Moon Knight had a rough start last week. Not a bad start, but one that had promise despite its issues. Episode two, “Summon the Suit,” is a big recovery from last week, delivering more on the promise this outlandish premise can hold.
Episode two picks up immediately after last week’s cliffhanger, with Steven being pushed into a war of the Egyptian gods by his alter-ego Marc Spector and Arthur Harrow’s villainous cult of Ammit, a goddess of the dead.
This episode is told at a breakneck pace, unexpectedly answering the majority of the questions posed last week, with plenty of plot development and a lot more action in general. I just wish this episode would’ve been released last week in addition to the first episode, similar to how Hawkeye and Wandavision had multiple episodes for their premiere weeks. This is the episode that will pull people into this series; locking that behind a one-week wait in a world where binging TV shows has become the norm might put a lot fewer eyes on the series going forward.
That’s not to say there aren’t still issues with the series — they’re definitely still there. The biggest issue is the visual effects. While there’s nothing as bad as the car chase from last week, a fight with a fully CGI creature late in the episode looks like a very early Playstation 3 game, and that’s being generous. There’s one particular shot of the creature coming out of the ground that’s particularly abysmal, lacking detail and having really unflattering lighting, but it’s very quick and forgivable.
It’s clear the majority of the effects budget went towards making Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham), the Egyptian god channeling his power through Moon Knight, because he looks absolutely incredible in every shot he appears in. Khonshu will play a much bigger part in the series going forward, which makes me wary of the other visual effects, but it may be a worthy sacrifice in the long run.
Another issue is the strange editing choices on display this week. The most egregious and glaring example is a freeze-frame early in the episode that seemed to be going for comedic effect but instead made me think that my internet crapped out for a second.
There are other things along these lines in the episode, too. It’s obvious that co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead were allowed to go as weird as they wanted here and took full advantage. Usually, I’d be in favor of Marvel directors doing something outside the box, but some choices are just bizarre and don’t serve the show in any way, like a mid-episode freeze frame.
Also playing a much bigger part in this episode, and going forward, is Steven’s other personality, Marc Spector, who’s implied to be the original inhabitant of their body. Oscar Isaac does a great job at differentiating the two, and the switch in accents is a big help, as Steven is British and Marc is American. Regardless, Isaac is great to watch here, no matter who he’s playing at any given moment. The real magic happens when he and Hawke share the screen, they’re both simply fantastic. The duo is a massive advantage over almost any superhero project right now. Who would’ve thought getting two of the best actors working today together would lead to greatness?
Hawke isn’t in this episode as much as he was in last week’s, but he’s given more to do anyway. He gets to show more range, something Hawke most certainly has, instead of just being an unstable acolyte of Ammit. I have a feeling he could end up being one of the MCU’s best villains by the time this series comes to a close.
An addition to the cast is Marc’s wife, Layla, played by May Calamawy. She appeared last week, but only on Marc’s hidden phone that Steven found. She holds her own against Isaac and Hawke, so she’s doing about as well as you could hope.
There isn’t a lot to say about this week’s episode of Moon Knight — it’s just solid. A solid foundation is what a series needs to grow though, so hopefully, they can keep building on it as it progresses toward the end of its six-episode run. This feels like the end of the first act of the plot, which should be moving much faster from here on out now that everyone is established and can answer some of the smaller lingering questions outside of “what’s going on?” like last week.
I think Moon Knight has the potential to be one of the best MCU series moving forward, it also feels like it’ll be a lot more cohesive the closer we get to the finish line. There’s also the possibility that it could trip on its laces at or before that proverbial finish line, as it's already shown that it can trip out of the gate; we’ll just have to keep tuning in to find out.