Mark Watches ‘Monster’: Episode 34 – At the Edge of Darkness

In the thirty-fourth episode of Monster, Johan takes care of a loose end, and Dr. Tenma helps someone in need. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of violence against sex workers, racism/xenophobia, poverty

This show is perpetually The Most, y’all. THE MOST.

Red Hindenberg

I still don’t get why Johan did all of this.

The Red Hindenberg was certain that she did know what was going on, and sadly, I don’t think she was right. Unless I’m missing something, I don’t see why Johan would ever need to get revenge on Schuwald. And how is it getting revenge to help his biological son find him and reunite with him??? That is some weird-ass revenge, y’all. So what is actually going on here? Why did Johan get involved with all of this? 

I still don’t have a working theory aside from Johan just enjoying his ability to manipulate people. “At The Edge of Darkness” isn’t about that answer, though. It’s about darkness and how both Johan and Tenma approach the concept. Red Hindenberg knew too much, and Johan had her executed by Roberto. (And really, this episode pretty much outright confirms that Roberto is working directly with Johan all the time.) But that’s such a simplistic description of what happens here. It’s not just that he needed to tie up a loose end; Johan delighted in besting this woman. He seemed to thrive at seeing the horror and shock on her face when she realized her “man” was not with her, but with Johan. He says something very telling to the Red Hindenberg before he leaves: he found an even darker place beneath the darkness that was already in him. And unlike what we hear later, Johan marched proudly into that darkness. He lives there. He’s set up an estate in that darkness, and he seems to have no willingness to stop. (Does that make his message to Dr. Tenma on that rooftop a lie???) This is who he is.

The Doctor

Y’all, this show so often drops me into a new plot with no introduction to it at all, and it’s so cool how I can just settle into it, knowing that the show is going to bring me to a place of understanding as long as I trust it. So, there had to be a reason that Tenma was in the waiting room of that clinic. (He’s just keeping his sniper rifle with him at all times, right???) Yet “At the Edge of Darkness” takes me on a wild journey of xenophobia and poverty before giving me the reason for this detour. And was it a detour? I think Monster places an equal value on character development—including character studies like this episode—and plot momentum. Both of them are necessary for the story, and this episode worked so well as a reflection of where Dr. Tenma was at in this part of his life.

In essence, he’s still a deeply moral person. He may be descending into a darkness, but he hasn’t lost that moral center. While visiting this clinic—which serves almost exclusively Asian immigrants in Munich—he immediately leaps up to help the seventeen-year-old “doctor” who is running the place after the last doctor died. But notice that he doesn’t do the work that’s needed until he has to. He teaches the “doctor” what to do because she’d be much better off with knowledge rather than someone to swoop in and save the day. I also bet that Tenma was aware of the fact that he couldn’t stay here, so it’s that whole adage of teaching someone to fish rather than giving them fish. This young woman would be able to keep doing what she’s doing and do it better. 

Still, I can’t forget that Dr. Tenma’s final lines to this doctor are such a fascinating mirror for Johan. Tenma knows he is descending into a darkness, but he still tells this woman to shine a light on the darkness. Maybe he’s willing to go as far as he is for his own reasons. But he doesn’t want others to follow his path, while Johan is actively encouraging other people (LIKE CHILDREN!!!) to go along with him. 

I am listening to my friends’ podcast, Deadline City, while writing this, and the “Destination: Villain Mansion” episode is so relevant here. These characters are two sides of the same coin, and they’re on opposite ends of the spectrum. Well, actually, I’d say they started that way, and now… I think Dr. Tenma is worried he’s moving too close to Johan’s side. The question is: Does he think that’s worth it?

The video for “At the Edge of Darkness” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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