DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Moon Knight series premiere episode, “The Goldfish Problem,” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome, Marvel fans! Moon Knight is finally here, and folks, I’m more than excited to see what the Powers That Be have in store for us after this episode. I’m a devout, ardent Oscar Isaac fan. I worship at the altar of Saint Isaac. I think he’s one of the best actors working today, “devastatingly handsome” thing aside.
Even if you omit my totally objective and nonbiased perspective, you’ll see Isaac owns this role. He’s tied with Elizabeth Olsen in WandaVision for my favorite performance in a live-action Marvel series. He injects Steven Grant with nuance, bottomless depth and vulnerability. He’s endearing as hell, especially when he attacks his enemies with cupcakes. We only get a taste of Isaac as Marc Spector at the end, but I hope we see more of the alters in future episodes.
Moon Knight‘s “The Goldfish Problem” takes an exciting approach by honing in on Steven Grant, making Marc a secondary character. I love the “breaks in reality” when Steven essentially blacks out, and Marc takes over.
Ready to dig deep into “The Goldfish Problem”? Let’s get to it.
We open with Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) engaged in a ceremony that involves putting shards of broken glass in his shoes. He proceeds to walk with said glass shards in his sandals. It’s just a typical day that ends in “y”!
Meanwhile, Steven Grant (Isaac) wakes in his apartment, shackled to his bed by the ankles. He notices a ring of sand circling his bed and tape on the door. While it confounds him, Steven goes about his day by feeding his one-finned fish and calling his mum.
Then, we see Steven head into his place of work, a museum dedicated to ancient Egypt, in London. He interacts with a little girl who utilizes a pyramid model as a trash receptacle for her gum. Steven’s boss, Donna (Lucy Thackeray), orders him to resume his station behind the register at the gift shop. According to her, Steven getting that tour guide promotion is off the table.
Next, one of Steven’s coworkers approaches him, confirming their date at a local steakhouse. A bewildered Steven confirms said date, but he doesn’t recall asking her out.
After his shift, Steven eats with one of those gold-covered street performers. You know, the ones who mimic statues. He’s excited about going out with this woman, but he thinks it’s time to get rid of the ankle shackles. That might be a turn-off.
That night, Steven listens to a recording to keep himself awake. He does everything from fiddle with a Rubik’s Cube to read books about Egyptian mythology, in which he’s already well-versed.
Suddenly, Steven wakes in the Swiss Alps, with no recollection of how he got there. He realigns his jaw after someone (or something) smacked it out of place. He also finds a golden scarab in his jacket. Steven hears a detached voice, a.k.a. the voice of Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham). Khonshu disapproves of Steven, calling him an idiot. He wants Marc back!
A pair of men brandish their guns from a window and fire at Steven. He flees to the nearby village, where he glimpses Arthur Harrow among his followers. Arthur wades through the masses and delivers a speech about Ammit, the god they serve. Ammit is omniscient and knows the sins of humans before they commit them.
Arthur brings a man to the front of the crowd for judgment on behalf of Ammit. Arthur grabs the man’s hands. We see a tattoo of the scales of justice on Arthur’s forearm. After the scales move back and forth, seemingly by magic, Arthur determines that said man is inherently good and worthy of the new world they’re building.
Next, an older woman volunteers to receive Ammit’s judgment. However, the scales on Arthur’s forearm turn crimson, signifying her wickedness. The woman emphatically informs Arthur of her innate goodness, but he believes Ammit judges her for future sins. Suddenly, she collapses dead.
One of the shooters that hunts Steven approaches Arthur, informing him that Steven got away. Arthur spots Steven in the crowd and demands he hand over the scarab. But Khonshu orders Steven to guard the scarab closely. When Steven tries to give it to Arthur, his hand closes tightly, entirely out of his control. Khonshu’s got the wheel now, baby!
Arthur’s lackeys seize Steven and attempt to pry the scarab from his hand. Then, in the blink of an eye, we see Steven standing in a circle of bloody bodies, the scarab still in his palm. Steven hijacks a cupcake truck and speeds away.
