‘Monarch: Legacy Of Monsters’ Episode 9 Recap & Ending Explained: Is Keiko Alive In Hollow Earth?


It’s impressive how every episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters has been better than the previous one. To be honest, the first three episodes made me question the entire point of the show. But everything after that was so good, so character-driven, and so emotionally poignant that I was unable to take my eyes off it. Last week’s episode beautifully developed the relationship between Bill Randa and Keiko Miura. That had an effect on Lee Shaw, who was romantically interested in Keiko, and he decided to take a step back and ensure that Bill and Keiko got to run Monarch the way they wanted to. In the relatively modern timeline, Lee Shaw tried to shut down the portal to the Hollow Earth that had consumed Keiko. However, that plan sort of backfired, and Lee fell into the portal along with Cate and May. And when I say that today’s episode is the best one yet, I am not kidding you one bit.

Spoiler Alert

Kentaro Learns About Cate, May, and Lee’s Fates

The ninth episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters opens at a Monarch testing site in Kansas in 1962, with Lee Shaw and Bill Randa sitting with a young Hiroshi Randa. They seem to be trying their best to explain Keiko’s death or disappearance, as well as what Lee and Bill are planning to do to make things right again. It’s a pretty sad and sweet scene as these two adult men with no expertise in handling children attempt to give a kid some semblance of solace. It’s a good thing that Hiroshi is quite mature for his age, and, by the looks of it, he promptly understands what has transpired. Lee giving his pocket-knife to Hiroshi as a sign of his promise to make it back alive from his mission is heartwarming. Okay, but what is this mission about? Well, as explained by Puckett to the spectators, Shaw and three other astronauts (technically, they aren’t astronauts because they’re going inside Earth, but you can say that they’re astronauts because they’ll be traveling through the outer space of the Hollow Earth) will attract a Titan with the help of Dr. Suzuki’s Titan phone. The Titan will apparently create a route between Hollow Earth and Earth. That’s when they’ll shut off the Titan phone, thereby sending the creature back to its realm. As it’ll start heading back to Hollow Earth, the Monarch will drop the scientists in a spherical shuttle, which will get caught in the Titan’s slipstream. Theoretically, that’s how the humans will enter Hollow Earth to study it and, ideally, get more funding for Monarch.

However, what everyone fails to anticipate is the vortex created by the entry or exit of the Titan (something that we’ve seen previously in the present-day timeline of the show). So, when Randa, Suzuki, and the rest of the team start tracking the shuttle as it goes after the Titan (it seems to be the Ion Dragon that Bill, Keiko, and Lee had come across earlier), the force created through the portal causes everything around the testing site to collapse. Bill returns to Hiroshi, and it seems like they all think that Lee is dead. In the present-day timeline, an injured Kentaro wakes up in a hospital. Tim and Natalia are in the room with him, and they inform him that Cate, May, and Lee didn’t make it out of the plant in Kazakhstan alive. Several others died during the explosion. Duvall (who is nowhere to be seen because she is a mutineer) got Tim out of harm’s way, or else they would’ve been jailed in a prison in Kazakhstan. Natalia directs Emiko Rando towards Kentaro and urges him to live for himself instead of trying to dig into the world of Titans. Seconds later, it’s revealed that both Lee Shaw and May have made it into the Hollow Earth in one piece. That said, Cate is nowhere to be found.

Dr. Barnes Makes a Discovery

Puckett informs Bill Randa that, after the debacle that apparently claimed the lives of four soldiers, Monarch is being closed. Bill repeats what the trio said when Monarch was facing a financial crisis before they came across Godzilla again: If Monarch isn’t funded properly, how is anyone supposed to figure out what is going on in the Hollow Earth? Randa says that, despite the lack of support from the U.S. Defense Forces, he is going to keep studying about Hollow Earth and understand what happened to Keiko and Lee. Surprisingly enough, Puckett sheds his strict attitude and talks to Randa in a very sympathetic tone. He tells Bill that he should think about Hiroshi, who has already lost his mother (Keiko) and his uncle (Lee). If Bill fails to be present for Hiroshi, then it’s going to completely destroy his life. Based on the events of Kong: Skull Island, it’s obvious that Bill didn’t pay attention to Puckett’s advice and continued to pursue Titans throughout his life. That said, it’s unclear how Bill Randa was reinstated as a member of Monarch or how Monarch was restarted. I guess we’ll get to see in the last episode of this season or in the next season (if there is one) how the U.S. Defense Forces were convinced to invest in Monarch after shutting it down multiple times.

Anyway, the narrative shifts to the older Lee Shaw and May traversing through the Hollow Earth, and Lee casually tells May that “time is not on their side.” Well, he means that very literally because time passes differently on the hollow Earth in comparison to the Earth. I am sure everyone has watched Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, right? If you haven’t, a spoiler alert is in effect. In that movie, the characters went to a planet whose passage of time was impacted by the gravitational pull of the black hole near it. So, every hour on that planet meant around seven hours on Earth. Similarly, Hollow Earth’s proximity to the planet’s gravitational center affected its passage of time. It’s unclear for how long the young Lee Shaw was inside Hollow Earth, surviving the attacks of various Titans and watching his colleagues die mercilessly, before being spat back into the suicide forest in Japan. But it seems like he was in there for approximately 20 minutes. When Lee came back to Earth, 20 years had passed. He went inside Hollow Earth in 1962, and he came back in 1982! Lee Shaw doesn’t realize this until an adult Hiroshi Randa comes up to Lee Shaw with the pocket-knife that he had given him when Hiroshi was just a child, causing him to faint. So, that clears up Kurt Russell’s casting. It’s not a “mistake” that he’s playing a 90-year-old guy. He is the result of some weird time-traveling shenanigans.

