Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Episode 5 returns to the site of Godzilla’s attack and explores themes of projected images, emotional trauma, and survivor’s guilt.
Last week’s episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters held some exciting kaiju action, near-death experiences, and key discoveries, but Episode 5 takes a more dramatic turn and brings us to the site of Godzilla’s 2014 attack in San Francisco. This being where Cate (Anna Sawai) is from, the episode also explores her backstory and mental health as direct results of three traumas: the ending of her relationship with her girlfriend, G-Day, and her father’s subsequent abandonment. Furthermore, Episode 5 explores the themes of projected images, emotional trauma, and survivor’s guilt. Here’s a full recap of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Episode 5, “The Way Out”.
We left off last week with Lt. Shaw (Wyatt Russell, Kurt Russell), Cate, Kentaro (Ren Watabe), and May (Kiersey Clemons) getting rescued from the ice-breathing kaiju by the very people they’ve been running from: the Monarch Organization. Episode 5 opens with the group in solitary confinement at Monarch’s command post in Alaska. Having once tried to kidnap them in hopes of securing Bill Randa’s early Monarch files, Agent Tim (Joe Tippett, of The Morning Show) wants to recruit Cate, Kentaro, and May, arguing “Monarch is their legacy”. Agent Duvall (Elisa Lasowski, of Versailles), however, wants to give them a long leash and see where it leads, confident they’ll find what they’re looking for with that route.
All but Lt. Shaw are released. He’s already escaped from Monarch’s clutches once, and they aren’t quick to let him out of their sight. Shaw is too smart for them, though, and rather enjoys his stay, going toe to toe in a game of wits with the organization’s director and calling out Monarch for being wrong. And this where the theme of projected images kicks off.
I have to commend filmmaker techniques here. There’s a great scene with Shaw here where he’s watching an old reel of his time in the ‘50s with Bill and Keiko (Mari Yamamoto). When he appears on film (as Wyatt Russell), present-day Shaw (as Kurt Russell) turns away from watching and winds up in perfect alignment with his son’s face, making for one very cool projected image. The two are nearly spitting images.
Cate, Kentaro, and May, on the other hand, are given fresh new passports and cell phones, as well as money for plane tickets home. While May is more than ready to return to Tokyo, Cate and Kentaro want to forge ahead with tracking down their father, Hiroshi Randa (Takehiro Hira). Ultimately the half-siblings convince May they need her, and the trio return to the States to San Francisco’s Red Zone with the intention of searching Hiroshi’s office for any clues. It’s here we experience Cate’s emotional trauma and survivor’s guilt through a series of flashbacks.
Cate’s backstory reveals something she’d never considered herself until now: She is literally just like her father. She’s selfish and unfaithful, and she also abandoned someone she loved. Cate had a girlfriend she adored, who was a fellow teacher at the school where Cate taught, and who invited Cate to move in with her. The morning before G-Day, we see Cate wake up in bed with another woman, meaning she opted not to move in with Dani (Courtney Dietz, of The Walking Dead).
In addition to taking us through the personal events in Cate’s life leading up to G-Day, Episode 5 also takes us through G-Day events from Cate’s perspective. As chaos mounted and her school was making evacuation plans we know went horribly wrong, and just as Cate got her students on a bus to leave, Dani appeared and ended their relationship, telling Cate they are good together but that Cate doesn’t want good—she wants messy. And then the bus doors closed, and that’s the last Cate ever saw of Dani.
As if risking and losing the best thing that ever happened to her wasn’t enough, Cate’s emotional trauma, survivor’s guilt, self-loathing, and PTSD are further enhanced when she sees Godzilla up close wreaking havoc, then she sees all her students die when their bus falls through the Golden Gate Bridge. To make matters worse, when Cate spots her father at a refugee camp, it’s obvious he was hoping to avoid her and her mother. Then, in a flash, he is gone, abandoning both Cate and her mother. We really do feel the weight of her trauma and guilt, but we also understand as viewers that she is her own key to unlocking her spirit from its mental hell.
Projected images also come into play here again with Cate, but her projected images aren’t so much literal as they are mental. During her series of flashbacks, and in her moment with May as May guides her out of her trauma and into the present, Cate comes to realize the projected images she created of herself, of her relationship, of life, and of her father. And that’s her turning point—a huge moment of awareness and growth … healing.
Episode 5 of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters also introduces us to a new character: Cate’s mom, Caroline (Tamlyn Tomita). If you’re a fan of The Karate Kid franchise, you may recognize Caroline from The Karate Kid Part II. She was Ralph Macchio’s love interest while in Okinawa. Her character also reflects the theme of emotional trauma in her relationship with Hiroshi. She knew deep down he was likely cheating but was too afraid to know the truth; she enjoyed having a part-time husband. This is why, we learn, Cate showed up in Tokyo at the beginning of the series: Caroline pushed her to go to uncover the truth she was too scared to investigate for herself. In this revelation, mother and daughter also experience a moment of awareness and growth, allowing for even more healing.
By the end of Episode 5, Cate, Kentaro, and May make it to Hiroshi’s office and uncover exactly what they needed: the map holding his travel clues. How did they find this? Through a projected image, of course. For that one, you’ll have to watch and see for yourself, because it is pretty cool, too.
When the trio return from “the Red Zone”, May decides she’s had enough; she wants to go home. See, prior to their release from Alaska, Agent Duvall aptly pegged May as being tired of living on-the-run (aka in fear and paranoia) and made her an offer: You help me, I help you. May winds up calling her and asking what she needs to do. May doesn’t know it yet, but we do: Monarch wants the backup she has of Bill Randa’s files—the files with evidence of the very first Titan.
Will May turn on her friends? Will Cate and Kentaro track down their missing father? What exactly is Shaw up to? And when are we going to get more kaiju action? You’ll have to tune in next week and see where the adventure leads.
Episode 5 of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is now available to watch on Apple TV+.