In the sixth episode of Monster, Dr. Tenma races to find Nina before her brother does. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma
This is escalating so much, and I’m not even 10% through this show. What the fuck, y’all??? How? How am I supposed to last through this?
I said this on video, but I loved how the first half of “The Missing” established Dr. Tenma’s desperation. It does so while introducing us to Maurer, a local journalist in Heidelberg, who is contrasted with the chaotic energy of Dr. Tenma. And look, I love that we get a real sense of who Maurer is in just twenty minutes. That’s an achievement in and of itself, you know? Maurer is a man of complacency, and it’s why he works so well as a foil for Dr. Tenma. He’s accepted his life and the fate he’s slowly entered. Oh, he’ll complain about it to you and anyone within earshot, but is he actually willing to address the circumstances that brought him to where he is? Is he interesting in changing his life? No. He’s found a comfort—even if it’s an unspoken one—in giving himself over to work. That opening scene with his coworker establishes his work ethic, which is less of an ethic and more of an obsession. This is all he does.
And then in comes Dr. Tenma, who is disheveled like Maurer but for a completely different reason. He’s frantic. Frightened. Desperate for anyone to listen to him tell the story of two twins, multiple murders, and a fateful reunion. And unsurprisingly, Maurer thinks that this is nothing but a story, an elaborate tale so ridiculous that it wouldn’t even be printed by the gossip rags. It’s a trope we’ve all probably seen before in various genres and mediums, but what I love about this episode is how quickly this trope is discarded. Yes, Maurer does not believe Dr. Tenma at first, and without any real evidence to go on but an entertaining story, this makes perfect sense! But after he leaves Tenma in a records room, the episode shifts. What is it about Dr. Tenma that gets Maurer to change his mind? It’s certainly not the story itself; as Maurer remarks at one point, they get people like this in the office fairly often.
No, I think Maurer was drawn to Dr. Tenma’s intense morality. Look back on what Dr. Tenma talks to Maurer about: his estranged wife. His nicotine addiction. His bad habits. Dr. Tenma is very quick to tell Maurer what to do, and he does so without shame or hesitation. It’s very possible that I’m just reading a TON into this, but I don’t think I’m imagining that this show intends for me to read Dr. Tenma as an intensely moral character. Plus, I caught on to the fact that Maurer changed his mind about his wife after repeated conversations with Dr. Tenma. It was only after watching Dr. Tenma’s dedication succeed that his tune changed. Right???
So, Dr. Tenma and Maurer make INCREDIBLE progress in identifying the family who took in two twins, one of whom went missing nine years prior. Looking back, I don’t think Johan expected this at all, especially given what the strange man with the pliers says to Nina. (That no one else should have arrived with her.) Instead, Johan’s plan was one of reclamation. Using the intrigue of the emails, he wanted to lure Nina away from the Fortners, his previous adoptive family, so that he could take Nina back by murdering them. Which obviously has echoes to the murder of the Leibert family, too! So, Johan killed them, too, right???? WHY? Why does he keep doing this to his sister???
Look, lemme back up because I also need to talk about how the structure of this episode made this ABSURDLY SUSPENSEFUL. I love that the time is hidden from us. We knew that Nina was heading to Heidelberg Castle to meet Johan at 7pm; we knew that she was so intrigued and frightened by her experience the day before that she could’t resist finding out who was writing her these emails. I didn’t expect Maurer and Tenma to make it to the Fortner residence to stop Nina, but what would the Fortners say? How would they react to Dr. Tenma and his ridiculous story? Well, given that scene where they discussed not to reveal that Nina was adopted, I figured that Dr. Tenma just had to say the right thing to get them to listen.
But y’all, I was fooled. I WAS FOOLED. I assumed that once Dr. Tenma headed for the castle, he would either find Johan in time or just miss him. I HAD NOT FIGURED OUT WHAT HE WAS DOING. And that moment of realization was fucking chilling: Johan separated Nina from the Fortners on purpose, and now, Maurer was about to meet the very murderer that left him do disturbed all those years before. BUT THEN THERE’S THE MAN WITH THE PLIERS. Y’all, where does Johan keep finding these people who are willing to do his bidding? Clearly, he’s able to accomplish two things, though: he promises them a lot of money, and he instill a deep-seeded fear of him in each of these men. Y’all, once that man realizes there’s a second person and that Dr. Tenma might ruin everything? I WAS NOT FUCKING READY.
So, is this going to trigger all the forgotten memories in Nina? Will she remember her time as Anna now that she’s heard that name? What about Johan? He’s just minutes behind them, and I’m also worried how he’ll unseat her trauma if she sees him again.
This show is too fucking much, and it’s been SIX episodes.
The video for “The Missing” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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