Moon Knight: The Tomb
April 20, 2022 5:25 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Steven and Layla navigate a maze-like tomb in search of Ammit, and find booby traps and perils, as one does when one attempts to Raid a Tomb. Steven and Marc continue to try to find balance. Secrets are revealed.
posted by 1970s Antihero (40 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Halfway through this episode I was wondering if maybe the magic had worn off the show. I wasn't particularly engaged by the love triangle between Marc, Steven and Layla, and the scenes underground were so dark and muddled that I had a really hard time seeing what was going on, and an even harder time caring (the same went for the fight scene with the technical in the beginning).

Then Steven finds out who was Ammit's avatar and the whole thing snaps into focus again and I was really engaged. The sequence after Marc falls into the water, and the point of light turns into Rosser's torch, is probably my favorite part of the whole series so far. It was unexpected, funny, and just enjoyable, all the way to the final shot.

I thought for sure that the recap scene at the beginning was pointing to the viewer finding out who the third personality was, but I'm guessing that will wait until next week, though I'm presuming that personality was trying to get out of the unopened sarcophagus at the end.
posted by Kattullus at 5:45 AM on April 20, 2022

Some sites tag this show as a horror and the first half of this episode was genuinely scary! Loved the shift after Marc falls in the water.
posted by ellieBOA at 6:02 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Holy shit was that tedious until that thing happened and now I am all engaged!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:02 AM on April 20, 2022 [4 favorites]

I was loving the discovery and Stephen geeking out at all of the hieroglyphics and tomb stuff.

Went completely off the rails for me with the psychiatric hospital. I was looking at my watch through that whole portion of the episode. Mild chuckle at the end, I guess.
posted by Fleebnork at 6:34 AM on April 20, 2022

i'm catching up on the weekly easter eggs by screencrush, while I know very little about the ancient egyptian writing system, in case it's being repeated elsewhere, Layla wasn't scribbling arabic letters - those were numbers but I'm not sure if the reading order is proper arabic or western (most MENA countries can go back and forth on that), but if you read it western-style, left to right it's 1 & 4, so it's either 14 or 41 (right to left). and even if the claim that those were letters had a basic error: it couldn't have been 'P' and 'A' because there's no p-consonant in standard arabic (farsi, urdu etc made adaptations to the script). if those ARE letters, the character that wasn't alif/aleph (same shape as in hebrew - yeah the number one and the a-vowel has the same symbol), usually is transliterated into upper-palate aspirated a-sound.

anyway, that's my fandom commentary overshare of the week.
posted by cendawanita at 6:35 AM on April 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Did anyone else have problems with the dimness of the nighttime fight and the underground scenes? Like, I had absolutely no idea what was going on sometimes, just from not being able to make out what was happening on screen. To give an example, when Layla climbs up, I had no idea why she was climbing. I had to rewind just to figure out why.

Oh, and I have absolutely no idea what was going on with those trucks in the beginning.
posted by Kattullus at 8:19 AM on April 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

I’m guessing another god saved Marc/Steven, but he’s reliving some things will recovering. It’s probably the female godess from the trial, and she’s the hippo at the end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 AM on April 20, 2022 [5 favorites]

I somehow just vanished my entire comment instead of posting it. In summary:

I need to think more about the whitest psych hospital ever scenes.
It was way too dim, I ended up watching on an iPad with the brightness turned way up in my bedroom with the blackout blinds closed and still couldn't tell what was going on for most of the first half. In the truck scene, one of the bad guys yells something about Steven looking dead and then later he is just standing behind Layla- did it show him getting up or anything?
There was something else, I forgot.

The hippo is Tawaret! I love her voice.
posted by Missense Mutation at 9:12 AM on April 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Psych hospital felt very similar to Legion s1e6 where Aubrey Plaza was in the Ethan Hawke role.
posted by kokaku at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2022 [10 favorites]

We had to turn on audio descriptions, couldn't figure out what was going on. It helped enormously!
posted by simonw at 11:55 AM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Halfway through this episode I was wondering if maybe the magic had worn off the show.

