In the sixty-first episode of Monster, Nina finally makes a breakthrough with her memories. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
UGH THIS SHOW IS SO GOOD.
The overarching theme of “The Door to Memories” is of memory and trauma. How do our minds protect us? How can they harm us? What sort of decisions do we make that affect such outcomes? So much of the truth of what’s really been happening in Monster is buried in the minds of others, covered up or forgotten. Well, not completely, and as Vardemann and Detective Suk (!!!!! WHAT A SURPRISE!!!!) interview the five witnesses to Bonaparta’s readings, they discover that some memories are right on the surface. It’s just that no one has asked the perfect question. That’s at the heart of Vardemann’s complaint about Suk, though I understand completely why Suk was sticking to the book. The guy got just accused of a bunch of horrific crimes; the last thing that he wants to do is go off book and attract more negative attention.
At the same time, Suk’s questioning is cold, so much so that he doesn’t really get any meaningful information out of these people Vardemann, on the other hand, asks much more incisive questions, though he does so at the expense of revealing his personal attachment to the case. Yet Monster is frequently a show about parallels, and this time, Vardemann directly calls attention to this. Vardemann is trying to prove the innocence of a man accused of a host of horrific crimes… and now he’s been paired with a man who was accused of a host of horrific crimes. (ALL COMMITTED BY THE SAME PERSON, MIND YOU.) That doesn’t excuse Vardemann’s outbreak, of course, which is triggered by a witness revealing that Vardemann’s father visited the Red Rose Mansion. Again: understandable, just as Suk’s behavior made sense. Vardemann’s father is a huge source of the man’s trauma, and suddenly, it’s possible that he did way worse than Vardemann thought he did.
Except that third witness… holy shit. Vardemann’s father SAVED HIM FROM THE MANSION. Look, we don’t know his full story, nor do we know how complicit he was in those experiments. But there’s now evidence that Vardemann’s father not only knew those experiments were horrible, but that he worked to get children to leave. That was clearly an effective technique, too, since that man survived the experience. He chose to leave because of what Vardemann’s father said to him.
So who are the final two witnesses? One of them can’t be Capek, can it? Would he be that bold to show up and face Vardemann and Suk?
There’s a striking moment in the midst of “The Door to Memories” between Dieter and Nina, and yet again, it’s an instance where narrative parallels are placed front-and-center. It’s Dieter who calls attention to their similarities: both characters experienced immense trauma in their lives, and both are haunted by what was done to them. But Dieter, who is not actively trying to resurface old memories, must watch as Nina returns to the Three Frogs and deliberately triggers herself every single day. Even then, her memories never fully return to her; only the most upsetting details come forth, and they are terribly painful to relive. So I really loved that there was a moment here where a character basically says, “HEY, MAYBE WE DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS.” Because it’s true! Granted, Nina’s memories serve a narrative purpose, so I figured we would eventually learn what they were. But Dieter’s concern and kindness changes Nina’s mind, and she decides to take care of herself. She chooses to take herself and Dieter back to Munich, to be with Dr. Reichwein, and to pursue the truth of her memories while under supervised, professional care, instead of returning to the site of an immense trauma. THIS IS GREAT.
So, let’s talk about those memories. I’m still having trouble piecing them all together, but I know that this is intentional. We get some more information from them! That was Capek in one of them, right? And if I understood it correctly, Johan was taken from the family as retaliation for his mother being an anti-government agent? Again: the time and place of this series IS SO DAMN IMPORTANT. But why did Nina get hurt? What was her name before all this started? What happened in that house where she kept repeating, “Welcome back”? HOW DOES THIS ALL FIT TOGETHER? Why the hell did she refuse to tell Dr. Guillen who she actually was?
I am very afraid of learning the answer to this.
The video for “The Door to Memories” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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