Monarch’s Legacy offers historic atomic numbers and cold fusion…

A-Listers and A-bombs: Across two time periods, the Titans and the military both make their presence known...

In the 1950s, Lt. Lee Shaw, along with Dr. Keiko Miura and Bill Rand, is trying to find a way to track the mysterious Titans. But to do so they will need the help of the US army and that is not an institution that is known for any kind of atomic altruism. 

In the 2010’s the elder Shaw escapes his enforced retirement, but in hoping to help Hiroshi Randa’s children find answers, it’s going to take some serious and dangerous travel… with a decidedly cold destination…

 

*spoilers*

As noted before, for a series that was likely to be marketed on those titular Titans, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has come as a welcome surprise, side-stepping many pot-holes and maintaining a slowburn storytelling that’s punctuated by impressive CGI, but far from reliant upon it. The series once again manages to balance its time-periods well, including a nice transition between ‘modern’ day Kurt Russell’s incarnation of Lee Shaw and Wyatt Russell’s younger version (a Lieutenant) back in the 1950s. The idea is to fill in details as we go along, but not necessarily in the right order or with all the needed information.¬† In the 1950s (two years after their Philippines experiences), young Lee is trying to walk a fine line between keeping his monster investigations going with Mari Yamamoto’s Dr. Keiko Miura and Anders Holm’s Bill Rand and also maintaining the help of his superiors in the military. He wants some uranium to test the theory that the Titans are attracted to (and absorb) radiation… the military (in the form of Christopher Heyerdahl’s General Puckett) decides to assist by delivering it in an explosive capacity. It’s guaranteed to cause problems in the short and long term.

Yes, we do need those monsters to frame the story and this week we do get a solid Godzilla sequence. Again, it’s little more than one extended scene, but as cameos go it’s still impactful and worthy of the big-screen in execution: our scaly Titan rising from the deep, surveying a 1950s beach full of potentially meaty military morsels and then eating that aforementioned A-bomb…as you do.

In the modern times, Kurt’s Lee (the fittest nonagenarian the screen has ever seen, excluding Betty White) escapes his ‘retirement’ home / prison surprisingly easily, driving out (with only a token pursuit) and accompanied by Anna Sawai as Cate Randa, Ren Watabe as Kentaro Randa and Kiersey Clemons as May, all wanting to know answers about the past (and immediate future). It’s the kind of information that, in real life, might be handed out in bulk, but here we have the de rigeur ‘I can’t tell you, I have to show you…‘ aspect that extends proceedings as expected. Equally, older Wyatt insists they have to dump all the original drives over the side of the ferry to avoid detection, though they retain safe copies that May has already made (I wonder how long those will last?). Getting into South Korea and across a checkpoint also proves problematic, though Wyatt’s seemingly flawed plan works far better than it first appears.

There are plenty of CGI-heavy shows out there, but the more sedate tone, even if it involves occasional chases and derring-do is actually the thing that’s making me stick around – the feeling that we’re genuinely finding a solid balance between world-building and those cinematic matinees of old – enough of each to satiate all demographics.

The only real quibble here is that for the third episode running, we end on a very similar dramatic note: Lee Shaw and companions being menaced by a big monster and seemingly way out of their depth in the face of almost certain (though clearly not inevitable) death. In both previous cases, we’ve started the next episode at a different point, not quite resolving the immediate danger directly. This time we’re in the Arctic with a giant creature that can eat you or freeze you to death, possibly both. We’ll see if that’s immediately resolved or not next time…

'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters  S01 EP03 - Secrets and Lies'  (appletv+ review)
8.3
'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters S01 EP03 - Secrets and Lies' (appletv+ review)
  • Story
    8
  • Acting
    8
  • Direction
    8
  • Production Design / VFX
    9
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