‘Monarch’s Legacy brings ‘Cisco journey and G-Day fallout…

There are few monsters in this week's chapter, but certainly some personal demons with which to contend...

The Monarch organisation may have arrived just in time to whisk away Colonel Wyatt, May, Cate and Kentaro from certain death, but it didn’t so so purely for altruistic reasons – it wants answers. However, Wyatt’s in no mood to capitulate and his younger companions don’t yet have the answers everyone is seeking… so it seems they are ‘free’ to go. But deciding to head to San Francisco, rather than Tokyo, means that there’s some painful truths and memories to be faced before any answers can be found…



This is another episode that’s smaller than its subject-matter, but decently executed by making the character-moments work against a world-building/deconstructing back-drop. It also sticks to the modern day, though, again, the show remembers to play on the Kurt / Wyatt Russell lineage with a nice scene where Lee Snr. watches a projector film’s footage of his younger self and – for a second – we see them superimposed on each other.

With a few glimpses elsewhere and then the recent detour to Alaska, much of the series has centred around Tokyo. So, this is the show’s first real examination of post-Godzilla San Francisco and it does a good job of painting a culture that is coming to terms with a major disaster – one that is slowly finding ways to recover, deal with or ignore its trauma.  The Godzilla moments are confined to Cate’s PTSD flashes as she makes her way through the rubble, but the production designers continue to flex their muscles with a convincing depiction of the ruined, fenced-off ‘Red Zone’ docklands and scenes of the same places before the devastation. (A coffee shop named Grounds Hero might be a little on the snout). But it’s also about the personal aspect of those difficult memories. We get the reverse awkwardness of Cate having to tell her mother about her father’s ‘other’ family that she discovered and for a few moments everyone superficially dances around the obvious Titan-size elephant in the room. We also get confirmation that Cate was in a committed same-sex relationship with a fellow teacher prior to G-Day. Actually, it appears she was in two… and the reason she hates her father’s actions is because in many ways they parallel her own inability to fully commit to any one thing or person. The show’s secret is that it knows it can’t fully compete with a major monster movie, but it can deliver as something definitively linked to it with interesting characters, so even when the pacing feels a little off, we are at least joining some dots.

The modern Monarch organisation itself continues to be seen as something of the antagonist – they kept Colonel Wyatt in a makeshift prison and they are playing hard and fast with the rules of engagement. But it’s also clear that Kurt Russell’s current incarceration isn’t quite all it seems to be. He’s not on their side but he certainly wants to cooperate if they’d only take his word for certain things. The organisation is looking for the answers that they don’t want to believe and they are willing to let the younger members go in the hopes that the ‘long leash’ approach will pay off – so they get to go free for the moment. It’ has the dominating ‘covert government agency’ vibe of many a genre outing and it seems by episode’s end that they may have another card to play and influence over one of our heroes.

Halfway through its initial run, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters feels like a worthy endeavour and one fully-funded to rise to its potential. Its remit is to provide some televisual background to the widescreen foreground action, but in weaving its mystery it’s also going to have to start providing some definitives to go with its impressive textures, but so far it’s worth the journey.

'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters  S01 EP05 - The Way Out'  (appletv+ review)
'Monarch: Legacy of Monsters S01 EP05 - The Way Out' (appletv+ review)
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Direction
  • Production Design / VFX