In the twenty-second episode of Monster, Detective Lunge sets a trap that works too well. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
I truly, TRULY never know what I’m going to get with each episode. I basically just said that, but I need to say it again, because HOLY SHIT. WHAT. Oh my god, this was so stressful? But one thing I like about this is how it works as a devastating demonstration of confirmation bias. Lunge believes so fully that Johan is an alter ego of Dr. Tenma that any evidence to the contrary gets twisted into supporting his belief. Tenma is nice and kind? It’s part of his sick M.O. Tenma is investigating “Johan”? He’s just trying to find new victims. So, it’s with this in mind that Detective Lunge spends this episode not only setting up a trap to catch Dr. Tenma, but proving to himself that the latest murder is just a copycat murder. AND LORD, DOES HE EVER LEARN THE HARD WAY HOW RIGHT AND WRONG HE IS.
And that’s what is complicated about this! I get why Lunge thinks he is right. He has a phenomenal ability to both put details into context and to get into the mind of a criminal. We’ve seen the former throughout his appearances on Monster, but the latter is a new thing, one that manifests as he visits the crime scene for the murdered Jopps family. He figures out the murderer’s movements, yes, but establishes a key fact that differentiates this murder from the ones that Johan has been committing. (And, of course, he doesn’t believe Johan is real.) It’s that arresting shot of Lunge looking in the mirror at himself that provides the missing piece: the killer saw themselves and their victim reflected back at them. And I adored that when Dr. Tenma later followed the same steps, he had the same exact moment reflected back at him.
It’s a powerful moment that helps remind the audience that these two men are on parallel, reflected paths. It’s just that at the moment, Lunge doesn’t realize it. He still sees Tenma as his adversary, as the thing he must achieve, as the end goal to this entire case he’s been working on. There is no reflection here in his perception: there is just a fucked-up murderer who seems to taunt him to his face. It’s also easy to see how Lunge’s confirmation bias works when he ends up being right about LITERALLY EVERYTHING ELSE. As predicted, Dr. Tenma does take the bait and shows up at the EXACT house he thought he would. It’s just that Tenma’s motivations are the differing element here. Lunge was also right about the Jopps’ murder being done by a copycat, and he was spot-on to put pressure on the nephew, who had a ridiculously credible motive. Because it WAS the nephew, and he discovers that when the nephew STABS HIM IN HIS SIDE. (What a shitty way to discover your instincts and deductive skills were correct, y’all.) Looking at the unfolding events this way… yeah, I get it. There’s nothing here that truly proves that Tenma isn’t exactly what Lunge thinks he is. He was right about everything else; what possible sign is there that Dr. Tenma is telling the truth, particularly in that context?
And yet, we still see Tenma’s unbreakable moral code at work here. He can’t just leave Lunge to bleed out and die in the street, so he sticks the man IN HIS CAR without restraining him because this is what Tenma does. He is an awful criminal/fugitive because he repeatedly does things that will easily get him caught! IT’S SO DAMN PURE. And even when Lunge threatens to shoot him, Dr. Tenma doesn’t back down. He saves Lunge’s life. That might be enough for most people to begin to question their theory, but Lunge is, by the final shot of “Lunge’s Trap,” still convinced that he’s got the right person. Y’all, when is he going to find out the truth? How is he going to discover it???
The video for “Lunge’s Trap” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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