Monster – 13-14

I’m getting to this post way later than intended. Apologies — I’ve been sick all week, and these posts normally take a bit out of me even when I’m healthy, so there was no way I could do this kind of heavy thinking while under the influence of cold medicine. Still not completely over my illness, but I am well enough to give this post a good shot. Better late than never, right?

Ep14 is a favorite Monster episode of mine because it shows both Inspector Lunge and Eva really getting a kickstart to their dual obsessions with Dr. Tenma and the extent of the damage caused to them by their obsessions (though Lunge’s damage comes more from a general obsession with tracking down killers). Lunge’s half of the story is particularly interesting because while up to this point he is portrayed as an extremely intelligent, effective officer of the law, there is not too much indication that his dedication to his work may have a negative effect on his life (although he has an admittedly single-minded, intense personality), whereas the sparks of Eva’s obsession are shown in prior episodes (although, again, they are not fanned nearly as hard as they are in this episode).

In the middle of his story, Lunge admits he is not particularly interested in justice, nor is he interested in the fame that comes from solving big cases. He is simply interested in solving the puzzle behind each murder; he approaches his job like an intellectual game. Really, he approaches his life like an intellectual game — he is always cool and detached, logically analyzing everything as it comes and never inserting his emotions into anything, including, as is made brutally clear, his family life. It is a great irony that a detective renowned throughout Germany (if not the world) for his insightful crime analysis and attention to detail does not know his daughter is pregnant and that his wife has been cheating on him for lord knows how long.

(One of Monster‘s great unsolved mysteries is how the hell Lunge got married and had a daughter in the first place. I don’t think a person suddenly becomes the way Lunge is overnight — this has been Lunge’s way of living and thinking for a long time. So how did he ever get close enough emotionally to his wife for her to want to marry him? Or was their relationship similar to Tenma and Eva’s, where one side simply desires the fame that would come from marrying someone relatively influential?)

But despite the damage to his family, Lunge’s obsession with criminal mind games has served him well over the years. He is a pushy agent, and his superiors in the BKA often have to clean up the messes that naturally arise because of Lunge’s intense personality, but they bear with it because he always catches the criminal. Always. But as one of Lunge’s superiors surmises, there will come a time when Lunge will be wrong about a case, or he will simply push his investigation over the edge. (Amusingly enough, the former has already happened, but as I pointed out a few weeks back, that really isn’t Lunge’s fault since Tenma’s story is patently absurd without the evidence to back it up.)

The case on which Lunge is currently working involves a murdered prostitute. Lunge suspects an influential senator, Dr. Boltzmann, of not only sleeping with the prostitute but also ordering her murder. Boltzmann’s secretary must take the brunt of these accusations and fend off Lunge as much as possible with denials, despite all the evidence unveiled by Lunge through the course of the episode, including the prostitute’s coded client list, which has Boltzmann’s name within, and evidence that a publishing company hired the prostitute to sleep with Boltzmann and write a tell-all book on the subject. There is motive and opportunity but still not completely solid proof. The pressure on the secretary mounts with each visit from Lunge, and in a desperate attempt to discredit the detective, the secretary kills himself and leaves a simple note: “Dr. Boltzmann is innocent.” It’s an ingenious (albeit fatal) bit of PR — distracting people with another scandalous story to throw off the investigation and paint Lunge as the bad guy. Even the dispassionate Lunge is shocked by this turn of events, although his slightly bulging eyes are the only details that betray his feelings.

This is the point where Lunge should learn a lesson, but he doesn’t because he has spent such a large chunk of his life in permanent logic mode. All Lunge takes into consideration is that he is — probably — correct in his deductions. Lunge pushes his cases as hard as he does because all he sees is that the perpetrator committed a crime and must be found out. However, what Lunge misses is that human element that can help him know what a person is feeling and when it is advantageous to keep pushing or back off a bit. Through pure logic, Lunge dictates that the best course of action is to present the secretary with mounting evidence until he finally confesses his employer’s crimes. But this is not what happens.

Now, it can certainly be argued that not many people would know that the secretary would go so far as to commit suicide, and that Lunge pushes his case as hard as he does because it would not be easy or simple to obtain more conclusive evidence than what he already possesses. However, I think a person who could sense emotion more easily than Lunge would be able to see that the secretary is at least getting somewhat desperate in the face of all the evidence. He is going to break one of two ways — either in betrayal of his employer, or the emotional breakdown he actually does go through. Admittedly, pushing the guy just a bit more is probably a solid tactic, but what is the harm of someone like Lunge, who probably possesses innumerable connections, hunting down that one last piece of evidence? Maybe he hunts down the actual hitman, or pounds the pavement for potential witnesses. There are many things Lunge can do that we do not see him attempt in this episode.

