The latest episode of Moon Knight is by far the darkest story that Marvel Studios has ever told. It focuses entirely on the tragic backstory of Oscar Isaac's Marc Spector, his family, and his illness. Episode 4 of Moon Knight primed the penultimate chapter with a dramatic climax that saw Oscar Isaac's Marc Spector being shot by Ethan Hawke's Arthur Harrow and left to die in a pool of water.
Spector sunk into the dark abyss of death until he awoke, sedated, inside a mental institution. After escaping from Harrow, appearing to him as a psychiatrist, Isaac's titular hero manages against all odds to find his alter ego Steven Grant trapped in a sarcophagus. Post hugging it out, the two attempted to escape, only to be confronted by a rather cheerful, if unsettling, walking and talking hippopotamus.
Episode 5 picked right back up where the previous installment ended, delving more into Marc Spector's history WandaVision-style and ending on another bombshell of a cliffhanger.
Now, it's time to recap the episode and break down every major reveal, big and small.
Sense and Nonsense
Warning - the rest of this article contains major spoilers for Episode 5 of Moon Knight.
Episode 5 of Moon Knight opens in a flooding cave as a boy can be heard crying out for help before cutting to a woman looking at the viewer with disdain. The mysterious woman says in a broken voice that rises to a scream, "this is all your fault!" It then cuts back to Marc Spector and Steven Grant still screaming their lungs out at the sight of the anthropomorphic hippopotamus, before finally settling back in the office of "Dr." Harrow.
This doctor attempts to convince Marc that everything that has happened up to this point has been a "reassuring fantasy." Marc dismisses Harrow's claim, accusing him of not being a doctor.
Dr. Harrow steers the conversation back to Marc, asking him to retrace his steps. When Marc refuses to answer, Harrow tells Marc that he had been told, by him, that he had encountered a talking rhinoceros, which Marc corrects to have been a hippopotamus, in a place "oddly reminiscent of this office." After a beat, Dr. Harrow leans forward and asks Marc if that is "sense or nonsense." Marc hesitantly responds, "nonsense?" Then, encouraged by his answer, he explains to Marc how a struggling mind will try and build a shelter for itself when dealing with traumatic memories. He calls it an "organizing principle," and that they're closer to understanding.
Marc, confused about what there was to understand, is told by Dr. Harrow that "before you got upset," he talked about a boy. The doctor pushes Marc to speak about the boy more, which results in Marc becoming aggressive, shouting how Harrow will "destroy everything" before being forcibly sedated.
While this initial sequence comes off as fairly standard, there may be a secret staring right in the face of viewers. Audiences have wondered week-to-week whether more personalities are rumbling around in Marc Spector's mind, namely the comics alter known as Jake Lockley. Moon Knight has teased the third identity's existence throughout the show, but this opening may have actually given fans their first glimpse at the man himself.
'Marc' is notably different in this scene, having a crazed look in his eye, a more unhinged, aggressive personality, an odd Brooklyn accent, and a notable bandage across his nose. The latter of these features is a trademark of Jake Lockley's appearance in the comics, which could be signaling that he is in control here. While this appearance doesn't come with the telltale sound effect that seems to have accompanied other alter switches, there is a chance that this may have been a secret way to showcase Lockley's first appearance.
Welcome to the Duat
The episode finally cuts back to both him and Steven Grant, who finish screaming, with Marc remarking how "these meds are really amazing." The hippo is confused by their presence, asking if they're twins, with Spector responding "no," and Grant "well, yeah, sort of."
Both their answers leave the hippo confused at the situation, which Marc agrees, saying how "just a second ago" he thought he'd been shot dead. But, the hippo corrects Marc, telling him that "you're actually quite dead."
To help give them both more answers, she reads off from cards, welcoming them both to the realm of the Duat. Things now make sense to Steven, who realizes that this hippo is Taweret and that she's their guide to the afterlife.
While Steven is amazed, Marc is immediately dismissive, speculatively asking if this is "the" afterlife. Taweret corrects him, saying that it's merely "an" afterlife, naming the Ancestral Plane from Black Panther as another example.
