I tend to like obscure characters in comics. It’s not something I chose to do, I’m just drawn to ones that a lot of people in the general public would go “Who?” if I mentioned them. Marvel has been given some of my lesser known favorites screentime over the last few years (I’m one of the few who liked Iron Fist, in part because of my history with the character). Now, another I’ve enjoyed for years is finally getting a higher profile. We get introduced to the MCU version of Moon Knight in “The Goldfish Problem,” episode one of six. This one of my shorter reviews, as I skip a lot of things to avoid spoilers.
The episode starts with a very uncomfortable introduction to one of the antagonists, as he goes through a routine that actually made me wince, in part due to some personal history of mine. It’s a disturbing sequence. After that, we meet Stephen Grant. In the comics, Stephen Grant is the billionaire secret identity of Moon Knight, living in a mansion just outside New York City. Here, he’s living in London and is clearly not a happy man. He goes through a wake up routine that reminded me of the sadly cancelled-too-soon series Prodigal Son. He goes through several little tasks that show he’s a very lonely man with a life no one would really envy. He has a job that isn’t exactly fulfilling and an unpleasant boss. We also see an exchange with a coworker that clearly puzzles him, and gives us some hints that all is not well in his world. On his way out, we see Stephen doesn’t exactly have the respect of most of his coworkers, and has a very odd and lonely dinner.
Stephen’s bedtime routine is also rather complicated, and shows the extent to which he has some unique problems. They also apparently don’t work, as he wakes up someplace very different from his apartment. Or flat, I guess, since he’s in London. It’s a very enjoyable and complex sequence that I’m going light on to avoid spoilers, but it features some scenes from many of the trailers and has some great cinematography and transitions. Finally, he wakes up at home, sees his precautions apparently in place, and is vastly relieved as he goes about his day. His relief isn’t long-lived, as he almost immediately starts to notice things aren’t quite the way they should be. From something small but odd in his apartment to gradually realizing he’s missing a significant chunk of time, Stephen’s already high anxiety level goes sky-high. The only thing that works in his favor is he somehow apparently got lucky with his work schedule.
After something he was looking forward to has fallen apart, Stephen walks home in the aftermath, coming across almost like the man you could see Charlie Brown growing up to become. Moping around his apartment, he notices something new amiss and investigates. At this point, things take a turn for the surreal. Unexpected events occur: finding hidden things, a confusing phone call (with a call log to a supporting Moon Knight character from the comics), a mysterious voice with an ominous warning, and an unruly mirror. After a wild elevator ride, he has a very unsettling trip on the bus as he goes to work. Finally getting to work, he has a less than useful exchange with a co-worker and then a series of surprising run-ins in the museum.
That night, Stephen works late on a punishment assignment from Donna his bitchy boss. What ends up happening is a lot less fun than the “Night at the Museum” movies. There’s an intense chase scene, some really well-done effects, and something of a reveal about what’s happening in his life. There are some great visuals, a reveal of a more heroic look, and great exchange between aspects of a very confused man.
What I liked: This was a really well-executed episode. Oscar Isaac did a great job as the very conflicted Stephen Grant. The visuals and transitions were stunning. They did a great job showing Stephen’s life, truly one of quiet desperation, and contrasting it with some of the more outlandish things that happen to/around him. Lucy Thackeray did a wonderful job playing the despicable Donna.
What I didn’t: Clearly, some of the big pieces of Moon Knight’s life aren’t going to make it onto the series. On the one hand, I don’t like significant changes from the source material, but the MCU has definitely earned my trust, and some of the changes they’ve made actually work better than the original versions. I really felt badly for this Stephen. I have a bad feeling about some of the things he’s doing that are sad enough as it is.
I really enjoyed this. I can’t wait to see where they go next, and I’m already looking forward to Moon Knight’s rumored appearances in the larger MCU. I’ll give this a 4 out of 5. It’s going to be a long wait until next week.