Last week’s episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters set the stage for an intriguing finale to the first season of the show. It explained why Lee Shaw looked around 70 years old, even though he should technically be 90 years old, by showing us that time works differently on Hollow Earth. Since Lee fell down the hole in an attempt to rescue Keiko and also learn more about the Titans and their world and got stuck there as he and his team ran into a Titan, he vanished from the face of Earth for 20 years! For him, it was probably a few hours or days, but for the rest of the world, he was as good as dead. He was welcomed by an adult Hiroshi Randa. Sadly, he had grown to hate the work done by Lee, Keiko, and Bill because he was under the impression that they had destabilized the harmony between humans and the Titans. Kentaro was disheartened because he thought that he had lost his sister, his ex-girlfriend, and his grandfather’s best friend in one fell swoop. But that wasn’t true since Cate, May, Lee Shaw, and Keiko were alive and well somewhere in Hollow Earth. Today’s episode is a doozy, so let’s dive right in.
Lee Shaw and Keiko Miura Have a Teary Reunion
Episode 10 of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters starts where the last episode left off, with Keiko rescuing Cate and promising to help her find Lee and May. The focus then shifts to Kentaro and Hiroshi, as the son wants to know where his father has been and why it was so important that he couldn’t be there for his family. Hiroshi admits that he was wrong about believing that Monarch was right when they labeled Keiko, Lee, and Bill as “heretics” and that he was in the desert, trying to complete the work that they had begun. He says that he wants to find the secret to coexistence between humans and Titans, and since Kentaro has proven his worth, he wants his son to accompany him on his mission. Kentaro brings up the one topic that Hiroshi is avoiding: the two families. Hiroshi tries to paint himself as a sympathetic figure and answers Kentaro’s question about his infidelity with a question: does Kentaro wish that Hiroshi had never met Emiko? Kentaro says that by doing what he has done, Hiroshi has destroyed the concept of a family.
Back in Hollow Earth, May and Lee reunite with Keiko and Cate. The way the reunion between Lee and Keiko is shot, edited, acted, and scored is nothing short of spectacular. Kurt Russell and Mari Yamamoto truly tug at the audience’s heart strings so that all of us who have followed their journey can feel the weight of the moment. I mean, there’s the initial sense of relief that both the friends are alive, and then there’s the wave of sadness when the realization hits that so much time has passed. After that, there’s a tinge of happiness that Hiroshi is fine and that she is standing in front of her granddaughter. But that’s been followed by the gut punch that Bill Randa perished during one of his expeditions. I don’t know how awards work, but I am sure that if shows about zombies and dragons can be nominated, Monarch should be a worthy contender, too. Also, I have to admit how much I hated the first three episodes of the show, and now here I am doing awards campaigning for it. That’s a win for the showrunners.
Coming back to the plot, it becomes apparent that Keiko was the one who was sending the signals in the hopes that Monarch would send a rescue party. But it seems like Monarch hasn’t made heads or tails of that clue about Keiko’s survival. In fact, Natalia has completely sidelined Dr. Barnes’ findings and shifted all the focus to finding a way to monitor and stabilize all the gamma radiation that is spiking all over the world. This irritates Tim a lot because he thinks that if someone is alive on Hollow Earth, then it’s their duty to act on it. Natalia rebukes his proposal and orders Tim to go back to his desk or risk losing his job.
Meanwhile, Lee Shaw, instead of waiting for Monarch to do anything, decides to reconfigure the Titan-calling device (which Keiko was using to send the signals to Earth) and use the same process of luring a Titan, opening a portal, and then taking themselves back home. By the way, is it just me, or does everyone else think that the “stuck in time” aspect of the show is a COVID allegory and echoes the feeling of losing the time we could’ve spent evolving as human beings and also feeling emotionally stunted due to the lack of growth caused by the severing of our connection to the rest of civilization? Well, even if it doesn’t, there are no wrong interpretations in entertainment.
Cate Convinces Keiko to Come Back to Earth
It’s obvious that Emiko and Hiroshi are going for a divorce. But Emiko’s docile nature shouldn’t be regarded as a weakness because she tells Hiroshi that even though he has betrayed her trust, he still has to be a responsible father to Kentaro because the kid has done nothing wrong. It’s a very small scene in a show about Titans, but it has a very high degree of relevance because, even though we as a society have normalized divorces, we aren’t thinking of the children who we are bringing into this world and then subjecting them to all kinds of trauma. Qyoko Kudo really sells this scene as she expresses her sadness, which then slowly transforms into resilience. Kentaro goes to his secret bar to drink away his complicated feelings, and Tim approaches him with the proposition to look into the gamma-ray signals, which basically implies that Tim has left Monarch.
