In the fourth episode of Monster, I wasn’t ready. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma
Oh my fucking god, WHAT HAVE Y’ALL GOTTEN ME INTO???
After the end of the last episode, I kinda figured that maybe this was a bit of a slow burn, that the mystery of the “Monster” and the purpose of this show would be revealed over a long batch of episodes. Frankly, I would have been fine with that; this is such a moody, purposeful show that I was digging the vibe and tone of the story. There were significant plot twists in the first three episodes, and the end of “A Murder” suggested a whole lot more. The narrative was peeling away layers slowly, inching towards the rotten and terrifying core.
And then this episode just slam dunks on all of us.
Even at the start, this was immensely disturbing. Inspector Lunge has no sense of bedside manor, and sometimes, I feel like he’s just trying to flex on everyone around him? But I also recognize that this is how he processes information. He speaks it aloud, and it helps him remember it all, to organize it in a way to make sense of all the details. Unfortunately, he’s speaking to someone who is deeply traumatized by what he’s experienced, and the way Lunge lays it all out? Junkers has a visceral reaction to the information. It’s a terrible approach to getting information, but I feel like it speaks a lot to Lunge’s process and how he approaches cases.
Thus, it makes a lot of sense that Junkers felt way more comfortable and had a much different reaction to how Dr. Tenma treated him. (Also, I’m glad to have my gut feeling confirmed: Dr. Tenma wasn’t responsible for anything and has been genuinely innocent this whole time.) Tenma uses kindness, tenderness, and speaks with a gentle heart when he talks about what he’s struggled with. (Well, he also unknowingly invokes THE ACTUAL PERSON who has been tormenting Junkers. HELP ME.) No wonder Junkers felt safer! But I’m just as interested in that and Tenma’s sense of goodness as I am in the strange dynamic of Dr. Tenma as a father figure. That’s invoked twice in this episode, first by Junkers when he finally opens up to Dr. Tenma. He says that Tenma saved him, and thus, he kind of sees him as a father. Even then, what little he reveals at that point is… clearly fucked up. Something happened to him, he was exploited, and he wasn’t quite willing to tell everything yet, but it’s because of all of this that Junkers eventually comes around and realizes it is better if he tells the entire truth.
I can’t get over the sheer disturbing tragedy of the second half of this episode, y’all. I don’t even fully understand what actually happened here, but Junkers’s reaction to everything says so much to me. But once I saw that candy wrapper on the ground next to the dead guard, I knew that I was about to be chucked off a cliff. And despite that? Still not ready. Y’all, Dr. Tenma was about to do THE NICEST THING EVER for Junkers!!! And then the Monster arrives, Junkers flees, Dr. Tenma gives chase, and the WORST FUCKING SCENE EVER occurs. (Well, I have to add “so far” because… I’m worried. If Monster is willing to go this far this early, help me. HELP ME.)
There is a chilling contrast that unfolds in that final scene that I can get out of my head. The voice actor for Junkers gives a frantic, terrified performance, and it is the exact opposite from the way Johan speaks. JOHAN. The Liebert twin that Dr. Tenma saved nine years prior! WHO ISN’T EVEN A LIEBERT AT ALL. I imagine that the future of this show is the exploration of this reveal, as I was left with a million questions about what I’d already seen. But there’s so much confirmation of facts in a very short span of time, which also makes me think that the struggle between Dr. Tenma’s inherent value of life and Johan’s lack of it will be the focus of the show.
- Who killed Johan’s parents? Because this episode reveals that Johan hired people like Junkers to take out middle-aged couples, and that’s the same MO for the deaths of the Lieberts. So, does that mean Johan killed his parents? Then who shot Johan? Was it Anna? Was that why she was so traumatized?
- Where is Anna? She disappeared, too, and there’s no hint to her whereabouts.
- Why does Johan believe that he should have died that night? I know this might be nitpicking, but it feels like such a strange thing to say. Is he referring to the literal fact that he nearly died, or is he speaking to some other reason? Like, was someone trying to kill him rather than it being an accident or collateral damage?
- THE WHOLE THING WITH GRANTED DR. TENMA’S WISHES. Was that Johan’s sign of gratitude for Dr. Tenma, thanking him for saving his life? How the fuck did he get those poisoned candies to the people he needed them to get to??? HOW DID HE EVEN POISON THE CANDIES???
- What is Johan’s deal? How did he end up at a point where he believes that human life is worthless? HOW DO YOU ARRIVE AT THAT POSITION?
I gotta say that I was surprised but impressed that Dr. Tenma told all of this to Inspector Lunge. But it makes sense, doesn’t it? He’s such a good person, and he wouldn’t try to hide the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is so outlandish and ridiculous that Lunge doesn’t really believe him. It seems to coincidental that all of these horrible events would revolve around Tenma without Tenma being involved, you know? So while I expect that to crop up again, I also want to talk about one last thing. Dr. Tenma breaks down in the rain in the final scene of “The Night of Execution,” and I think I know why. This whole premise is a literal rendering of the classic morality question: if you could kill someone who later grew up to harm others, would you do it? Except this is backwards; Dr. Tenma made an incredibly moral choice to operate on Johan over the mayor, and he believed he had made the right choice. He valued human life, and he refused to believe that a child had less of a right to life than a mayor.
And in doing so, he saved a child that later grew up to be a serial killer who does not value human life at all. Wouldn’t you break down over that, too?
The video for “The Night of Execution” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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