With the holiday season having come and gone and all the noise that comes with it, there’s a strong chance you may have missed out on some fantastic programming. If the rapidly decreasing temperatures are keeping you inside, warm up with the atomic fresh breath of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters.
Apple TV+ has another wonderful series on its hands, joining the ranks of Severance and For All Mankind to name a few. The new streaming series from the world of Godzilla and Kong does well in highlighting the humanity behind the organizations opposing the Titans.
While John covered an early look at Monarch with fewer spoiler impressions before its release, we’re digging into some revelations and (dare I say?) solutions in the back half of the show.
[Warning: Full spoilers for Monarch: Legacy of Monsters are discussed below!]
Kurt Russell as Lee Shaw & Mari Yamamoto as Keiko
Nothing sells a hero like a self-sacrifice for the greater good and that’s exactly what older Lee Shaw (Kurt Russell) did to certify Keiko’s (Mari Yamamoto), Cate’s (Anna Sawai), and May’s (Kiersey Clemons) escape from Axis Mundi. The way the series managed to toe the line in regard to trusting Shaw is what kept me going from episode to episode.
More than once I had questioned whether he truly wanted to save the world or just take over Monarch and run his own agenda. You might say, “But of course, he was trying to help, he was a Founder of the organization”, but the sheer existence of my doubt in Shaw is what roots my fascination for this character and this series.
While succeeding in staying alive, Keiko is devastated to learn about her family tree branching without her for over half a century. The emotion portrayed by Yamamoto was moving, as the time lost felt compounded and powerful. Coupled with her initial decision to stay behind to not “ruin her son’s life any further”, the sense of duty and the maternal instinct never faltered. Ultimately, she does make it back into Hiroshi’s (Takehiro Hira) life, and the reunion had me sobbing a touch.
The monsters in Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
The show may be about the Monarch organization, but when those trailers teased Godzilla, fans were gearing up to see the King of the Monsters make some brief but impressionable appearances. What really got me was the frequency of his walk-ins. Godzilla walked into the finale as if he were ready to hit a home run and win the World Series, the confidence oozing from each spike, tooth, and nail.
I apologize for the crassness, but I have to say it: HOLY SHIT! THAT FINAL FIGHT! Fans were in for a real treat when Godzilla came in, gave one look around the room, and started throwing down like the “Thrilla in Manila.”
Of course, Godzilla may be the biggest, but he is not the only kaiju roaming the Earth. The Ion Dragon was a terrifying figure that was either bold or stupid enough to face off with Godzilla. In the first episode, there’s a Mother Longlegs (incredible name) and a Mantleclaw that tussle while older Bill Randa (John Goodman reprising his role from Kong: Skull Island) throws his notes and files into the ocean.
A real treat from the series was the Frost Vark for its powers, it’s a thermovore, consuming heat for sustenance which put our protagonists in peril twice. Even though Godzilla is the big focus, the badass final shot of Kong on Skull Island was one to be remembered. I had hoped they hadn’t forgotten about my good time boy, and there he was right before the closing credits.
The standouts in this new Apple TV+ series
Kurt Russell was an obvious stand-out, with his decades of experience on screen showing in his acting ability. His son Wyatt Russell was also a force in the flashback scenes, which was insanely opportune and well-played for them to have both actors to help sell the story.
Mari Yamamoto was the real highlight, as her perseverance as a Doctor/Researcher and Mother was brought forth through each scene they granted her. Ren Watabe for his first real acting job was tremendous, his dialogues in both English and Japanese were fantastically delivered and held all the emotional weight.
Even though she had a strong start and an interesting backstory, the writers got about halfway through the season with Cate (Anna Sawai) and seem to have decided she wasn’t that important anymore. It’s a bit of a letdown, as her survivor’s guilt from the events in San Francisco (see Godzilla) was a great motivation for the first few episodes.
May (Kiersey Clemons) was the inverse, a proposed love interest who had the most compelling history regarding her former employment (Apex Cybernetics). There was some romance being sparked between May and Cate, and I’m curious if they intend to pursue that route in the future. This could provide an interesting conflict whether or not they decide to help Apex Cybernetics after returning from Axis Mundi.
Lastly, a quick shout out to Joe Tippett who did his best with his oddly written character Tim. I understand Tim’s decision-making, but it’s so incredibly baffling how back and forth the rest of the Monarch organization treats him. It bounces from civil understanding to complete disregard.
I know that can be typical within high-stress level situations, but at some point, it started to annoy me that they wouldn’t listen to him, he would raise his voice, and then all of a sudden, they did. This happened at least three times within the series, as if it was trying hard to have this grandstanding moral moment that absolutely did not land.
Will there be a Monarch: Legacy of Monsters season 2?
Fans and critics alike enjoyed the season, which begs the question: Will there be another season? As it stands, the WGA has Chris Black and Matt Fraction (among others) on credits for a second season. With the great reception, it’s hard to see this not getting greenlit for another go around. There is the case of cost, which, for whatever dollar amount they had, season 1 was amazing, and had the whole show on par with the movies.
If given a second season, where would it pick up? The closing scene took place in 2017, which means they have yet to experience Godzilla fighting Kong and the team-up in Godzilla vs. Kong.
One constant I enjoyed about the season was the flashback moments detailing the origins of Monarch, the camerawork really sold the time period. I would absolutely love to see a little more of what was happening within Monarch while Keiko and Lee were on Axis Mundi.
Where to watch Monarch: Legacy of Monsters
Monarch: Legacy of Monsters is currently streaming on Apple TV+. Did you enjoy watching this series? Are you excited for more Titan fighting and shady organization decisions? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus and join the Cosmic Circus Discord to chat about Godzilla, Kong, and much more!
Stay tuned for the release of Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, due in theaters on March 29, 2024.