It is Friday! While I am beyond excited that we get yet another episode of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, I am a little sad that next week's is the last one for this season. While we have had no announcement of a second season for this titan of a show, we can only keep our fingers crossed and pray to the gods of Apple TV+ that we hear something about it soon.
This exciting and jaw-dropping ninth episode, titled "Axis Mundi," is a rollercoaster of emotions and its suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat for most of it. This penultimate episode is a masterful blend of flashbacks and present-day drama, bringing together loose ends full of mystery, action, and deep character exploration.
Before I go into my review, I just want to mention that I cannot listen to the majestic intro song of Monarch: LoM without thinking of my own two littles. My twins, much like their mother, are completely obsessed with the MonsterVerse and have become so glued to this show that it's become our thing, our show. They even sleep with my Godzilla Squishmallow and have watched my interviews with Kurt and Wyatt Russell (old and young Lee), our beloved dysfunctional trio, and Joe Tippett and Elisa Lasowski (Tim and Duvall) over and over, just happy to see them on the screen. It's pretty cute. Needless to say, the three of us can't wait for a season 2 announcement so we can continue our MonsterVerse watch parties.
Anyway, let us chat about the episode, shall we?
SPOILER WARNING for those who dare read past this sentence - I am going to spoil the entire episode and show up to this episode.
The episode kicks off with a nostalgic trip to Kansas, 1962, introducing us to a young Hiroshi in the care of Lee Shaw and Bill Randa, who has taken up the role of being his parent after Keiko, his mother, fell to her death. The dynamics between these characters are heartwarming, and the show does an exceptional job of fleshing out their relationships in just a few quick scenes. The depth of their bond is felt when Lee entrusts Hiroshi with his pocketknife, a symbol of trust and care. And, honestly, Wyatt Russell just nails his role as the charismatic and extremely likable younger Lee (while his father, Kurt Russell, does an exceptional job continuing that charisma and likability when playing older Lee). Also, he's freaking hot. There, I said it.
As we dive into Operation Hourglass (which, I just realized, is the Monarch logo turned upright), the tension ramps up. The depiction of the Monarch test site and the launch into the rift is nothing short of gorgeous. The special effects team deserves a standing ovation for bringing this complex, otherworldly scenario to life with such believability. When the mission goes sideways, the chaos is both visually stunning and emotionally gripping, and we viewers are conflicted in knowing that Lee does survive as he is in the "present time" with Cate, Kentaro, and May - but we don't know how he survives the crash.
The episode juggles multiple timelines and characters like it's its job, and we viewers never feel lost in the process. The transition to 2015 and the focus on Kentaro's struggle with going back to "normal life" after everything he's been through adds a layer of human vulnerability to the story and makes Kentaro more relatable and, honestly, likable. Director Verdugo and her cold and awfully timed dismissal of Kentaro from Monarch also stirs emotions in viewers, as it's just not fair or right for her to do this to him at a time when he's no longer needed for their operations. Freaking corporates, man. Kentaro having survival guilt hits deeply and we do feel for him. Just want to give the man a hug.
And, when Kentaro confronts his dad and tells him about Cate's fall and apparent death, I could only point at my screen and yell at Hiroshi that he was an awful person and to just take it. Yeah, I'm that level of petty when it comes to awful show/movie parent figures.
Older Lee's journey through Hollow Earth - the Titans' lair - is a highlight of this episode. The show creators have truly outdone themselves in crafting this eerie, borderline uncanny valley world. Lee's survival instincts and knowledge of this dangerous new realm keep you rooting for him and May (who, I have to say, is getting slightly annoying as all she does is complain) as they navigate the vastly different environment they've landed in. The flashbacks to Lee's past, especially his return from the first disastrous trip into Hollow Earth, add even more layers to his character, making him more relatable and human. The revelation of the time leap he experiences is both shocking and pretty well-executed.
I personally loved the montage of younger Lee sitting in front of the TV at the same asylum where we first meet older Lee, and seeing him witness Godzilla's attack on the news. With no dialogue, that scene literally spoke a thousand words.
Lastly, the cliffhanger ending with Cate facing a Titan only to be saved by Keiko had me gasping. This is the perfect setup for the season finale - which I am so ready and not ready for. It leaves the viewer desperately wanting more, wondering how these loose ends will tie together in the final episode.
Just like the previous eight episodes of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, episode 9 is yet another brilliantly crafted puzzle piece for this masterpiece that beautifully balances sci-fi action with deep, character-driven storytelling. It's a must-watch for fans of the MonsterVerse and a testament to the creative skills of the show's writers and directors.
Until next week, when we get to discuss the season finale! *Godzilla noises*