Moon Knight is back in its most The Mummy influenced episode yet. This one will surely be a talked-about episode that will leave viewers with a whole bunch of questions. We’re here to answer a few of them as well as diving into the comic book influences, Easter eggs, and hidden references that fill this episode like treasures in a tomb. So strap in, get ready to explore, and prepare yourself for a shocking twist that harks back to a fan favorite Moon Knight series.
“An Archaeologist on a Mission”
Layla talks about her father here who is a large focus of the episode. As she tells Steven about him, she reveals he died on an archeological mission. That fits into her being a recontextualization of Moon Knight’s ally and lover Marlene. And as the episode goes on we’ll learn more about just how similar their back stories are, with tragic consequences.
As Steven and Layla explore the tomb of Ammit they discover a chamber dedicated to the three Heka priests who would have been buried to protect the last avatar of Ammit, a Pharaoh. In the chamber there are dead bodies of people who tried to break into the tomb. This is incredibly similar to our old friends the Priests of Khonshu, the beings who ended up giving Marc his powers back after he had stepped down from the Moon Knight mantle in the comics. Here they are also living mummies who end up chasing Layla and Marc deep into the Tomb of Ammit. Both the real and Marvel Universes have a Heka connection too.
A Heka-va Guy
In Egyptian myth, Heka was the god of magic and medicine, but there’s another potential connection in the Marvel Universe. 2007’s Mystic Arcana Magick #1 introduced an ancient Egyptian sorcerer named Heka-Nut. Chthon, the elder god and creator of chaos magic in the Marvel Universe, corrupted Heka-Nut. Given that Khonshu was retconned to be an elder god in the same vein as characters like Shuma-Gorath and Chthon in the King in Black: Black Knight one-shot, it stands to reason that some of these Heka priests might have practiced chaos magic as well. It would certainly help to explain why they’re now murder-mummies hellbent on filling every last canopic jar in sight.
As for the snakeskins that Steven finds among the mummification tools, this could be a clue to another mysterious missing god and a major Marvel villain: Seth. The shapeshifting god of war, the comics often refer to Seth as the Serpent God. Specifically, the Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood Moon Knight comics explicitly state that Ammit is a servant of Seth. While we likely won’t see Seth in this show, it’s nice to tease a potentially greater evil to come, especially one who battled Moon Knight in the past.
Alexander the Great
After he loses track of Layla when one of the priests drags her into a tomb, Steven discovers something truly shocking. As he and Marc argue over the fact he kissed Layla, he realizes that the tomb they’re in belongs to Alexander the Great. Yes, the leader of the Macedonian Empire was the final avatar of Ammit. It’s a monumental historical discovery as the tomb has long been thought lost. Like many historical figures, Alexander the Great has a Marvel counterpart. But in the comics he’s less of an active figure and more someone who appears in flashback.
More About Layla… or Should I Say Marlene?
Harrow confirms that Layla’s father was Abdallah El-Faouly. Then he goes on to say that mercenaries killed him, which lines up neatly with the backstory of Marlene Alraune, comic book ally and confidant of Marc Spector. To be more specific, Raul Bushman, leader of the mercenary group which employed Marc Spector, killed Peter Alraune Sr.
Harrow goes on to describe Layla’s father as a man with a “fuschia scarf with scarab details,” which unquestionably locks down the Scarlet Scarab connection and links back to the imagery added to the end credits of episode three. Two Egyptian characters in the comics, a father and son named Abdul Faoul and Mehmet Faoul, have held the Scarlet Scarab mantle. Both of them sought to protect Egypt and its historical legacy. We also get a thanks to the original Scarab’s creators this week, which essentially confirms the character’s importance and involvement.
Marc admits to Layla that his mercenary partner got greedy and attempted to kill everyone involved, including Marc and Layla’s father. Obviously, this “partner”—likely, if revealed, to be the long-running Moon Knight villain Bushman—was unsuccessful in killing Marc.
Weapons of Great Antiquity
When Harrow and his goons corner Steven in Alexander the Great’s tomb, the former gift shop employee grabs a small axe from the sarcophagus. It’s of no use against the guns facing him, but it does call back to the favorite comic book of the show’s creators. Yes, we’re talking about Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu #1 again. When the Priests of Khonshu equip Marc Spector with what they describe as “weapons of great antiquity,” one of them is a “lasso-graple” and it’s essentially the same kind of small axe seen here only with a rope tied to the bottom.
Steven Grant, Tomb Buster
After Steven is attacked in the tomb he falls through a strange dark void. When he awakens, we’re in an old low quality movie. And shock, horror, it’s an Indiana Jones knockoff with a hero named Steven Grant. In the comics, Steven Grant isn’t a character in a movie but rather a movie producer. So that could be the reference here. But the bigger more important “reveal” this week is yet to come. And we learn that as the camera moves away from the movie.
Not in Kansas Anymore
Marc awakens in a mental hospital. It’s filled with people we’ve seen throughout the show but now they’re staff and patients. Bobbi, Billy, and Bek (with a cart of cupcakes) are nurses. Crawley (pulling bingo numbers from his hat), Donna (clutching a stuffed blue beetle/scarab), Forger (doing Khonshu drawings), and Layla (wearing a bandage with a drawing of a scarlet scarab on it) are patients. A goldfish in a small bowl sits across from seemingly sedated Marc, who looks at a bulletin board covered with photos of Cairo. Marc clutches a ratty Moon Knight action figure. Arthur Harrow is the doctor in this psych ward, and his office has Ancient Egyptian and Ennead memorabilia, as well as a poster of the Alps village from episode one. He also reveals that Tomb Buster is a favorite of Marc/Steven’s.
