In the sixty-seventh episode of Monster, Johan finally explains his experience to Nina, revealing the truth of the Red Rose Mansion. But can he be trusted? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of trauma, torture, nonconsensual medical experimentation, gaslighting.
“I’m Home” does something very well to its audience: Like Nina’s experience, it gets us to question reality. I still don’t know if Johan was behaving from a place of trauma, if he was maliciously stealing from his sister, or if it was all a complicated mixture of the two. Which is entirely possible! I don’t think this is ultimately going to be anything BUT messy. At the very least, though, I believe Nina. I believe her version events, and I believe that for whatever reason, Johan made them his own, further confusing her and contributing to her painful journey to recover her memories. But for the first half of “I’m Home,” this wasn’t what I was grappling with. No, I thought that the story Johan told was true, and I couldn’t deal with the fact that this was the very first time he had ever seemed so sad.
Nina is pre-empted by Johan, who says that the most terrible story she’s ever lived is actually his. Taken from the Three Frogs, he was imprisoned in the Red Rose Mansion in a pitch black room, where Franz Bonaparta acted out his bizarre experiment on him. Whatever this experiment was—surely linked to Capek’s eugenics program—there were many admirers who were present on the day of the infamous massacre. Were they there to show support? Did Bonaparta invite them specifically to poison them, or was that a last-minute decision? Why did he do that? Look, either way, it explains all those snippets of memory we’ve seen from Nina. The red in those images was wine, not blood. Still, 42 people were murdered by Franz Bonaparta, not Johan. Why? These people clearly supported what he was doing to Johan. And why let Johan escape?
From there, Johan made his way back to the Three Frogs, where he reunited with his sister. Eventually, he set fire to it, then the two of them escaped, nearly died crossing the border, were picked up by General Wolf, and so on.
EXCEPT THIS ISN’T WHAT HAPPENED. I initially thought it was understandable that because she was so traumatized, Nina remembered the stories that Johan told her as if they were her memories. But by the time Tenma arrives, Nina is nearly broken down by how frustrating and frightening this experience is. BECAUSE THOSE ARE HER MEMORIES. Johan stole them. Watching this unfold felt disorienting, too, as I thought I had everything figured out. Except I didn’t? And what was true? It wasn’t until Nina remembered her brother REMOVING HIS DISGUISE that this fell into place. That’s too specific of a memory to be fake, y’all. What does it mean though? Because it implies that even back then, he was trying to confuse Nina. Why? For what purpose???
All of this felt like yet another emotional gut punch, and it’s not even the only plot in the episode. Because there’s also Capek’s fate to deal with. It figures that the man wouldn’t truly consider the ramifications of his actions until so late in his life. Now is when he wants to think about what he’s done? But up until this point, Capek has gotten everything he has wanted. His eugenics program was probably a success in his eyes. He’s had money, power, and prestige. It’s only when Johan turns on him that he thinks about this nightmare he has helped create. So it’s poetically tragic that his own organization is who takes him out. He built this fascist empire, and their own paranoia got the best of him. A paranoia, mind you, that was inspired by the one person they built this whole plan around: Johan.
Johan remains a puzzle throughout this, and I imagine I won’t get clarity on him until the end of the show. Actually, if I’m being honest, I’m not even sure I’ll get him—truly understand him—on the first watch of Monster. After leaving Nina, he heads to an unnamed location to meet with an unnamed person. I’m guessing this was one of the many henchmen we’ve seen that Johan employs? I remember, for example, that woman who helped set the fire in the library. These people have to come from somewhere. So, this at least gave me confirmation that Johan has been paying people, and that some (or all) of these people have also killed for Johan. For what, though? What were they all working towards? Why was this man so confused by Johan wanting to change the plan? Well, he’s fucking dead now, so I won’t find out from him.
The answer has to be in this final location: Ruhenheim. And that place is already meaningful to us, not because we’ve heard of it, but because of who finds it: Inspector Lunge, who we last saw in “That Night.” What happened at the end of that?
Lunge said that Lipsky’s father was Franz Bonaparta.
MEANING THAT IF ANYONE KNEW WHERE HE LIVED, IT WOULD BE HIM. Holy shit. This is it. THIS IS THE BIG CONFRONTATION. It’s gonna happen!!!! It makes sense, too. Franz Bonaparta is the center of this, not Johan. Whether Johan is a victim or a perpetrator is a separate question, and it’s entirely possible that he’s both. Horrific things were done to him as a child; it’s possible he’s fulfilling his mother’s last wish of getting revenge. But he’s also done HORRIBLE things to other people. How is this all going to come together? I still don’t know. But the end of “I’m Home” was about as clear of a message as I’m gonna get:
This is where the end happens.
(If there even is an end.)
The video for “I’m Home” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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