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'Moon Knight' Episode 5 Recap: Dark Ending, Steven's Fate Explained

The Disney Plus show dives deeper into Marc Spector and Steven Grant's mind in Marvel's most intense emotional journey yet.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
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Sean Keane
4 min read
Anthropomorphic hippo Taweret stands behind a concerned Steven Grant in Moon Knight

Taweret guides Steven Grant and Marc Spector in their quest.

Marvel Studios

Moon Knight served up more double Oscar Isaac action on Wednesday, with episode 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe series landing on Disney Plus and taking us on an emotional roller coaster. After being gunned down by cult leader Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), Marc Spector awoke in a surreal mental institution populated by people and imagery he's encountered on his adventures.

The weirdness was dialed up a notch when he came face-to-face with his alternate personality Steven Grant, who's apparently got a separate but physically identical body -- suggesting this is all happening in Marc's mind. The pair embraced like brothers but soon got freaked out by an encounter with anthropomorphic hippo Taweret (Antonia Salib).

As the human avatar of moon good Khonshu (F. Murray Abraham), Marc has also been unable to access his superheroic Moon Knight abilities due to Khonshu's imprisonment by his fellow gods. It's all part of Harrow's plan to release trapped death goddess Ammit upon the world.

Got all that? Good, let's jump into SPOILERS for episode 5. This show takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame.


Balanced scales

Taweret, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, is initially determined to bring Marc and Steven to A'aru, the Field of Reeds (the Egyptian afterlife). She tasks them with bringing their souls into balance so they can enter, which requires a deep dive into Marc's past. Failing to balance their souls will condemn them to eternity frozen in the sands of the Duat.

However, her tune changes when souls start raining down into Duat's sands en masse.

"Fear is spreading in the upper world," she tells Marc and Steven. "Unbalanced souls are being judged or condemned to the sands before their time."

It suggests that Harrow has released Ammit or is wielding her power on a grander scale than we've seen previously -- either way, it's bad. They convince Taweret to help them return to the world of the living so Marc can free Khonshu and heal his gunshot wound. Before that, they must balance the scales so they can return through the gate of Osiris. 

Steven Grant is frozen in sand in Moon Knight, against a cloudy sky

Steven Grant has apparently been left behind in the Duat, the Egyptian underworld.

Marvel Studios

After the most intense and personal emotional journey we've seen in the MCU, Steven Grant -- who's been revealed as a figure Marc made up to escape his traumatic childhood -- rescues Marc by battling zombified versions of some of the people he killed as Moon Knight. 

In the course of the fight, Steven falls into the sands and is frozen, which balances Marc's scales and allows him to enter A'aru. This should let him pass through Osiris' gate.

Childhood trauma

In a gut-wrenching sequence, Steven discovers that Marc's brother Randall drowned in a cave flood. Marc's grieving mom kept reminding Marc of his role in the accident, and we jump from Marc's 10th birthday to his 12th. In the latter period, young Marc runs into a room and his adult self stops Steven from seeing what happened in there. 

An adult Steven Grant is seen in a mirror as he looks at young Marc Spector in Moon Knight

Steven realizes the truth of his origin as Marc copes with a traumatic event.

Marvel Studios

It's ultimately revealed that this is the moment he created Steven, to serve as an escape from the fact that his mentally ill mom beat him. It apparently continued into his teenage years, and he left home.

This side of Marc's traumatic past comes to a head two months before the events of this show. Marc wasn't able to face going into her mom's shiva, the seven-day Jewish mourning period, and surrendered completely to Steven in his grief.

In the comics, the origin of Marc's mental illness is less grounded but no less compelling -- it was caused by the childhood discovery that a rabbi friend of the family was actually a Nazi deserter who discovered that he could prolong his life by committing acts of cruelty. He did so by murdering Jews in secret.

Khonshu watches as Marc Spector becomes Moon Knight

Marc becomes Moon Knight.

Marvel Studios

Superhero origin

Marc got discharged from the military for going AWOL, and joined his former commanding officer Bushman as a mercenary.

Mirroring his comic book origin, he tried to stop Bushman from killing a bunch of hostages, which included Layla's dad, but that failed and he was fatally shot. He crawled into Khonshu's tomb and prepared to take his own life, but the moon god offered to heal Marc in exchange for his becoming Khonshu's avatar.

"Rise and live again," the divine being says. "As my fist of vengeance. As my Moon Knight."

Observations and Easter eggs

  • "You'd be surprised how many intersectional planes of untethered consciousness exist. Like the Ancestral Plane. Oh! Just gorgeous." Taweret is referring to the dimension from Wakandan beliefs, as seen in Black Panther.
  • What would've happened if Marc and Steven had killed Taweret and stolen the ship as Marc suggested? Seems like the scales would've been thoroughly unbalanced.
  • It seems like this will be the last we see of Steven as a separate entity, which seems like a pity since he's so much more fun than Marc. Hopefully Marc will be a fusion of the two personalities in next week's finale.
  • Marc and Steven have apparently achieved equilibrium, but we still don't know what happened when he stabbed Harrow's goons in Cairo, and it's unclear what the deal was, with the fugue state that got him kicked out of the military.
  • It's possible he has another personality lurking in his mind, but that would presumably have been revealed during this episode's journey.
  • Young Marc says, "Laters, gators" to his mom, just as Steven did in his imagined phone conversation with her. She responds with "In a while, crocodile."
  • Marc's brother Randall survived into adulthood in the comics. He was jealous of his older, tougher sibling and became his rival
  • Chicago is Marc's home city in the comics. Steven's reference to Milwaukee Avenue and the address Harrow gives for the institution suggest the same is true in the MCU.
  • In one of the episode's few moments of levity, Steven compares Dr. Harrow to Simpsons goody-goody Ned Flanders. After that intense episode, I reckon we all need a little Flanders in our lives.

Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Wednesday, May 4, when episode 6 -- the season finale -- of Moon Knight hits Disney Plus.

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