In the fourteenth episode of Monster, two characters whose life was changed by Dr. Tenma collide. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For suicide
This episode is probably the most impressive to me from a craft perspective. I can’t get over how it is framed and how every bit of the story told about Eva and Lunge is absolutely necessary so that we’ll understand why the final scene is so HUGE. “Left Behind” focuses on two smaller characters—Inspector Lunge and Eva Heinemann—both of whom had different lives before Dr. Tenma came into theirs. In no world did I ever think these two would meet, and yet, that’s the daring finale we get here. So what set these two on a path toward one another?
The title is a clue to the thematic nature of this episode, and I’d argue, too, that loneliness plays an integral role in the lives of Lunge and Eva. Lunge has, so far, been a mysterious and perhaps quirky character, a hyper-observant investigator who is the closest person to catching Dr. Tenma, as well as the most convinced that Tenma is guilty. What’s interesting about that is we also can tell he is an immensely talented person, that he is able to accumulate and organize data within his mind like no one else. But this episode peers into Lunge’s professional and personal life with an uncomfortable lens. I hesitate to call what he does an obsession, but rather, I think Lunge’s job is truly what he enjoys doing. To him, everything else exists outside of that: morals, social contracts, familial obligations, kindness, etc. None of those things seem to matter to him. Instead, we see him crassly interrogating a suspect without any awareness that he may be pushing the man too far over a very touchy and potentially volatile subject. Lunge just wants answers, and he uses information to get them.
On top of that, he appears to work against his own interests in other areas in order to succeed in just this one part of his life. (He even tells his boss that he’s not interested in anything other than the suspect in a case and solving the crime associated with them.) He takes on a ridiculous workload, and the word “workaholic” seems too tame to describe him. His work is the sole thing in his life that gives him any meaning! It’s so bad that his family has had ENOUGH. Y’all, that confrontation between the daughter and the mother was a NIGHTMARE. He was so consumed by these cases that he didn’t see that his daughter had gotten pregnant and that his wife was openly having an affair. And then, when he’s called by the suspect/witness he had been interrogating this whole time, he just LEAVES. “Tell me the details later,” he says, AS IF THIS WAS NOT A HUGE LIFE-CHANGING MOMENT. But he also didn’t really notice how his behavior had affected the witness, either, you know? And was he even upset about the man’s suicide? I don’t think so. He barely seemed bothered when he discovered that he’d been given no new cases by his boss!
There’s a clear contrast in the archetypes that these characters are made up of. Lunge is stoic, dedicated, and seems to exist within a razor-sharp area of calmness. I don’t think he’s ever raised his voice once in this show, and his emotional range is… well, I don’t even know if it’s a range, to be honest. Eva Heinemann nothing like this. She’s loud, straight to the point, quick to jump from one emotion to another. And yet, this show manages to find a link between the two of them, and it’s powerful. Eva, like Lunge, is her own worst enemy. She sabotages relationships all on her own, she uses other people for her own desires, and she strings men along, all while idolizing Dr. Tenma, the man who was supposed to make her happy but never did. I should note that at no point is Eva ever willing to admit or even acknowledge that she grossly dumped Dr. Tenma during an incredibly vulnerable time, all because she believed he could not provide her with the access and prestige that she wanted.
Y’all, she is remarkably clear about that, too. When she has her meltdown in front of the gardener, she doesn’t describe her love in terms of companionship or affection or hope or joy. She ascribes qualities to Dr. Tenma that he doesn’t care about at all. It’s all about naked ambition. Wealth. Social standing. She wanted a man who would say YES to everything she asked for. That’s not love! That’s not a partnership! And yet, she meets this man on the (absurd) grounds of her home, and she sees his kindness and dedication to the garden. It manifests—at least to her—as confidence. And perhaps that really is at the root of her interest in certain men and even in Dr. Tenma. The man did radiate confidence back at Eisler. But Eve is not really interested in finding someone like Dr. Tenma or a new person. She has a toxic, delusional attachment to the man, and it manifests in the nightmarish way that she treats the gardener.
All that being said: I did not expect that twist. I thought this was setting up Eva so that she would finally make the first overture of genuine interest in the gardener, despite how awkward it would have been for the man’s daughter. YEAH. NO. THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN AT ALL. Instead, the gardener’s estranged wife comes home just minutes before Eva arrives, and her response is to… torch her entire home and the grounds? It’s kind of a lot, and I get that she is a lot, but for someone who enjoys status symbols, this was… damn. I sort of get it. She’s done in a way, isn’t she? She doesn’t want to pursue anything but Dr. Tenma anymore, and she isn’t going to do so out of love or to attempt reconciliation.
No, when she arrives in Lunge’s office, she has isolated herself as much as she can, just like he has. Both of them have a singular goal: to find Dr. Tenma. Lunge wants to catch him, Eva wants to kill him. Does either character have anything left to lose? Nope, not at all, and that TERRIFIES me.
The video for “Left Behind” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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