The mysteries of Monarch: Legacy of Monsters continue to unfold in the second episode, “Departure.” With our main cast established and the stage set for the adventure, how exactly does said adventure begin? How do our heroes deal with recent revelations? How does early Monarch come into play? And will we get to meet the heavily-advertised Kurt Russell character?
All these questions and more can be answered by taking a thorough look at Monarch: Legacy of Monsters‘ second episode, “Departure.” Please bear in mind that there will be spoilers for this episode, so tread lightly if you haven’t seen it yet. Without further ado, let’s get started.
Monarch Episode 2 Plot
In 2015, Cate, Kentaro, and May are ready to go their separate ways after the revelations from the previous episode. Cate wants to head back to America, Kentaro cathartically tears up old family photos with his mom, and May heads back to her day job. However, the three’s paths soon cross once again as Joe Tippett’s Phil pursues each of them determined to get his hands on Hiroshi Randa’s files.
Desperate for answers and suspicious of Monarch’s true intentions, the trio seek out an older Lee Shaw, played by Kurt Russell, who is currently being held by Monarch in a retirement facility that more or less functions as a personal prison. Shaw believes that reports of Hiroshi dying in Alaska were falsified by Monarch and that Cate and Kentaro’s father is in fact still alive. And that the answers to what he was looking for may be buried in his old files.
Meanwhile, in the flashback storyline, a young Lee Shaw is assigned to escort Dr. Keiko Miura after roughing up some bullies on base camp. The two explore the forest to investigate strange ion readings, when they run into Bill Randa; a cryptozoologist who tells them about local legends that end up helping them in their mission.
By working together, the three discover that the ion readings they’ve been tracking form a similar pattern to bird migration. Following the trail from the forest to an abandoned World War II vessel, they eventually discover the source of the radiation and the episode’s ending hook: a living, breathing dragon.
In the case of both storylines, the most meaty talking points come at the very end: the introduction of Kurt Russell’s Lee Shaw in the present day and the Ion Dragon in the flashbacks. Both of these moments are genuinely great in their own right. Kurt Russell is clearly having a ball in this role and plays well off the other actors even in the limited screen time he has in this episode. And the reveal of the dragon has such strong “Wow” factor that it’s hard not to love.
The rest of the episode isn’t quite as strong, but there’s still stuff to enjoy here, namely in the flashback story which is by far the stronger of the two. Shaw and Keiko meeting each other for the first time was a lot of fun to see, even if the whole “The doctor is a woman???” trope is pretty cliche, and Anders Holm as Randa adds a lot to their dynamic later on. They’re fun characters and it’s a joy to watch them bounce off each other.
As for the present day stuff, the best scenes would have to be with Kentaro and his mother. They both are obviously dealing with a lot of emotions after learning what they did about Hiroshi and watching them deal with that together made for some surprisingly powerful moments; especially the aforementioned scene where they start tearing up old family photos of him. May and Cate on the other hand are mostly just going through the motions to get us to the next big story beat and Phil is once again not that compelling of an antagonist.
Overall though, “Departure” is still a solid sophomore episode for the series. The flashback storyline here is significantly better than the present day one, but they both work for what they are, have excellent ending hooks, and move the overall story forward in compelling ways.