Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 8 reveals why Lee Shaw is traveling around the world blowing stuff up, and also hits us with a big surprise. Then it drops some central characters down a huge hole.
Read our review/recap for Godzilla-size spoilers about the latest episode, plus some speculation about the show’s future.
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 8 review and things you might have overlooked
Starting with its premiere in November, Monarch: Legacy of Monsters tells the story of the Monarch organization studying titans — Godzilla and other giant kaiju. The series moves between the group founding Monarch in the 1950s and a later generation in 2015 affected by the battle between kaiju that destroyed so much of San Francisco.
I’ve done recaps of all seven previous episodes, so it’s time for episode eight, “Birthright.”
The Monarch soap opera — who’s your daddy?
Sometimes, Monarch is about kaiju. Mostly it’s a show about people studying/chasing kaiju. But then sometimes it becomes a soap opera. It veered into the latter territory in this week’s episode.
Cate (played by Anna Sawai) and her half-brother Kentaro (Ren Watabe) share a father, Hiroshi Randa. He’s the son of Dr. Keiko Miura (Mari Yamamoto) and Bill Randa (Anders Holm), the founders of the Monarch organization.
Based on many hints, I thought we’d eventually discover that Hiroshi is actually the result of a hookup between Keiko Miura and Lee Shaw (played in the 1950s segments by Wyatt Russell). Nope. But it turns out we were supposed to think that because Cate also believed it was true.
Now we know the Randa kids aren’t Shaw‘s grandchildren, but they aren’t Bill Randa’s either. Instead we learn in episode eight that the father is some unknown Japanese man. It’s not clear why the writers of the Apple TV+ series (Chris Black and Matt Fraction) decided to go this way. Maybe the identity of Hiroshi’s father will turn out to be a plot point in some future episode in a later season.
Shaw’s plan and motivation
In the last couple of episodes, Shaw’s reason for what he’s doing in 2015 haven’t been clear. We found out he’s trying to help Godzilla in episode six, but it’s not clear why or exactly how. We have our answer now.
For Shaw, it’s all about Keiko. In the 1950s, he’s helping found Monarch because that’s important to Keiko. And he’ll do what he thinks is necessary for that goal, including telling General Pucket () that Godzilla is alive in episode eight, even though he promised Keiko and Bill Randa that he wouldn’t.
Jumping forward to 2015, Shaw (played by Kurt Russell in this era) and his team of rogue Monarch agents head to Kazakhstan to close the tunnel opening there because that’s where Keiko died. (Supposedly. More on this point later.)
Shaw wants to close the tunnels that kaiju use to access the hollow Earth because he wants to keep men and titans apart. And he thinks that’s what Keiko would want.
Kurt Russell is one of the best parts of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. It’s nice seeing him get more screen time in this episode than he did in the last one.
About those titan tunnels…
The huge tunnels in Alaska and Kazakhstan have become important, so it’s time for a quick review.
Aside from Shaw, no one in 2015 knows much about them, even those at Monarch. They don’t know very many entrances, and think the tunnels are only a network that kaiju use to secretly move around underground.
But we viewers who’ve seen 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters know that the tunnels lead to the Hollow Earth, the true home of the titans. So remember, when watching Monarch, the people of 2015 don’t know about the Hollow Earth. Except for Shaw.
The controversy that’s building toward the season finale
Speaking of Shaw, we learn in episode eight that he’s closing the entrances to the Hollow Earth because he wants to keep humans and kaiju apart. And it’s what he thinks Keiko would want.
It seems a good plan, except that Monarch discovers that closing the tunnel in Alaska (as seen at the end of episode seven) set off gamma ray bursts at other spots anround the Earth. This seems to indicate that a dozen titans might react to closing the tunnels.
And the only way Monarch knows for kaiju to react is to devastate cities. Clearly, this is going to play an important part of the plots of episode nine and the season finale.
Down the hole!
For most of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode eight, the important action takes place in the 1950s. While the 2015 group — Kate, Kantaro and May — start to fulfill their promise to help Monarch, mostly what they do is discover what I talked about earlier: that Shaw is still fixated on Keiko, and remains racked with guilt over her (supposed) death in Kazakhstan in 1959.
They manage to convince Monarch Deputy Director Natalia Verdugo (Mirelly Taylor) of this, and Cate volunteers herself, Kentaro and May to go to Kazakhstan and confront Shaw to stop his team from closing the kaiju tunnels.
They arrive at the former nuclear reactor seen way back in episode one just as Shaw and his rogue Monarch agents are setting the charges. Cate tries to talk him into giving up the plan but he starts the timer on the bombs just as a titan appears in the tunnel.
May falls down the tunnel, then Cate and Shaw fall together. And BOOM all the explosives go off.
Falling down the tunnel can’t be fatal though. Obviously. There’s no way the Apple TV+ series killed most of its major characters in episode eight. They’re headed to Hollow Earth instead.
Although Kentaro is right on top of the explosives when they go off, the description for episode nine shows he somehow survives. Because of course he does.
Speculation about future episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters on Apple TV+
I haven’t seen any more episodes of the series than you have, so what I’m about to share is entirely speculation.
Keiko Miura/Randa died in 1959 in that nuclear reactor in Kazakhstan. But she died offscreen — anytime that happens to a central character in a show like this, I’m skeptical that they somehow survived and will show up in a later episode.
And now that Shaw, Cate and May lived through falling down the titan tunnel in that same nuclear reactor, it’s even more likely that Keiko is also still alive. I predict Shaw and the two women are going to find her living in the center of the Earth. And she won’t have aged a day.
Throughout the Monarch series, there have been repeated questions about why Shaw doesn’t look old enough to have fought in World War II. And during this episode we found out that he has been inside the Hollow Earth. I predict we’ll discover those two are connected – that people do not age there.
Which is how Keiko can still be alive. And still played by Mari Yamamoto. At least, that’s what I predict will happen.
On a side note, Natalia Verdugo is the Deputy Director of Monarch and there’s not been the slightest hint of who’s at the top of that shady organization. Perhaps this person will make a surprise appearance before the end season one.
We will find out more Friday, January 5, when the next episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is released. It’s titled “Axis Mundi,” and the Apple TV+ teaser description says, “Shaw and May search for Cate and make a startling discovery. Kentaro struggles with his loss.”
With a title that translates as the center of the world, it’s not hard to guess where Shaw, Cate and May are ending up in episode nine.