Review: ‘Moon Knight’ S01 Ep.5 ‘The Asylum’
by Olly MacNamee
(+++ WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Moon Knight S01 Ep.5 ‘The Asylum’ +++)
The latest episode in the Moon Knight series once more fails to deliver on the titular character. But on this occasion I can forgive them, because this episode is the most personal and powerful one yet. Having come face to face with the Egyptian goddess of fertility and childbirth, Tawaret (Antonia Salib) Mark/Steven (Oscar Isaac) have to face their past as their collected lives are weighed up, literally. And in doing so, Mark/Steven have to travel back through the metaphorical asylum introduced last episode, and that we are told represents the afterlife, but also Mark/Steven’s fragile mind.
Travelling back through time we finally learn more of Mark/Steven’s tragic past and the reasons why he suffers from a dissociative identity disorder in the present. In telling this tale the audience is thrown into the emotional turmoil of his earlier life and the life he lived that saw him turn inwardly to escape an abusive mother. And it is in these flashback scenes, focussing on Mark/Steven’s childhood, that the audience’s sympathies are really played and puled with. The culmination of this episode’s revelations land the hardest emotive punches of the whole series to date to as we start understanding the man behind the mask. I can’t imagine anyone will not find this heartbreaking.
Finally, Mark/Steven and the viewers are given some resolution regarding his state of mind. A large focus/distraction of the show this far. But, there is still the question over “Doctor” Harrow’s existence. Clearly he isn’t part of the dreamscape that Mark/Steven inhabit for most of this instalment, but the question still remains: how real is he? Or, is this all part of a grander ruse? This will be a question that needs to be answers in a future episode (and with three more to go, they best be quick about it), but for now there is a bigger problem, as Steven is thrown overboard the Egyptian sail barge that has been transporting them to the afterlife and left in a most precarious situation. And Mark is left in the afterlife having accepted he has died. Although there is the loop hole that is Tawaret. She may have been introduced as the goddess of fertility and childbirth. But she is also, by extension the goddess of rebirths too. So, yeah, that.
‘The Asylum’ is by far the best episode to date, thanks to the bizarre ride to the far side (or afterlife, but that doesn’t rhyme, so please forgive me this one literary flourish) we are witness to, with each doorway revealing another memory of Mark’s from a strained and lonely life. I find that I know know Mark more deeply than other Marvel characters from the MCU thanks to the creative and production teams focus on his mental disorder and its origins. One of the more rounded characters in the MCU, albeit one of the more disturbed. And, it dd leave me thinking, who needs Moon Knight if this is the quality of writing and performing we get when he isn’t around?
Moon Knight is streaming now on Disney+ with new episodes out every Wednesday