Moon Knight: The Goldfish Problem
March 30, 2022 5:18 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Steven Grant, a mild-mannered man who works a mundane job and has some kind of accent, begins to suspect that his life may not be his own when an alter living inside of him begins to emerge.
posted by 1970s Antihero (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

posted by Faintdreams at 5:41 AM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

*weeps for all the destroyed cupcakes*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 AM on March 30, 2022 [12 favorites]

Londoner Oscar Isaac! Also loving the Disney episodes coming out in the morning Europe time!
posted by ellieBOA at 6:45 AM on March 30, 2022

FYI both articles above discuss up to episode four with mild spoilers.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:48 AM on March 30, 2022

This is the all-time nuttiest of nitpicks, but if someone asked me what day it is, I'd tell them the day of the month, not day of the week.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:09 AM on March 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

A big fat bonus check to whoever hired Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead for this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:20 AM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

So... didn't the lady find it strange that the guy who asked her on a date didn't always have the same accent ?
posted by Pendragon at 11:21 AM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Assuming that only Steven has an English accent....
posted by Pendragon at 11:22 AM on March 30, 2022

I loved only getting to witness Steven's side of the fights and all the abrupt scene transitions were excellent. Very interested to see where this goes and watching Oscar Isaac work is never not a pleasure.
posted by slimepuppy at 11:43 AM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Would y’all recommend this to someone that’s loved all of Benson/Moorhead’s movies, but has no knowledge or interest in the MCU?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:01 PM on March 30, 2022

Oscar Isaac's physical comedy really getting a chance to shine here in the first episode. The way he could not hand over the scarab because his hands refused to was great.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:36 PM on March 30, 2022 [12 favorites]

Benson & Moorhead directed episodes 2 & 4. This episode was directed by Mohammed Diab.

So far, though, there have been no references to other MCU stuff, although that will probably not be the case later on.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:41 PM on March 30, 2022

As someone who lives in London and used to work around the corner from the British Museum in a low paid role in arts admin along the same lines as Steven-in-the-gift-shop.. how the fuck did you afford that central London flat, bro? Presumably Marc set him up somehow but damn.

Also the accents were pretty ridiculous, not just Oscar's (which is ridiculous on purpose because it's Marc doing an impression of a British person), but all the actual Brits they had seemed to have been asked to put on a real Laahndahn drawl with a bunch of Britishisms that Americans probably find cute I guess (tip for Americans: modern Brits hardly ever say "bloody hell" these days, definitely not to the degree shown here).

That said this was a fun episode, loved the cuts between Steven/Marc and it wasn't as cringy about his DID as I thought it was going to be. I hope they bring in some more of the West Coast Avengers! Let's see Tigra, c'mon.

(And if anyone is thinking of picking up the comics, the latest run of Moon Knight is fantastic and a decent place to pick things up, imo.)
posted by fight or flight at 1:48 PM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

> Would y’all recommend this to someone that’s loved all of Benson/Moorhead’s movies, but has no knowledge or interest in the MCU?
At this stage, without having seen the other episodes, yes. As antihero pointed out, this episode wasn't directed by Moorhead & Benson, but it has enough of the feeling of their films - which I would broadly characterise as "reality (specific to a place or person) is out of joint in very strange ways that are personally challenging" - that I think you might enjoy it. As mentioned, the dissociative gaps are really well done, and there hasn't been an origin story yet.

While an origin is almost certainly inevitable, I'm hoping that they keep Moon Knight's splintered nature as separate as possible - I'd really love to see a day in the life of Marc Spector, for example - and little reference to the rest of the MCU (acknowledgements of its general existence and world-changing events like the Snap would be fine).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:59 PM on March 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is the all-time nuttiest of nitpicks

Followed closely by mine: at one point Steven walks out of work at the British Museum into Trafalgar Square over three-quarters of a mile away. (The door he's actually walking out of is the front door of the National Gallery.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:56 PM on March 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

It’s been established since at least Black Panther that MCU London has a different set of museums than our London.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:16 PM on March 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

To add to the London geography nitpick:

Steven is also shown walking into/towards Tottenham Court Road tube station, with the next scene taking place at the British Museum (implying that he just travelled on the tube to get there). When in reality, if one wanted to get from TCR station to the British Museum, all you have to do is walk 5 minutes down the road and take a left.
posted by fight or flight at 3:26 PM on March 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

MCU London has a different set of museums than our London

The MCU world has different museums but they are now confirmed to have the Avatar movie and Last Airbender anime series.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 4:44 PM on March 30, 2022 [13 favorites]

