This article contains major Moon Knight spoilers.
The penultimate episode of Moon Knight certainly borrows a lot from fellow Disney+ Marvel show WandaVision. Our protagonist is forced to confront their past and the secrets to their fractured mental state through mystical means. While WandaVision explained the transformation of Westview, the rebirth of Vision, and even Wanda’s interest in sitcom tropes, Moon Knight gets into both his mercenary career and the genesis of his dissociative identity disorder.
Or, to be more specific, we know why Marc Spector created Steven Grant and why their worlds have been crashing together lately. The ominous third personality isn’t explained, but “Jake” does appear to be hiding in plain sight.
Unlike WandaVision, the events in this episode (plus the final minutes of the previous one) are a little dicey. There are basically three different realities being stacked onto each other and it’s difficult to 100% know what’s what.
First you have what we imagine to be the regular world where Moon Knight is just one of many heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The same world we’ve watched for four episodes, up until Marc Spector was shot in the chest. The second world is the asylum where psychiatrist Dr. Harrow tries to make sense of Marc and Steven’s adventures in a grounded setting. Then there’s the third world, where Marc and Steven are trying to comprehend the afterlife. They’re in an asylum, but one connected to memories and a ship that will bring them to either divinity or damnation, depending on how things work out for them.
Who is Steven Grant?
To Steven’s horror, it’s discovered that Marc is actually the original personality. As a child, Marc and his younger brother Randall were huge fans of Tomb Buster, a low-budget Indiana Jones knockoff about a dashing archeologist adventurer named Dr. Steven Grant. One evening, the two brothers went to go explore a cave, though their parents gave them strict orders to return home if it started raining. Marc ignored the warnings and they continued their adventure, only for the rain to pick up into a storm and flood the cave. Marc survived, but Randall did not.
Marc’s mother blamed him for Randall’s death and spent years either neglecting him or physically abusing him, depending on her mood. As a coping mechanism, Marc would become his own version of Steven Grant, picking up an English accent and acting like a polite optimist. Marc experienced the truth when it came to his mother, but Steven got to live the lie that his mother loved him. Without that trauma, Steven was free to live a normal life.
Well, not quite normal, considering he spent decades without 100% control of his body.
How Did Marc Lose Control of Steven?
Marc was part of the military, but having a double life didn’t exactly gel with that kind of situation, so he was discharged. He became a mercenary, which led to him becoming the Fist of Khonshu. All the while, Steven got to live a simple life of a museum clerk, not realizing what was really going on and why days of his life were unaccounted for.
Months before the events of this show began, Marc received word that his mother had passed. Though dressed for her shiva, Marc could not bring himself to enter his own home and get any kind of closure, no matter how his desperate father beckoned him. Marc instead drank from a flask and walked off before collapsing in grief and switching back into being Steven.
We had been seeing Steven talking to his mother on the phone since the first episode, but only now do we see that not only was she dead during that time, but we could see from the screen that the phone wasn’t even in call mode. Steven has always been imagining these conversations and even uses the “later, gator” farewell his mother used to give him as a kid.
This whole development had been foreshadowed in the second episode when Layla appeared confused at Steven claiming to be in contact with his mother. Layla doesn’t seem to be aware that she’s dead, but she does find it very out of the ordinary that the two of them would be on speaking terms.
According to Marc, it was this breakdown that started to weaken the barriers between Marc and Steven. It’s why the two have become able to interact with each other. It’s also why the third personality remains a mystery to them both.
Where is Jake Lockley?
Even though Jake is not mentioned in all of these flashbacks, he does appear to be in the episode in different ways. For one, there are plenty of shots of yellow cabs driving in the background. As Lockley was a cab driver in the comics, this could easily be a subliminal tip-off.
More importantly, we may have actually seen Jake in action here. Early on, as Dr. Harrow tried to get through to what appeared to be Marc, “Marc” suddenly became more confrontational. Instead of running off, he picked up an impromptu weapon and prepared to attack Harrow. As he started to come off as a pissed-off Robert De Niro, “Marc” was held down and injected in the neck with a sedative.
When we saw Marc again in Harrow’s office, he was confused, wondering if he was sedated at some point. Notably, the bruises on his face were gone. Chances are, that first scene was Harrow unknowingly dealing with Jake.
It’s also possible that the “Marc” we see drinking heavily outside of his parents’ home after the death of his mother is Jake. That’s one of the moments where a yellow cab can be spotted. If Jake is a repository for Marc’s negative emotions, this would certainly fit the bill.
As for how Jake fits in with Marc’s backstory, the insinuation isn’t a pleasant one. When young Marc slipped into becoming Steven as a child, his mother barged in to beat him with a belt. Afterlife Marc pulled Afterlife Steven out of the memory, claiming that he wasn’t supposed to see this. If Steven’s existence was based around not knowing what a monster his mother was, he certainly could not have been in control when receiving the beating.
It could have easily just been Marc, but Jake being the personality stuck in the role of having the keys to the body when it’s time to suffer just sounds too likely.
Are Marc and Steven Truly Dead?
The big plot of the episode is that the goddess Taweret can bring Marc and Steven to the Field of Reeds (a form of Heaven) if their hearts are found to be balanced on a magic scale. Despite the two coming a long way and opening up to each other through the episode, the scale is not quite balanced and the ship is overrun by undead enemies dedicated to sending them overboard and into the Duat.
Steve steps up and saves Marc, but at the cost of falling into the Duat and becoming eternally frozen. Though Marc wants to return to the world of the living, he instead ends up in the Field of Reeds.
There are other factors, of course. Layla could presumably release Khonshu from his prison. Jake can make some kind of difference. On top of that, we do not know if we’re really meant to take these events at face value.
As I mentioned before, there are three planes of existence in play and we are given an idea of how it’s all related: The real world is the real world. The hospital of memories and the ship are the afterlife. The asylum office is Marc, Steve, and Jake making sense of the afterlife and being put in a situation that pushes them to face their traumas. The thing is…how real is the real world in this story?
In the first episode, Steven excitedly told a little girl in the museum about how ancient Egyptians judged the dead via weighing their hearts. The girl asked him about how much it sucked for him to be rejected from the Field of Reeds. At the time, it could be played off as the girl just being a jerk, but it’s such a specific and odd thing to say that in retrospect, it puts the entire series in question.
Anyway, fingers crossed that Jake’s Moon Knight form delivers.