Welcome. Welcome. FINALLY we get to talk about the first episode of the Moon Knight TV show!
It feels like I’ve been waiting forever to write this post, and I’m both sad and happy to say that it’s going nothing like I expected.
My original intent for these posts was to watch the show Wednesday night, sleep on it, and then type up a recap the next day. I felt uniquely qualified to handle such a task because I’ve written a lot of reviews on this blog about Ancient Egypt in fiction, studied the culture and history as research for my own fiction (of which only a short story, Narmer and the God-Beast, is completed), and even taken a few lessons in how to read hieroglyphs. In preparation for this show, I’ve been trying to catch up on Moon Knight comics (see my review of Essential Moon Knight Vol 1, and Jeff Lemire’s Vol 1: Lunatic, Vol 2: Reincarnations, and Vol 3: Birth and Death) and I’ve had a great time doing so, but I’ll admit that my main interest still continues to be the Ancient Egyptian aspects of the story (although multiple personalities is also pretty damn skippy. Sorry my alter ego who thinks he’s Mickey Avalon is showing through).
But this is not a recap . . .
Correct! No! Whichever! After only one episode, I’m realizing that there is just TOO MUCH for me to be able to (on the timeline I had hoped) figure everything out and get it written down. I have a job, and other writing projects, and there are tons of other people who are terribly more qualified than me (both in knowledge of Marvel, and in Egyptology) who have taken up the torch . . .
So, I’m retooling the purpose of these posts. They will probably be similar to other posts I’ve written here, where I’ll talk about what I liked and didn’t like about the show. Gonna try to get these finished for Tuesday or Wednesday mornings, so any one reading it can check it out before starting the new episode.
Finally, if you haven’t watched The Gold Fish Problem, and aren’t planning on it before reading my post, Leah Schnelbach has written a pretty thorough recap in A Meet Cute with Ammit in Moon Knight’s Pilot “The Goldfish Problem” and of course Eric Voss has already done a Moon Knight Easter Egg Break Down for New Rockstars.
Anyway, enough housekeeping, let’s get to the review!
Wow! Just wow!
If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed almost every facet (of which there are many) of this first episode. The introduction was unique (not many shows start with the villain), and shocking (who puts glass in their sandals?!) and hooked me from the very beginning.
Then we see the strange sleeping routine of Steven Grant, and I’m hooked again! Dribble out a little Ancient Egyptian history; more hooks. Begin suggesting some inconsistencies in the point of view through small details, and then wham! Literally knock our (and Steven’s) jaw off with a globe trotting blackout, and some strange omniscient voice calling our MC an idiot (rude!). And then don’t let up . . .
Now, I won’t just keep listing plot points (because, after all, this ISN’T a recap), but there was a (cupcake) truck full of mysteries presented to us throughout course of the episode, and a staggering amount of details to hold in one (splitting) brain. Yet somehow, that was wonderful!
As I mentioned earlier, most of the details I was concerned with were related to how these personas tie in, and are effected by Ancient Egypt and its history and mythology. In this respect, Moon Knight certainly did not disappoint. We had references to many ancient Egyptian Gods, some of which I expected to see (check out 9 Ancient Egyptian Things I hope to see in Marvel’s Moon Knight for deets), but several (like Hathor) I did not.
And I just got the feeling that these gods were going to be so much more than just references and setting. Obviously Khonsu was to play a large role, but the inclusion of Ammit (and some creative license taken with her mythology) as well other gods, which are seemingly VERY active in mankind’s affairs is the type of treatment I’ve wanted to see this pantheon receive for a ages.
And there’s hieroglyphs everywhere, which obviously I tried (and failed) to translate. But still, what a trip. I can’t wait to see what is revealed through their inclusion as the show progresses (hopefully it won’t spoil anything).
Needless to say, I’m super excited for episode 2 and I can’t wait to hunt down and search for all the other little secrets this show has in store . . .
Theories . . .
So, this part of the post is probably going to contain a lot of links, but I think in the end, it will be worth it. In tracking them down, I feel like I’ve learned so much I didn’t understand before.
Theory 1: Werewolf by Night!
