Chris Connor reviews the fourth episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters…
While Monarch to date has jumped between the 1950s and 2010s with younger and older Lee Shaw, episode four dedicates its focus entirely to the latter timeline. The benefit of this is to flesh out the characters more, and in particular this episode dives into the relationship between Kiersey Clemons’ May and Ren Watabe’s Kentaro. We find out how they met and Kentaro’s aspirations to be an artist before we meet him at the start of the series. Moments like this have been missing from the bigger screen iterations of the MonsterVerse and give the occupants of this series more of a rounded character and reasons to care for them.
The episode is more focused and has less of a globetrotting feel than previous episodes, with a slower more deliberate pace as Lee and co are stranded in Alaska. The Frost Vark that appeared at the end of the previous episode is a lurking presence throughout, an obstacle for the crew to overcome. Again the Kaiju action is impressive but keeping it to the periphery here heightens the tension and gives the episode an underlying sense of dread.
It’s clear from the outset how seriously Monarch are taking this incident with readings on this scale not seen since the so-called G Day in 2014. This also gives us more of a glimpse of Monarch monitoring monster activity rather than simply chasing Cate or Kentaro. It also gives us a sense of the scale of the creatures and their potential damage.
The snowscapes of the episode act almost as a villain in their own right with May suffering from the effects of the damp and cold, showing how inhospitable the landscape is ordinarily not to mention when there is a titan on the loose. With almost hallucination-like sequences, there is a palpable sense of danger. The choice of setting also shows how widespread the Kaiju are, a far cry from somewhere like Skull Island.
Parallels and Interiors, is a more introspective, episode of Monarch. It substantially fleshes out the characters of May and Kentaro expanding their relationship and giving us more reason to invest in their fate. The choice of Alaskan setting gives it a foreboding, chilly atmosphere and while more character focused it is still a tense affair as our leads look to escape their imminent death while Monarch continue to monitor what could be a hugely dangerous situation.
As we approach the midpoint of its first season Monarch continues to impress delivering a mix of impressively staged sporadic Titan action with character-driven moments at its core.
SEE ALSO: Read our Godzilla Minus One review here