Steven Grant Of The Gift Shop
Steven Grant doesn’t like to fall asleep. He does puzzles, solves Rubik’s Cubes, reads history, listens to recordings of people telling him how to stay awake, anything to keep his mind active. When he finally does sleep, he chains himself to his bed, locks the door, and does everything in his power to stay in one spot. All of this work is designed to stop him from sleepwalking. Steven has a habit of waking up in bizarre locations.
That’s not a huge problem until those strange locations start, including a strange European country or on a bus surrounded by strangers. Steven is a mild-mannered guy who seems mostly happy to work in the gift shop at a nearby museum and is looking forward to a hot date that he doesn’t remember making.
There Is Chaos In You
It’s clear early on that everything isn’t right with Steven. Between these blackout sequences, lead Oscar Isaac’s awful accent, strange voices in his head, and name drops of a Marc (which will mean something to those familiar with the comic), we’re clearly not seeing the full picture. More and more, his dreams seem to be devolving into nightmares, the kind he wants no part of. A sense of dread is present throughout Moon Knight’s first episode. It isn’t anything teens won’t be able to handle, but this is some of the scariest content we’ve seen yet in the MCU.
Oscar Isaac’s accent may be confusing in the early going, but his charisma shines in this debut episode. Steven could easily feel annoying in the wrong hands, but Isaac is able to make him seem charming. Despite his general strangeness, you can absolutely see how he got that date, even if Steven can’t.
You’re Not Supposed To Be Here
After waking up in Europe, Steven meets the show’s primary antagonist, a man named Arthur. While people in his village bow before him and seem to worship him as a god, he seems to be serving the ancient Egyptian goddess Ammit, who seemingly is no longer content to punish sinners after they’ve committed their sins but is looking to get out ahead of things. An early display of the power he wields, represented by a tattoo of scales on his arm, which starts to suddenly move, shows the menace behind his seemingly calm smile. Ethan Hawke is wonderful in the role, finding just the right level of sinister where you can see how he can be easily worshiped or feared depending on who you are.
It May Be Something That Lies Ahead
Those who have a working knowledge of the character of Moon Knight will be able to work out quickly why this is a problem. Still, the opening episode does an excellent job of starting to set the table, and even those who have never read a Moon Knight comic will be able to follow along. That’s an impressive feat considering just how many twists this first episode takes in only about forty minutes.
Strong editing allows the show to communicate a lot visually, letting viewers follow along as Steven tries to decipher what is happening to him. Sequences where he may be hallucinating or where he’s quickly going in and out of consciousness with his circumstances changing wildly in a short time, lead to some of the episode’s best sequences. An action scene involving a bakery truck had me laughing hysterically, but it also had the sort of energy you’d hope for in a Marvel show.
It’s The Only Way
While the first episode of Moon Knight is certainly intriguing and has me eager for more, one issue I fear may carry over throughout the entire show is the weak CGI. It isn’t enough to ruin anything, especially when the show shows so much energy and is so much fun, but some of the action here looks bad, largely due to what feels like rushed CGI. It’s worth noting that Moon Knight is a TV show and not a movie. Still, Marvel has pushed that these Disney+ shows are meant to feel in step with the rest of the MCU. Characters will move back and forth between these shows and the movies. They’re bringing in big-name actors like Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke. Yet if anything, it feels like the look of the shows is getting worse over time. This is easily the worst CGI of any of the Disney+ MCU shows released this last year.
The pandemic has certainly put a strain on many companies, and that may be part of the issue, but it highlights a unique issue the MCU faces. Because so many of its films and shows are connected, delaying one project means potentially impacting many of them. They need things to come out on a set schedule, with some projects hitting before others. Even a project like Moon Knight, which seems less connected than most, may have important moments for the larger MCU, and even if it doesn’t, delaying it would make it more difficult to fit other projects that do need to come out on time into the schedule. As more and more projects in the MCU become normal, we may increasingly see projects released even with glaring issues simply because delaying them would cause other problems.
That said, despite the issues with CGI, I can’t wait for the next episode of Moon Knight to release. I want to see just how deep Steven’s nightmares go and more of what the exciting final moments of this episode mean for him. I expect we’ll have a lot more answers next week.
Final Verdict: 4/5