Mark Watches ‘Monster’: Episode 19 – Monster’s Abyss

In the nineteenth episode of Monster, Dr. Tenma tracks down an acquaintance who might be able to help him understand Johan. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster. 

Hi, this episode fucked me UP. It’s a fascinating follow-up to “Five Sugars” because it also follows a new character, but this time, they provide context to Dr. Tenma’s past while illuminating the present. Here we meet Rudy (whose full name I don’t think is said once?), a criminal psychologist who works not only with local law enforcement, but who helps with profiling by interviewing serial killers. I just came off of a binge of Mindhunter, a show that completely took over my life for a week, so there’s a lot here that is coincidentally familiar to me, even in the portrayal of Peter Jurgens, who gave off some serious Ed Kemper vibes. (That’s intentional, right?) Granted, I know that it’s just because there’s a similar thread of a story in both shows, but I thought it was a really cool bit of synchronicity.

Anyway, Rudy’s appearance on this show might be recurring or it might not, but I’m learning that’s part of the fun of Monster. As he appears here, he’s someone whose life intersected with Tenma’s. While the two were at University, they competed for the top spot, but the experience plagued Rudy. Did Tenma actually look down on him? Is that why Tenma never ratted him out for catching him cheating during a big exam? So, when Dr. Tenma reappears in his life, the thought is still on Rudy’s mind. Combine that with all the newspaper articles about how Tenma is a serial killer, and I completely understand why Rudy was so quick to contact the authorities. I believe that Rudy developed this whole narrative in his head about Tenma, believing his old rival to have constructed an elaborate reality that included the letters from “Johan.” It makes sense to me that Rudy thought those were fake, too! 

But because this is Monster, appearances are, once again, not what they seem. This episode veers into one of the most terrifying sequences thus far, which worries me because there’s still so much left. But there’s a clever way this script is designed to reveal information to maximize the suspense. We know after Jurgens’s threatens and assaults Rudy that he reveals there is something to prove the existence of the “Monster” in the cellar of the home of Jurgens’s last victim. (Maybe it wasn’t his last victim? The important detail, though, is that it was the only one that didn’t fit his normal pattern.)

Yeah, descending into the basement of a murder victim was unnerving enough. That alone made me nervous. But then that GIANT doll??? Why? Why would you do this to me I HATE DOLLS SO MUCH. Then all those photos of the murder victim facing outwards??? WHOMST??? Whomst allowed this??? But the truth of that scene fits so perfectly into the larger narrative of this show that I can’t believe I didn’t figure it out until it was handed to me. Y’all, Johan compels others to kill people from his past, and in this case, he somehow figured out Jurgens’s past, set up a scene that would deliberately trigger and manipulate him so that in his disorientation, he would murder Mrs. Kempf. How many people have been manipulated by Johan at this point, y’all? Shit, I was glad that Dr. Tenma wondered this aloud to Rudy, too, because I think it’s a very valid point. How much is Tenma being played by Johan? Does that include all of the messages about his possible split personality? Is Rudy right to doubt that Johan is telling the truth when he’s established a frightening pattern of manipulation?

I don’t know the answer to this, and it’s yet another reason why it’s hard to delve into the specifics of this representation of mental illness. I don’t actually know what the show is doing with it! Is Johan lying or is he truly dealing with this disorder? How much does this distinction matter in the long run? Johan is still murdering people this way regardless, and I think Rudy is on to something with regards to his theory of family. Oh god, that’s so fucking disturbing. What if Johan found a family and is now systematically erasing everyone from his past who knows just how fucked up he is? Mrs. Kempf knew because of those letters Johan sent her! That also means that Rudy now knows, and Dr. Tenma will eventually have to be dealt with, too. 

Again, the question comes up: Can Dr. Tenma actually kill him? Are all these events pushing Tenma towards being able to murder Johan?

This show is so fucked up, THERE IS SO MUCH MORE FUCKED UP TO GO.

The video for “Monster’s Abyss” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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