Continuing, Taweret scuffles through her cards and explains how, because the Duat is "impossible for the human mind to comprehend," they will perceive the realm as something recognizable to them. Marc begins to spiral into denial, saying that Dr. Harrow was right about this being an "organizing principle." Then, attempting to prove it to Steven, Marc says he'll open a door and that it'll just lead to a room of patients with "Crawley probably about to yell bingo!"
But, Marc barges through a door, only to end up on the deck of a ship sailing on the sands of a desert.
Balancing the Scales
Shocked, Marc is confused at where they are with Steven answering that they're in "the underworld," which brings gleeful relief to Marc, exclaiming that "I'm not crazy." After realizing they aren't insane, Marc turns to Taweret to ask where they're going, which Steven answers to be Aaru, the Field of Reeds.
Taweret explains that if one's heart is balanced in life, an eternity in paradise awaits. The goddess then proceeds to apprehensively pull the hearts out of both Marc and Steven, thankful their chests hadn't exploded.
Steven gives a confused Marc an excited explanation of the Scales of Justice and the Feather of Truth. Weighed against the feather, if their hearts are balanced with it on the Scales by the end of their journey, they'll be permitted to the Field of Reeds.
When Marc asks if they don't balance, Taweret gleefully answers that they'll be thrown overboard—dragged into the Duat, frozen in the sand for all eternity. But, Taweret has her fingers crossed for the two of them.
Unfortunately, Taweret notes that their hearts "aren't full" and suggests they both go back inside the boat to achieve balance as it "contains all of a life's memories." Specifically, Taweret tells them they need to "show each other the truth."
Marc and Steven reenter the psych ward, as the latter is now concerned about Layla, but Marc assures him she's okay. That is until she goes on a suicide mission to stop Arthur Harrow.
Now, with even more at stake, Steven pushes for a solution to balance the Scales, but Marc is insistent on avoiding going through their memories. As they argue, they look through the windows of various doors, with one in particular that has Marc shaken, showing him on a street.
Steven is confused, as he has no memory of it, but when he asks Marc if it's one of his memories, he deflects, saying, "it's just a street." However, before Steven can push it, a boy is heard yelling down the hall. Steven runs through a door for the boy but enters a room full of corpses. Disguised, Steven assumes, correctly, that this room of memories belongs to Marc.
As Steven takes notice of the Scales of Justice in the room, still swaying back and forth rapidly, Marc looks closer at the bodies and realizes that they are all the people he has killed as Khonshu's Avatar. Steven is horrified, but Marc attempts to excuse them as all having been "the worst of the worst."
Marc opens up about the guilt he's felt for the people he's killed, and Steven notices the Scales slowing its sway, becoming more balanced. Excited at this progress is short-lived as Steven is distracted by the appearance of a young boy in the room. Asking if Marc had killed a child, he tells Steven instead to not look at the boy.
Ignoring him, Steven chases the boy into a room and locks out Marc behind him, who shouts at Steven to open the door. Instead, Steven finds himself in the backyard of a family home and sees his mother cooking at a grill, and learns that he has a brother.
A young Marc encourages his younger brother, Randall, to explore "the cave" with him. Before they leave, Marc's mother tells him to watch his brother, and Marc says he will while saying the same goodbye Steven had been using since the first episode when saying goodbye to his mother on the phone: "Laters, gators."
This is just one of many references in the episode that seems to have influenced Steven's life and persona. For example, Randall can be seen drawing a goldfish, which could be reflective of Steven's own pet, Gus. Some Easter eggs from previous episodes may also cast doubt on how much of the events of Episode 5 are an illusion or not. In Episode 1, Steven's fish tank is decorated with a variety of models that represent events or objects in the penultimate episode, including the Gates of Osiris, the Khufu ship, and Khonshu's temple.
As the two boys run to the cave, Steven follows.
All Your Fault
As Marc paces the halls of the psych ward, Steven continues to follow the boys to the cave. To Steven's confusion, Randall acts as Rosser, while Marc puts on a British accent and acts as Dr. Grant.
