In the sixty-third episode of Monster, THIS IS TOO MUCH. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of manipulation
I feel safe enough at this point to declare that Monster is going to go down as perhaps the most complicated show I’ve ever covered for Mark Watches. It’s so well designed for this episodic format, and I can see how the manga must have basically done the same thing. We’ve had so many “tangents” from the main narrative, but they’ve all proven to be related to the main story, building up the characters and their motivations. So, once again, as “Unrelated Murders” took me on a journey that provided what was promised by the title, I figured that at some point, I would find out why we were spending time with Rheinhard Dinger and Detective Weisbach.
It’s been like sixty episode since we last saw Weisbach, so I confess that part of the reason this was so effective was because I just plain forgot him. It’s been a long time since he was onscreen! There are quite a few characters from the early arc of the show who I probably couldn’t recall, too. So, as Weisbach interviewed Rheinhard Dinger, I just let it all play out. I didn’t really have a theory as to how it would intersect with the main timeline. Dinger seemed truly unrelated to anything. His MO as a murderer didn’t match up with previous plots; he didn’t seem to know anyone that we did; and I couldn’t figure out if perhaps Weisbach retiring was important? WHAT DETAIL WAS I SUPPOSED TO PAY ATTENTION TO?
All of them, it turns out, because Johan manipulated Dinger into BECOMING a murderer. That is a pattern we’ve seen time and again. Johan is a serial killer who not only commits murders himself, but compels people through manipulation to do it for him, which confuses investigators. And it clearly did in this case! Multiple serial killers broke their standard modus operandi for Johan, and it has perplexed authorities the entire time. It’s ridiculously brilliant as a means of escaping suspicion, since it makes it virtually impossible to tie those crimes to a single person. But this isn’t exactly new information. We’ve already met quite a few people who have been manipulated by Johan into murdering people. (Though is this the first time Johan got to someone BEFORE they’d murdered and “liberated” them? The whole language surrounding Dinger is so goddamn eerie, y’all.)
The reason that this episode RUINED me is because it fills in crucial gaps in the timeline of this show. Y’all, Dinger was the person who Johan and Nina found AFTER ESCAPING THE HOSPITAL AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SHOW. They were still in their pajamas!!! It’s the very case that Weisbach worked on eleven years prior! Even back then, Johan was already manipulating people. He saved Dinger from being arrested after Dinger was caught trying to murder someone. And he did it by lying to the police, the first step in a LONG pattern of manipulation. It’s chilling to watch it, especially as the animation here does WONDERS to convey Dinger’s emotions as he talks about Johan. You can tell there is not just understanding here, but a reverence, as if Johan is like a holy figure to Dinger. To him, it makes absolute sense to see a name drawn in the sand in a sandbox in a random park and know that he’s supposed to kill that person. It’s absurd and horrifying to us, but there’s a relationship dynamic here that feels perfect to Dinger.
Well, not just to Dinger. When the episode switched over to Dr. Guillen’s POV, I knew exactly what was about to unfold: these “unrelated” murders would all suddenly be very much related. Again, it also helps that this answers questions about things Johan has done in the past. How many of the murders on Monster did I assume were Johan’s doing, but were actually committed by people Johan manipulated? It’s a terrifying and creepy thought, obviously, but y’all, the implications of all this leave me even more disturbed. How many serial killers did Johan track down? How was he able to get them all to a single park outside of Frankfurt? Why that park? And then there’s the big question posed by the end of the episode: What the FUCK is Johan trying to do? There’s still a part of me that believes he is trying to erase his past, and each of the victims were a roadblock or evidence. But it’s clear that it is not a coincidence that everyone is converging in the same city. Johan is manipulating events once again, but I still don’t know his master plan. AT ALL. I don’t even have a grain of a theory!!! What the fuck is all this!!!!!
I do want to go back to my original point, though. I really love how deeply complex this storytelling is. By giving space for this to unfold in multiple locations, across various timelines, and to dive into all the unseen ramifications of people’s actions, Monster feels like a living, breathing world in a way most other stories don’t. Did Johan anticipate other people finding links to all his crimes? Maybe not, and maybe it is because Johan devalues human life so much. Perhaps he can’t imagine someone like Weisbach, literal seconds away from his retirement, pursuing a case that haunted him for eleven years. He probably didn’t expect Dr. Guillen and Weisbach to cross paths, either. But the world of this show is massive, and it allows for storytelling like this episode. Whew, I love it SO MUCH.
The video for “Unrelated Murders” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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