The implication here is, of course, that none of what we’ve seen so far is real. So the big question the show wants us to ask is has Marc been in the institution the whole time? Are previous episodes nothing more than a figment of his imagination? It’s unclear as we later see Marc and Steven meet as if they’re separate people who have both been institutionalized, which is obviously not possible if they’re two alter identities of the same person. This does lean into one of the most recent and popular comic book representations of Marc Spector’s DID, though.
“Moon Knight Vol. 1: Lunatic”
This comic from Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles saw Marc Spector wake up in an asylum with no powers. The orderlies who regularly abuse him are Bobby and Billy, like the two characters in the show, and it seems like he’s been in the institute forever. Just like in this episode, Steven realizes all the people in his life are actually patients and workers in the hospital. This arc is obviously a huge influence as the doctor in this comic goes by Emmett, but Marc believes she’s actually Ammit. Lemire and Smallwood play with the character’s ability to be a reliable narrator, never making it clear until they want to whether what he’s seeing is real or just a symptom of his struggles with DID.
Marc and some of his fellow friends/patients eventually stage an escape. Seeing as we’ve seen the duality of the characters as patients this episode, a version of this seems pretty likely. In the end, it’s all revealed to be a ploy by Khonshu to control Marc. And Marc has to battle through his psyche, a strange version of New York, and his alters to find self acceptance and defeat Khonshu. After struggling to keep a grip on his alters, Marc calls a meeting to tell them none of them are real in order to gain some control. It’s likely that the show may adapt that moment from what we see this episode. The comic delves into some really thoughtful, intense, and experimental stuff and is definitely worth reading.
Bingo and an Extensive Reading List
The first bingo number Crawley calls is B-22. That’s especially relevant here. The action in Moon Knight Vol. 1 #22 kicks off at the Manhattan Research Hospital where the villain Morpheus is being held. And the cover of the issue features Moon Knight facing off against his three alter-egos of Jake, Marc, and Steven. So all in all feels like an intentional nod.
More numbers Crawley calls include…
- G-15: In Moon Knight Vol. 1 #15, the hero is struggling to balance Steven, Marc, and Jake, and he’s become worried that he may actually be the very assassin he’s hunting.
- T-16: Moon Knight Vol. 5 #16 sees Marc and Marlene at the museum.
- B-7: Billed as the “strangest, most chaotically terrifying night in Moon Knight’s bizarre career,” Moon Knight Vol. 1 #7 follows the hero as he loses his entire grasp on reality.
- N-39: Marc Spector: Moon Knight #39 is a comic we’ve talked about a lot as it’s Donna’s first appearance and also features a massive villainous role for Doctor Doom.
- I-2: Arthur Harrow first appears in Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu #2.
There’s more bingo action as the bingo card that Layla holds seemingly contains a smattering of key issue numbers from different comics that have influenced this show. We’re breaking them all down for you right here. So get your notebooks ready this is a whole lot of Moon Knight.
More Moon Knight Comics to Read
- Marc Spector: Moon Knight #54: Donna Kraft discovers Marc’s connection to her college rival, Marlene Alraune.
- Werewolf By Night #32: Moon Knight’s first appearance.
- Moon Knight Vol. 1 #1: The first full origin of Moon Knight.
- Moon Knight Vol. 1 #35: Steven Grant uses a wheelchair for the better part of the issue.
- Invaders #23: First appearance of the Scarlet Scarab.
- West Coast Avengers #29: Moon Knight solo issue where Khonshu speaks directly to him for the first time.
- Marc Spector: Moon Knight #26: Marc’s sometime lover Scarlet causes havoc for him.
- ’89: The year that the influential Marc Spector: Moon Knight series began.
- Moon Knight Vol. 1 #38: The final issue of Moon Knight’s first ongoing series.
- Moon Knight Vol. 8 #13: In an Egyptian flashback Marc confronts his past, and in the present Marc decides to finally confront his DID.
- Patient 86: The hospital designation of the Sun King in the 2017 Moon Knight comic
Another Alter That Needs to Be Freed
After Marc’s tense meeting with Dr. Harrow—where the office had mementos of their conflict up until now—he finds himself in a deserted part of the hospital. That’s where he finds a sarcophagus and pulls Steven Grant out of it. As the two mount their escape, they see another sarcophagus in a different room, standing upright and rattling. The implication is that Marc and Steven have another alter yet to unlock. In the comics, we know this to be Jake Lockley. The show seems to imply that the violent and deadly outbursts belong to neither Marc nor Steven, so that third sarcophagus possibly holds the answer.
Who’s Moon Knight’s Hippo-Headed God?
As the episode comes to an end Marc and Steven meet a Hippo-headed god. She could be Taweret. That might be a good thing as she’s the Egyptian goddess of protection and fertility. There’s also the modified version: Ipet, known as “The Nurse,” which would make sense here. Hopefully she’ll be a good omen for the pair as they embark on their nightmarish journey.
Thanking Those All Important Creators
Two new creators on the docket this week: Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins were the minds behind the original Scarlet Scarab, who we know has been a big influence on Layla and her father. So expect to hear more about that character in the coming episodes.