I thought the same thing! It just suddenly felt a little tedious.

Marc and Steven's bickering was the same as ever and Steven was being ridiculous with his "you promised to vanish forever!" thing to Marc. And, although I like all the characters involved, I'm not into the "love triangle" because Marc seems like a terrible husband and I can't really imagine Layla and Steven together (he's wearing her ex's body!). I also love the Egyptian mythology but not really the fake archeological stuff.

But then the show made that hard break to go to the weirdest hospital ever and it felt invigorated. I cannot believe that there are only two episodes left!

Ironically, the hospital feels more like a dream to me than anything else we've seen. I'm terrible at guessing things like this, but my feeling was that Marc is actually sedated in a hospital (because of getting shot?) or otherwise passed out, and while he's unconscious he's having this dream/nightmare that he's in this locked-ward-with-cupcakes place. Like when he frees Steven from the sarcophagus, and they're like, "wait, how come we don't have to share a body here?" but then move on, it felt very dreamlike. And just the whole "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest meets fantasy nursery school" vibe felt very dreamlike to me.

I loved hospital!Layla though. How she took the Bingo card and very obviously lied about sharing the prize with Marc "this time" cracked me up. Harrow also 100% works as a condescending doctor. I wasn't a fan of the looooooooong scene of Marc looking at stuff and thinking, "wtf," but I guess they wanted to get us into Marc's head and feeling his panic, so they didn't want to rush it. I also loved when Taweret (?) appeared and Steven and Marc screamed, and how that was the final beat for the episode. Just so goofy.

Did anyone else have problems with the dimness of the nighttime fight and the underground scenes?

Not gonna lie, I didn't even know where they were for at least half of the time they were in Ammit's tomb. And despite the awesome Horus's Eye explanation, I couldn't get a sense of the geography of the place at all. Like how at one point, Harrow is just hanging out in some dark room, and Layla walks in through a lit doorway (?) and then they talk, and then she strides confidently through a "doorway" to get away from him but it's just a nook and she just stands there inside the nook listening to him some more? I'm sure that all made perfect sense within the show and I just wasn't following where everyone was and why, but I was pretty confused. I think that's part of what made my attention flag during that part.

Also, the thing about Marc knowing that his ex partner murdered Layla's father was so boring. I thought she had investigated that -- but she didn't ask Marc, her mercenary husband? He admitted it immediately once she actually confronted him, so it seemed weird that it had been a secret for long. Just kinda anticlimactic.

I took Marc saying he'd wanted to tell Layla about it for years as confirmation that whatever happened 2-3 months ago was not that he'd somehow realized he'd killed her father, though. This might be too kind to Marc or too specific, but him saying "it doesn't matter" when Layla asked him what had happened really makes me think that it's something that's not directly about Layla (or her father). It's just too weird to say something "doesn't matter" when you know it would matter MOST to the person you're talking to.

I'm also still wondering who Steven's "mom" was in the first couple episodes. He hasn't mentioned her at all since, and isn't that strange, too?
posted by rue72 at 1:20 PM on April 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Taweret is the Egyptian god of fertility and childbirth, so she seems like a pretty likely candidate for Steven's Mom.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:33 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Taweret is the Egyptian god of fertility and childbirth, so she seems like a pretty likely candidate for Steven's Mom.

Hahaha that's awesome, she seems lovely.
posted by rue72 at 1:37 PM on April 20, 2022

I find myself wondering if the writers had Ethan Hawke saying "The rest is silence" as a callback to his Hamlet from 2000.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:57 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Who are all the other gods trapped in the niches? And why couldn’t they do the same with Ammit? I’d like to know Sekhmet’s thoughts on all of this.
posted by orrnyereg at 6:20 PM on April 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

I thought this was great from the start and it only got better. This show is extremely well-acted, it's giving a wonderful amount of room and spotlight for Layla to be awesome, and the whole thing is so fuckin' weird.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:02 PM on April 20, 2022 [6 favorites]

Anybody else think Ethan Hawk looked a lot like Bill Lumbergh from Office Space in the back third of this episode?