It suddenly begins to rain, which concerns Randall, but Marc reassures him it'll be fine and not be a baby. Greatly concerned, Steven pursues them into the cave, which begins to flood.
The scene cuts back and forth between present-day Marc inside the psych ward and Steven, as both panic at what's about to happen. Steven cries out to the boys, telling them they have to get out, as Marc desperately continues to search for a way to stop Steven.
As Steven goes deeper into the cave, Marc tries to open the door again, only to be confronted by the sight of his mother standing in the window. It cuts to Steven again, who finally hears the boys crying out for help, with Randall calling out to his mother. Another door presents itself to Marc in the ward, showing him a living room filled with people dressed in black. He enters the room and sees his parents grieving, with a picture of Randall framed on a table.
Steven is there too, soaking wet from the cave, as both he and Marc see their mother wishing for her "RoRo" back. As she's grieving, a young Marc cautiously comes down the stairs, but his mother lashes out at him.
Before the scene worsens, Marc tries to beckon Steven to leave the memory, as their mother's anger rises, accusing Marc of letting Randall drown and yelling, "this is all your fault!" Marvel has gone to dark places in projects like Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and WandaVision, but nothing quite like this. And this is only the beginning.
Randall's death is also a major departure from the origin of Marc Spector's comic book counterpart, which saw a jealous Randall Spector grow up to become a supervillain instead.
Her outburst causes young Marc to flee back upstairs to his room, but as Steven tries to follow the boy, Marc pleads with him to stop.
When Steven reaches the top of the steps, he's in the living room again, but it's now Marc's birthday. Only his father is with him for it, who tells Marc that it'll be just them this year. Steven rushes up the stairs again, only to end up in the same room on another birthday.
Marc's mother, Wendy, is present this time, drunk, and begins to berate him and say that she should have expected that Marc "would do something like this." The young Marc can't do anything but run up the stairs to his bedroom, leaving Steven shocked at his mother's words.
Running after the young Marc, Steven finally makes it to the top of the steps and reaches for the bedroom door, only to be grabbed by Marc. The two are now outside on the street of their childhood home, with Steven asking in frustration, "what happened in that room, Marc?"
Steven asks Marc, "why are you remembering her like that?" But, Marc refuses to answer as Steven tries to rush back to the house, asking Marc what he's hiding from him. Suddenly, the two see Marc's father, Elias, on the street pleading with an adolescent Marc, who's running from home. His father pleads that "we will fix this," but Marc refutes him, saying that he's the one meant to fix it.
As Elias pleads with Marc to stay, not wishing to lose another son, Marc tackles Steven. Both are suddenly thrown into a desert at night, surrounded by carnage.
Reborn as Moon Knight
Steven realizes that this is the night Marc had killed the bound hostages, which Marc denies. He explains to Steven that after being discharged from the military, he went to work a job for his former CO Bushman when he no longer had any options left to him.
It was a simple raid on an Egyptian tomb, but Bushman changed the plan, calling for no witnesses. Marc couldn't live with that, so he tried and failed to save everyone. During this explanation, Steven sees the corpse of Layla's father, Doctor El Faouly, who is seen with a distinctive red scarf with a scarab embroidered on it.
When Steven asks what happened to Marc, all he can do is silently point to a temple belonging to none other than Khonshu. They enter the temple and see Marc's past self, bleeding to death as he lay at the base of a statue depicting the moon god.
Marc puts a gun to his chin, seemingly out of guilt, but before he can pull the trigger, a voice speaks to him, "What a waste." Confused, Marc asks who the voice is, which reveals itself to be the god Khonshu, searching for a warrior.
The god offers Marc the chance to be his warrior and if Marc wants death or life. Khonshu asks Marc, again, to make a vow, in exchange for his life, to become his warrior and bring Khonshu's vengeance upon any evildoers. Present-day Steven realizes that Khonshu was manipulating Marc from the start.
Marc deflects, saying that Khonshu kept them alive, but Steven insists that the god took advantage of him in his vulnerable state. Marc of the past finally accepts Khonshu's offer, and at that moment, Steven notices the Scales of Justice again and that the swaying of the scales has nearly stopped.
