In the fifty-sixth episode of Monster, everyone makes their way to the Red Rose Mansion. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of PTSD, trauma
The end of this episode is not precisely a revelation; you can trace this reveal all the way back to “House of Tragedy,” whose title is now deeply, deeply relevant. (HOW MUCH FORESHADOWING HAVE I MISSED.) Right from the beginning, Monster made it clear that this story was always going to be about what was buried: memories. Trauma. Bodies. (Seriously, where did all those bodies go?) History. Secret police forces. Motivations. Nina’s arc has been about the recovery of those memories and her struggle once they do start resurfacing. Who is she? That question has two deeply confusing meanings, too. It could refer to her past and where she came from. But it also could be seen as an examination of the self: Who is Nina with all this trauma buried within her?
“The Never-Ending Journey” opens with a brief scene of Tenma reading Verdemann’s father’s notebook, which causes him to reflect on his own journey. I found it to be an interesting way of framing this whole episode, because aren’t most of these characters repeating an endless cycle? And couldn’t you say that their success depends on breaking these endless cycles? Tenma himself is stuck in a perpetual chase, and each time he nears Johan or learns something vital to catching him, he is cast away once more. Usually, he’s got another crime he didn’t commit pinned to him, too! (Except he really is a fugitive this time around.) Meanwhile, Johan is still manipulating. Still exploiting. Still killing. When is this going to end? Tenma can’t spend the rest of his life chasing this person down.
So this episode feels like a deliberate attempt to tell us, the audience, that the end is coming, that this never-ending chase cannot sustain itself. Dr. Reichwein and Vardemann are on their way to Prague, determined to catch up with Tenma and unravel this mystery. Tenma will shortly arrive there after crossing the border into Czechoslovakia. Which brings me to Nina, who has the largest piece of the puzzle in “The Never-Ending Journey.” Nina’s past is just as obfuscated as Johan’s, but her path to unraveling it is so different. I mean, there’s the obvious: SHE’S NOT MURDERING PEOPLE AS A WAY OF COPING WITH IT. Rather, Nina has tried to find some semblance of “normalcy” in her life, only to have these moments of peace interrupted by intrusions from the past.
Now, though, she’s committed to uncovering the truth, and her journey to Prague is deliberate. She went to that city specifically to find the Three Bridges, to reassemble the whole puzzle with seemingly random pieces of her memory. It’s at the Red Rose Mansion that we get confirmation of what Lunge suspected and of the anecdote about what happened there. Nina was present. She discovered a room liberally littered with bodies. So… who killed all those people? Was it actually Johan? Again, I feel like that’s the easy leap to make, but I also don’t know SHIT. It could be someone else!
Which brings me to the next puzzle piece: Lipski, the man who discovered Dieter and Nina and takes the two of them in. Initially, I thought he was just a random man that Nina made friends with, but the truth is so much more horrifying. (And was hinted it at in the previous episode!) Lipski was ONE OF THE KIDS WHO USED TO ATTEND FRANZ BONAPARTA’S READINGS. I’m sure we’ll get a greater confirmation of what actually what went down in that house, but through Lipski, it’s heavily implied that Bonaparta ran tests on prospective children by reading them his absolutely inappropriately terrifying and bizarre picture books. That alone is so fucking gross, first of all, as I’m sure that none of the kids or their parents knew that they were participating in EXPERIMENTS. I’m also assuming that this is how children were chosen to funneled into the whole Kinderheim 511 program. All you had to do was determine the correct “meaning” of one of his books.
Which… oddly all seem to feature Johan??? I feel like the timelime answers my question: Johan in the picture books preceded Johan in real life. That’s the character that Johan was… named after? Modeled after? I haven’t figured that out yet. Either way: Lipski is still vital to this story and to Nina’s arc, too. Reichwein and Vardemann are looking for a surviving witness to the readings. But also, that puppet story that Lipski keeps coming back to? GOOD LORD, Y’ALL. It’s Johan’s story! Except… what dragon would Johan be destroying in his story?
I ask that because it continues to be apparent that Johan is destroying pieces of his past, after he finds them. In that sense, he’s on a similar journey to his sister, but his is vastly more destructive. He doesn’t want anyone else to put this together. So it’s frustrating that the Red Rose Mansion is mostly likely going to be in ruins before anyone else gets to it. How the hell are we ever going to find out what truly happened there? What happens when all that evidence is destroyed? WHO THE FUCK WAS FRANZ BONAPARTA???
The video for “The Never-Ending Journey” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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