In the seventeenth episode of Monster, Dr. Tenma races back to town to stop a disaster, but then learns a new twist to Johan. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of Nazism, xenophobia, mental illness
Every time I feel like I’m getting a grasp on this show, it twists into an entirely new and unexpected direction. LORD, THIS IS TOO MUCH.
Nina and The Baby
I’m so into the way this show uses food and the framing device of the multi-course meal to communicate decadence and class. It happened before when Nina spoke to the Professor, but here, it’s drawn out in excruciating detail. The Baby wanted to entertain himself as he enacted his racist terrorist attack, and it was meant to mirror an extravagant meal. Which is precisely why it was so badass that Nina interrupted it, both literally and spiritually. She arrives during the appetizer—The Baby’s favorite!—and upends the plate, a visual representation of how his plan to murder citizens of the Turkish district will eventually be upended, too. I just love how this played out, too, as I feel like there are cues here to make us think of Dr. Tenma’s own willingness to brandish a gun, but not inspire the same level of fear that Nina does. The Baby wets himself because he is so frightened by her, and he’s convinced she would have actually shot him. It also got me thinking about Nina and Johan, who are two characters that have inspired fear in others, but I don’t see them as being identical in that sense. They might share this ability, but it’s not for the same reasons. I don’t believe Nina will murder for the sake of it or for the joy it gives her. She sees it as a means to an end, one that happens to be the end of her brother. But I also love this because the story allows her to make these choices. She chooses to confront the Baby, to try to save people in the Turkish district, and then to tell Dr. Tenma what she learned from her brother. She is not so focused on her own goals that she forgets of others.
Which I think is a direct parallel to how Dr. Tenma is written! Because while he has a singular goal here—to track down Johan and stop him—he never forgets that there’s a world around him and that he can positively influence that world, too. It’s something I deeply admire about his character! Yes, I make fun of him a lot for being ridiculously bad at the role he’s chosen—he can’t seem to take care of the child he’s taken on, he ignores basic common sense of being a fugitive, HE USES HIS ACTUAL NAME WITH EVERYONE—but he is still such a fiercely good person. In “Reunion,” he has a direct clue that should get him closer to Johan, but he forces one of General Wolf’s men to take him back to Frankfurt instead, all so he can save the Turkish district. He has a moral imperative within him to help whenever he can, and it’s something we’ve seen consistently over the course of the show! I think that’s also how the show demonstrates that Tenma understands the immediacy of the Turkish situation; he can still seek out Johan’s message knowing that Johan is mostly likely NOT actually there. But these people will die if he doesn’t do something.
I appreciated the realism here of having the men in the district not believe Tenma. Like… he is such a random person that his claim would easily come off as unrealistic or impossible. I did think that the scene where the older gentleman gives his blessing felt a little rushed. Was that story he told from actual history or something else? Regardless, it did feel nice to see actual solidarity unfold, though the scenes of everyone fighting the decoy fires was so fucking stressful. I KNEW SOMETHING TERRIBLE WAS GOING TO HAPPEN. We knew that The Baby had planned for a much bigger fire to be set elsewhere, and what little I know of this show has proven to me that this story will go WHEREVER THE FUCK IT WANTS. So yeah, I fully began to anticipate that none of these people would not be able to stop the fire, and I was about to witness a massacre. Instead, the story cleverly manages to reference the rug Heckel stole to give us a fantastic resolution to this conflict, one that was breathless and terrifying and so damn entertaining. Y’ALL IT WAS TOO MUCH.
So… where does this leave us? This was already SO MUCH, and then we get hit with another shocking and fucked up twist from Nina. I do want to make sure to be critical and engage with the reveal itself, too, because I don’t know what this is going to mean. Is this really at the source of Johan’s evil? I’m not saying it’s impossible to delve into this without sensitivity! I have no idea what this is going to be like, to explore the idea that Johan has two personalities within him and one is a murderer. Hell, I don’t even know if this is true. This show has already had so many twists that I could maybe seem them taking the story in an unexpected direction. Basically: what the FUCK. And also: I don’t know what this story will be like! So here I go into the unknown, and Johan could very well be begging for help. If that’s the case… lord, this is going to change my perception of the show. AGAIN.
The video for “Reunion” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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