In the forty-sixth episode of Monster, I have STRONG WORDS for ALL OF YOU. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For talk of PTSD, trauma, triggers
This is one of those episodes where I have sat here with a blank document for the whole of fifteen minutes before I could write anything down. Y’all, I just BARELY committed to the theory that Grimmer had been at Kinderheim 511, and it’s like the show knew I would do that, and it said, “Oh, you think you can predict what happens next? HOLD MY BEER.”
Because WHAT THE FUCK. This is astoundingly terrifying and sweat-inducing story, and then it pivots into some of the biggest reveals of the whole show, including one that I’m not sure is a real thing BUT I’M GOING TO TALK ABOUT IT.
On the Run
It took me a minute to figure out just how similar Detective Suk’s story was to Tenma’s, and even then, I’m still appreciating the way this narrative was crafted. Because I did pick up on Suk’s optimism and naiveté in the last episode! I figured that this was an intentional parallel with Tenma, but this episode reveals a new possibility: Johan works in patterns. We’ve already seen that with the elderly couples murdered across Germany. But this is now the second time that Johan has murdered specifically to manipulate and implicate a successful young person who had the gall to stand up to an immoral status quo. It’s very likely that this is happening because serial killers often have an MO that guides their operation. But is it also possible that Johan constructed all of this specifically to goad Tenma? He knows Tenma is following him, and what better way to make contact with him than through a copycat murder? Hell, it worked! Tenma showed up! He is now very firmly in Grimmer’s life, and all these pieces are converging on one location.
It’s possible that this is just me projecting a motivation on the story, but it feels like something Johan would do. Even if that’s the case, though, I still have to admit that Johan completely screwed up someone’s life. There’s a heartbreaking scene (BEFORE THE THING, OH MY GOD, THE THING) where Suk opens up to Grimmer about the importance of the abandoned building he is hiding in. As a child, it’s where he play-acted at being a cop, and you can see in that where some of Suk’s optimism came from. He was inspired by cop dramas on television, which are fantasized stories that often tell of idealized scenarios. I can’t comment on the nature of Czech depictions of the police force, but I imagine it’s not all that different from what we see all over the world. I’ve spoken about this when writing about other projects, but one of the most insidious forms of propaganda in the world is the TV show about cops. Almost all of them borrow tropes from one another, and many of them make it easier for people to accept that civil rights violations and illegal activities are part of the jobs for cops. They’re just trying to make sure the bad guys are put away, right? Who cares if they break a few rules along the way?
That’s a gross simplification of a real thing, and here’s a better idea of what I’m talking about: https://shadowandact.com/new-study-details-how-crime-shows-are-a-pr-machine-for-law-enforcement However, within the context of the show itself, Monster is able to give us a crushing story: Detective Suk has to accept that the idealized life he thought he’d be living by being a cop is not what has come to pass. He was frequently passed up for opportunities because desire doesn’t equal talent. He discovered how much corruption was all around him and how easy it was for him not to see it. And now, the very force that is supposed to protect him, is supposed to help him realize his dreams, has turned on him and branded him a criminal.
There’s a thin line between freedom and criminality, and now that Suk is on the run, he can’t ignore it anymore.
In the midst of trying to talk about this realization on video, a shot rang out, and “Contact” became a completely different story, veering away from Suk’s introspection about what his life had become and grounding us first in the present. I say that because the primary concern was getting Suk out of the line of fire, which, in a stunning set of twists, proved pretty much impossible. Y’all, that whole sequence was ALREADY a lot, but then another pivot hit, and the story became about Grimmer. Oh my god, I just wrote that I didn’t understand the whole Steiner persona, and this episode laughed at me and told someone to hold its beer AGAIN. I don’t think I could have understood it without seeing Grimmer transform.
Which leads me to like a BILLION other questions. Was this the end result of Grimmer’s training? Was Kinderheim 511 supposed to give rise to this persona? I think Tenma isn’t that far off by saying that these children were being developed to be spies, but what good would a spy be if they basically hulk out every time they feel their life is threatened? And then there’s the whole origin of the Magnificent Steiner in the Invincible Steiner. That is now two pieces of children’s entertainment—a picture book and a television show—that massively influenced the identity of orphans in that program. Is that the case with everyone? Also, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT? Johan may have orchestrated many of these events, but there’s some chaotic energy in the pairing of Tenma and Grimmer. Can Johan successfully manipulate both of them?
One last thing: I can’t believe the show explained why Grimmer smiles all the time. THANKS FOR THE PUNCH IN THE HEART.
The video for “Contact” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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