The first episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters established the two timelines in which the show is going to take place. There’s the ‘50s, which is the period where we follow the young versions of Bill Randa, Dr. Keiko, and Lee Shaw during the early days of the titular facility that goes after MUTOs. Then there’s the late 2010s, which is the period where we follow the grandchildren of Bill Randa: Cate Randa and Kentaro Randa. Apparently, Cate and Kentaro’s father, Hiroshi, was oscillating between two of his families before his disappearance, one being in Tokyo and the other being in San Francisco. Hiroshi, much like his father, apparently worked for Monarch or was looking into Monarch’s activities, and when Cate and Kentaro learn about this, they begin doing the same. But that puts the trio on Monarch’s radar, which is something that doesn’t bode well for them.
Monarch Hunts Down Cate
Here is a bizarre and sort of infuriating detail. Godzilla was set in the year that the movie came out, i.e., 2014. It was a little perplexing when it was announced that Kong: Skull Island won’t take place after Godzilla and instead, it’ll take place in the ‘70s. The movie was enjoyable (while the director was questionable), so nobody really cared about it, especially when Kong was brought to the “present day” with Godzilla vs. Kong. The first episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters showed that the young Bill Randa aspect of the show precedes the events of Kong: Skull Island because it takes place in the ‘50s. The second episode turns back the clocks even further by going from 1959 to 1952 in Manila so that we can see how Lee Shaw, Dr. Keiko, and Bill Randa became the architects of Monarch. I don’t know why. Who needs to know this? Why do we need this? Anyway, we soldier on because we like the actors who are playing these characters. At least I do. We see General Puckett assigning Lee Shaw the job of escorting Dr. Keiko as punishment for getting into a brawl with a fellow soldier. Shaw and Keiko’s meeting is really cliche because they say, “I thought you were a man because how can women be scientists in the ’50s?” This is 2023. Can writers please come up with better ways to show the bad old times? Keiko is there or has been in Manila for a while, to analyze mysterious pockets of radiation, and even though Shaw isn’t sure what the mission is, he matches Keiko’s vibe.
In the late 2010s, Kentaro goes to his father’s office, lets off a little steam because he has realized that he doesn’t know his father, and then tries to open some of the lockers. That’s where he finds yet another Monarch file. Given that this is in a simple locker and not a hidden safe, it means that whatever it holds is somewhat public knowledge, and it is because those files have information on Lee Shaw, where he’s staying currently, and video footage of something from the Philippines. Talking about the Philippines, the narrative swings back to the ‘50s to show Keiko and Shaw meeting Randa for the first time, and that too very randomly. In the 2010s, Cate is hunted down by Monarch agent Tim. He tries to be very casual about it, but when he realizes that it’s not working, Tim directly asks Cate to hand over the files that she has retrieved from Hiroshi’s safe. Cate tries to make a run for it, but she is nabbed by Tim and put into a car. Cate puts up a fight again and knocks out Tim’s partner, Duvall, and that causes the car to crash. Before Tim and Duvall can recover, Cate runs away.
Monarch Comes For Kentaro
Kentaro goes to May in the hopes of getting those video files digitized, but she refuses to do it because she is still bitter about being ghosted by Kentaro. When Kentaro asks for the files that they had accessed earlier, May obliges and starts transferring them to a portable device for Kentaro. Cate goes to the police to inform them about the attack by the Monarch agents, but since she doesn’t have any identification (it was all in the bag that she lost during the chase), the police disparage her complaints. Kentaro gets back home and shares a sweet moment with Emiko as they collectively hate Hiroshi for lying to them. Out of all the torn pieces of the photos, Kentaro focuses on that of Lee Shaw, and the episode cuts to Shaw, Keiko, and Randa sitting down and having a conversation. Randa proposes the theory that the readings that they’ve been chasing are coming from a dragon-like creature that has the power to ionize radiation (ionizing radiation is a real scientific thing, although it sounds unrealistic). Shaw thinks it’s a bunch of nonsense and tells Randa to part ways with them, but Keiko chooses to hang out with Randa instead of Shaw. Keiko even relieves Shaw of his duties, and he drives off. I have to point out that this is such a waste of time.