As another truth is revealed, Khonshu heals Marc and bestows him his power, dubbing him his "Moon Knight!" This completely shifts the dynamic of Marc's relationship with Khonshu, proving that Harrow was right about the Moon god's deceptive ways all along. Now that the two are fully aware of Khonshu's manipulative ways, perhaps this revelation will allow Marc to reason with his foe and be the key to taking him down once and for all.
Chaos in the Upper World
Both Marc and Steven return to the boat's deck with Taweret, who's in a panic. Chaos is brewing in the upper world as unbalanced souls are being judged before their time.
The two attempt to convince the goddess that they have to both return to the land of the living to stop Harrow and Ammit, but even if she could, they'd be returning to "a body with a bullet in it." Thus, the need for Khonshu, as Steven asks Taweret to contact Layla, so she may help free Khonshu.
Despite both Marc and Steven wanting to be free of the moon god, they don't have a choice. After pleading with her, Taweret finally relents and steers the boat towards the Gate of Osiris, as it's the only way back to the upper world.
The Final Truth
Steven figures that the last truth to be revealed lies in the bedroom Marc has denied him from entering. Unfortunately, Marc continues to resist revisiting their memories, which prompts Steven to tell him that if everyone, including Layla, dies, "it'll be all your fault," which massively triggers Marc.
Marc screams that Steven can't make him, as he begins hitting himself before ending back up in Dr. Harrow's office. Confused and no longer having a black eye or cut nose, Dr. Harrow congratulates Marc on reliving these traumatic memories.
He proceeds to ask Marc if he thinks he "created Steven to hide from all of the awful things you feel you've done in your life, or do you think Steven created Marc to punish the world for what your mother did to you?"
When Marc is silent, the doctor pushes for Marc to speak to Steven to find out the truth. Marc reluctantly relents, as it cuts back to Marc finally inside his old childhood bedroom with Steven, as they see a young Marc curled on the ground.
Steven looks at the room in confusion, remarking that he only remembers "some things" but not the scene before him. Then, suddenly, someone bangs on his door as the young Marc mutters, "it's not my mom," repeatedly.
As his stress builds, Wendy yells at Marc to open the door, the young boy's eyes roll back into his head, and his demeanor changes. In a British accent, it's now Steven, who's worried about his room and how he needs to "sort it out before Mum sees it." As young Steven begins cleaning, Steven notices a poster hanging for Tomb Buster and reads the tagline aloud, "when danger is near, Steven Grant has no fear."
At that moment, Steven finally realized the final truth, that Marc had made him up.
Marc's mother bursts through the door, ignorant that Steven has taken Marc's place. Wendy takes the belt hanging on a shelf, telling her son, "you're gonna learn to listen." Marc quickly pushes Steven out of the room, despite his protests at wanting to see "what she did." Some initially speculated that Marc's dissociate identity disorder would arise from Khonshu's influence on Marc, but the truth is much closer to how DID develops in real life.
Incorporating abuse into Moon Knight's origin is arguably the darkest route that Marvel Studios have taken with a story up to this point, but was important to include in order to authentically portray the disorder and to inform a wider audience about the realities of DID.
Back in the hallway of the psych ward, Marc's mother can be heard calling him a "disgusting human" as the sounds of a vicious beating with the belt can be heard. Marc tells Steven that he's not meant to see that, and "that's the whole point of you," which causes Steven to punch him in the face.
Steven breaks down at his entire existence being a lie, but Marc tells Steven that he was at least able to live a normal life. Even if it was all a lie, he at least thought he had a mother that loved him and who was still alive.
In complete denial, Steven has an outburst similar to Marc, screaming that he wants to be "let out" until he's woken back up in Dr. Harrow's office.
Not Your Fault
Steven quickly realizes that it's Harrow and looks around at his "office," believing it to be a test from Taweret. Dr. Harrow attempts to speak to Steven, asking if Marc had opened up to him.
Steven accuses Marc of having lied to him, but the doctor also brings up the death of his mother, but the idea of his mother being dead still infuriates Steven, assuming Harrow is lying too. So, the doctor relents and tells Steven that he can call his mother, which Steven suddenly wants to avoid, making excuses for not calling her.
