In the seventieth episode of Monster, I remain so unprepared it hurts. EVEN THOUGH I GOT A THING RIGHT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Monster.
Trigger Warning: For manipulation, death of children, terrorism, trauma
Well, now we know what Johan’s endgame is, don’t we?
I think I veered kinda close to the truth at one point, since there was a moment when I entertained the notion that Johan was doing all of this as a means of getting revenge. I still don’t know that “revenge” is the right word for this, particularly since Johan’s actions have involved so very many people being murdered who had nothing to do with him or his life. He is extremely, extremely messed up because of years of abuse and trauma, and I imagine that there’s still a part of this that feels logical and sensible to him. Or maybe all of it does. We still haven’t heard directly from here, so maybe there’s a chance that Nina, Grimmer, and Klaus are wrong about all of this? Because between the three of them, a grim and nightmarish portrait has emerged:
Johan wants to erase everyone who ever knew him so that he can truly disappear.
In the process, though, he is wiping out an entire town, crafting a massacre with the help of Roberto (OH MY GOD I CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS) that includes the manipulation of vulnerable people so that they do Johan’s bidding. Seriously, even seeing it spelled out makes it hard to believe, but Johan ONCE AGAIN exploited an elderly couple by making them think he was so much like their grandson. And just like that, these people become pawns of Johan, but it’s almost like they were in a trance. Until Lunge and Grimmer threaten them, the couple seems so terrifying. But once they’re threatened with violence, they fold. They’re not nearly as terrifying as they once were. Do they realize what they’ve done? What they’re complicit in?
Perhaps at some point, but they mostly seem like they’re in shock. And I get that, given what we see of the massacre in Ruhenheim. The show is smart in that it shows us virtually none of the murders themselves; even the cop who is shot only suffers a leg wound. Instead, the dead are just there. One hangs out of a window. Wim’s father returns to the pub he was rejected from, intending on violence, only to discover everyone is already dead. Wim himself finds his bullies dead in an alley and himself holding a gun, so traumatized and frightened that he can’t even remember if he pulled the trigger. (He did not.) While I don’t doubt that some people in Ruhenheim turned on one another out of fear and paranoia, it struck me that nearly all of the murders we have seen thus far were committed by Johan’s believers, under the instruction of Roberto. Why? Why do these people believe in following Johan? Are they all victims of manipulation, too? Or did they all choose to enact these acts of violence for other reasons? I still don’t have that part figured out!
“The Town Massacre” is just so damn, chaotic, y’all, and at this point, we STILL haven’t seen Johan at all. Where the fuck is he? Just watching this all go down from somewhere? Meanwhile, Tenma, through sheer willpower alone, has managed to make it to the city, despite no transit into Ruhenheim. (The narrative kind of skips over the entire logistics of that, which I don’t really mind. He got there. That’s the more important part.) Once he arrives, though, it’s beautifully astounding to me how quickly he has the most Tenma-esque reaction to everything. He doesn’t head straight for Johan. After a man dies while clutching his jacket, Tenma starts RESCUING PEOPLE. He helps a number of women, children, and elderly people get out of town by providing them with cover so they can escape out of the forest. It’s what he does: whenever possible, he helps the people around him, even if it puts himself at great risk.
But is it enough? How many people can he save? What if this plan has gone too far?
On top of that, Dr. Guillen and Nina are BOTH on their way to Ruhenheim, too. It’s left unspoken, but I think there are two reasons why Guillen and Reichwein show Nina the email from Johan. First: They both probably realize that there’s no way they can actually stop Nina from seeing her brother. She would leave them behind in a SECOND, and we’ve seen her disappear on people numerous times throughout the series. But I believe there’s another angle here, too: What if Nina, of all people, is one of the only people who can get through to Johan? What if there’s a chance that she could get him to stop this nightmare? The two of them have a massive shared history of trauma, so perhaps there is a way she can use her empathy and understanding to reach a part of Johan that no one else can.
Maybe??? I hope???
This episode, though, not only confirms my theory about Klaus Poppe (that I very weakly committed to, for the record, and only because of a process of elimination), but gives us the truth: Klaus came to Ruhenheim to give up his past life, but he always knew it would come back to claim him. I think it’s fascinating of the show to do this from a character perspective, especially since it’s subverting expectations. Everything we’ve seen of Klaus in Ruhenheim has shown us how kind and caring he is. At the same time, he is responsible for the most monstrous and harmful program imaginable. He manipulated and abused and traumatized children at the Red Rose Mansion, and he was the inspiration for the Kinderheim 511 program. And now, this is his reckoning, right? What I want to see is what he’ll do once this massacre gets worse. It’s clear they’re all gearing up for some sort of battle at the hotel. But does Klaus have an idea exactly what’s about to go down? WHAT IS HE GONNA DO? Shit, is he actually sorry for what he did or is he just… tired? Has he just given himself up to the inevitable?
The video for “The Town Massacre” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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