Read on if you’re ready for Godzilla-size spoilers about the latest episode, plus some speculation about the show’s future.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 4 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.
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. Watch the earlier ones, and read my recaps, before starting on episode four.
Behind the scenes at Monarch
In the earlier episodes, the story jumped back and forth between events leading to the founding of the Monarch organization in the 1950s and events in 2015 after Godzilla crushed/saved San Francisco in the eponymous movie from 2014. The fourth episode still follows multiple narrative tracks but these are all in 2014 or 2015.
It starts in 2015 with a Monarch scientist, Dr. Barnes, detecting radiation coming from Alaska. She reports this to Natalia Verdugo (Mirelly Taylor), who first appeared in episode three and seems to be in charge of the Monarch organization these days. The readings Barnes found are similar to ones picked up in 2014 before Godzilla emerged.
We find out later in the episode that the Monarch organization is understandably freaked out about this. Tim (Joe Tippett), the analyst who appeared in earlier episodes searching for missing Monarch files, says this is all the more reason to find Lee Shaw (Kurt Russell) and those files.
We viewers know that Shaw is in Alaska, and is in danger of being killed by the kaiju that Dr. Barnes detected.
It’s the Frost Vark Titan! Run!!
That means it’s time to jump to Alaska where the 2015 group of Cate Randa (Anna Sawai), her half-brother Kentaro Randa (Ren Watabe) May Olowe-Hewitt (Kiersey Clemons) and Lee Shaw watch a kaiju smash their plane into chunks, then have to flee across the frozen tundra hoping to survive.
In case there’s any confusion after watching the episode, the Frost Vark Titan doesn’t have ice breath. Instead, it sucks all the heat out anything warm. That’s how it survives in the Arctic. In other words, it’s drawing in heat, not blowing out cold.
And that’s why it starts chasing our group of adventurers. It doesn’t plan to eat them — the kaiju wants their heat.
Kentaro and May meet in 2014
Scenes of the group slowing freezing to death in 2015 are interspersed with flashbacks to
Kentaro and May meeting in 2014.
For an episode in which the main characters spend the entire time being chased by a kaiju, the show managed to fit in quite a bit about Kentaro’s background. It’s the first real backstory we have on him. We knew he was an artist, but Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode four shows that he’s a struggling one.
The statues he creates have shifting identities… like his father, who it turns out he never really knew at all.
The flashback takes place around Kentaro’s first show in a gallery, which he leaves because talking about his art makes him uncomfortable. Instead he meets May, and they hook up.
We still don’t learn much about May, though. Her past remains a mystery, though we get hints of sister.
Which way should we go?
The most important moment of episode four is Kentaro insisting that he head toward where he saw a light during the flight in, even if that means leaving the rest of the group to freeze to death alone. Everyone else takes a path that seems more likely to lead to a way out.
And it’s Kentaro who ends up saving everyone. He did so by ignoring the logical thing to do and following what he believes to be right no matter where it goes. And that’s the theme of the whole Monarch: Legacy of Monsters series. It’s what the founders of the Monarch organization did in the 1950s, it what Kentaro did when he blew off his art show, and it’s what Lee Shaw has done all his life.
While Kentaro is stumbling through the frozen dark, he has visions of Hiroshi Randa (Takehiro Hira), his missing father and the MacGuffin of the series. (Hallucinations are typical of severe hypothermia, BTW.) These lead him to half-destroyed station and a radio.
Meanwhile, Kate, May and Shaw end up walking in a circle and end up where they started — right on top of the Frost Vark Titan.
Shaw’s plan to set fire to leftover fuel for the plane and running while the kaiju absorbs the heat never had much of a chance, but fortunately Kentaro shows up in a Coast Guard helicopter just in the nick of time, leaving the Frost Vark Titan behind.
As they fly away to safety, don’t miss the glimpse of what’s almost certainly an opening to the global network of tunnels that will play such a part in 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The snowy tunnel mouth should look familiar — it’s in the series’ opening sequence.
The group is saved! Until they’re handed over to Tim, the agent of Monarch and his partner Duvall (Elisa Lasowski). And that’s the cliffhanger ending: after fleeing from the clutches of Monarch for three episodes, our heroes have been captured.
Kaiju roll call
The Frost Vark Titan is on screen quite a bit in this episode. Previously, the kaiju have mostly made cameo appearances but the ice monster showed up over and over and serves as the villain.
It’s starting to look like Frosty might be a star for the rest of the series. Though the Ion Dragon that flew around in the Philippines back in episode 2 might reappear as well.
Plus, we’re certain to see Godzilla again in Cate Randa’s flashbacks to G-Day in San Francisco.
Speculation on future episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
Based on no evidence, just a feeling, I continue to 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.
The mysterious father Hiroshi Randa is missing in 2015 and presumed dead. But evidence that he’s alive dribbles out in the various episodes, included the latest. There is a good chance he’s going to show up in some dramatic fashion later in the series.
No part of episode four took place in the 1950s, but it seems too early in the series to stop following Dr. Keiko Miura (Mari Yamamoto), Bill Randa (Anders Holm) and Lee Shaw (played by Wyatt Russell in that era). I’m fairly confident that later episodes will include new information on the founding of Monarch.
We will find out more Friday, December 8 when the next episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is released. I for one am greatly looking forward to it.
You’re far, far from alone in watching Monarch — the series is a big hit for Apple TV+. It was No. 3 on ReelGood’s list of Top 10 TV Shows on streaming during the week of November 23 through November 29. That puts it ahead of almost everything else on any streaming platform.