Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episodes 1 and 2 review: Aftermath

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters © 2023 Apple TV
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters © 2023 Apple TV /
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Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters © 2023 Apple TV /

If you’re a fan of Godzilla, Mothra, King Kong, and all the other amazing kaiju in the Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse, you’re going to want to watch this.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, Apple TV’s newest addition to its show list, is much more than just a standalone show. It is a key piece in the larger puzzle of Legendary Pictures’ MonsterVerse. This incredible and fun cinematic universe has been weaving together the tales of legendary monsters like Godzilla and King Kong for a while now with movies, creating fun and thrilling interconnected stories.

The MonsterVerse has been expanding steadily, with each new movie and now this series adding layers of depth and complexity to an already fascinating and immersive world. It has carved out a unique niche in the world of cinematic universes, focusing on a blend of human drama and insanely destructive monster battles. It’s a world where the awe-inspiring and the terrifying coexist, bringing to life every kaiju fan’s dream, and paving the way to making new kaiju fans – my own kiddos have become obsessed with the show. They even have their own theories.

LoM has the potential to expand the MonsterVerse even further. By going deeper into the lore, backstories, and secret dealings of the organization known as Monarch, the show promises to add a new dimension to the ongoing story. It’s an opportunity to explore what happens behind the scenes in a world regularly visited by giant monsters. I am personally excited to see how this series will tie into the larger narrative, and how it will set the stage for even more future content in the MonsterVerse.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters kicks off with a tantalizing tease that subverts expectations. This Godzilla-centric series promises more than just city-stomping action. Instead, the first two episodes lay the groundwork for a narrative that’s rich in character development and suspense, albeit light on the kaiju action.

Let’s talk about these first two episodes, shall we?

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 1
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters /

Episode 1: “Aftermath”

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters opens with a flashback to 1973’s Skull Island. We see John Goodman’s Kong: Skull Island character, Bill Randa, writing a cryptic message for an unnamed friend, hinting at a significant, possibly regretful decision. This opener sets a tone of mystery and anticipation for the show, which stays on point for the entirety of the series so far. The scene ends with Bill throwing a Monarch-logoed satchel into the sea, a moment that connects past and present and fuels the episode’s plot.

Fast forward to 2015, where we meet Cate Randa in Tokyo, having to deal with the complex web of her father’s life (understatement of the year – I really hate the guy so far). Cate’s journey is packed with emotional struggles, exploring post-Godzilla Tokyo with a very realistic side of PTSD, complete with public warnings and conspiracy theories. The portrayal of a city living in the shadow of kaiju terror adds realism and dread to the show’s setting.

Cate’s encounter with her father’s secret family is a very important moment, combining personal drama with the overall MonsterVerse mystery. Her interactions with Emiko (the “other woman”, or “the original”, not sure yet) and Kentaro (her half-brother), her newly discovered family members, are filled with tension and unspoken questions, setting up a compelling dynamic for future episodes and completely reeling the viewers in.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 1
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters © 2023 Apple TV /

The discovery of Randa’s thrown satchel, from the opening scene, in Hiroshi’s secret office marks a pivotal point in the episode. The contents of the satchel – data storage tapes bearing the Monarch logo – tie Cate’s personal narrative to the larger Monsterverse. Her determination to uncover the truth, aided by Kentaro and “May”, a hacker with a complicated past (another understatement of the year), gives us all a sense urgency and suspense.

The episode seamlessly combines personal drama with the looming presence of Monarch and its monsters. The moment the data from the tapes is decrypted it triggers an alert at Monarch and escalates the tension to a whole new level. This introduces us to the… very interesting Monarch staffer, Tim, whose intentions are initially unclear.

The episode also takes us to 1959 Kazakhstan, where Dr. Keiko Mira, a younger version of Bill Randa, and Lee Shaw (played by Wyatt Russell) are on a mission to prove a groundbreaking theory. Their discovery of a MUTO egg nursery is a thrilling moment, linking past and present events in the MonsterVerse. The episode ends with a shot of Keiko falling back into a pile of baby MUTOs as neither Bill nor Lee are able to grab her in time.

RIP, Keiko. Most badass monster hunter lady, ever.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters episode 1
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters © 2023 Apple TV /

This episode masterfully combines multiple timelines, personal drama, and the overarching mystery of the MonsterVerse right off the bat. I was a little concerned as how the personal drama might take away from the monsters (don’t lie, you’re only watching this because 1) Kurt Russel, and 2) DESTRUCTION. Just me? Oh.)

The touch of human stories with the looming threat of monsters creates a relatable yet improbable plot, which makes for an intriguing show. This first episode sets the stage for deeper explorations into the characters’ connections to the MonsterVerse, promising more thrilling developments and revelations in the episodes to come.