In the forty-seventh episode of Monster, Grimmer and Tenma are asked to make a deal; Nina remembers. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of PTSD/trauma, triggers, child abuse
This show, y’all.
“The Door of Nightmares” is split between two major plots, both of them just as exciting as one another, so I’m going to start with the story concerning Tenma/Grimmer. I love that they’re now basically a team, and this is the episode in which Grimmer comes to understand why Tenma is so invested in all this. To him, the idea of willingly tracking down anything to do with Kinderheim 511 is too dangerous, at least if you don’t have a real sense for what the program was. Up until this point, Tenma had been so vague about his interest that Grimmer most likely believed that this was just an intriguing bit of history for Tenma; he didn’t have any personal stake in this at all. Still, it seemed as though Grimmer appreciated the company in Tenma, especially since this journey had been so very lonely prior to this.
It’s because of their pursuit of Detective Suk—who is still missing by the end of the episode, held somewhere by the secret police—that the truth comes spilling out, and LORD. What fascinated me most about this wasn’t the fact that the narrative was barreling forward, though I did appreciate that. It was how all of this made Captain Renke a million times more interesting. At the start of this episode, he was not much more than a figurehead as the boss who was at the head of this crime syndicate. The show lead us to believe that, too, even when he finally appeared on screen. He was calm, collected, and absolutely intimidating. But he was also an archetype; we’ve probably all seen a character like Renke whenever an underworld syndicate comes up.
So it was utterly surprising to me that despite that he’s still trying to make money selling Petrov’s tapes/files to someone, there was a deeply personal reason all of this interested him. We have a man split by the duties and responsibilities he has as the head of this syndicate, and then he’s got this intense personal reason to find out anything about his nephew. The story itself is deeply tragic, and it’s also impossible to divorce from this time and place. Seriously, I doubt this show is ever gonna get a live-action adaptation, though that might actually be interesting. I say that because I feel like an American adaptation would take it out of Eastern Europe, and that’s… that’s bad? It’s so integral to the story! Renke’s nephew never would have been sent to Kinderheim 511 without his parents dying when trying to cross the Berlin Wall.
There were moments in this episode when I thought Renke was going to give in to Grimmer’s offer, at least if it meant he could hear the tape himself. However, he doesn’t really have to anymore, does he? Tenma gave him a ton of context, including the identity of “The Monster,” and there was that incredibly emotional scene in the restaurant where Grimmer was able to remember Renke’s nephew. I hope that’s explored later, because y’all. The kids knew their memories of themselves were being erased, so THEY REMEMBERED EACH OTHER. My heart???? Who allowed that???
So: who is trying to buy this information? And why the hell was Franz Bonaparta taking care of the Liebert twins? Actually, let’s just transition to Nina’s part because I have QUESTIONS.
Y’all, these kids have experienced so much trauma over the course of their lives, and it’s just now starting to resurface. I still can’t figure out the timeline of Nina/Johan, but it seems as though this episode suggests that they were in the house in Prague with the Three Frogs sign at some point. There, Franz Bonaparta, the author of the Nameless Monster book… did things to them? I don’t know what exactly he did??? But Nina has memories of that place, and his picture book is INTEGRAL to the siblings’ development. So it clearly means something? AH, I can’t figure this out!
I do wanna say that there’s an incredible visual metaphor within this episode. I love that past trauma—the kind that has been buried and largely forgotten—is shown to us through Nina entering closed rooms. Obviously, she’s within a physical space that’s triggering memories within her, but I like that it could also be read as her opening doors in her mind, you know?
Anyway: we’re at an important point in this story. I can tell! Nina is close to a breakthrough, and Franz Bonaparta is way more vital to this all than I thought. So who exactly is he? What’s his real connection to all this?
The video for “The Door to Nightmares” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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