In the forty-fifth episode of Monster, Suk and Grimmer finally listen to the tapes. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For talk of PTSD/triggers
This show is like a train wreck that then causes one hundred other train wrecks, and we have to watch all of them in slow motion, and I AM STILL SWEATING FROM WATCHING THIS EPISODE. God, what a tense twenty minutes, and I have to be repetitive again: NO CENTRAL CHARACTERS except two remarkably brief appearances of Johan!
Well, I don’t even know if I can say that anymore. One thing that’s made this arc in Prague so compelling is that I believe Grimmer and Suk as main characters. And indeed, they fit into this story so well, both because they’re now intricately tied to it and because they’re nothing like the other characters in the show. Suk works as a character who is naïve and inexperienced but is then thrust into a nightmare that requires him to challenge his own optimism and belief in the system. Even in “The Monster’s Afterimage,” we see him clinging to the notion that if he just tells the truth, all will be fine. But all of us in the audience know that this isn’t true! In that, there’s a stark condemnation of the state and the way agents of the state use their power to control narratives. The secret police are not going to reward Suk because he is telling the truth. They don’t have that moral system at all. Indeed, they’re all most likely to be after that tape and those research notes.
In that sense, I could see a slight similarity between Tenma and Suk, though I would argue that they only resemble one another in Tenma’s early days. Tenma is far more cynical now, after everything he’s been through. But this show is frequently about metamorphosis. What changes people? How long do those changes take? Tenma’s surgery on Johan is what toppled that first Domino. For Suk, it was the murder of his mentor by Johan. And now, I think that Johan is also tied to the transformation in Grimmer. I admit that I still don’t understand this Steiner character, but I don’t think I’m supposed to. However, it’s hard to ignore Grimmer’s reaction to the tape with Johan on it. That reaction was so visceral, particularly at the point where Johan began reciting that picture book that ALSO triggered Nina. I don’t think it’s a stretch, then, to bring back an older theory I had a week or two ago: Was Grimmer at Kinderheim 511? Was he also conditioned by the same people as Johan and possibly Nina?
If that’s the case, it would explain this Steiner thing, but it would also give us a very strong motivation for Grimmer to be involved in this whole mess. He tells Suk in this episode that he chose to be here, that it’s no accident that he is tracking down information on Kinderheim 511 and the Monster. If I am right—and I think this is a rare case where I either am or I’m real close to the truth—then this journey is so much more deeply personal than I thought. What if Grimmer is seeking out closure? What if he wants to understand what happened to him, where he came from, and why he changed so much as a person?
The answer (or at least one of them) was definitely in that safety deposit box, and everything goes back to Kinderheim 511. But again: I’m missing so many pieces of this puzzle. How exactly does that picture book fit into this? I don’t understand the timeline yet. Did Johan show up at Kinderheim 511 after having “bonded” with that book? Was that already part of his identity, or was it used to change him? Grimmer seems a lot older than Johan, so were they there at the same time or different times? It must be the former because Grimmer CLEARLY recognizes Johan. He has two incredibly upsetting moments where the sight of Johan (dressed up as a woman) causes him to either panic or freeze up. There’s something there, right? Obviously, there’s something to the picture book and Grimmer, too!
And what of Johan’s great plan here? He framed Detective Suk for the murder of the officers who were secret policemen, but then he breaks into Suk’s apartment at the exact moment Suk steps into his bedroom, and he murders the two officers who were just about to bring Suk back to the station. Were the whiskey bonbons not enough??? Why kill these men? Is Johan trying to get the tape, too, or is he merely an agent of chaos?
THIS SHOW IS A LOT. Still!!
The video for “The Monster’s Afterimage” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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