This is kind of peripherally MCU canon, but The Punisher established that the sun on Earth-199999 rises in the west. Different museums are the least of the changes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:23 PM on March 30, 2022

I’m worried about Steven’s (current) goldfish. Is it going to be okay? Feeling a goldfish sprinkles seems like a terrible, terrible idea.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 8:02 PM on March 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

It's kind of fun (for very nerdish values of "fun") to stack this up against Isaac's previous venture into comic-book Egyptology, X-Men: Apocalypse, in which he was the title villain, just a-glowerin' up a storm (literally, Storm was one of his Horsemen). I recently noted that people with hidden badassery (sometimes hidden from themselves) were kind of my jam, and the way that the time skips were done, and Grant knowing that something was wrong--although, of course, he didn't know how bad it really was--was done well.

I also like the costume design, which shows up as much more mummy-influenced than a lot of the stills that I've seen. I was a tiny bit disappointed that Harrow didn't include Thanos' whole thing as something that could have been prevented by the precrime thing; Project Insight would have been another potential use of the same concept. Maybe some of that stuff will end up getting folded in.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:59 PM on March 30, 2022

Any other Moon Knight fans a little concerned about how much comedy there was in this episode and how light on cosmic horror it went? I get they are probably easing into the absolutely bananas weirdness of Moon Knight, but the case for almost all of the Marvel shows so far is that they start strong and different and then build towards the into the big dumb fun movie marvel by the end of the season. This seems to have started with the signature light humour paired with action that is Marvel standard. My hope is that it gets weirder and darker as it goes, but right now I'm giving it some side-eye. Have there been any runs of Moon Knight in the last 20 years that come anywhere close to this level of humour?

Moon Knight comics spoilers/speculation follow. Don't read past this if you are concerned about such things.

The Mr. Knight costume shows up *a lot* in the marketing for this series, so I'm thinking that we might get a crash course in Moon Knight where along the way Stephen learns about the other Aspects of Moon Knight and we get a 2016 Lemire run type storyline about the different personalities coming to terms with sharing a body. This all ends with that ends with the establishment of the Midnight Mission. I think they would be nuts not to lean more into the themes of consensual reality and faith that current Moon Knight is concerned with. Not only is that relatively unexplored in the MCU (and somewhat topical), it is also way easier than navigating all of the problematic elements of the various DID plot lines. That would also work a lot better with the lighter tone they seem to be going for.

Longer term, I wonder if they might be working towards a west coast avengers in the background. We did have Tigra teased in Hawkeye and Moira Brandon, who is important for the WCA, is written as Kate Bishop's aunt. Now we have a Moon Knight series (not a founding member of WCA, but does join later and become romantically entangled with Tigra... though that might be weird because Oscar Isaac is 43 and maybe-Tigra (Greer) is a classmate of Kate Bishop). There were also some hints in WandaVision and Armor Wars might give us War Machine. Moon Knight is also took on the Ronin persona for a while and that is another thing connecting him with the Hawkeye/Kate Bishop stories started in the Hawkeye series. Apparently I'm not the only person wondering this since searching for West Coast Avengers brings up plenty of talk about Tigra, but I haven't seen anybody commenting on the Moon Knight connection yet.

So my waaaay out there theory is Moon Knight is going to be established as relatively stable version of the character by the end of this series and brought in as a side character here and there after. Then they will do a version of West Coast Avengers, but have Moon Knight do a heel turn into The Age of Khonshu where it is revealed that he has been doing some bad things in the background all along while being manipulated by Khonshu.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 9:11 PM on March 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Nobody on Earth but the Avengers and the Wakandan army ever even saw Thanos. I don't think we know how much of the true story of the Blip is generally known, or how much of what is known the average person believes. I imagine just the words "Thanos did it," would be pretty widespread, but it would be hard for Harrow to picture himself judging Thanos with his cane as an example of what could have been.

I'd think almost every cult to spring up in the past few years was focused on making sense of the Blip in some way, so the fact that Harrow's cult isn't about that is kind of evidence that it's devoted to something real.
posted by straight at 9:36 PM on March 30, 2022

Oh! I just realized that Stephen's "mother" is probably Ammit. When he calls her he always ends the call by saying "later gator." Ammit is depicted with a crocodile head, so I bet the reason Marc can't keep control of the body during the scarab heist has something to do with her interference.

I am now even more convinced that we are seeing an adaptation of the 2016 Lemire comic run with some massaging of the mental health parts and a few swaps to work with the MCU continuity. Now that I'm thinking about it I have a lot of suspicions about the museum and museum staff. We will see what happens.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 10:32 PM on March 30, 2022 [10 favorites]

This is the all-time nuttiest of nitpicks, but if someone asked me what day it is, I'd tell them the day of the month, not day of the week.

