In the sixty-ninth episode of Monster, Grimmer, Lunge, and Tenma all come to understand that something horrible is happening in Ruhenheim. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of manipulation, suicide, death of an animal, bullying
This is… real bad.
Which seems like such a bogus way of describing all of this! This is WAY beyond just “bad.” It’s a nightmare writ large, a purposeful re-enactment of two massacres that, at their heart, are about a poisoning of humanity, both literal and metaphorical. And one of the worst things about all this is despite Grimmer and Lunge figuring most of this out, they’re already too late. Johan’s plan has unfolded far enough that what I think we’re witnessing is momentum. This is the start of the avalanche, and it has become a force of nature, an inevitable phenomenon that will be impossible to stop.
There are two plots unfolding simultaneously in “A Peaceful Home,” one inside Ruhenheim and one outside. It’s the plot outside that gives us the most context. Dr. Tenma is furiously trying to locate Johan and Franz Bonaparta, and he has one last conversation with Nina, who has finally understood what it is that Johan is doing. She uses an interesting phrase when describing his suicidal last stand: She calls it an expression of love. Maybe Johan is so terribly messed up that this is the only way he knows how to express that emotion. He lived through Kinderheim 511; he witnessed the massacre at the Red Rose Mansion. He’s seen adult figures corrupt and exploit children his whole life, and it makes sense that he would have developed a warped sense of what “love” is. Thus, there’s a part of me that thinks Nina is right. At the same time, I don’t understand everything here. Why turn this entire town against itself? How does Johan recruit people to do his bidding, like the elderly visitors to Ruhenheim who pass guns along to Wim, Wim’s father, and possibly others? How does Johan convince or manipulate them to that point?
I also have to assume that Johan knows Franz Bonaparta—or, rather, Klaus Poppe—is in Ruhenheim. Is this all a demonstration of love towards that man, who Johan might very well view as a father figure? Is this an act of reverance? If that’s the case, holy shit, Klaus is possibly not going to like it at all? During Tenma’s investigation, he discovers one last pseudonym of Klaus, as well as the only picture book published after the events of the Red Rose Mansion. While that helps Tenma locate Ruhenheim, it also gives us a glimpse into Klaus Poppe’s life. He got… better? After living with the townspeople of Ruhenheim, he came to like them and abandoned his previous malice, much like the main character in A Peaceful Home. That doesn’t exonerate his past crimes by any means, but if this theory of mine is right (IT’S PROBABLY NOT, I’VE BEEN WRONG SO MANY TIMES), then won’t Klaus hate what Johan is doing?
Meanwhile, in Ruhenheim, the paranoia has already gripped the town, and this whole episode was unbearably tense. Yes, yes, that could describe a solid half of the episodes of Monster, but this one is particularly bad. Something felt so terribly “off” in the previous episode, and here, those jagged edges are becoming weapons. Again: how much of this is Johan’s doing? Is the lottery even real, or did Johan exploit an already-existing paranoia? What about the dog? I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT THIS. Either option is terrifying: Johan and his recruits exploited and manipulated a situation over a long period of time, or they recently showed up and took advantage of shit that was already there. I suspect it’s the later, especially when it comes to Wim’s father and Wim’s bullies, who were just awful without anyone’s help and without a nudge from others.
And now guns are thrown in the mix. Not just the ones purchased by the couple who won the lottery. The elderly couple are exerting pressure on specific emotional points and HANDING OUT GUNS TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COMMIT MURDER. It’s like a nightmarish version of an Oprah screening. YOU GET A GUN! AND YOU GET A GUN! AND YOU GET A GUN! They gave a gun to WIM, y’all. Someone murdered Konrad just for the hell of it, or… shit, did they do that specifically to make the lottery couple more paranoid? The dog has been murdered. There’s a LITERAL storm descending on Ruhenheim that makes leaving impossible.
So who the fuck is Klaus Poppe? At this point, there’s really only one person who is old enough to be him and is still alive? I thought it was Konrad, and that eerie scene in the beginning felt like a clue, but then… nope. He’s dead. (And it would be pretty unsatisfying if this random man ended up being one of the major antagonists of the show.) So… the guy running Hotel Versteck? (Still don’t know if I’m spelling that right.) Maybe???? But I don’t see ANY clues here except that… he’s nice??? And old?
I’m also immensely worried for Inspector Lunge, who makes a VERY bold decision in this episode. Actually, so did Grimmer: Why was Grimmer going to leave town? Had he given up on the idea of doing anything for the people of Ruhenheim? Perhaps. Lunge, however, takes a much more direct approach, and Y’ALL. Y’ALL. He calls out the elderly couple’s lie by pointing out that the gentleman’s shoes are dirty!!! THEN HE ANNOUNCES THAT HE’S MAKING A PHONE CALL. I couldn’t fucking believe it, except it happened! He definitely vocalized how suspicious they were! So now my new worry is the fate of Lunge: Did he blow his cover? Will the couple retaliate against him? What the fuck is about to happen in Ruhenheim?
The video for “A Peaceful Home” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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