“Moon Knight” episode four is a wild ride from start to finish. The Marvel series for Disney+ stars Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector, a man with dissociative identity disorder who also happens to be the titular hero. He has at least one other personality that the audience knows about, Steven Grant. But in episode four, what’s real and what’s not becomes even more complicated.
At the start of the episode, the Egyptian god Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham) is trapped by the other gods in a statue. That’s important, because he’s Moon Knight’s sponsor, who helps protect him via a magical healing suit. Now Marc (and Steven) are without this supernatural protection and in some major trouble.
Together with Layla (May Calamawy), Marc finds a tomb they believe will lead them to Ammit, the Egyptian goddess that Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke) is trying to free in order to bring around the end of the world. But while the pair are arguing, Harrow finds them and shoots Marc in the chest.
The last 10 minutes of the episode possibly change everything that came before it. Marc falls in slow motion and closes his eyes as he bleeds out — but Marc isn’t dead. The next scene takes us to an extremely bright, stark white mental hospital, where Marc is a sedated patient whose favorite movie is about an archaeologist named Steven Grant, and some of details of the film are similar to the ones in Marc and Steven’s story. The other patients are people we’ve seen in other episodes, including Marc’s wife Layla. Harrow, it turns out, is the doctor who’s trying to help Marc get better. Even Marc’s bedroom ankle restraint is actually a restraint to keep him in his wheelchair, and he sees a doll dressed as Moon Knight on the floor.
So, it seems this episode is trying to say that everything else we’ve seen is just a figment of Marc’s imagination while he’s hospitalized. Harrow tells Marc he’s having a hard time differentiating between what’s real and what’s in his head, and the audience is trying to puzzle this out, too. But things somehow get even more complicated from there.
Marc tries to escape, running through the hospital. He picks a random room, in which he finds a sarcophagus with someone inside it. Marc frees the man, who turns out to be Steven. But neither of them have any idea what’s going on, and the last thing they remember is being shot by Harrow. Together they creep down the hospital’s ominous hallway. A door opens to reveal Taweret, an enormous, CGI humanoid hippo, voiced by Antonia Salib. Steven and Marc scream, and the episode ends.
What it all means is anyone’s guess. Some of the inspiration for this episode was clearly a 2016 run of “Moon Knight” comics called “Lunatic,” where Marc is in a mental hospital with no powers and forced to question his entire life. But after episode four, it’s not clear at all what parts of the show have been real — life inside the hospital, life outside the hospital, or something else. Isaac said in an interview with “USA Today” that this confusion was by design. He said he wanted the show to be “quite true to the psychological horror of not knowing what’s happening and the slow revelations of the truth,” because that’s what having dissociative identity disorder is like.
Viewers will have to wait for the last two “Moon Knight” episodes to untangle this mystery once and for all.