In the sixty-sixth episode of Monster, Johan welcomes Nina home, and truths are revealed. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For torture, kidnapping, eugenics
I wanted answers.
I got them.
I WAS NOT READY FOR THEM AT ALL.
It took me until he was literally onscreen to remember that Capek was telling Nina the truth about Johan, mostly out of fear that Johan was actually the one in control. Which is true! That’s what we’re watching unfold now. Johan has been planning this for ages, and I feel like this more or less confirms the (previously shaky) theory I had that this is all Johan’s revenge. Maybe??? Because holy shit. HIS MOTHER’S LAST WORDS. I CAN’T. I CAN’T GET THEM OUT OF MY HEAD.
Where do I fucking start, y’all? Actually, I think a good place to jump into this nightmare is with something I said on video that I want to expand on: It is incredibly hard to build up a mystery over a long period of time and have the “answer” to it be satisfying. Seriously! We have all experienced shows or manga or books—anything serialized, really—that have built up something for ages, only for the solution to feel disappointing.
This does not do that. At all. In fact, to expand on another point I only briefly got to make on video (BECAUSE A MILLION THINGS WERE HAPPENING AND I HAD TO FOCUS), the reveal of the backstory of Johan and Nina’s parents ties directly to what is happening in the present. There is a direct like between eugenics and right-wing terrorism here, and it’s one that is deeply, deeply realistic. (Which is not to suggest that only right-wing organizations flirt with or advocate for eugenics; even well-meaning liberal and progressive folks fall into eugenics traps when talking about overpopulation or disability.) This story so neatly ties together various plot threads, too. As I’ve said before, you can’t divorce Monster from the place and time where it is set, and this only furthers that claim. Which is a good thing! The cultural and political specificity gives it an air of realism that’s hard to capture. The story playing out feels alive. Lived in. Uncontrollable. How many times has this show tried to tell us that human experimentation is at the heart of the narrative? My god, y’all, Nina and Johan were conceived as a LITERAL part of a eugenics program. Their entire origin story fits into the pattern we’ve seen with Kinderhiem 511, the Red Rose Mansion, and the modern neo-fascist movement. IT’S ALL PART OF THE SAME NARRATIVE.
The parallels, y’all. I can’t get over it. One thing I’ve admired about Monster is how themes and motifs parallel one another. I’ve commented on it more times than I can possibly remember! How many times have the main characters met others on their journey and were shown that humans struggle with such similar things across time and distance? There’s a longstanding narrative of consent and experimentation spread throughout multiple plotlines, like those relating to Kinderheim 511, where kids were kidnapped or held in nefarious conditions in order to program them. And the actual origin of this all is similar: Nina and Johan’s mother conceived a child with someone whose mission was to procreate with a “perfect” person to produce a “perfect” child. BUT THEN THEIR FATHER DIDN’T WANT TO GIVE UP THEIR CHILDREN SO HE TOLD HIS WIFE THE TRUTH AND THEY TRIED TO RUN BUT THEY WERE SEPARATED AND HE WAS PROBABLY EXECUTED AND WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS SHOW. I mean… we didn’t get confirmation that he’s dead? And look what happened with Franz Bonaparta! He is probably still alive!
Oh, y’all, I can’t believe we finally saw his face. I’m losing it.
So, we know that Capek organized the eugenics program, but the original source? Bonaparta. I still think there’s more to be revealed regarding his involvement with everything, and wherever Johan has set up his final confrontation is tied to that. Do I get it? No. But it’s got to be meaningful; Johan is too intentional of a character to just randomly choose a building to operate out of. I say that because the latter part of “Welcome Home” finally reveals an absolutely gut-wrenching truth: Johan has been murdering other people for a long, long time. I would not be surprised if Nina’s horrible story is that when she opened that door in the Red Rose Mansion, she saw Johan standing in the middle of the massacre.
I have a very uncomfortable question to raise, though. Did Johan kill all of these people—the ones Nina said were “kind” to them—because of Johan’s warped sense of protecting his sister? I ask that because it’s only after the unnamed couple seen in “Welcome Home” discusses calling the police that Johan murders them. He seemed perfectly content spending time with them prior to that. How much of Johan’s mother’s words of vengeance are playing into Johan’s motivations? Or are they unrelated? Because one thing we still don’t have is a REASON. Why did Johan do all this? Why kill all those couples? Why did he tell his sister to shoot him in the head? Does Johan know exactly what he is? Does he want to be stopped? I still keep thinking of that message he painted on the top of that building, too. UGH, WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING ON HERE??? I’m so close to the truth!
Amidst all of this—seriously, this twenty-minute episode packs in enough reveals for a traditional hour of television—there’s also the tense plot between Tenma, Eva, and Kristoff. Y’all, Tenma ACTUALLY SHOT KRISTOFF SIEVERNICH IN THE THIGH. HE DID IT. And yet, this episode loops back around to one of Tenma’s greatest struggles. He shot Roberto during the library fire (WHERE THE FUCK IS ROBERTO, BY THE WAY), and maybe he had a genuine intent to kill him. He shot Kristoff, too, but does that mean he’ll actually be able to pull the trigger when it comes time to execute Johan? Even though he is suffering massive blood loss and death is imminent, Kristoff is still able to dig into Tenma’s insecurity, pointing out that Tenma still can’t escape being a doctor. He does not cause harm, and at the end of the day, he’ll always choose saving a human life over ending it, no matter who that person is. While Tenma does get Johan’s location, he still makes sure that Kristoff will get medical attention.
And I think that’s part of what Kristoff is referring to as Eva breaks down crying. Why does Tenma care so much, even about people who don’t care for him? Because he clearly cares for Eva, too, even though Eva has been horrible to him. He admits in his “message” that he believes he ruined Eva’s life. I’m guessing that’s why Eva breaks down. Even in a moment so dark and low and awful, Tenma is thinking of someone else. Her. He wants to comfort this person who hasn’t comforted him.
It’s no wonder that someone like Kristoff does not understand Tenma.
The video for “Welcome Home” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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