Also, 2016 Lemire story has now been confirmed with the events of this episode. That is one of the best Moon Knight stories, so I am all for seeing what they do with the adaptation. Weird that they took so long to get into it. This is a short series and this episode pretty much only covers the very beginning of that story, even if there have been indications that was the story they were adapting in the earlier episodes. My guess is they felt like the audience wasn't familiar enough with Moon Knight to jump right into it.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 11:14 PM on April 20, 2022 [3 favorites]

Who are all the other gods trapped in the niches? And why couldn’t they do the same with Ammit?

Not sure why Ammit wasn't with the other gods in the niches, but Ammit's small stone statue is what Stephen pulled out of the mummy of Alexander the Great. I'm not sure why the avatar of Ammit was permitted in the meeting they had earlier if Ammit was banished inside the stone statue. Also not sure why the statue was buried in the desert for anyone to find instead of one of the niches in the Great Pyramid. I guess that's part of the mystery of the situation.

It took me watching some "Easter Eggs" videos to recall that we get a tiny bit of foreshadowing of Tawaret when Stephen picks up the box of hippo plushies in the first episode.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:57 AM on April 21, 2022

Someone with their hands on a statuette can free the god bound within. The alcove we saw Khonsu placed in is likely a known location that other entities can access, given that Khonsu clearly thought Marc would be able to go there and free him. If they did not know who else was in cahoots with Ammit, then they couldn't keep her on display there without risking someone sneaking in, thus the elaborate hiding place.

The geography of the tomb is a bit wonky, but according to Steven, it consists of a bunch of tunnels in the shape of an Eye of Horus. (This confuses me because at no point is there a six-line intersection on an Eye of Horus. I have nothing for that part.) In any case it looks like they came in on the "wing" of the eyeliner and then Harrow's crew went one way when the line splits and Steven and Layla saw their tracks and went the other way. Those two paths eventually go around the "eyeball", which is a bottomless pit. That's what Layla nearly fell into and what was between Harrow and Layla, allowing them to talk without being able to physically interact. Stephen found a side corridor off of the bottom of the eye which turns out to be the curly flourish on an Eye of Horus, meaning I guess Harrow's party went over the top of the Eye and had to double back.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:28 AM on April 21, 2022 [4 favorites]

I mentioned and linked the video in my comment above, in which the only thing I want to make a correction on is that there's no p-consonant in Arabic (for the bit where Layla scribbles her dad's initials, which is correct. I'm not good at parsing handwritten Arabic esp between certain symbols).
posted by cendawanita at 6:52 AM on April 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

My wife was Very Pleased™ when she managed to guess the identity of person in the sarcophagus.

Otherwise we were both sort of annoyed by Layla's plot blocking in the tomb - maybe! just maybe! we don't need to hash this out right now while the guys with guns are chasing us?!? I know it's a big part of your life and all, but guns! right there! and genuinely terrifying mummies! (within the limits of a D+ show, natch) Maybe let's talk about this when the world isn't ending since it didn't just happen yesterday and you've already seen how Harrow is manipulating people?

And yet. And yet.
posted by Kyol at 9:04 AM on April 21, 2022

Also, I suspect a lot of streaming services / devices / TVs are handling HDR content extremely poorly - I noticed that HBO Max's stream of The Batman was incredibly dark until I'd pause, at which point the picture would brighten up to "normal", and then I'd hit play again and within a second or two BAM back to deep dark inky blacks but muddyvision. Maybe if my TV really supported HDR it would be better, but it's still frustrating.
posted by Kyol at 9:07 AM on April 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

I was fine with it being dark, because that can be dramatically effective; only getting brief glimpses and mentally trying to piece together what's going on is a legit storytelling tool. (I felt the same way about "The Long Night" in Game of Thrones, although a lot of people didn't.) The asylum scene? Mmmmnnyeah I dunno, I feel like that's been done maybe more than a few times. (At least a couple of times in different Star Treks--Stars Trek?--once in DS9 and once in TNG.) But ending with the hippo god(dess) was a funny way to do a cliffhanger.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:37 AM on April 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, that's Taweret, that makes more sense. I was thinking that was about the worst version of Bast I'd ever seen.

