Wednesday, March 30, 2022

REVIEW: 'Moon Knight' - Steven's Violent and Dramatic Life Asleep Is More Real Than He's Willing to Admit in 'The Goldfish Problem'

Disney+'s Moon Knight - Episode 1.01 "The Goldfish Problem"

Steven Grant learns that he may be a superhero, but may also share a body with a ruthless mercenary.

"The Goldfish Problem" was written by Jeremy Slater and directed by Mohamed Diab

Dangerous things happen when Steven Grant goes to sleep. It's so bad that he purposefully tries to keep his mind active to avoid slumber for as long as possible. Even then, he chains himself to the bed and creates various obstacles around him to know when he becomes active while asleep. It all showcases an awareness of a much larger problem. However, Steven truly is in the dark about what resides within him. He simply hopes to exist as a bumbling nerd who wants to become a tour guide at an Egyptian museum but can't win over any friends. At home, he only cares for a fish. His life is small. It's limiting while showing his overall humble ambitions. He certainly has charm. None of this would work if not for the work Oscar Isaac commits to this identity. Steven is frequently confiding in his mother over the phone. Even that is awkward because it's mostly him talking aloud and rambling from one thought to the other. It's an elaborate message. One meant to provide him with some comfort. However, nothing can prepare him for the danger that actually takes place when he's asleep. A different personality takes over completely. It's not just his subconscious continuing to pull him into drama through extreme sleepwalking. It's a vigilante named Marc, who is on a globe-trotting adventure. Steven doesn't know how to behave when he unexpectedly wakes up in the middle of this operation. All he hears is a mysterious voice calling him the idiot. That's how these internal figures feel about the man in control of the body for a significant part of time. Even then, Steven remains the entry point for this whole story. The audience is learning about each of these complications alongside him. It builds to the moment where he has to purposefully cede control to Marc. That's the first instance where that happens. That suggests a more fulfilling and honest partnership coming so that Steven is never confused about this ever again. Marc carries plenty of secrets as well. It's confusing for Steven as he realizes someone else has been living his life while he has simply blacked out for days. It prevents him from ever maintaining a social calendar or impressing the people at the museum. He's simply the idiot who never threatens the mission going on elsewhere. And yet, his presence can be a liability. Again, it's all played as comedy as he is pulled in and out of a terrible situation. That's the action he is reluctantly forced into beyond his control. It forms the basis for this plot.

It's all built around Egyptian deities. That may inform why Steven has dedicated his studies to the mythology of this ancient civilization. He is an expert who annoys others at works when he points out small details that are wrong. He is expected to work the gift shop. He wants more. No one wants to listen to his opinion. He hasn't earned that respect and trust. He is simply the strange guy talking to a statue instead of confiding in a true friend. His mirror image may offer greater communication and self-esteem. It's still dependent on these individuals being willing to share this body. Steven doesn't understand that choice and what it means. And so, he resists. He naturally does that. He has that ability. Others can still take control. They have their own distinct missions. Steven feels like the average person trying to handle a life dramatically different than what should be normal in this world. Of course, this story is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Lots of crazy and extreme things have happened. This is the first television series without any connection to an already existing property. As such, the creative team has the freedom to establish its own rules and personality. It all has to fit into what is already known in this franchise. It also offers a tantalizing tease about character and identity. It asks questions about good versus evil. Arthur Harrow believes he can weigh the totality of a person's life. He can judge them for what they've done and what they are expected to do in the future. He believes he can create heaven on Earth so long as everyone submits to his judgment. In reality, it's terrifying because he kills people before they even have the opportunity to do something he deems evil. Steven is thrown into all this chaos. He doesn't know what's going on. And so, it's amusing to watch him be unable to hand over the scarab he has stolen. That produces an immediately amusing pattern of him fading out of consciousness only to quickly wake up seeing the brutality of what he has apparently done. Marc is a vicious mercenary after all. He's the one trusted with the importance of this mission. Steven's words carry consequences. It allows Harrow to quickly track him down even after a car chase in the Alps continually goes awry. Harrow is armed with vicious creatures capable of tearing Steven apart. Meanwhile, Steven hopes this is all a dream. It's more tangible that way. Otherwise, he has to truly reckon with the idea that someone else who looks like him can come into power and immediately solve these perilous circumstances. That's what Marc is. That can no longer be denied. And so, Steven is thrown into the thick of it having seen Marc kill whatever threat comes at him.