Chris Connor reviews the third episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters…
After a promising opening two episodes that introduced us to new aspects of the MonsterVerse whilst tying into the events of previous films, episode three doesn’t drop any of the momentum. Kurt Russell’s older Lee Shaw is a welcome addition with some clever juxtaposition between him and his younger self played by his son Wyatt Russell, an ingenious piece of casting. We continue the dual narrative of the younger Shaw in the 1950s, looking for Kaiju and trying to warn the US military of potential dangers. In the present Shaw, Cate and Kentaro, continue the search for Hiroshi, pitted against a number of adversaries.
This is another thrilling episode, packed full of set pieces, especially in the latter-day segments, with Russell clearly having a ball being in the thick of the action playing a wizened, wise-cracking Shaw. His performance injects some fun and humour into proceedings that could otherwise be quite dour. Again placing the human story front and centre helps to elevate this beyond other material we have seen to date in the franchise and spreading the story across two timelines and with a globetrotting feel gives it a huge sense of scope for a TV series.
The Kaiju are as before employed sparingly but this makes their appearances all the more effective and the sequences are so well handled and utilised that there is never a point where audiences will feel short-changed. Having the creatures more in the background adds to the sense of mythos and allure around them.
In the 50s, it becomes obvious that the creatures absorb and emit radiation so there is a highly impressive sequence involving atomic weapons and Godzilla that lines up with some of the lore from Kong: Skull Island and the first Godzilla film, and showing the military’s intent to destroy the creatures, contrasting the attitude of some of the researchers.
The sense of mystery of the first two episodes remains intact, what did Hiroshi find that Monarch wants to keep quiet so badly?
‘Secrets & Lies’ is another thrilling episode in Monarch’s first season, delivering on kaiju action while further developing the human relationships at the story’s core. The scale of the show continues to impress while Kurt Russell brings wit and charm to proceeding and he ending cliffhanger sets up another exhilarating ride in the next episode as the race to find Hiroshi picks up its pace.
Monarch continues to enhance the world created in the MonsterVerse films, deepening the lore and mythology around the creatures, making this an essential companion project.