Shaw, Cate and May have survived their journey to the Hollow World Below, but the revelation that time works differently there forces the team and the newly-discovered Keiko to face some home truths. Keiko learns that decades have passed on the surface and is unsure if there’s anything left for her to return to… but Shaw devises a way to give them all a chance. However, it will need a lot of effort and they are racing against the clock and the environment around them.
On the surface, Kentaro confronts his absent father about his priorities and Tim makes a key decision that will involve Monarch and his place with them…
But even if a reunion between everyone can be made, what will be the cost, especially with more than one Titan on the scene?
And so… we reach the final episode of the sometimes surprising but always ambitious Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and it all signs off with a tying together of elements and a visual flourish…
A majority of the action takes place in the ‘Axis Mundi’, though the finale sets out to tie things together. Initially, Keiko thinks the appearance of these strangers means that Monarch has found a way to rescue her – for her it’s been around fifty six days since she fell through the portal and she’s managed to dodge the dangerous inhabitants and set up a makeshift camp. The actual reality folds out more slowly – though thankfully the episode doesn’t drag it out as an unspoken secret. The way that Keiko finds out about the time displacement (almost a year per day in the Axis Mundi/Hollow World Below) is sensitively handled and there’s a real pathos to the way that Shaw begins to explain the anomaly and its consequences – first out of sight and then revealing his aged self to Keiko. Both Kurt Russell and Mari Yamamoto sell the reunion and the moment’s bittersweet implications, the lost people (Bill is gone – at a time when both Keiko and Lee were separately time-displaced, though we later see John Goodman’s version on recorded footage) and the lost time as well as the familial connections Keiko now has for her ‘rescue’ and that Cate (Anna Sawai) is her granddaughter.
The show may have been uneven in its middle section (aren’t we all?), but one has to admire the over-all result and the way it stuck to being all about the connective tissue and consequences of the various movies. Its title held true, this was all about ‘Legacy’ and it told an engaging, complex, emotional story that didn’t rely solely on backbone set-pieces…
Much of the pilot was based around the idea that the grown-up Hiroshi (Takehiro Hira) was/is a driven man with good intentions… but also a bigamist with families on opposite sides of the world. It was a way to unite several characters and initiate a search for the missing scientist – though Hiroshi then only appeared briefly throughout. This episode gives a long overdue conversation between Hiroshi and Kentaro (Ren Watabe), stating his son’s disappointment in him and of his father’s priorities. It’s not as an emotional moment as the Shaw/Keiko reunion, but it’s an important scene to help book-end the series’ themes. I wish I could say that I was surprised by the apparent loss of Kurt Russell’s elder Lee Shaw – mainstay of this season’s story – but despite the fact it looked like he’d be getting home, everything pointed to a sacrifice in the making especially with a Back to the Future homage of an important connector becoming uncoupled at the last second. The title of the episode was Beyond Logic, but on the logic front major A-List stars don’t often sign up for great lengths of time for expensive shows and we had already closed the loop on the character, knowing that the younger Shaw (played with style by Wyatt Russell) had been in the ‘retirement home’ longer than expected. Either by necessity or choice, the show had played out the Lee Shaw arc and though it’s entirely possible to have further flashbacks with the Wyatt version if the show continues (with Keira back onboard that’s definitely a possibility), there’s very little of strategic importance left to tell there… and that’s a shame.
The show needed a big climax and Godzilla appearing to fight the winged monstrosity preventing the pod’s escape was a foregone conclusion (even before the silhouette/outline appearing through the portal, there was very little doubt the show would forego signing-off without its pivotal Titan. Such cameos aren’t cheap to render and here Godzilla is shown in all his fiery, scaly glory (albeit a little dark for such a luminescent environment) but it’s been clear over the last few episodes that some of the budget was being saved for this and though it’s relatively brief in screentime, it’s likely satiated the loyal audience who perhaps came in to the show expecting more of that action than they got. Given the connective-tissue remit of the series, the final scene should have been predictable but there’s still some innate glee in pulling back from Cate, Keira and May’s return and reconciliation with Hiroshi and Kentaro to find out that not only has time gone by more quickly on the surface (it’s two years later: Tim and Kentaro have been working with APEX to find them) but that the base they’re on is on… Skull Island… and Kong is bellowing through the jungle in their direction! (Someone should have made a film of that! *inserts irony*)
The show may have been uneven in its middle section (aren’t we all?), but one has to admire the over-all result and the way it stuck to being all about the connective tissue and consequences of the various movies. Its title held true, this was all about ‘Legacy’ and it told an engaging, complex, emotional story that didn’t rely solely on backbone set-pieces. There’s no official news at time of writing as to whether there will be a second season of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters and even given the films (the ones already released and the latest Godzilla/Kong outing due shortly) continuation of some of the elements here, there may well be a way for the series or characters to continue.
One hopes that is the case…
- Production Design / VFX9