In the twenty-sixth episode of Monster, WHAT THE FUCK!!! Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of suicide, manipulation, grief
This is all a game, isn’t it? ISN’T IT? Johan is up to something here, and he’s manipulating multiple people into… what? I don’t actually fucking know! I can’t even imagine an endgame at this point, and perhaps that is because Johan just likes to fuck with people for the hell of it. I don’t know. There’s just… so much going on here, and I’m gonna try to do my best to unpack it all.
First of all: Schuwald definitely believed that Edmund was his son, and during the opening of this episode, we are casually told that Edmund was definitely lying about this. It happened so fast that I almost didn’t catch it. I mean, I initially couldn’t even tell why we were opening on these characters, and then I find out Schuwald hired a private investigator (whose name I didn’t catch) to investigate Edmund’s death. So, right off the bat, it’s immediately possible that Karl is Schuwald’s son, but Schuwald himself bought the con. He believes it’s Edmund, and the portrait of grief we get here is devastating. Schuwald has stopped eating, he’s largely unresponsive throughout the episode, and he is drowning in regret. He never got to have a relationship with his son, and I’m certain part of his reaction is due to guilt over that. It doesn’t even matter to him that the man he hired to investigate Edmund found out the truth about Edmund’s story. Schuwald can’t even hear it! He’s not in a space to accept this. That would mean he still has no relationship with his son, and he probably believes he never will.
EXCEPT HIS SON IS RIGHT THERE. As if that isn’t tragic and awful enough, there’s a whole plot here devoted to Karl opening up about his feelings, first to Lotte, and then to JOHAN. And look, I totally get why Karl wanted to get to know Schuwald first before he revealed who he was. Guess who was that person for my siblings’ adoptive mom? Me! They both were like, “Yeah, how about you meet her first and tell us what she’s like.” Which I was perfectly fine with! I was curious enough myself to be the first of the three of us to meet her in person, but the impulse completely makes sense to me. And in Karl’s case, this was a man who was rumored to be… well, a lot of things. His reputation wasn’t exactly stellar, was it? So, Karl used the reading sessions to get a feel for who this man was, and Schuwald was, basically, exactly as Karl thought he would be: arrogant, obsessed with money, and not at all pleasant to be around.
I’ve mentioned this before, but this is the perfect time to repeat myself as I transition to talking about Karl and Johan. I think it was a brilliant decision for this show (and the source material, if the pacing was the same) to give us so very little of Johan prior to this. This episode is the most we’ve ever seen of him, and instead, we’ve seen his collateral damage. We’ve seen how many people he’s broken and manipulated, how many deaths are either done by him or through him. We know that he has flat-out ruined more lives than we can count or even know of.
And now, he’s trying to befriend Karl. Look, I am convinced with virtually no evidence that Johan set up Edmund. Do I understand the reason why? Nope! But someone had to know enough about Karl to make it believable that Edmund was Schuwald’s son. Who else is an expert at manipulating people with incredibly personal information? IT’S FUCKING JOHAN. So, combine these things together, and I think it’s understandable why literally every act of Johan’s caused me to shrink up in horror. When he reached for Karl to help him up the ladder? ABSOLUTELY NOT, DON’T TOUCH HIM. Walking along the edge of the building? YOU’RE A MONSTER. Asking him for more details about his time in foster care? HE’S TRICKING YOU INTO VOLUNTARILY GIVING UP INFORMATION HE WILL USE AGAINST YOU LATER. He unnerves me when he’s doing anything. And that crying??? What the fuck, y’all? Was that a real response or was he just trying to manipulate Karl further???
The same goes for the “secret” woods referenced in the title. In another context, Johan’s imaginative words to Schuwald would have been touching and loving. He helped this man see a place he loved that was no longer there! Except I can’t compartmentalize Johan; I can’t see him doing positive things for someone for the sake of it. No, everything feels like a fucking mind game, and it creeps me out. What is his deal here? What exactly is he trying to do? Is there some reason for his fixation on these people? Is it because Johan also spent time in foster care? And we haven’t even gotten to Dr. Tenma, who is on his way to Munich. How is that going to complicate matters? The same goes for the private investigator! He now knows that Karl thinks he is Schuwald’s son and that someone came with Edmund to speak “for” him. IT WAS JOHAN! It has to be!
This fucking show, y’all.
The video for “The Secret Woods” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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