The premiere deftly introduces viewers to the stark realities of this world through Anna Sawai’s Cate, who has traveled to Japan in order to confirm some disturbing suspicions about her late father. Although all seems perfectly normal as everyone calmly goes about their business, our first indication that things are somewhat amiss comes when she lands and, before deplaning, individuals in hazmat suits stroll through the plane for what’s apparently a typical decontamination procedure after international flights — despite one obviously frequent flyer’s derision that spraying for “parasites” would make any difference in a world full of Titans. There’s also the startling presence of missile defense systems set up right in the middle of Tokyo, ready to ward off the next Godzilla attack at a moment’s notice. Not only does this mean that “monster prep” is now a booming business for (presumably) weapons dealers and other war profiteers, but a taxi driver hilariously channels real-world conspiracy theories when he opines that the entire San Francisco disaster, which Cate lived through firsthand, was somehow staged with “CGI.” Classic!
Most harrowingly of all, however, Cate once again relives her trauma from that attack (now collectively known to the public as “G-Day,” fittingly enough) when the city undergoes a sudden drill. In the chaos of everyone scrambling to the nearest shelter, Cate finds herself swept along with the crowd to a subway station, not knowing whether or not an actual attack is imminent or if this is merely a test. Her PTSD triggers memories of that day on the Golden Gate Bridge when a rampaging Godzilla came this close to killing her.
All told, “Monarch” gets off to a good start by cleverly building atop the foundation laid down by “Godzilla.” The first two episodes are now streaming on Apple TV+.