One thing I like that Monarch: Legacy of Monsters gets across is how this monster story ties into real-world implications – at least in the 1950s timeline, hitting a big point during “Secrets and Lies.” To think of enormous kaiju walking around the earth with the potential ability for massive amounts of destruction is terrifying. We’ve seen what happened in the current timeline with G-Day. That said, you can speak to the post-WW2 mindset of America. The improvements in the military, having new weapon technologies at their disposal, seemed to make them look for ways to use them as a show of force.
In 1954, two years after the discovery in the Philippines, Billy, Keiko, and Lee need some funding to get the early incarnations of Monarch off the ground. This is why they go to General Puckett (Christopher Heyerdahl) and show him the abnormally large footprint they found. Keiko and Billy are looking at things from a scientist's headspace standpoint. If they find a Titan, they want to study it further to see where they are coming from and if they have ill intentions. It’s no different from anyone who views animals outside of being trophies or just a food source. Lee gets General Puckett on board by dressing the Titans as an existential threat. The US military is not looking to welcome these things with open arms and hands – it’s all about eliminating what could happen.
Besides the first episode, we see Godzilla in its glory (the roar and all). It’s just for a split second until it’s shot with an H-bomb, which Keiko reacts emotionally to. I can’t help but think of the real-life occurrences at Bikini Atoll. the toll of constant nuclear testing on the island, and the resettlement of its citizens who can’t live there because of all the radioactivity. Godzilla (at least in this universe) can use radioactivity to its advantage. However, in this episode, it’s used to wound it (Zilla isn’t dead at all). Monarch hasn’t tied all of this together yet, but the origins of Godzilla bank on being a metaphor for nuclear tragedies.
It’s interesting to see that flipped in another way here, and I hope Monarch fully fleshes that train of thought out to justify the switch. Lee is a go-between in the military world and his friends. They get the funding and then some, but as Keiko states, “There’s a difference between a secret and a lie.” There are two different opinions of what Monarch ultimately becomes. At first glance, it wants to find the truth, and in the present day, the entity is operating in secret, kidnapping people in cars, and trying to scrap any trace of information out in the wild.
That brings us to the present-day story, and it’s a delight to have Kurt Russell playing the older version of Lee. His back and forth with May about knowing Googie to take over the plane before it crashed are hints of Jack Barton in Big Trouble In Little China. Lee hasn’t seen Hiroshi in almost 20 years; of course, he wants to see what potentially happened to him. Kentaro is on board with that, and Cate is justifiably hesitant. She still feels the sting of her father’s secret family, but her talk with Du-Oh made a good point. Cate has been through the survivalist ringer concerning G-Day, but she’s still here to stay, whatever she wants to say to her father (if he’s alive).
When they arrive in Alaska, it’s apparent that somebody survived a plane's wreckage. The tent is a dead giveaway, along with the worn-down pencil. There’s at least a punter’s chance Hiroshi is still out there – thus a key to what he’s hiding from Monarch and why they are after it. The problem is it wasn’t because the plane crashed; instead, it was attached by a MUTO. A cool thing Monarch has done so far is show various monsters. Unfortunately for Du-Oh, he meets his untimely end by being frozen to death. After several episodes setting up the overall stakes, we have places to go and mysteries to solve.
There are Hiroshi’s whereabouts and the information he has. But there’s also the overall state of Monarch and why the vision escapes what Lee, Keiko, and Billy envisioned in the first place.