In any case, Lunge’s mistake rips away everything in his life in an instant. His family is gone because he has detached himself completely from their lives. His cases are taken out of his hands because he has caused the BKA a severe embarrassment. Only Dr. Tenma remains. All this damage has left Lunge with very little in his life; however, he continues on by absorbing Tenma into every fiber of his being. And so begins a fearsome obsession.

Meanwhile, Eva’s story runs parallel to Lunge’s. Eva occupies the same spot she has for years — still running through failed relationship after failed relationship (this time also planting evidence to destroy the lives of her lovers), living off her divorce money and punishing herself for her sins while outwardly scorning Tenma, even though she still loves him deep inside. This story, which involves a fragile relationship between Eva and her gardener, still touches me because it shows Eva has the capacity for healing; however, fate continually deals her shitty circumstances — perhaps as punishment for being such a horrible person in her younger years — and thus, she cannot stop being reminded of her betrayal, and of how she has failed time and again to heal the (self-inflicted) wound in her heart in the aftermath of her relationship with Tenma.

It’s sad, because the gardener is the type of man who should make Eva happy — a good-hearted, simple man who could not care less about Eva’s money or her reputation within the community. He falls for her simply because he can see the potential for good within her, and because he can see the pain she forces upon herself day after day. Eva tries to keep up her high-powered image because it is basically the only thing that remains in her life, but it is obvious this does not make her happy in the least because Eva’s drinking is heavier than ever. As a lark, Eva takes the gardener out to a fancy restaurant, and while he is clearly uncomfortable, the gardener opens up to Eva about his belief that she is a good person because, “anyone who likes gardens can’t be bad”. Eva laughs at this, but then the gardener comments about how Eva also seems incredibly lonely. A few awkward moments pass before Eva replies that the gardener also seems lonely.

Eva and the gardener sleep together. When the gardener dresses to go home to his daughter, he hears Eva whisper Tenma’s name. This leads directly to the scene where Eva comes home from a failed meeting with Inspector Lunge, pissed off that the BKA has made little headway in the Tenma case and berating Tenma for killing her father. However, the gardener shrewdly points out that Eva probably believes Tenma is innocent, deep down, and that she probably sitll has feelings for him because she keeps his pictures all around the house. Eva is incredulous for a few moments before admitting that Tenma made her the happiest of any man she had been with, because he fulfilled nearly every requirement she has for a man.

What this conversation reveals is the innate problem with Eva and Tenma’s relationship, and why they ultimately cannot be together. The way Eva describes the relationship is not healthy at all; it seems as if she loved Tenma because he didn’t really have the balls to ever oppose her selfish desires. Eva has grown a bit — at least enough to realize she treated Tenma like complete shit — but the emotional torture she has put herself through over the course of a decade has stunted her growth severely enough to where she still acts quite childish. If she were by some miracle to get back with Tenma, would her problems be solved immediately? Of course not. All that bitterness does not disappear in a second. All that anger does not vanish immediately. And all that pain does not fade without leaving deep scars. Eva wants to believe that reconciling with Tenma will solve all her problems; however, what she does not realize is that love does not magically solve anything. It can help people along the way, for sure, but ultimately people must rely on themselves to work their way through their pain and problems. Love is not something to be used as a crutch for one’s problems without contributing something else in return. Eva cannot be with Tenma because she herself is incapable of handling a healthy, loving relationship.

There seems to be one chance outside of Tenma for Eva to fall back onto the right path, however. The gardener offers to tend Eva’s garden and make her as happy as he can so that her pain will be eased even a little bit. Eva seems genuinely touched for a moment and then laughs deeply, although she is really laughing more at the idea that she deserves a good man who can really love her than she is at the idea of the gardener being with her. Even after Eva rudely tears the gardener down, the gardener invites her to a Christmas party he is holding with his daughter. Then he leaves Eva alone to think deeply about this offer.

But Fate isn’t so kind to Eva, who actually decides to accept this offer. The gardener’s estranged wife returns to him on this night, and by the time Eva makes it to the gardener’s home, she is greeted with the sight of the gardener happily eating with his wife and daughter. Eva is devastated and embittered when she realizes she has yet again been denied the possibility of a happy, normal life. The subsequent scene where Eva burns down her mansion and the garden still gives me chills. It is an absolutely unforgettable symbol of both Eva’s rage and the emotional pain she inflicts upon herself every day. The closing shot of the scene where she walks away from the mansion as if she is venturing out of the gates of Hell is basically what her heart feels every day — just a mass of burning rage and flames licking at every corner of her soul. Like Lunge, this betrayal leads Eva deeper into an obsession with Tenma that is the only thing keeping her connected to this world.

Just one final note because this post entered tl;dr territory long ago: I like ep13 but don’t find too much to talk about with it, because it is a relatively straightforward episode. The romance between Schumann and Petra is kind of cute, though. Schumann has to be Monster‘s one real textbook tsundere, right?

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