For me - and I think most other Brits too - that question very much implies day of the week and would be understood in that sense. If I wanted to know the day of the month, I'd ask "what date is it?" instead.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:43 PM on March 30, 2022 [17 favorites]

This is the all-time nuttiest of nitpicks, but if someone asked me what day it is, I'd tell them the day of the month, not day of the week.

Maybe this is a US/UK thing but if someone asked me "what day is it?" I'd say Thursday. If they wanted to know the day of the month, they'd ask for the date not the day ("What date is it?").
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:09 AM on March 31, 2022 [7 favorites]

I just found this... a bit dull? I get, plot-wise, why they hid all the action scenes, but it felt like I was watching a Superman film edited to only have the Clark Kent scenes.

Accent-wise, he sounded like he had a mish-mash of three different regional accents. It was a bit uncanny-valley.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:12 AM on March 31, 2022 [4 favorites]

Maybe this is a US/UK thing but if someone asked me "what day is it?" I'd say Thursday

His mobile didn't show the date and time on the lock screen?
posted by mikelieman at 9:30 AM on March 31, 2022 [6 favorites]

This was pretty meh and could have been better with a shorter episode. I get it, Steve has other personalities, they do things better than him and there's some mysticism going on. It wasn't terribly done at all, but I kept thinking "yeah, got it, what's next?".

No, I've never read the comics and I'm not going to anytime soon, so get thee behind me!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:51 PM on March 31, 2022 [4 favorites]

One thing I appreciate about the MCU take on Moon Knight so far is the change they have made for the Steven persona. I hope this signals that in the MCU version we are going to see more focus on the esoteric parts of Moon Knight and less of the knock-off batman parts.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 5:13 PM on March 31, 2022

The MCU world has different museums but they are now confirmed to have the Avatar movie and Last Airbender anime series.

Credit where credit is due - the Avatar joke made me laugh.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:22 AM on April 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Have to confess my initial reaction to the accent was "Wha? Is Oscar Isaac British?" It sounded to me like the kind of lower-middle-class London accent I register as "normal". You rarely hear it on screen except in comedy. People who have it often tend to either posh it up towards RP or move the other way towards Mockney depending on who they're talking to so it's normal for it to slide around a bit.

Like the Brummie accent, you're allowed to do a comedy routine in it, but no-one on stage or screen would dare express a deep emotion in it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:24 AM on April 1, 2022 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed it! I know absolutely nothing about Moon Knight, but I thought the episode was fun, due in no small part to Oscar Isaac's physical acting. I'm in for at least a few more episodes.
posted by synecdoche at 3:54 AM on April 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

I know diddly squat about Moon Knight.

I was prepared for the dissociative/multiple/whatever parts of this to grate on me but I ended up laughing...a lot. Things I liked a lot:

- setting up elaborate rituals and physical things like the sand instead of some big-stakes thing is...just, yes.
- the conversation about the date where he has no idea why there's a date planned was - painfully true to life and really funny. It's true, no one is like "can you NOT REMEMBER?"
- the pretending he went on the date to whoever the mother on the phone is, also bang on "I will create an elaborate lie rather than admit I lost time this badly to you and myself"
- the missing action sequences were kind of a fun cinematic presentation and reversal
- the contempt about Stephen showing up at the wrong time and especially where he throws the gun was...also bang on. I liked the sense of trying to echolocate a voice in your head, that was a nice sort of sensory touch
- I actually did not love the mirrors scene entirely but I agree it did what it should do

One thing that I liked but am not sure was deliberate was how Stephen does have a sense of the logic of what's internal and external when he's on the bus the second time. He knows what's is and isn't physically real even if he can't square what he experiences vs. reality. But I'm not sure that's like, a Thing as much as just keeping the storytelling tight.

From a dissociative perspective (which may not be the same as a 'messed with cosmic whatever' perspective) the scene where Stephen can't control his hand didn't ring true for me. But once I got over myself (which I could once the episode didn't descend into him weeping into a toilet terrified he's a secret serial killer. Hoping we don't get that scene.) and rewatched it, I enjoyed the physical humour of it a lot.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:59 PM on April 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

This is the all-time nuttiest of nitpicks, but if someone asked me what day it is, I'd tell them the day of the month, not day of the week.

