In Review: Moon Knight (S1 – EP1) The Goldfish Problem

Synopsis Steven Grant has come unstuck in time (and space, and mind). Experiencing dissociative identity disorder and a psychic connection with the Egyptian god Khonshu,  we see him exhibit...
Steven Grant

Synopsis

Steven Grant has come unstuck in time (and space, and mind). Experiencing dissociative identity disorder and a psychic connection with the Egyptian god Khonshu,  we see him exhibit at least three distinct personalities. The museum-shop “gift shoppist” has been thrust into a supernatural world where Egyptian gods walk among humans. Directed by filmmaker Mohamed Diab, and written by Jeremy Slater, this Marvel adventure delves into dark, mythological forces.

The Story

The story opens by introducing us to Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), who after drinking a glass of water, breaks the glass, puts the shards in his shoes, and walks away in them. Harrow is a cult leader who seeks out Steven/Marc to take the gold scarab he carries around.

We’re also introduced to Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), who sleeps with his ankles strapped to his bed, wakes up to call his mother, who never seems to be on the other side of the phone conversation, and feed his one-finned goldfish. He works in the gift shop of the British Museum with the boss from hell and a beautiful co-worker who asks him out to dinner.

Grant has a problem. He loses time whenever he’s in trouble, and then finds himself in the middle of a bunch of dead bodies, or being chased in a cupcake truck by armed men. He tries not to fall asleep, but despite his efforts, and being strapped to the bed, he wakes up finding himself in strange places and life-threatening situations. He’s his goldfish missing a fin, who wakes up to find he still has his missing pieces.

It becomes apparent that each time he finds himself in a pickle, one of his other personalities, Marc Spector or Moon Knight in this episode, takes over. He is also being followed, or haunted by Egyptian mythological characters, primarily the god Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), who dominates his inner monologue, and switches his personalities. Grant is unaware of his other personalities, or what they do, but the time gaps he experiences become more and more disconcerting. He misses a dinner date he was very much looking forward to, because he lost two days while in his other personalities.

As the story progresses, he discovers evidence of the lives his other personalities are living, and then encounters his other personalities. He is also at odds with Harrow over possession of the scarab. In a conflict with Harrow at the museum, Harrow unleashes as frightening creature to kill Steven/Marc, when he transforms into Moon Night, and beats the creature.

 

Acting

This is Oscar Isaac’s show. While the other actors, including Ethan Hawke, had little to do in this episode, Isaac pulls off a tour de force with performances that are simultaneously humorous and heartbreaking. As the lonely nerd, Steven Grant, he is charming, awkward, and affecting, and we can’t help but empathize with him. As Marc Spector, who we’ve only seen glimpses of, he’s suave and self-assured. As Moon Knight, he’s downright deadly. Isaac pulls it all off as easily as he breathes air.

 

CGI & Effects

The CGI & special effects are as expected for a Marvel production – well done, and part of the overall storytelling. They fit seamlessly into the overall narrative.

Overall

The first episode of the series is a good start. It would be helpful to know more about how Marc/Steven became a fractured person, and how Moon Knight came to be, but that is likely to be addressed in the next couple of episodes. Also, other characters need more fleshing out, especially Layla and Harrow, but that is likely to happen in subsequent episodes.

The soundtrack draws you in, especially at the beginning of the episode, with Bob Dylan‘s Every Grain of Sand playing in the background, and the opening credits accompanied by A Man Without Love, sung by Engelbert Humperdinck.

What stands out most is Isaac’s performance, which essentially carries the episode. It’s worth watching the series for him alone.

9.5
Moon Knight (S1 - EP1) The Goldfish Problem
  • Story
    8
  • Acting
    10
  • CGI & Stunts
    10
  • Incidental Music
    10
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