it badly, or it’s the villain who is the one with DID, which is lazy writing.
Another benefit is that it doesn’t lean on other Marvel lore. I haven’t seen Dr. Strange or Loki in there, which I think is a good thing. I’m losing track of the MCU and its winding lore, honestly. So, Moon Knight is fresh there as well.
That said, Moon Knight has some shortcomings. I was not impressed by the sanatorium angle. And some of the writing is very in-your-face.
Overall, though, I liked Moon Knight. It’s a fun show, with some surprising twists. Disney/Marvel does manage to do something different every time, which is good. I liked it, but if I have to name a show that I really loved… well, other shows are higher on that list.
Anyway, if you like Marvel shows, and you want something different, go watch Moon Knight.