Definitely one of the most suspenseful scenes comes when Steven is leaving the museum and thinks that he hears a dog somewhere among the exhibits. Despite his better judgement, he pursues it and is attacked by some crazy, vaguely canine creature from which he’s eventually saved by his alter, the titular Moon Knight.
Now many seem to believe that this dog is either the god Anubis himself, or some kind of minion of the same. Even given all of the creative license the show takes with Ammit, I just don’t buy this connection. We see Anubis in Lemire’s Vol 1: Lunatic, in which he helps Marc to escape an asylum (although there is a cost). Later, in Vol 3: Birth and Death, Anubis helps Marc reenter the asylum after Marc saves his wife Anput. I don’t believe Anubis was ever represented in ancient Egyptian myth as malevolent although his role in guiding the dead and ultimately working the scales of Ma’at at a soul’s judgement probably did not endear him to many mortals. Still I’m not convinced.
Of course, Anubis was not the only jackal-head deity in the Egyptian pantheon. Wepwawet, or the “Opener of the Ways”, could be a likely candidate. He has a more wolf-like appearance then Anubis, and as a war deity, was often invoked before battle to scout and provide generals with critical information for victory.
Finally, as Ethan Hawke said in the featurette, “Every aspect of this show has a duality.” Perhaps this creature may also be serving a dual purpose in the first episode. Not only could it serve as a new addition to the gods represented in the Moon Knight cannon, but also as an homage to the original comic Moon Knight appeared in, Werewolf by Night, in which he hunts a werewolf named Jack Russel (lolz).
Hathor = Sekhmet
Another interesting cause for speculation, is the addition of Hathor into the Ennead which was a group of nine gods worshipped at Heliopolis (for an great piece about Moon Knight’s use of the Ennead and a lot of other ancient Egyptian iconography, please check out Roxane Bicker’s “Moon Knight“ – Die altägyptischen Hintergründe erklärt, Teil 1. She’s amazing! It’s in German but google translate seemed to have no trouble).
I think this actually has more to do with Marvel lore, than ancient Egyptian myth. Marvel has a group of Egyptian inspired gods called the Heliopolitans. You’ll notice that Hathor is not counted among their number here either. However, the lion goddess Sekhmet is. In ancient Egyptian mythology, it would seem that Hathor and Sekhmet are somewhat similar, or maybe interchangeable (wikipedia says “Ra sends the goddess Hathor, in the form of Sekhmet . . .).
Marvel’s own wiki, also seems to keep a Hathor/Sekhmet duality (there it is again!) with the lion goddess being born as Hathor, and then becoming Sekhmet because of blood lust.
There’s some math here but, I think in the logic is something like:
Ennead = gods worshiped at Heliopolis = Heliopolitans
Sekhmet is a Heliopolitan
Hathor = Sekhmet (because of blood lust)
Therefore Hathor = Heliopolitan = god worshipped at Heliopolis = Part of the Ennead
Scarab text might somehow refer to Akhenaten . . .
For this, I’m just blatantly using the ideas of the aforementioned Roxane Bicker and Michelle (TardisInATeacup). I tried to work out the hieroglyphs etched into that gleaming macguffin, but ultimately I was only able to get almost through the first line:
However, Roxane translated the whole thing in her post “Moon Knight“ – Der goldene Skarabäus (the last post in this series “Moon Knight“ – Die altägyptischen Hintergründe erklärt, Teil 3 is also great).
Essentially we get:
“O Chepri on the heart,
his bark, the one wrapped around the neck,
his eternity for your Ba,
Osiris Amenhotep the justified”
There’s a lot to think about here. Khepri is another god who in real life would have been worshipped Heliopolis, and later Thebes. His name invokes ‘transformation’. The Ba is one of the aspects of the soul, even as Steven has many aspects of his personality. Osiris is usually the name given to the deceased, in this case Amenhotep?
And then this last nugget:
Conclusions . . .
While I think we’ve discussed a lot here, I’m not sure I’ve actually managed to ‘unwrap’ completely, any of Moon Knight’s mysteries. In any case, I’m anxious for episode 2, and I’m sure the answers to these questions will only bring us more questions. And this is somehow wonderful.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! What burning questions are you trying to get answered. What aspects of ancient Egyptian art, myth or culture are you hoping to see in this series! Looking forward to hearing from you all!