We know that the trio will stick together, and Randa and Keiko will end up marrying each other. So, why are we using an episode’s running time to build up to something that has already been established? Also, this is such bad writing under the garb of fleshing out three characters. Keiko’s decision in this situation is more unrealistic than Kaijus. There’s no reason for Keiko to side with Randa, but since they are determined to end up together, the writers don’t put in any effort in terms of showing they went from being complete strangers to best friends. Anyway, Shaw drives off, and Keiko and Randa go deep into the jungle to find out the source of the radiation. They find an abandoned and rotting ship in the middle of the jungle, which is an odd place for a ship to be unless it has been thrown there by a dude called Godzilla. Cate reaches May’s place and finds out that Monarch has already raided her place. May and Cate manage to sneak out of there, and they try to warn Kentaro, but Tim and Duvall get to him before them. By the way, Tim and Duvall go from May’s place to Kentaro’s place within seconds. I don’t know how far May and Kentaro’s homes are from each other, but I think they are far enough to take at least a few minutes to get there. Maybe Tim and Duvall have some very fast cars, or they can teleport. Kentaro is caught off guard, but he has the presence of mind to trick Tim and Duvall and get away.
Where is Lee Shaw?
Keiko and Randa enter the ship, and it’s revealed that Randa was on the ship, and he’s the only survivor of whatever happened to it. When Keiko asks what happened to the ship, Randa gives a vague answer about hitting something in the waters and everything going downhill almost immediately. It’s believable, given the state of the ship. Shaw, who is driving away from the duo, notices the readings on Keiko’s Geiger counter, and he also notices the ionizing radiation that Randa was talking about. He realizes that whatever Randa was talking about was true, which means there’s a dragon roaming around in the jungle. So, he rushes back to Randa and Keiko to warn them about what they are walking into. Meanwhile, May plans to run away with all her fake passports, money, and clothes to avoid getting caught by Monarch. However, Kentaro suggests that they should go to Old Man Lee Shaw to learn about what’s going on and why they are being hunted by Monarch. Keiko and Randa find weird gooey material in the ship, and before they can come to the conclusion that those drippings are not a good sign, the ship is attacked by a MUTO. It does seem like they won’t make it out of here, but the sense of tension is false because we all know that Randa will die in the ‘70s, Keiko probably dies in 1959, and Shaw is alive in 2015. That’s my main issue with a prequel: you can’t put a character in a death-defying situation because you know if they are going to make it through. Keiko, Shaw, and Randa find out that MUTOs exist, and even that’s not a big surprise because everyone knows MUTOs exist in this fictional universe.
At the end of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 2, Cate, Kentaro, and May reach a retirement home where Shaw currently lives, and he is played by Kurt Russell, who is Wyatt Russell’s father, i.e., the actor who is playing the younger Shaw. It’s an amazing bit of casting, but here’s the issue. Wyatt Russell was 37 at the time of filming this show. His character looks like he is in his 30s. Kurt Russell was 72 at the time of filming this show. He is playing a character from the 2010s who is an older version of the character that Wyatt is playing. A total of 63 years have passed between 1952 and 2015. So, technically, the older Lee Shaw is 100 years old. I understand casting a guy who is in his 30s to play a character who is in his 30s or a guy who is in his 40s to play a character who is in his 30s. But to make an actor who is in his 70s play a character who is in his 100s while making the character look like he is in his 70s is preposterous.
The show has monsters, and the math around the two versions of Bill Randa and Lee Shaw is blowing my mind. Anyway, Lee reveals that the retirement home isn’t actually a retirement home; it’s a prison made by the Monarch to keep Shaw in there. He asks Kentaro, Keiko, and May if they want to go on a globe-trotting adventure to find Hiroshi or find whatever Hiroshi was looking for. The trio reluctantly says “yes” and thus begins their adventure. I actually don’t care if they’ll find Hiroshi or meet Godzilla or some other MUTO. I need the show to answer the secret behind Lee Shaw’s looks. Does he have access to the Fountain of Youth or something? You know how it seems like the radiation poisoning caused while chasing MUTOs has accelerated Randa’s aging, right? That’s why he went from looking like he was in his 40s to looking like he was way past his 60s in the span of 14 years. I guess the same radiation has decelerated Shaw’s aging. That’s why he looks like a 70-year-old guy, even though he is 100 years old.