Mark Watches ‘Monster’: Episode 55 – Room 402

In the fifty-fifth episode of Monster, MY WORLD IS ROCKED. AGAIN. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster. 

I’d ask this show to please give me a break, but I know it gives not one single fuck about me or my feelings. 


You know, I should have realized that it was going to be relatively easy to locate Eva in Düsseldorf, especially since she was a regular at certain places. Because of that, the tension of “Room 402” shifts to two very different plot lines. Initially, I was tricked by the narrative. What if the events in “The Escape” concerning Eva were happening later than Tenma’s escape? That would mean that the knock on her door could have been Tenma, not Roberto. Unfortunately, as Tenma sneaks into the hotel and locates Eva’s room, he finds it empty. Thus, I believed that Tenma was back to square one, and I also assumed that Roberto had gotten Eva. 

It’s here that the story shifts its focus brilliantly to Vardemann, who has two vital interactions over the course of “Room 402.” I love that this ties Vardemann to the greater narrative (through his father), but it also deepens his characterization. For that to happen, though, Vardemann has to relive his greatest heartbreak:

He has known for years that his father really was a spy. 

It’s such a crushing reveal, y’all. And this whole time, I thought I understood Vardemann. And now that I do, it’s incredible to me how this reveal moves Vardemann even closer to Tenma in terms of a parallel character arc. Both of these characters were destroyed by their commitment to a moral code. Tenma saved Johan, which set this nightmare in motion. (A point he brings up to Vardemann when he has his lawyer held at gunpoint.) Vardemann dedicated his life to believing in the innocent because he knew his father was innocent. EXCEPT HE WASN’T. 

It’s Inspector’s Lunge’s arrival that dredges up this history. Once again, this story is uniquely tied to a time and place. It has to be set around this time period, as the secrecy of the state plays such a huge part in it. Vardemann’s father was involved with the Czechoslovakian secret police, which eradicates any possibility of him being “innocent.” So it’s completely understandable to me that Vardemann breaks down over Lunge’s visit. Lunge is not exactly a compassionate person, and it doesn’t even seem like he cared about how emotional Vardemann was becoming in his presence. But it’s true that Lunge triggered an intense reaction because this history has reminded Vardemann that his moral core betrayed him. If Vardemann couldn’t even trust his father to tell him the truth, who can he trust?

And so we have our collision: Lunge’s investigation has collided with Vardemann, tearing open old wounds and reminding Vardemann of how messy and complicated his life is. Moments after this, Tenma collides with Vardemann, and I completely failed to consider that Tenma still believed Vardemann and Roberto were working together. Yet that conversation reveals that despite all of Vardemann’s trauma, he still wants someone to believe in. Is that person Tenma? Is Tenma’s mission a true one, or is he just another person who will betray Vardemann?

I really adore how intensely personal Monster manages to be with everyone. Seriously! All of the major players are given stories that allow the audience empathy. We may not agree with some of what these people do, and we might even find them despicable beyond any hope of redemption. But I understand these characters. That goes for Vardemann, too. He wants to believe so badly in Tenma, to accept that Tenma really IS going to prevent more people from being murdered by Johan and Johan’s people. (And I have to remember that at this point, Vardemann still doesn’t have confirmation that Johan even exists.) The episode, in its final moments, returns to a motif we’ve seen over and over again: the innocence of children. That innocence has been corrupted or exploited, as is the case for Nina, Johan, or those under the Kinderheim 511 program. (And its descendants.) It’s been denied to some children, or, in the case of the orphanage run by Petrov, it was the modus operandi. 

I believe that is what we’re supposed to take away from those images. Verdemann does have someone to believe in: his wife and his newborn son. 

For now? LOOK I’M WORRIED ABOUT LITERALLY EVERY CHARACTER AT THIS POINT, OKAY. That includes Tenma, who is absolutely going to go to the Red Rose Mansion. Nothing is going to stop that. But I’m nervous! Only bad things happen there!!!

The video for “Room 402” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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