So -moist-.
posted by The otter lady at 10:25 AM on April 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I mentioned and linked the video in my comment above

Yes, you did. Sorry for the repost! My bad.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:57 AM on April 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was not feeling the Indiana Jones riffing, but the Legion-esque brain fuck twist at the end brought me back.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:16 PM on April 21, 2022

That TV movie towards the end was giving me incredibly strong The Librarians vibes and I spent a good minute or so wondering if Noah Wylie or Rebecca Romijn would pop in.

Two episodes left, it could still happen!

Evidently this was the last episode the critics were able to see and I'm very curious to see how the last two episodes pan out.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:31 PM on April 21, 2022

My guess is they felt like the audience wasn't familiar enough with Moon Knight to jump right into it.

I am not familiar at all with Moon Knight and the show hasn’t done a great job at introducing the character to a new audience. It feels like I stared watching a show in season 2.
posted by chill at 11:10 PM on April 21, 2022 [3 favorites]

Well, you kind of have. They have tried to introduce people by making Steven the POV character and an audience insert, so it kind of works that everything is confusing and unexplained. They seem to be very deliberately jumping over a whole ton of Moon Knight stories so that they can get to modern versions of Moon Knight. The problem with that is that Moon Knight of the last 15 years has been all about deconstructing the character and recontextualizing him. So Marvel has had to find a way to introduce the character without really getting into the origin and all of the other baggage. Frankly, I'm amazed that they tried at all and surprised that they have been as successful as they have been so far.

At this rate maybe we will see Mutants finally in the MCU,but we will get the House of X mutants living in dystopian queer paradise on Krakatoa instead of the ones everybody knows from the x-men movies.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 12:33 AM on April 22, 2022 [5 favorites]

I'm not at all familiar with Moon Knight and haven't felt lost at all. I do love a show that doesn't assume I need to be taught, though, so maybe that's it? I don't mind feeling like I don't know what's going on; that's part of the fun of a new thing for me.
posted by cooker girl at 7:42 AM on April 22, 2022 [9 favorites]

I am enjoying this show immensely because I keep being surprised, with delight and terror, and I agree that I don't need anything explained. Except... like... where did this body actually come from? Was it born Marc? Doesn't he have any other acquaintances? Who is Stephen talking to when he calls his mom? I love the Taweret theory. If Stephen just started existing, isn't he now freaking out about not really remembering his past? How did he get a job? Do people with DID (or with loved ones with DID) like this show? Are Marc/Stephen's mental health struggles a result of the relationship with Khonsu, or of benefit to Khonsu, or just an additional fact of his existence? Okay actually I do have a lot of questions.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2022 [5 favorites]

I think it needs to be said for the record that Oscar Isaac can act his ass off when he wants to!
posted by jeremias at 5:20 PM on April 22, 2022 [5 favorites]

Do people with DID (or with loved ones with DID) like this show?

I do. And the hug at the "hospital" or whatever it is was great. And the weird body parts and everything didn't freak me out as much as the whole Apple-like psych ward did.

I was getting a bit bored too and then yay, weird.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:05 PM on April 22, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oh and I can answer these two from a sheerly multiple perspective:

If Stephen just started existing, isn't he now freaking out about not really remembering his past?

I mean, every multiple is different but the point of dissociation in a way is that you don't perceive the holes. For much of my life I just plain perceived time and memory differently from most people, but I had no idea that was the case. For example, people are like "time flies when you're having fun!" and I did not realize that did NOT mean a lot of people didn't remember presumably fun times like, oh, all of Sunday.

It's like colour blindness, but with cause and effect. For me personally I used to get dropped into arguments, so my perception was that somehow when you get emotional you end up in arguments. Then time passes and you are friends again. I was (body age) well into my late 20s before I realized that people actually apologize, make amends, etc. Because someone else in my head did that. Similarly, they were always apologizing for fights they didn't have but...what can you do, people are weirdly sensitive.