U.S. person (born and raised) answering here: I would say the day of the week. I would expect someone to ask me "What date is it?" or "What is the date?" if they wanted the day of the month.
posted by cooker girl at 4:20 PM on April 1, 2022 [6 favorites]

This was disappointing. Moon Knight is, of course, Marvel's ripoff of Batman. OK, good enough. Yes, the Marc Spector/Stephen Grant weirdness is baked into the identity. (I expect Frenchie [ie, Alfred] to show up eventually, probably in a female role.) But wow, Stephen is a really boring character, not even funny in his malaprop way. (Credit to EndOfInvention, yeah the Avatar joke was funny.)
posted by SPrintF at 10:26 AM on April 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

I want a Venom crossover that’s just The Voice and the symbiote hanging out together and being snide. Maybe switch hosts for a while just to mess with them.
posted by MrBadExample at 2:58 PM on April 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed this episode. I don't quite know what I was expecting, but it surprised me nonetheless. Perhaps something grimdarker.

I thought the comedy was handled especially well. The set-up made me expect that it would drift into cringe comedy, but I never had to hide behind the metaphorical sofa. The way the day-mix-up with the date was handled was funny without piling on the uncomfortableness.

The scary bits were genuinely scary, but like with the comedy, they weren't dwelt on, more there for the characterization than anything else.

I haven't always been drawn into Marvel shows, but I'll keep watching this one.
posted by Kattullus at 1:24 AM on April 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

Absolutely loved this. Mostly because Steven is such a sweet guy and I'm really rooting for him. Also, the choppy, confusing action sequences were innovative, and really cool. And the Egyptology was fascinating, too. I hope at least some of it is real ancient Egyptian mythology. I also liked how confused even the creepy cult leader seemed to be.

Some of the most intriguing bits:

*Steven telling the living statue that if he is ever going to get a girlfriend, he's going to need to get rid of the ankle restraints. It just seemed so human that he's struggling with these bizarre night terrors/wanderings that could kill him, and what's eating at him is the worry that it'll make him too red-flaggy to date.

*Steven distracting the destructive little girl at the museum, cleaning up whatever mess she was making on the pyramid model, and being a really good teacher -- but then freaking out when the little girl said it must have felt really bad when he couldn't go to the field of reeds (because apparently he knows more than he thinks he does about his situation). But who was that little girl? She must be someone related to ancient Egypt, because that was such a strange thing to say.

*Steven's rituals around going to sleep. It also seemed really human, you can see how maybe the tape evolved to the sand evolved to the restraints evolved to being scared to go to sleep at all. I guess once we find out more about Marc, it'll make more sense why Steven doesn't want to give the body over to him more than he absolutely has to?

Steven doesn't really know what's going on and it's also inconvenient to give up your autonomy whenever, but his reluctance still seemed pretty extreme. By the time the dog monster was busting down the door in the bathroom and Marc was begging Steven to let him take over so they could live, Steven had already been through that madness in the Alps and found Marc's phone and keys, so he had to know that Marc was apparently some weird 007-type character that could get them out of this -- but it still took a lot of convincing. Me, I would have been hoping and praying for Marc to come to the rescue lol. But I guess Marc technically is Steven, so maybe it's Marc who's reluctant to take over? I don't know how that works with DID.

*Steven's voicemails to his "mom." And the postcards he says are from her, too. I'm assuming that's not really his mom, because as sweet as his voicemails are, it's too weird that she doesn't pick up or respond.

I love what someone said above about his "mom" maybe being Ammit, because he always says, "laters gators." But why would Steven be the one to be in touch with Ammit, even if Khonsu has some kind of relationship with her? At one point, the cult leader says that Ammit's avatar betrayed her, so maybe he's in touch with the "treacherous" avatar? I still don't know why Steven would be leaving Ammit's avatar super personal voicemails constantly, though. It seems more like Marc would be in touch with her, and it would be a more "professional" relationship.

*The missed date was so sad. My heart broke for Steven and that's when I was really like, I'm rooting for this guy. He'd brought those lovely flowers and chocolates, dressed up, he was SO excited... and when the waiter kept asking him questions and he was crying, it was heartbreaking.

I'm sure part of why he was so upset was meant to be because he was scared, I mean, he'd missed days of his life and what he'd hoped was a bad dream turned out to maybe be true. His relief was so palpable when he woke up in bed and assumed that the crazy Alps fights and cupcake truck chase were all a nightmare. So his realization that it probably did happen had to be just as strong.

But it was also sad because he hadn't had a two-way conversation literally the ENTIRE SHOW and now he still wasn't going to get to have one. He'd talked to Donna, who just kept telling him to shut up and belittling him, he'd talked to his "mom's" voicemail, a fish, a living statue, a bunch of coworkers who didn't even remember his name, a brush salesman who didn't respond, he'd had super confusing non-conversations with the cultists... I mean, he just could not catch a break and have an actual conversation with ANYBODY.

