Apple TV+ slipped out the third episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters a few days early so Godzilla could arrive in time for Thanksgiving. Here’s a quick recap that puts it in context not only with the earlier episodes and MonsterVerse movies but also events of the 20th century.
Read on if you’re ready for massive spoilers about the latest episode, plus some speculation about the show’s future.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 3 recap and things you might have overlooked
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is the new Apple TV+ series set in the MonsterVerse that contains Godzilla and other classic kaiju. It premiered November 17 with the first two episodes. This week, the third episode came out two days early so it wouldn’t get lost in the hoopla surrounding Thanksgiving.
Like many streaming series, Monarch is essentially a 10-hour movie. It’s broken into hour-long chunks but these aren’t an any way stand-alone stories. Be sure you’ve watched episodes one and two, and read my analysis of these, before going onto the next one.
Run for it!
Episode 3 starts with the the 2015 group of Cate Randa (Anna Sawai), her half-brother Kentaro Randa (Ren Watabe) and May Olowe-Hewitt (Kiersey Clemons) helping Lee Shaw (Kurt Russell in this era) escape from the clutches of the Mornarch organization at his retirement home/prison in Japan. Or perhaps it’s the other way around — he helps them escape.
Whichever, it seems he’s been held for decades, to the point where he hasn’t seen Hiroshi Randa, Cate’s and Kentaro’s mysterious missing father (and the MacGuffin of the series), for twenty years.
Incidentally, Shaw’s imprisonment is similar to the classic TV series The Prisoner.
A mere 150 pounds of uranium
Jumping between 2015 and the 1950s continues to be a hallmark of Monarch, so next we pick up Dr. Keiko Miura (Mari Yamamoto), Bill Randa (Anders Holm) and Lee Shaw (now played by Wyatt Russell) in 1954.
They meet with Puckett, Shaw’s previous very snarky commanding officer who’s since been promoted to general, about a small request: 150 pounds of uranium to use as bait for a kaiju. They want to lure one in so they can study it.
So many mysteries
Rejoining the 2015 group, we find them smuggling themselves on a cargo ship headed for Korea. Kentaro overhears a phone conversation between May Olowe-Hewitt and someone unknown. May then throws the phone overboard to prevent her call from being traced back to her — a strong sign she’s up to something.
The writers of the Apple TV+ series (Chris Black and Matt Fraction) seem to be following Tolkien’s Law: any group of adventurers must include someone who can’t be completely trusted. And May is in good company in the cast. Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is well populated with characters with mysterious pasts.
For example, when the group gets to Korea, they meet an old friend of Shaw’s who’s willing to immediately quit his job under felonious circumstances and fly to Alaska with the group. We get no backstory on this guy.
Let’s nuke Godzilla
Back in 1954, Dr. Miura, Randa and Shaw discover that General Puckett has delivered the promised nuclear material in the form of a hydrogen bomb. The U.S. Army isn’t interested in studying Godzilla or other kaiju — it just wants to kill them.
And that’s what happens. Or at least, that’s what the group of kaiju researchers and the Army think happens. We viewers know that Godzilla shook off a mere H-bomb in the face and goes on to star in a 2014 eponymous film and its sequels .
For those of you weak on 20th Centry history, these fictional events take place on Bikini Atoll where the U.S. actually conducted 23 nuclear tests starting in the 1950s. The scene with people sitting outdoors watching a nuclear bomb go off is historically accurate. The 20th Century was kind of crazy.
What’s going on with Monarch?
Shoehorned in with the other episode segments is an unnamed Monarch executive ripping a new one in the two hapless agents who tried and failed to capture Cate and Kentaro Randa in Tokyo to recover the trove of Monarch files they found.
The leader of that duo, Tim (Joe Tippett), is reminded that he didn’t have authorization to do any of what he and his coworker Duvall (Elisa Lasowski) did in Japan. Nevertheless, they are sent off after Shaw and co. again.
I’ll share some speculation about these two later in the article.
Another new kaiju
Still in 2015, Cate and Kentaro Randa, May, and Old Shaw track down Hiroshi Randa’s wrecked plane in Alaska. They discover that Hiroshi didn’t die in a plane crash, but they don’t find him… because this is only episode three of a ten-episode series.
But they do find something else: an ice kaiju that crushes their ride home and freezes Shaw’s friend — who lasted such a short amount of time on the show I’m not sure if his character even got a name.
And that’s our cliffhanger for the episode: will our heroes be frozen by this same monster!?
Speculation on the next episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
In a scene near the end of the episode set in 1954, young Shaw tells Dr. Miura and Bill Randa they’re being given an unlimited budget to study other kaiju because they are “an existential threat to global security,” as Shaw puts it.
This makes clear something I should have realized already: the 1950 series of events chronicles the founding of the Monarch organization. Surely, much of the rest of the Apple TV+ series will show it growing to become to globe-spanning behemoth it is later.
And while it’s pure speculation about the 2015 group, I predict the semi-competent Monarch agents Tim and Duvall will end up changing sides and helping the Randas and Shaw escape Monarch’s evil clutches at some point later in the series.
We will find out more on Friday, December 1 when the next episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is released. I’m completely hooked on the series — I hope you are too.