How did he get a job?

Although there are vast ways of being multiple, lots of multiples are really, really good at work because if you're one of "the ones who work" you actually are not distracted by things like friends, your past, whether you have a headache, etc. Because a lot of multiples are forged in incredibly traumatic or stressful situations, we can treat work like I Will Die If I Fail. So I'm guessing there was a brief resume and someone who is willing to put up with the kids and stay to do inventory. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 7:12 PM on April 22, 2022 [21 favorites]

That’s really interesting, warriorqueen; thank you for sharing it.

Still really enjoying this. The tomb raiding sequence was maybe a bit longer than it needed to be, but it was fun and reminded me of watching Indiana Jones and The Mummy a long time ago.

I can totally understand how Steven could have been unable to ‘perceive the holes’ in his own life for a long time prior to where we met him in episode one, but I can’t quite square that with him having a proper job at the museum - living Marc’s life to any extent would surely have meant a lot of absences that Steven’s employers would have wanted him to explain. It would’ve been more explicable if Steven was self-employed or freelance or something where no one else was expecting him to turn up at 9am on specific days.

One thing I love about this show is the way that Steven and Marc are both fully realised people with lives. The writing gives a lot of weight to the perspective of each, and they’ve each got concrete things which root them into their lives - Steven with his job and apartment, Marc with his marriage to Layla. It would’ve been easy for the show to depict one of them as the ‘main’ personality with the other as a slightly less real shadow personality, but it doesn’t do that.

The only thing I’ve really disliked so far has been the whole ‘who killed Layla’s father’ plot, which has played out in a very dull and pedestrian way. Of COURSE Marc was somehow involved. Of COURSE Harrow is going to tell Layla that. Of COURSE Layla will react badly. This is an interesting show in other ways, and I keep waiting for them to do something more interesting with it. (My husband’s theory is that the as yet unseen Personality 3 actually killed Layla’s father, because Marc says his ‘partner’ got greedy and did it but doesn’t say who his partner was. That might work, because then Marc would be telling the truth when he tells Layla it wasn’t him, and also the only hints we’ve had about Three’s personality is that he’s capable of a lot of violence.)

Oscar Isaac is just so, so good. When Marc lets Steven out of the sarcophagus in the asylum and they embrace and Steven just CLINGS to Marc - the whole performance just completely sold the idea that Steven and Marc deeply need each other. (I did find it hilarious that Marc turned to Steven for validation of his memory of being shot by Harrow - dude, asking the guy who only has access to the exact same sensory input as you is maybe not the objective confirmation you think it is.)
posted by damsel with a dulcimer at 1:07 AM on April 23, 2022 [6 favorites]

living Marc’s life to any extent would surely have meant a lot of absences that Steven’s employers would have wanted him to explain. It would’ve been more explicable if Steven was self-employed or freelance or something where no one else was expecting him to turn up at 9am on specific days.

I got stuck on the weekends-as-an-assassin in an industry where the gift shop is clearly going to be largely open on weekends, myself. I wrote it off as a white collar writing room issue.

For the freelance thing though, I think a job with set hours is easier for a non-aware multiple because they just have to show up. Not sure this level of detail is relevant to the story but this is after all one of the few representations of multiples in a non-serial-killer role (err...sort of?), so that's why I'm enjoying exploring it via that lens. Thank you for indulging me. :)
posted by warriorqueen at 8:41 AM on April 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

I got the impression that Steven is fairly new at his job, maybe a few months? So he got it when Marc "disappeared."
posted by cooker girl at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2022 [2 favorites]

Okay, I watched that ScreenCrush thing, and I have a question. When Oscar Isaac punches himself in the face, was that not Marc punching Steven for kissing Layla? I mean, it could be something else but that seems like the straightforward reading of events.

I also want to say that they have terrible rope safety in that scene, Layla has no rappel system in place when she jumps and does not belay Steven at all. So they are just wearing harnesses for flirty hands about the groin reasons.
posted by Missense Mutation at 2:36 PM on April 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

But that’s a really good reason!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:39 PM on April 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

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