In the thirteenth episode of Monster, Tenma is challenged in a small town by his duty to do right and his need to avoid being caught. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Y’all, this is SUCH a fascinating way to both advance the plot and directly address Dr. Tenma’s moral core. In one sense, I see this episode as an exploration of logistics: Exactly how is Dr. Tenma avoiding the authorities when his name and photo is plastered all over Germany? Truthfully, he’s not actually that good at it! I’ve made comments about this throughout these recent episodes, but this dude frequently uses his real name and has done nothing to disguise himself. He’s basically still practicing medicine, too??? But that’s a realistic feature of his character: Dr. Tenma has no experience doing this.
But this also means that he’s going to face challenges like the one he does here in “Petra and Schumann,” wherein Dr. Tenma attracts the attention of a local doctor after treating a potential patient of his. There are more layers to this, of course, beyond the moral representation, but I want to start there. Dr. Tenma treated the drunk man because the man needed care, Tenma was capable, and it fulfills his sense of moral duty. Dr. Tenma is a man of his word, in essence! He stated early in Monster that he believed all people deserve the same medical treatment, regardless of their ability to pay or their “value” to society. (Which is now interesting to me for a different reason, since I just recently got to the “value vs worth” part of Snuff over on Mark Reads.) It’s almost like it doesn’t occur to him that hey, maybe he should leave this to the local authorities because everyone wants to arrest me? Nope, Dr. Tenma does what is needed, leaves a payment behind, and then heads on to his next destination.
So this works as a great way to build Dr. Tenma’s character, to show his dedication to what he believes. But once Dr. Schumann tracks Tenma down and angrily confronts him over what he’s done, this episode transforms into something else. Dr. Schumann was thorny and irritated in those early moments of “Petra and Schumann,” and it’s easy to see why I thought there wasn’t much else to him. We see him yelling at Petra; we see him yelling at his nurse; we see him yelling at Dr. Tenma. HE YELLS A LOT. But once Dr. Tenma agrees to assist Dr. Schumann as he’s doing rounds (ONCE AGAIN, YOU ARE SO BAD AT THIS FUGITIVE THING, TENMA), something deeply familiar unfolds: in this small town, Dr. Schumann has a community. The scenes are deliberate mirrors to what we saw earlier in the show! They are meant to mirror Dr. Tenma’s time at Eisler, when his work was in building a community and a rapport with the patients he served. Even then, Dr. Schumann’s charm couldn’t seem to reach Petra, and he couldn’t get her to open the door so he could treat her.
Enter Dr. Tenma, whose bedside manner is much like Dr. Schumann’s, but in this case, he was an outside party. He wasn’t in love with Petra like Dr. Schumann was, and that lack of bias allowed him to approach her in a way that caused her to open up. And what timing, y’all! This could have been so, so bad if they hadn’t reached her in time. Despite that Dr. Tenma does something undeniably good here, saving this woman’s life, reality creeps back in. This is not a fantasy world, and Dr. Tenma cannot just pretend that his choices prior to this won’t come back to haunt him. Y’all, it was such a brilliant twist to make the officer who “discovered” Tenma be Petra’s son. Because then HE is presented with a seemingly impossible decision! Does the officer trust Tenma and Schumann and allow the operation to finish? Does he arrest Tenma and potentially advance his own career? What if the rumors about Tenma are true and he’s trying to murder Petra? What if they aren’t? Is the price to be paid for promotion worth it?
I see how this was also designed so that Dr. Tenma wouldn’t be captured so early on, but I don’t think that potential storyline is impossible, actually. I don’t think that for the next 60 episodes, Tenma will stay out of the clutches of Lunge; I imagine there will be a confrontation sooner rather than later. But this show writes so convincingly about personal morality, so the officer’s story feels like it belongs here. Plus, this is an episode about potential, isn’t it? Did that police office have the ability to defy his career to save his mom? At the end of “Petra and Schumann,” Dr. Schumann is asking a similar question of Dr. Tenma: can the man actually kill someone? Is he capable of that? I still don’t know the answer of the question, honestly! He hasn’t fired the gun he has, even though he does threaten people with it. Can he kill Johan at this point? I DON’T KNOW.
Also: DIETER. Jesus, I’m still so surprised that this kid is with him. It’s such a weird direction for the story, but I’m into it. It complicates matters so entertainingly, and I want to see how long this kid is going to stick by Dr. Tenma’s side.
The video for “Petra and Schumann” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– The paperback edition of my debut, ANGER IS A GIFT, is now OUT! If you’d like to stay up-to-date on all announcements regarding my books, sign up for my newsletter! DO IT.