DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Moon Knight episode “The Tomb” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril.
Welcome back, Marvel fans! Moon Knight‘s fast-paced, white-knuckled fourth outing is the series’ best yet. “The Tomb” is thrilling, propulsive and mind-bending, with top-tier performances from Oscar Isaac and May Calamawy. It’s like the three-way lovechild of The Mummy, Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones. Folks, I’m here for it.
“The Tomb” boasts stunning sets, a lushly cinematic score and integral character development. Calamawy truly shines, injecting Layla with searing, visceral vulnerability. Plus, her action sequences kick all the ass. Isaac’s command of these two characters never ceases to amaze me. He flawlessly transitions between Marc Spector and Steven Grant like it’s nothing.
Ready to dig deep into “The Tomb”? Let’s get to it.
We see Selim (Khalid Abdalla) placing the statue of Khonshu in a chamber alongside a score of other imprisoned gods. Meanwhile, Layla (Calamawy) attempts to wake Steven (Isaac) in the desert after his energy-draining task of turning back the night sky 2,000 years.
Suddenly, a vehicle with Arthur’s henchmen drives toward them, so Layla rolls the unconscious Steven down a hill. Layla surreptitiously crawls into her truck while the intruders search for her. Layla lights a flare and chucks it onto their bullet supply, exploding the enemy’s jeep.
Steven finally stirs, and our dynamic duo hits the sandy road, bound for Ammit’s tomb. Layla asserts they’ll need Marc for when things get hairy with Arthur, but Steven refuses to relent. Steven reveals he made a deal with Marc. Once Khonshu is out of the picture, Marc disappears, granting Steven full autonomy over the vessel.
Layla believes she should have been privy to this as Marc’s wife, but c’est la vie.
Next, Steven and Layla make the remainder of the trek on foot, raiding the supplies in Arthur’s camp. Marc (Isaac) reminds Steven that without Khonshu, there’s no suit and no power. He urges Steven to exercise caution for Layla’s sake. Oh, and he thinks Steven is in love with his wife (said in Borat voice).
Then, Layla tries to kiss Steven, but he stops her, disclosing that Marc was protecting Layla by pushing her away. Khonshu wants her for his next avatar. However, Layla retorts that it’s not Marc’s call to make. She craves honesty, not protection. Steven reciprocates the kiss, which Layla doesn’t seem to enjoy based on her body language? But after the kiss, she looks like she dug it? This moment bewildered me a bit. That said, Steven and Layla 4eva.
Marc forces Steven to punch himself as recompense for the kiss.
Meanwhile, Steven and Layla explore the caverns, complemented by a piano-driven piece that sounds incredibly similar to Yelena Belova’s theme from Black Widow. I might venture to say it’s the same tune. Layla tells Steven about her archeologist father. While wandering through a cavernous maze, Steven remarks that it’s “a-maze-ing.” I love one “Steven, with a ‘v'” Grant, a certified dork.
Steven notes the eye of Horus protects this place, delving into what each line in the eye represents. Steven believes they need to look for Ammit’s ushabti. Layla and Steven stumble upon drawings of priests entombed to protect the Pharaoh. Steven discovers fresh blood and bones nearby, signifying that Arthur and his lackeys are here. Well, that and the occasional gunshots.
Steven also finds another passageway that could yield an exit; however, a creature resembling a mummified Pharaoh emerges, dragging one of Arthur’s men onto a slab. It removes the man’s organs while Layla hides behind the said slab.
Unfortunately, the mummified dude spots Steven and pursues him; Steven urges Layla to escape, and he’ll catch up with her later.
While fleeing the scene, Layla almost falls into a seemingly bottomless chasm. She tosses a flare down into it to see its depth. Layla carefully climbs across the cliffside to avoid falling. The hand of a killer mummy creeps out among the rocks, frightening Layla, who falls onto the ledge. The mummy quickly yanks her into the shadows. It’s like a horror movie. I love it.
Thankfully, Layla re-emerges with the mummy’s arm. He follows her onto the ledge, and the pair duke it out. The killer mummy wraps his hands around Layla’s neck and squeezes, but she has an ace up her sleeve. Layla sticks a lit flare in her foe’s eye socket, then shoves him over the chasm’s edge. It looks like Layla falls with him, but she scrambles to safety like the badass she is.
