Did Monarch: Legacy of Monsters Live up to the Hype?

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Thomas Richards,Art of Lily K,Brandy Brown
| February 22, 2024
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It’s been a hot minute since the first season of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters ended. After we hit the halfway point, I was optimistic about the series’ direction. It looked like they could dive more into the repercussions of the Titans showing up and wrecking shit. Maybe we would get some more political espionage? Perhaps even have some massive connections with King of the Monsters? But enough about the first five episodes (unless you want more, in which case, read the full article here), we’re here now to see if Monarch could stick the landing. Did it meet expectations? Or did it get a little too whacky? Let’s find out.

Not How I Thought It Was Gonna Go

Got me a Titan phone. (Legendary)

Back in December, I praised the plot of this series, even going as far as to say that I was heavily invested in the present-day and past plotlines. And while I didn’t dislike how these stories wrapped up at the end of the season, I couldn’t help but be a tad disappointed. That’s not to say the story was terrible; far from it, I think I was hoping for something a little different. The present-day plot, for example, had me invested through the family drama, political drama, and seeing how everyday people dealt with the emergence of Godzilla and the Titans. The family drama stuff remained engaging, with one of my favourite scenes being when Kentaro (Ren Watabe) confronts his Dad Hiroshi (Takehiro Hira) (Oh yeah, he’s not dead, BTW). Their relationship was the highlight for me in the final few episodes, and if the show does get a Season 2, I hope it gets explored further.

I also enjoyed seeing the political side of this universe (even if they kinda forgot about it a tad). The moments we see, such as the infighting at Monarch and the shady deals with Apex, were interesting, and I wish the show explored them more. After Episode 7, the story drops the political side of things almost entirely with only a scene or two to remind you, “Hey, remember this stuff”, and instead dives head first into the whacky world of Titans. I was also let down because after Episode 5, the show didn’t focus much on how normal people deal with these events; instead pivoting hard into the whacky.

This shift was fine, and if you’re a massive Godzilla fan who loves the weird stuff, you probs loved it. I was hoping that the tone from the first few episodes would remain until the end. I also hoped that there would be some more connections made to King of the Monsters, but alas, it seems like we’re skipping straight to the more recent films. I did enjoy the surprise reveal at the end of everyone’s favourite giant primate, Kong, because who doesn’t love the BEEG MONKE!

That’s Some Quick Character “Growth”

Fall down hole. Get bow and arrow. (Legendary)

My issues with the plot can be looked at as me expecting something from the show and the show doing something else, which is fine. That’s the danger of theory crafting, and I understand that. What I don’t understand is how they took the characters of Cate (Anna Sawai) and May (Kiersey Clemons) and made them some of the most unlikable characters I’ve seen on TV in a while. After Episode 5, I was vibing with the trio of Cate, Kentaro, and May. I was keen to see how their story would continue to unfold, especially with May betraying them. This is where I got a little annoyed because, after May’s betrayal and being “kicked out” of the group by an angry Cate, it only took her two minutes to apologise and want to be friends again.

This led us to learn more about May, which was interesting, but I couldn’t help but be annoyed at how single-minded Cate got towards May. From this point on, Cate constantly screamed May’s name when she left her sight for a second, which got annoying fast. They also pushed Kentaro to the sidelines for almost the rest of the season except for the final two episodes, which was disappointing. I’m just baffled at how I used to be so invested in these two characters, and by the end, I couldn’t care less.

Characters I didn’t change my opinion on where the trio from the past. Shaw (Wyatt/Kurt Russell), Billy (Anders Holm), and Keiko (Mari Yamamoto) remained interesting characters to the end, and they were the best part of nearly every episode in the second half of the season. I enjoyed the relationship between Shaw and the science team and how it led to some great moments, such as Shaw revealing to the General that Godzilla is still alive and the reveal that Hirsoshi isn’t the son of Billy or Shaw (a lot of theories got shot down that day).

My only complaint about these characters is how the hell did Keiko survive the fall in Episode 1? They never show how she survives being pulled down from a decent height by a horde of giant bugs. She just shows up with a bow and arrow in Episode 9 and goes, “Sup, I’m not dead sucka”. I’m less annoyed with the fact she survived and more so with the lack of an explanation. I would’ve loved an episode where we saw how she survived the fall and in Axis Mundi (more on this later). That would’ve made her miraculous survival seem less like an example of plot armour.

A Realm Of Giant Lizards and Dragons

This was kinda cool. (Legendary)

I can’t talk about this series without mentioning the monsters, and the second half of the season had a few. In the last five episodes, Godzilla shows up three times, which made some people I know very happy. The Giant Lizard still looked great, and the CGI looked pretty good for a streaming show. He doesn’t do much besides standing, walking, and swimming until the final episode, where we get a Titan fight. What Titan does Godzilla fight? The Dragon that made a ship slimy, of course. I was a little whelmed by the final fight being Godzilla versus an overgrown bat, but it was still fun to see Godzilla demolishing the Ion Dragon.

