In the final episode of Moon Knight, Layla (May Calamawy) refuses to become Khonshu’s avatar, because, she says, she does not want to be “enslaved.”
This isn’t the first time that service to Khonshu is compared to slavery.
Throughout the series, Moon Knight (Oscar Isaac) treats his relationship with Khonshu as one of enforced bondage; he’s a tragic warrior, who must fight whether he wants to or not.
If Layla can choose not to enslave herself, though, is it actually slavery? We generally think of coercion as the essence of slavery. People who are enslaved, by definition, can not choose.
Khonshu’s avatars, in contrast, enter into contracts. Moon Knight/Marc Spector agrees to work for Khonshu because Khonshu saves his life.
Later he renegotiates terms; in the finale, he fights one last battle in return for his freedom. When you can change the terms of your employment, you’re not a slave. You’re an employee.
Employees are supposed to be categorically distinct from slaves. A worker freely trades goods or services for pay. An enslaved person can do nothing freely, because they are bound and coerced. Moon Knight, though, isn’t sure there’s a clear distinction.
Khonshu offers Marc a choice but especially by the conclusion, that choice feels illusory. Can you really enter into an equal bargain with a God—or, for that matter, with an employer? Or do vast disproportions of power make consent irrelevant?