Dr. Harrow manages to connect to "Mrs. Grant," speaking with her and proceeds to pass the phone to Steven. He approaches and grabs the phone but, in tears, finally admits to himself, "my mum is dead." As Steven closes his eyes, it cuts to a framed photo of his mother on a table, similar to when Shiva was held for Randall.
Elias can be seen inside, looking through a window into the street, and sees his son standing in front of the house, drinking from a flask. It's the same memory that Steven had seen earlier.
His father tries to beckon him inside, but Marc refuses and walks away, not wanting to give his mother the satisfaction. As he stumbles down the street, he begins to weep and falls to his knees.
In anger, he tears his yarmulke from his head and slaps it to the ground several times before cradling it to his chest, apologizing. Then, just like when he was a child, the stress becomes too much, and Steven comes out again.
Present-day Steven is crotched on the ground watching all this happen and sees himself getting up, lost, as he picks up his phone, which hasn't rung. He then proceeds to walk away, having an imaginary conversation with his mother. Marc appears to present-day Steven, explaining that "this was the moment our lives started bleeding into each other," which happened two months ago.
As Marc admits to being unable to go to his mother's Shiva, Steven attempts to reassure Marc that his mother was wrong and that Randall's death wasn't his fault. Steven tells Marc that he was only a child and emphasizes that it was not his fault.
Marc seems to begin internalizing this until the ground violently shakes. The time is up. They've arrived at the Gates of Osiris.
Fields of Reeds
As they both return to the boat's deck, Taweret regrettably tells them that their Scales never balanced and that the unbalanced souls of the Duat will now claim them both.
As the boat approaches the Gate of Osiris, these souls begin to board, with Marc fighting them all off as Steven hides. However, they quickly overwhelm Marc, who is about to be thrown overboard. Steven tries to cry out to Taweret, but she's nowhere in sight, so he violently steers the boat to save Marc.
It doesn't work for long, as one soul knocks Marc out with a bat and attempts to drag him into the sands of the Duat. Steven says that Marc's "got this" but realizes that if Steven is also Marc, "it means I've got this, too."
Unlike his fight with the Jackal in the second episode, Steven proceeds to kick ass, grabbing the bat off the ground and slugging every soul he sees. Steven then proceeds to knock down another soul with the bat and viciously beats it, as Marc looks in shock at Steven's newfound ferocity.
But, as Marc is distracted, another soul grabs him from behind and attempts to drag him off the boat until Steven charges in to save him. But, as he grapples with the soul, it pulls Steven overboard instead.
As Marc cries out to Steven, he shouts for anyone to stop the boat, but as Steven chases after the boat, he collapses into the sand and turns into a statue, becoming another lost soul in the Duat. Marc continues to cry for someone to stop the boat, but suddenly, his Scales become balanced, to the surprise of Taweret.
In an instant, Marc is transported to the Field of Reeds, and as the camera pans around him, a rendition of "Mas Alla Del Sol" plays. Marc seems to grow content in the light of the sun, and the episode ends as the song continues to play into the credits.
This being Osiris' realm, it is likely that Marc will now seek out the Egyptian god's help to escape the afterlife and return to the land of the living. There is also the possibility that now with Steven gone, a new alter will arrive to take his place. Could Jake Lockley finally make his first appearance in the finale, and be the key to Marc snapping back to reality? Only time will tell.
Riveting Story of Grief and Guilt
This episode changes many aspects of Marc Spector's backstory from the comics, such as his younger brother, Randall, dying as a child and the trauma that caused his mental illness being his mother's emotional and physical abuse, while his father stood by and did nothing.
It can be debated whether it was for the better, such as moving away from Marc's childhood trauma being linked to antisemitism. Still, there's no doubt that Oscar Isaac gave a heart-wrenching performance as both Steven Grant, who struggled with accepting his mother's death, and Marc Spector, who was in anguish at his guilt and mourning the death of his mother, despite her becoming a monster.
Now, all that's left is for Spector to escape the Field of Reeds, save Steven, and stop Arthur Harrow.