In the fifth episode of Monster, this show is fucking EVIL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, PTSD
This show is already toying with perspective and time and I am barely on the fifth episode THERE ARE SEVENTY LEFT. I am gonna be ruined by the end of this, I know it.
Look, I may have called this pretty early on, but I really don’t want that to ever seem like that makes this bad storytelling. I think there’s an obsession lately, particularly in television, where big plot twists have to seem genuinely shocking, regardless of their necessity. And I know that often works really well for this format! Y’all love seeing me destroyed. But I think if an arc or a plot is written well, there’s a satisfaction in catching the signs along the way or by figuring out a twist before it happens. It just means the story is constructed well! So, I don’t think “The Girl From Heidelberg” is necessarily trying to trick us into thinking Nina Fortner is just a random new character. There are so many little moments along the way that suggest that all is not right with Nina.
We meet her in the midst of her running to get to class on time, and in the beginning, she’s presented to us as a bright student and a joyful friend. By all appearances, she is normal, if there is such a thing. She’s got two loving parents, she’s happy and thriving as a law student, and she wants to eventually be a prosecutor. I had no clue why the show was focusing on her life. Why introduce us to a seemingly random character?
But then the layers started to be peeled away. The first sign that there was something odd came when Nina went home. Y’all, the way that Nina’s mom kept asking her husband for validation about Nina’s childhood? Why do that? Why prompt your own husband??? And now that I know what’s actually happening here, that means the photos in the album are fake, right??? WHAT THE FUCK, Y’ALL.
Okay, I can’t speak for everyone who has experienced trauma, but holy shit, this was such a good depiction of how visceral it is to experience a trigger??? The way Nina’s eyes went wide, her breath was shallow, the gripping of her clothing, the suddenness of it all. It’s clear that the discussion of the family murder in class triggered Nina, and despite that she couldn’t remember what happened to her, her mind still went back to that time ten years prior. What’s important, though, is that Nina cannot remember anything from before she was ten years old. I’m guessing that is the result of the trauma she experienced when she saw her foster parents murdered. But by whom? I still think it’s Johan, which makes me think that she shot Johan and then immediately went into shock after it.
While this is unfolding, Monster gives me another shocker: Dr. Tenma appears to have left his job—don’t know if that’s a temporary thing or permanent—to seek out the location of Johan. Disguising himself as someone in law enforcement (not very well, I might add), he tries to track down Johan by talking to people who knew the families he had murdered. Through this, we meet an unnamed blind man, one of the only people Johan trusted. The scene is unnerving in about a thousand ways, which is a perfect description of this show. Seriously, every goddamn scene makes me so uncomfortable! There’s always something lurking under the surface of practically every interaction, and I’m supposed to make it through seventy more of these???
This man knew Johan as Franz, and they were acquainted in the year after Johan was saved by Dr. Tenma. Y’all, Johan’s favorite thing about this man? The stories he told. And not just any stories, but only the ones about him being in World War II, and even more specifically? Johan’s true interest was in TERROR. He was obsessed with what humans would do on the brink of death. That feels like a pretty direct connection to his surgery, doesn’t it? Of course, it appears that Johan may have killed the Lieberts anyway, so I don’t know if this psychologically syncs up, but still. It’s fascinating to me because Johan was once on the edge of death. The other major element of this conversation, though, frightens me just as much. The man said that Johan would meet up with his sister in Heidelberg, confirming that Nina is Anna.
But y’all, how did Johan know where Anna was sent? Why at age twenty? Did he know she had lost her memory?
The reunion itself is just… christ, y’all, Johan makes my skin crawl. Did he set up that other college student so that he could stand in the background and trigger Nina’s memory? Everything he does feels so damn methodical! So what is his reason for all of this? To torment her again? Why wait ten years??? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS SHOW?
The video for “The Girl From Heidelberg” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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