Meanwhile, Steven wanders into a Pharaoh’s tomb. Marc confronts him for kissing Layla while simultaneously thanking him for telling her the truth. Steven learns he’s standing in the long-lost Alexander the Great’s tomb. Huzzah! He begins searching for the ushabti.
Arthur (Ethan Hawke) spies on Layla and regales her with the tale of her father’s death. Abdulla El-Faouly, her dad, was murdered by mercenaries and hints at Marc being among them. Arthur claims he wants to help Layla find closure.
Steven unwraps Alexander the Great’s face, sticks his hand in his mouth and procures the ushabti. Who knew that Mr. Great (as Steven adorably calls him) was the voice of Ammit?
Later, Layla confronts Marc via Steven, but Steven gives Marc the reins. Marc claims he didn’t kill Layla’s dad — his partner did. Marc tried to save Layla’s father, but he almost died too. His colleague executed everyone at the dig site. The Yelena theme also plays during this scene. Curious.
Suddenly, Arthur and his lackeys appear at the tomb. Layla hides while Marc tries to hold them off with an ax. Marc fights Arthur’s men, and Arthur shoots him twice. Layla watches in abject horror while Marc falls into a pool of water behind him.
“I can’t save anyone who doesn’t want to save themselves,” Arthur says.
Marc sinks deeper into the water. We see a circle of light form, almost as if he’s floating “toward the light.” That morphs into the glow of a flashlight. It’s such a brilliant, seamless transition.
Then, we see two men exploring the forest. One of them claims he’s Steven Grant. We see it’s a movie on TV. We’re in a mental hospital. Donna (Lucy Thackeray) clings to a scarab-shaped pillow. Bobbi (Ann Akinjirin), Billy (David Ganly) and Bek (Loic Mabanza) are attendants in this pristine white facility.
Marc sits in a wheelchair next to a goldfish bowl. Layla is also a patient engrossed in a rousing game of Bingo. Another patient sketches a drawing of a bird with Khonshu’s head. The addition of Easter eggs in this scene is a masterstroke.
According to this scene, Steven Grant originated from this film, Tomb Buster, a Tomb Raider knockoff. We see a Moon Knight doll on the floor.
Next, Marc sits with Arthur, his therapist. Marc surveys Arthur’s office, taking stock of Arthur’s sandals, his cane, a painting of the Swiss Alps, a statue of Khonshu, a golden crocodile head representing Ammit — everything that reminds him of his world. Arthur notes Marc’s struggle to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fiction.
The camera takes a while to focus on Arthur’s face. I suspect this represents how Arthur is Ammit’s voice.
After Arthur says, “I can’t help you if you don’t help yourself,” Marc remembers Arthur shot him. Marc snaps out of his sedated state and flees. Bobbi and Billy try to seize him, but Marc overpowers them.
Marc winds up in another room, hiding from the attendants chasing him down. He hears someone cry out from inside a sarcophagus. It’s Steven! The pair embrace, now two separate bodies. Steven also remembers getting injured courtesy of Arthur Harrow.
While they run down the corridor, we see another rumbling sarcophagus in an adjacent room. That must contain Jake Lockley. We already got a potential taste of him in last week’s episode when Marc and Steven claimed they didn’t have control over their body.
Then, the pair encounter a massive hippo goddess, Taweret (voiced by Antonia Salib), who greets them with a “Hi!” Steven and Marc scream in tandem. I sense a new meme is upon us.
Taweret is the “protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility.” Perhaps this alludes to a blank slate moment for Marc and Steven, especially since Khonshu is out of the picture.
I love that Moon Knight incorporated Jeff Lemire‘s comic book story with the mental hospital. “The Tomb” fits the genre-bending descriptor, infusing horror, adventure, thriller and poignant drama into one compelling TV episode. Marc’s scenes in the mental hospital are some of my favorites thus far.
Do you think everything we’ve seen so far is all in Marc’s imagination, or is the mental facility a projection of his mind? I think it’s the latter. Will our dynamic duo free Khonshu in time? How does Taweret fit into the narrative? Join me next week while I recap Moon Knight, only on Geek Girl Authority.
Moon Knight streams new episodes every Wednesday on Disney Plus.
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