Wednesday, April 13, 2022

REVIEW: 'Moon Knight' - Marc and Steven Vie for Control as Khonshu Pleads With the Other Gods in 'The Friendly Type'

Disney+'s Moon Knight - Episode 1.03 "The Friendly Type"

With Marc in the forefront and Harrow ahead, Marc and Layla navigate Cairo for intel.

"The Friendly Type" was written by Beau DeMayo, Peter Cameron & Sabir Pirzada and directed by Mohamed Diab

Roles have been reversed. Marc has become the dominant personality, with Steven appearing in reflections and offering keen observations of what's happening. It certainly allows the show to function more as a superhero construct. Marc has mastery of certain skills. He knows how to call forth the suit. He is devoted to a mission. It's all made more complicated by Layla's presence. She insists on helping even though Marc wants to protect her by keeping her in the dark about Khonshu's true desires. And when Marc blacks out and wakes up, it's amusing because it details how Steven behaved during the time he was in control. The mechanics have shifted. It sidelines Steven as he becomes the supporting character meant to distract from the core mission. His existence is seen as an excuse for Marc being unwell. Khonshu never should have chosen him as his avatar. Instead, he comes across as preying on the weak and vulnerable. As such, none of the other gods will listen to his concerns. He has been banished. He calls for this meeting of deities. The show isn't being subtle when it comes to the petulant nature of Khonshu. All the other gods are capable of having rational and levelheaded conversations even when they take control of their avatars. Meanwhile, it comes across as a process Marc has never endured before. Instead, Khonshu only comes out and yells when he has something to say. The rest of the time Marc is in control. He has become an active participant in trying to convince this counsel. That may showcase Khonshu's limitations. He's not as powerful following his banishment. He sees the threat on the horizon. He wants his peers to do something about it. They have chosen not to meddle in the conflicts of humanity. They simply find their own ways to prosper. Khonshu has existed in that role as well. He has allies willing to support him. They mostly overlook the question of whether Marc should be carrying this burden. He's simply the man at the center of this mission whose skills are required to stop the end of the world. Those stakes are extreme. And then, Harrow enters the conversation and can quite easily present Khonshu as the villain. Sure, plenty of characteristics with this Egyptian god can be seen as antagonistic to Marc's existence. He can never get the focus back on the mission at hand. Instead, it's a rather simple debate won only because one individual knows how to play to the council. Khonshu is destined to forever be tormented even if he happens to be right.

Of course, Harrow doesn't appear to make good use of these opportunities. He has the scarab that can lead him directly to Ammit's tomb. He starts digging as soon as he arrives. Nothing can distract from this mission. He has followers to keep working even when he is distracted by other means. The progress is never laid out in a tangible way. Instead, the narrative is chiefly concerned with Marc and Layla finding their own way to the site. The scarab isn't the only device capable of leading to Ammit. A map was included with a different ancient relic. Marc and Layla can track that down. Meanwhile, Steven has the expertise to know how to put it together. It all suggests Marc and Steven need each other. They are completely different personalities with unique skillsets. Both are necessary in order to stop Harrow. But again, is enough progress made to suggest any true momentum? It doesn't come across that way. Instead, it's simply Khonshu making the same mistakes over and over again. That's the only way he knows how to behave. And so, his fellow gods imprison him. That's a dramatic twist. One meant to also take the burden away from Marc. He no longer serves as the avatar for Khonshu. He can walk away from this mission. It doesn't have to be personal for him. He can return to a loving, peaceful life with Layla. They can finally be honest about what has always been going on. Marc no longer has control over the various personalities in his head. Khonshu may be gone but Steven is still around. Plus, someone else may have been in control for a minute. Marc and Steven don't even have the time to process that. Instead, they have to keep forging ahead. They are dependent on each other. They have to be grateful in giving control over. But it's not an emotionally devastating twist when the central hero loses his powers. That should be such a pivotal moment. One that suggests the necessity of soul-searching in order to prosper in the end. It's mostly a twist meant to shake up the formula of what's happening here. In doing so though, it actually bends towards the conventional. That's a tricky balance. One where the show attempts something new but continually finds itself repeating patterns without the depth necessary to make it inherently necessary. The intense focus on Egypt and its mythology is appreciated and respected. However, the storytelling ambitions seem quite small while hoping to pull off some dramatic twists that mean something.