Other monsters that showed up include an adult version of the Titan bugs from the first episode (even if it showed up for only a second) and a moss boar thing that gets shot with an arrow and then runs away. There’s also Kong, which I mentioned before, but he was not around long, either. I didn’t mind the sparring use of the Titans in this show, as I was always more interested in the human side of things.

One thing about the Titans that I do think is an absolute asspull, though, is Axis Mundi. This is where Keiko ended up after surviving her fall and also where Cate, May, and Shaw ended up after Episode 7. The reason I think this is dumb is because, in Godzilla vs. Kong, it was established that Humans can’t enter the Hollow Earth without being crushed. But in this show, four people enter these portals and don’t die. They explain this away by saying that Axis Mundi isn’t the Hollow Earth and that it’s somewhere in the middle, or as fellow contributor Brandy called it, “Middle Earth”. Instead of being a surprise, this felt like the writers needed an excuse for people to enter a Hollow Earth-type area, and this was their solution. It didn’t ruin the show for me, but I do think it’s stupidly convenient.

He was just exfoliating his skin. (Legendary)

But these are just the thoughts of a newer enjoyer of the Kaiju genre. What did some fans who are more well-versed in this area think? The Monarch Files crew shared their two cents on this show down below.

Lily K

Look, I am the Queen of Salt. I was fine during the first 5 episodes, but OH BOY, did that change quickly… I honestly thought (and hoped) that they would take a more serious toned approach, and the first half of the series seemed to signal that heavily. First of all, it was titled Monarch, which is the organization going after the Titans, so I felt like this could have been a more politically heavy story with some monsters sprinkled on top of it. But I guess by the end, they said, “Fuck it, let’s make this as silly as the movies.” But why, though? It was on track to be more. I won’t mention Cate and May heavily, but they truly made them into the most annoying and unbearable characters by the end, so I fully agree with Tom there. The disrespect toward Kentaro, who quickly became one of the best characters, was the source of huge disappointment in the end, and don’t even get me started on Kurt Russell and the fucking plot armor of characters. The fact that these people ran around Titans all the time and somehow kept getting away basically unharmed made no sense at all. And then, I guess, to “save” the whole thing, somehow, they got rid of Kurt Russell at the very end. Wow… sure. Makes sense. The number of plotholes they created not just toward the movies but the series itself was unbelievable at the end. They literally threw plotlines out of the window halfway through. May betrays them, but not really, then she betrays them again but I guess not really. There’s another stop before you get to the Hollow Earth that was somehow missed completely by the guy who wrote about The Hollow Earth Theory in Godzilla vs Kong. Not to even mention that Bill Randa (John Goodman), based on this series, knew about the wormholes, yet in Kong – Skull Island, he refers to them as tunnels and never once mentions that it can be much more than that. And the fact that Keiko survived being dragged down by hundreds of human-sized bugs and survives… I… I don’t even know what to say anymore. This series could have been SO MUCH MORE. It had the potential in the first half and then very quickly lost it all by focusing on unnecessary love triangles, making sure that everyone survived, and creating plotholes along the way. Such a shame. 

Brandy

Okay, I am probably the least salty of the bunch because I always expect whacky when I am watching anything having to do with the Monsterverse. I’ll keep this short and sweet. I loved the story of the original founders of Monarch. I loved the Russells and how they transitioned from the younger to the older. I was happy that Keiko wasn’t dead. Yes, Dan was right. Was it a little silly? Sure. Did it have me questioning Middle Earth vs Hollow Earth? Sure. But, if you are a fan of the Monsterverse at all, you know how silly they can get, and honestly, the plot armor wasn’t any different than any other movie/ show (looking at you, Marvel). I enjoyed Kentaro’s storyline and hope they do more with him, but by the end of the series, I didn’t care much for Cate or May. I probably should have, but I just didn’t. I am looking forward to seeing how this will tie into future shows or movies, and honestly, I hope Shaw isn’t gone. But we shall see. Bottom line, I enjoyed it. 

To answer the question asked initially, did this series live up to the hype? I’d say it depends on what you were expecting. The first half definitely did for me, but the second started to lose some of the momentum, and by the end, I had checked out a little. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t as big a fan of the direction the series went. But, if you love the stupidity that Kaiju media always brings, you’ll have a fun time. Moral of the story, manage your expectations. Keep it locked to Couch Soup for more Godzilla and Monsterverse content to feed your hungry nerd soul.

You can also check out The Monarch Files, the Couch Soup podcast that covers each episode of Monarch, if you want more of our totally professional opinions.

Did you watch Monarch: Legacy of Monsters? What did you think? Did you like how it ended? Let us know in the comments below where we can talk about all things Monarch.

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