Cate, May, Lee, and Keiko catch a breather after trying to carry the Titan-calling phone to the pod that Lee and the other scientists had used to get into Hollow Earth. Lee tells Keiko about how Bill died on Skull Island while trying to prove the Hollow Earth theory and save Monarch from being shut down again. Lee says that Bill was the last man standing and that he went down swinging. But those who have watched Kong: Skull Island know that that’s not true at all. The man was definitely not the last man standing, and he was chewed into pieces by a Skullcrawler. Now, it’s possible that Lee Shaw doesn’t know the whole truth, or he knows the whole truth and doesn’t want to taint the memory of Keiko’s husband. Keiko asks Lee what the world is like at the moment, and Lee gives a very sweet yet sobering description of humankind. I mean, it pretty much aligns with what I think about the world: there are more gadgets, and things are easier, but deep within, human behavior hasn’t changed. And it’s true. We are still procreating even though the future is uncertain, and we are contributing to the uncertainty by, knowingly or unknowingly, funding national and international conflicts with your tax money. By the way, if you think that it’s not that deep, well, you are watching a Godzilla show, an icon born out of Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Politics is very much at its center, and it’s up to you whether or not you want to engage with it.
We see Hiroshi going through Bill’s last tape, and his viewing session is interrupted by Kentaro and Tim. They want Hiroshi’s help to decipher the gamma signals coming from Hollow Earth. Hiroshi refuses to help because he thinks it’s a bunch of nonsense. He thinks that even if he does decipher it, without Monarch’s help, they won’t be able to do anything. Tim says that Monarch isn’t the only player in this business. To be honest, it sends a shiver down my spine because I know that Tim is talking about Apex Cybernetics. If you have seen Godzilla vs. Kong, you know the amount of destruction they inflict upon humankind, and seeing the building blocks of their institution being put into place, with the help of such unsuspecting people, is scary and saddening.
The narrative shifts back to Hollow Earth, but hold on a second, because it’s apparently not actually Hollow Earth. Keiko calls it Axis Mundi, which basically means a realm that lies between Earth and Hollow Earth. Actually, that makes sense, because we know that humans need a special kind of spaceship to travel between the two ecosystems, or else they’ll be torn apart due to the drastic shift in gravity. But a place where the gravitational shift isn’t that drastic allows humans to survive the trip while also doing time-warping shenanigans. Well, it still doesn’t explain how Apex and Monarch took a trip to Hollow Earth and came back without losing any time in Godzilla vs. Kong. Is the franchise going to claim that time works differently only in Axis Mundi, and once one is past that area, the clocks of Earth and Hollow Earth align with each other? But if the gravitational pull is higher, shouldn’t the difference be even bigger? I don’t know. It’s fictional science, and only the heads of the franchise can make it make sense. Anyway, the group reaches the pod, and Keiko says that she doesn’t want to go back because so much has changed, and she technically doesn’t have a normal life to go back to. Cate knocks some sense into her and says that this treacherous realm is not a place to stay, and she knows that Hiroshi would love to reunite with his mother. After a brief pause, Keiko agrees to go back home.
Why Did Cate, May, and Keiko Show Up on Skull Island?
At the end of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Season 1, Cate, May, Keiko, and Lee fire up the pod and the Titan-calling machine with the intention of luring it in, making it create a portal, and then using it to go back to Earth. That plan goes sideways, as instead of luring a Titan through a portal, they end up attracting a Titan that was already there in Axis Mundi. It kind of looks like the Ion Dragon, but it can be a whole new Titan. Either way, it severs the connection between the pod and the Titan-calling machine, thereby disallowing Lee from controlling the Titan-calling machine from the pod. Lee decides to go out there and reconnect the pod with the machine, even though the Titan is roaming around. Things do get risky, and it does seem like the Titan is going to crush the pod and our favorite characters. However, expectedly and in a triumphant manner, Godzilla enters through a portal after Lee reconnects the pod with the Titan-calling machine.
I keep saying that Hollywood needs to learn about giving major characters a proper entry sequence from Indian films, and it’s evident that they’ve taken notes. Godzilla’s entry into Axis Mundi is perfect! His fight with the dragon-like Titan is even better as he tears it up into pieces, opens a portal, and then throws the pieces of the creature into it. The group of four sees that as the perfect opportunity to enter the portal. Sadly, Lee doesn’t make it, and the girls get to go back home. When they re-enter Earth and have an emotional reunion with Kentaro and Hiroshi, it becomes clear that two years have passed since their disappearance. Monarch isn’t in the picture anymore; Apex Cybernetics and Brenda Holland are. That shocks the characters, but before they can digest the information, they realize they are not in San Francisco or Japan. They are on Skull Island. I mean, if the name of the outpost isn’t enough, a brief cameo from the big guy, Kong, makes it very apparent.
It is very obvious why Apex is in charge—it’s because of Tim, Hiroshi, and Kentaro. They were desperate, and Monarch wasn’t going to use their resources to look into a dubious signal. Based on Godzilla vs. Kong, we know that Apex aims to suck energy from Hollow Earth, and if “rescuing” a few hapless souls gives them that opportunity, why would they let it go? Why Skull Island, though? Well, by the looks of it, Monarch has every other area covered. Skull Island is the only place that they are not willing to touch because of its history with Bill Randa. So, it’s totally possible that they’ve given Apex free reign to make an outpost there without knowing that the island is Kong’s home. My best guess is that given how the first season of Monarch was largely centered around Godzilla, the second season of Monarch will be centered around Apex, its origins, its run-ins with Titans, how they tried to control Kong, and finally, how the company was ousted from Skull Island by Monarch. I am excited. I have really enjoyed this show. I am looking forward to Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and I’ll be there on day one to watch the second season of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.