Amid the high-speed chase featuring Steven and Arthur’s goons, Steven experiences blackout moments where he inflicts violence on his pursuers. That must be Marc taking over.
After the nightmare car chase from hell, Steven wakes in his room while bound to his bed. The tape’s still on the door. Naturally, Steven wonders whether he dreamt of the Swiss Alps chaos or was there.
Later, Steven notices his one-finned fish seemingly grew a second fin overnight, so he takes it to the pet shop, wherein the employee there claims they don’t sell one-finned fish. So, a flummoxed Steven goes about his day, preparing for his date. Mind you; he’s a devout vegan going to a steakhouse.
While at the steakhouse, Steven calls his date. She informs him that he stood her up — their date was Friday, and the current day is Sunday. Steven confirms the day with the waiter, and orders steak, which he doesn’t eat. Hey, the man’s in pain.
Steven heads home, where he proceeds to overindulge on the chocolates he bought for his date. He notices something fishy regarding his apartment decor and finds a cubby hole containing a flip phone and a key. There’s nothing suspicious about that, right?
Steven examines the flip phone, noting a series of missed calls from “Layla” and “Duchamp” (Duchamp is Marc’s best friend, Frenchie). Steven phones Layla (May Calamawy). She asks why he flew under the radar for months and never returned her calls. Then, she refers to Steven as “Marc.” There’s that name again! Layla hangs up on Steven after he attempts to elicit info from her.
He hears a voice that tells him to “stop searching,” and we see Steven’s apartment shake. Steven scrambles into the hallway, where he encounters a physical manifestation of Khonshu (Karim El Hakim). Terrified, Steven runs into the elevator with a neighbor who seems equally fearful and mystified regarding Steven’s behavior.
Then, Steven opens his eyes on the bus and quickly flees when he notices Khonshu out on the streets. He spots Arthur Harrow in the museum where he works. Arthur chats with Steven about the scarab, which belongs to Ammit. Arthur delves further into Ammit’s backstory — the stuff Steven didn’t glean from his research.
Steven believes Arthur will kill him, but the latter claims he wants to help our protagonist. Arthur clasps Steven’s hands and passes judgment on him, with his scales tattoo moving magically. Arthur reveals that Steven’s surrounded by chaos, and Steven bolts into another part of the museum.
That night, Steven works in the gift shop until the lights switch off. He wanders into an exhibit after hearing a dog barking. Whenever Steven passes a reflective surface, we see his reflection linger, watching him.
Suddenly, Steven sees a grotesque, frightening jackal emerge from the shadows. A voice calls out to Steven, but it’s not Khonshu; Steven learns he must fork over the scarab or risk death by brutal mauling. Steven tosses his backpack at the ghastly creature and runs into the bathroom.
While he hears the fearsome beast gnashing his teeth and growling outside the bathroom door, Steven meets Marc (Isaac), the reason for his blackouts. Marc is a mercenary with an American accent, and he speaks to Steven via a reflection in the bathroom mirrors. Marc urges Steven to let him take the reins; otherwise, they’ll die.
Finally, Steven succumbs to Marc’s wishes, and we see Steven transform into Moon Knight — superhero suit and all. Moon Knight/Marc Spector kills the jackal, and it’s not pretty.
Overall, Moon Knight‘s “The Goldfish Problem” blesses us with a consistently action-packed, enthralling and entertaining debut that lays the foundation for what’s sure to be a genre-bending, delightful season. Bring it on! Moon Knight is one of the most interesting characters in Marvel comics, and it’s about damn time he got a series.
On another note, I believe we met Crawley (Shaun Scott), at least according to the end credits. Crawley appears to be the man posing as a golden statue to whom Steven unburdens himself. Crawley is a homeless man, so this makes sense. Here’s hoping we see Gena Landers soon.
Do you think we’ll see more of Marc in next week’s episode? What about Jake Lockley and Mr. Knight, Moon Knight’s other alters? How does Midnight Man fit into the narrative? Join me next time while I recap Moon Knight, only on Geek Girl Authority.
New episodes of Moon Knight are available to stream Wednesdays on Disney Plus.