* What is going on with Donna, anyway? Why is she so hard on Steven? Why can't he be a tour guide? I guess his attendance might be pretty bad if he is constantly confused by what day and time it is, and she said he had already come in late three times that week. When he realized he had missed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, my first thought was "what is your work schedule?" because I was waiting for him to get fired and needing to find another excuse to spend his time at the museum. Although he must work some shifts as Marc, since Marc was the one to ask out the tour guide, so maybe Marc made sure he didn't miss any shifts? But why would Marc be working in the museum gift shop, why not give the body over to Steven at that point? I mean, that's Steven's life, why would Marc spend hours living it? Is Marc trying to infiltrate the museum for some reason, and Steven's job is his way of doing it? Based on literally nobody at the museum calling him the correct name, he can't have been working there THAT long. Maybe just the few months that Layla was saying Marc had been out of touch?

* What killed the one-finned fish? Why did Marc (?) go to the trouble of trying to replace it with a new one so that Steven wouldn't know, instead of just letting Steven find the dead fish and let him take care of it himself? Or maybe something totally bizarre happened with the fish, like it got eaten, and Marc thought that the mystery would just get Steven digging deeper, so he replaced the fish? I feel like since the title of the episode is "the Goldfish Problem," whatever happened to the one-finned fish is important.

* I loved Steven's interest in ancient Egypt and how he wanted the signs to be correct and found it crushing that Donna just dismissed his hopes of being a tour guide.

Steven is such an appealing character to me. How he woke up in the field in the Alps, saw some random guy watching him from a window, and waved a cheerful hello. How excited he is by the date, and how crushed he is when it's ruined. How he tried so hard to get his "sleep problem" under control so he doesn't have to be so isolated, and is terrified by how it keeps snowballing into a more and more bizarre problem with monsters and a cult and alternate identities involved. How sweet and cheerful he is in his one-sided conversations with his "mom's" voicemail and the living statue and even his fish. How when he's being chased down by the dog monster, he nearly knocks over a vase, catches it and makes sure it's stable again before moving on. He just seems like a cheerful, gentle person trying to live his life.

I hope the show doesn't just dismiss him in favor of Marc or Khonsu. Obviously the whole show can't be based around an identity that is basically a construct based on Marc's imaginings of Merry Olde England and what "regular people" are like, but having not really "met" Marc or Khonsu yet, or really any other developed characters except maybe the cult leader, Steven is who I'm attached to and I don't want him to just fall by the wayside so the show can be more filled with conventional action or comic book lore.
posted by rue72 at 10:21 AM on April 4, 2022 [15 favorites]

Me, I would have been hoping and praying for Marc to come to the rescue lol. But I guess Marc technically is Steven, so maybe it's Marc who's reluctant to take over? I don't know how that works with DID.

I don't know how it works when you're battling Egyptian cult leaders! But I can speak for myself that while you're in denial or struggling with feeling like whatever is going on is The Worst Thing Ever* you do just fight tooth and nail for awareness. It's sort of like if someone told you you would be able to pass all your exams in your sleep, so just sleep through them. There's no trust. Especially if your whole life has been chaotic. You blame the chaos on other people, not on the chaos, if that makes sense. I actually loved that they seemed to get that right. I also loved a lot of the things you mentioned above.

However once you trust the other people then it's like "here, expert, let me get out of your way."**

*Waking up with a dislocated jaw and on the ground in a foreign country with people shooting at you would definitely qualify here as a Top Dissociative Horror. My equivalent was launching into consciousness at the edge of a subway platform in front of someone who was sharing my body and contemplating jumping, with a short amount of time to take a step back from getting smacked by a train, it's un. fun.

**It blew my mind when I realized most people don't compete at piano and pop organ recitals by dressing up, sitting down in front of the instrument, and hoping playing mysteriously occurs.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:40 AM on April 5, 2022 [8 favorites]

> *Steven distracting the destructive little girl at the museum, cleaning up whatever mess she was making on the pyramid model, and being a really good teacher -- but then freaking out when the little girl said it must have felt really bad when he couldn't go to the field of reeds (because apparently he knows more than he thinks he does about his situation). But who was that little girl? She must be someone related to ancient Egypt, because that was such a strange thing to say.
I have a theory, but they usually don't pay off (spoilered):
The little girl might be another of Steven's/Marc's alters, Inner Child.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 5:59 PM on April 7, 2022

What was the deal with the broken glass in the sandals?
posted by medusa at 10:29 AM on September 4, 2022

posted by bq at 9:04 PM on September 4, 2022

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