The following recap contains spoilers for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Episode 7, “Will the Real May Please Stand Up” (written by Mariko Tamaki and directed by Hiromi Kamata) & Episode 8 “Birthright” (written by Al Leston and directed by Hiromi Kamata). Some elements of the Monsterverse series of movies are also discussed in this recap.
Like a lot of genre shows from 2022 and 2023—namely Secret Invasion, Ahsoka, and Rings of Power—Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is connected to a much larger universe of films and intellectual property. Where Monarch has succeeded through its first season is in the “required viewing” one has to do to understand the gist of the story, the development of the plot, and the arc of the characters.
The praise I heaped on this show after recapping Episodes 1 and 2 largely had to do with the fact that the show was not trying to be a spider-web that held all the movies together, but rather something that filled in the cracks and the gaps that a limited movie run-time would not allow for. These are brand new characters (except for a brief John Goodman cameo in Episode 1), and besides a general knowledge that Godzilla attacked San Francisco in 2014, there is not much more backstory needed.
Having largely done that over the first six episodes, the seventh and eighth entry into the first season of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters begin to develop some connective tissue and hide some of the Easter Eggs for the four existing Monsterverse films many fans have been so desperate to see. Episode 7 would sadly take us completely away from the 1950s storyline again, but several reveals in Episode 7 and then a major mystery uncovered in 1955 in Episode 8 make up for the uneven time dedicated to the various stories.
1955: Washington D.C.
The Monarch which was recently controlled by General Puckett and has now been passed to the much more reluctant and skeptical Lieutenant Hatch is on the brink of collapse. Despite the trio’s (Lee Shaw, Keiko Miura, and Bill Randa) best efforts to prove the existence of Titans, all they have are blurry photographs, campfire stories, and theories from ex-Japanese military officers that the slightly racist Lt. Hatch dismisses out of hand.
When Hatch turns those racist comments towards Dr. Miura, Randa goes on the attack, further dampening the chances that Monarch will be sustainable going forward. What Shaw believes they need is a map—something that can show definitive proof of movements, sightings, and radioactive signals that can answer the military’s one major question: “If there are so many monsters, where exactly are they?” It’s a fair question.
While creating the map, Bill Randa (with the assistance of some ants crawling in and out of cracks in the paper) developed the Hollow Earth theory, that there is some kind of Titan-supporting ecosystem inside our Earth where these creatures can hide. This has been a long-standing Monsterverse through-line first introduced in Kong: Skull Island and then continued in Godzilla vs. Kong.
The origins of this theory (which turns out to be true) are quite revealing and help Shaw convince Gen. Puckett to take another shot on Monarch, but there is a little bit of ret-conning going on here, although nothing we should lose sleep over.
In Kong: Skull Island, Hollow Earth is said to be the theory of a scientist named Brooks, and there is no mention of Bill Randa, although the John Goodman character in Kong is seeking to find and prove its existence as part of his time on Skull Island. When Godzilla vs. Kong rolls around, the scientist who wrote about it and is consulted to help find Kong’s homeland (Dr. Lind, played by Alexander Skarsgard), is considered an outcast and a pariah in his field. No one respects his theories until Kong’s handlers and the APEX Corporation come calling.
Perhaps over time, the idea fell out of favor with the scientific and military communities, but its existence—along with the revelation that the military wasn’t able to kill Godzilla with its mightiest weapon—is what looks to give Monarch the best chance at survival as Shaw, Miura and Randa head into the final two episodes of the season.
2012 & 2015: Seattle, Alaska, Algeria, and Kazakhstan
Much of Episode 7 is spent in the year 2012 with May, who up until now has been about the fifth lead of the show. It’s a curious choice, but one that explains how she came to be involved with Kentaro Randa in Japan and what her larger connection is to the story of Titans. The episode certainly isn’t “Forks” with Cousin Richie, but it does help enlighten her backstory and explain the choices she has made, particularly when she makes a call at the end of Episode 6 giving away the position that Shaw, May, Cate, and Kentaro are in.
After that call, May is “kidnapped” by her former employer Applied Experimental Technologies (AET) in an arranged setup that lets May’s friends think she has been abducted, but allows May to revisit some of the sins of her past. It turns out May has been a talented computer programmer for years and was recruited by AET to come work on some world-changing, people-saving stuff in Seattle rather than just whatever game or hacker program she is currently pursuing.
After months of frustration with her position going nowhere, May (or rather Corah, since we learn that is her real name) hacks into AET’s confidential files and learns they are working on neural interfacing between animals and machines that left countless animals tortured or dead. Instead of letting AET continue to do this, she wiped all the data clean and cyber-bombed their hard drives. After doing this, she flees to Japan to start a new life where AET can’t find her, which is where she meets Kentaro.
May lets herself get kidnapped by AET after the Godzilla sighting in Algeria, in hopes that she can somehow make things right with them while at the same time protecting Cate and Kentaro. But her friends don’t give up on her that easily, and with the help of Tim (the Monarch analyst who somehow survived a Godzilla attack and a helicopter crash) the group is able to bond with May’s sister Lyra over some Manga and she tells them where they could likely find her.
After Tim uses Monarch to send out a global “MONSTER ATTACK IMMINENT” alert (needlessly scaring billions of people and likely causing some light rioting and violence), they sneak into AET to rescue May, but she has decided to stay and face the music with them. Cate, Kentaro, and Tim head off to find Shaw and Duvall while May stays behind. Before we leave AET, however, we get an update on their “rebranding” efforts which show that they are in the process of becoming the APEX Corporation, which would eventually hunt King Kong and develop the technology for Mechagodzilla in Godzilla vs. Kong.
Where exactly have Shaw and Duvall been all this time? That answer circles back to the Hollow Earth theory, a hypothesis that apparently has hooked Shaw since the 1950s. Shaw believes if he destroys each of the Earth’s portals leading to Hollow Earth, he can trap all Titans except Godzilla there and the King of the Monsters can continue his benevolent reign on Earth. After blowing up the portal in Alaska that was central to the plot in Episodes 3 and 4, Shaw gets his sights set on Kazakhstan and the portal that opened up and took Dr. Miura’s life in a 1958 scene from Episode 1. That’s where Cate, Kentaro, and Tim meet up with them and try to talk Shaw out of these constant dangerous missions.
It’s at this moment and this place—the same place where Cate’s grandmother perished at the hands of Titans some 57 years earlier—that Shaw talks to her about his insistence that her “birthright” is someone who can work with Monarch and help neutralize the Titan threat. Cate doesn’t take it too well that her predetermined path in life is to hunt gigantic monsters that want her dead, so she and Shaw have a falling out. But before they can resolve that, they both begin falling in to the portal that opens up where they are located and Episode 8 ends with the two falling through, presumably to Hollow Earth.
Godzilla vs. Kong did not introduce us to the Shaw and Cate character stuck in Hollow Earth, so presumably something happens over the next two episodes to both save them and also continue to bring Monarch further out of the shadows and into the light. But the seeds of how all of these stories connect have been planted now and it seems as though we have crossed the threshold of filling in cracks to building stairs to the Godzilla x Kong movie in spring 2024 and other future entries of the Monsterverse.