In the twelfth episode of Monster, this deserves a hearty WHAT THE FUCK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For child abuse, nonconsensual medical procedures, brainwashing
Hi, what the fuck.
Perfect soldiers. 511 Kinderheim was used to take orphans and train them to be emotionless soldiers. Look, we are given so much information on Johan in this episode, but this sole reveal gave me enough to understand Johan on a very basic level. Psychological reconstruction, y’all. And note that we don’t get a SINGLE detail as to how the instructors managed to do this, and yet? Holy shit, this is it. This is how Johan became what he is, right?
Well, it’s more complicated than that, at least given what we learn at the end of the episode. But what the director of the orphanage Dr. Tenma visits tells him is… astonishing. It’s not where I saw this show going, and I know I said a variation of that a million times in the video. Seriously, though! What the fuck is this show now??? Is it about government corruption and hubris? And the collateral damage of such an act? Because it certainly feels like it could go in that direction. I also can’t ignore the setting and the time period either. So much of this was possible because of the divide between East and West Germany, because of the stronghold the government had, because of the fear of speaking out. This program was allowed to run unchecked because the government wanted these soldiers to be produced. OUT OF ORPHANS, MIND YOU. The sheer consent issues ALONE in this matter are horrifying, and that’s not even getting to the Incident. The government preyed on kids who were incredibly vulnerable, and they got away with it!!! All records were erased and, even worse, so were ALL THE WITNESSES BUT TWO: Johan and Mr. Hartmann.
Everyone died. EVERYONE DIED. Of course, the original story we heard from the orphanage director didn’t give us the necessary info to understand what had truly happened, but that came later. It was a power struggle, apparently, and 511 Kinderheim turned into “anarchy,” and there were only two survivors.
And then the show, not content to ruin our lives with this drastic change in what the story is about, upends it all through Mr. Hartmann. I am hard-pressed to think of a character more horrifying and despicable as this one, at least in how openly Mr. Hartmann does just… horrifying shit. I’m thankful that the child abuse was left off-screen, though, and that we are only shown the damage afterwards. I don’t think I could have handled seeing that, you know? Instead, the show asks us to read between the lines, and the story that results from that is a LOT. How many different boys has Mr. Hartmann latched on to and exploited since 511 Kinderheim closed? From his terrible monologue about Johan at the end, I believe that he was so in love with the idea of the experiment that he continued to run it long after Kinderheim closed. Indeed, I’d argue that he sought to find another Johan and had been unable to do so. (Which makes me wonder…. if there were other kids besides Dieter, what happened to them? Did Hartmann discard of them once he realized he wasn’t achieving what he wanted?)
That’s really what this comes down to, isn’t it? What also horrifies me is that I thought it pretty obvious that this government experiment had created the Johan that we see in the present day. But Hartmann is quick to debunk this. No, Johan came to them this way, and nothing in the program could have ever shaped him into his current form. Johan was just… a monster. (Hartmann uses the word “monstrous” to describe him at one point.) And yet, this didn’t disturb Hartmann, but rather made him all the more obsessed with the notion of creating another version of Johan.
Which is where Dieter comes in. I think we got a glimpse of the sort of psychological reprogramming that was used on the kids in 511 Kinderheim, so I assume there was a lot of mental and physical abuse. It seems that Hartmann was interested in pushing Dieter towards nihilism, towards believing that the world was dark, impossible, and without hope. From that, he has tried to reconstruct Dieter into… what? Someone who doesn’t care about the world? About people? If that is the case—and I think it’s something close to that—then Dieter’s rejection here is the most incredible betrayal. Despite all the abuse and conditioning, Dieter still chose joy. He chose playing soccer, and he chose the man who was NICE to him. It’s why Hartmann has such an emotional breakdown when Dieter leaves. This was a toxic, abusive, and dependent relationship, and he just watched it all collapse in a matter of minutes.
So… is Dieter now coming along??? Oh my god, I truly cannot predict where this show is going, y’all. AND I’M STILL BARELY AT THE BEGINNING.
The video for “A Little Experiment” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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