In the 1950s, the fledgling Monarch organisation is threatened by internal pressures as a new command make sit clear that with a lack of real answers, they’ll seek to divert resources to their other projects. The young Lee Shaw, Bill and Keiko face a race against time to distil their life-s work into a clear mission statement with facts to back up their cause.
In the 21st Century, the next generation is also under pressure. With the elder Shaw starting to bomb the Titan portals to prevent future incursions, is that the right cause of action… if it only raises the possibility of empowering other portals in the invisible network.
In and under Kazakhstan, where Wyatt lost two of his greatest allies, will the modern team face a similar fate?
“Sure, why not? I always thought The Goonies deserved a sequel…”
This week’s entry is another one that divides its time between the 1950s and the ‘modern’ era – and, as often happens, it’s a healthy balance comparing and contrasting what’s changed in the intervening years… and what hasn’t. Some of the locations are interchangeable (the same office, years apart) but the characters’ frustrations continue. The 1950s breeds bureaucracy and abject racism, Monarch’s new commanding officer does absolutely nothing to hide his contempt for anything that isn’t pure-bred American and scoffs at world defensive strategies taking prominence over American security. But, pragmatically, Shaw (Wyatt Russell) does realise that, at the moment, most of their Monarch research is based on theories, that they have very few actual facts to work with and that if they don’t come up with something more definitive, then other military men, like the unsyptahetic and ambitious Hatch (Matthew MacCaull) will steal their thunder and resources and shut them down. It’s Bill Randa, noting the ants that are crawling across and under his map that theorises that the likes of Godzilla and other Titans are traversing our planet in unconventional ways – under it and through it and even compares it to a structure that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. We know the show is all about those bloodlines and lineage, but we also find out 1950s Keiko is a widow and already has her son, Hirosh – whom she introduces to Bill. We also see Bill and Keiko growing ever closer and Shaw noting the same. The gaps in our knowledge of the timeline’s events are getting smaller.
In the present Monarch may not be the ‘bad’ guys but they’re having to play catch-up with our main ‘heroes’. There’s little mention of the organisation going ‘public’ last week, but they’re still chasing their tales, trying to wrangle Cate, May and Kentaro. Mirelly Taylor’s Natalia Verdugo is not sure whether they want them on a short leash or to stay out of their way entirely. But, collectively, they work out where Shaw Snr. is heading – Kazakhstan.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has so far proven itself an interesting beast, successfully managing to be thoroughly entertaining enough that you haven’t noticed too much that it’s often spinning its wheels – to quote Stan Lee, the ‘illusion of change rather than actual change‘ – our ensemble mostly running around, tripping over each other and arguing about who is right without getting many specific answers. What the series is starting to do, is pay-off some of its more complex narratives and drawing all those across-the-years strings together. Remember that early cliffhanger where beetle-like creatures are swarming up to get Shaw, Keiko and Bill Randa – one that wasn’t resolved? Well, here we start to get brief flashbacks to that and some movement towards what happened in its aftermath. The younger members of our modern ensemble, along with Tim (Joe Tippett) and a handful of Monarch soldiers (ones that scream ‘disposable’) quickly head to a location that looks very familiar… and as always, global travel in these shows is an absolute scoff-in-the-face-of-actual-time-zones breeze. Here they find the older version of Shaw (Kurt Russell) who has chosen Kazakhstan as the next portal to bomb because this is where he seemingly lost Keiko and Bill all those years ago.
Elder Shaw’s fuller endgame is revealed. He says he’s been to that world below and though he can’t explain what he saw, he knows the context… that Godzilla isn’t a chaotic danger to the world but perhaps a guardian, stopping the creatures from his realm crossing over into ours – and vice versa. He’s now trying to shut every portal, to stop the chaos. However, Tim insists that while Shaw genuinely thinks he’s doing the right thing, the energy that’s been cut-off at one portal is being rerouted and building up to even more dangerous levels elsewhere and may, ironically, lead to another ‘G-Day‘. We leave the episode with a similar cliffhanger… not quite as many insectoid creatures bursting forth from below, just one… but the combination of that and Shaw’s planted bombs exploding, brings the reactor crashing down around everyone and what looks like some of the characters being pulled down into the portal itself.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters retrofits some of the angles that audiences have seen in recent Godzilla / Kong outings and some may take umbrage with some of the tweaks and the fact that your pre-existing knowledge may take some of the ‘surprises’ away (some of the films are set after these events) but as someone with limited knowledge of the franchise, it all works for me. Presumably, we’re going to learn about their fate – and perhaps what exactly happened to Keiko and Bill – in the next, penultimate episode, the first of the two-part season finale…
- Production Design / FX9