In addition to that, it seems like the hospital in which Lee Shaw is kept for monitoring is the place where Hiroshi met Emiko. Even though Hiroshi is a bit apprehensive about talking about Lee, Emiko is the one who convinces Hiroshi to not blame him for being absent during his formative years because it was logistically impossible for Lee to be around him. In the present-day timeline, we see Emiko doing the same for Kentaro, who is understandably devastated after the events in Kazakhstan, and she tells her to not dwell on it and act on it instead. Talking about taking some kind of affirmative action, Dr. Barnes, who is keeping track of what’s going on between Hollow Earth and Earth, notices that someone from Hollow Earth is sending them a message. The episode doesn’t say who or what is doing this, but I have to remind you all that time works very differently in Hollow Earth. So, it’s totally possible that the coded messages that Barnes, Tim, and Natalia are receiving aren’t coming in real-time, and a couple of months or years have passed since they were sent out.

Is Keiko alive on Hollow Earth?

The whole scene between the time-displaced Lee Shaw and the relatively younger Hiroshi Randa is masterfully done. The production design, the VFX, the special effects, the editing, and the use of slow-motion to show the terror of the Hollow Earth are nothing short of masterful. But if you strip all that away and focus on Wyatt Russell and Takehiro Hira’s performances, it still feels impactful. There’s so much pain, doubt, animosity, regret, anger, and sadness between the two characters, and it’s excruciatingly palpable in Russell and Hiro’s vocal inflections. The biggest twist—and it’s bigger than the one about time travel—is that Hiroshi is a Monarch stooge. He has evidently seen Bill Randa spend his whole life trying to prove the theory that there is a whole ecosystem underneath Earth. He has seen Bill lose himself by blaming himself for Keiko and Lee’s disappearances. And he has probably heard about his death on Skull Island in the ‘70s. However, he fails to associate Bill’s dedication to his job with the relevance of Monarch, which is still active.

Yes, it’s still unclear how Monarch was restarted after being shut down in the ‘60s and how Bill’s position was reinstated, but it’s obvious that the emergence of the Titans has become more regular, thereby keeping the scientists at Monarch employed. Actually, Hiroshi blames Keiko, Bill, and Lee for disturbing the balance between Earth and the Hollow Earth. I mean, that’s a total mistake. The Titans started emerging on their own. Yes, Monarch’s research probably exacerbated things, but it wasn’t the cause behind the Titans’ increased activity. You can chalk it up to global warming because in the Tohoverse, Kaijus have been a metaphor for ecological disasters. Hence, it’s totally unfair to blame the OG trio for anything. Lee urges Hiroshi to see the truth, but it seems like he is brainwashed by the current regime’s propaganda to realize how he is misjudging Lee, Bill, and Keiko. Anyway, Hiroshi’s ignorance causes Lee to lose all the years he had saved up on by staying in the Hollow Earth, as he is sent to the old-age home for around 30 years! That’s cruel. In the present-day timeline, Hiroshi comes back to his office in Japan and finds Kentaro going through his files. When he learns about Cate’s death, he is utterly devastated. It’s a complex scene because there’s a lot of miscommunication going around. Kentaro doesn’t know that people don’t exactly die if they go to the Hollow Earth. Hiroshi knows that it’s possible for someone to survive in the Hollow Earth, but he doesn’t know that Cate has gone to the Hollow Earth as he thinks that he has died due to a Titan-hunting accident. However, all that reasoning fades away due to Takehiro Hira and Ren Watabe’s powerful performances. They brought me to tears, to be honest.

At the end of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, episode 9, Cate is ambushed by a freaky-looking wild hog in Hollow Earth. And she is rescued by none other than Keiko, who doesn’t seem to have aged a day. Okay, I have to mention a couple of things. This is the exact twist that Ant-Man and the Wasp tried to pull off all those years ago, and it didn’t work at all. But Monarch does it with such ease and without losing any of the emotional impact. The time dilation thing was introduced in Kong: Skull Island when Hank Marlow mentioned that the villagers on Skull Island do not age. Since Skull Island was believed to be an extension of Hollow Earth, the slowdown in the aging process makes sense. That said, when Dr. Nathan Lind, Dr. Ilene Andrews, Maia Simmons, and several other members of Apex Cybernetics and Monarch went into Hollow Earth along with Kong, there was no time dilation going on in there. It seemed like everything was happening in real-time. So, is that a plot hole? Will it be addressed by the movies or the show? We’ll have to wait and find out. In addition to that, and solely based on Hiroshi’s reaction to the news about Cate, is it okay to believe that that’s his actual family and Emiko and Kentaro aren’t? Is this a safe space to float the theory that there’s a chance that Emiko and Lee Shaw hooked up while she was taking care of him and Kentaro is actually Lee’s son? How is Keiko going to treat the news about the weird time dilation stuff? Are we going to get a Veer-Zaara moment between Lee Shaw and Keiko? I don’t know, and I can’t wait to find out more about the Randas’ Titan family business in the finale.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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