Monsterland Episode 2 (Eugene, Oregon) Recap
In episode 2, we meet our protagonist Nick Smith (Charlie Tahan) at a pharmacy where he purchases his mom’s medicine. He later learns that her insurance suddenly doesn’t cover it anymore. Using all the spare cash he has on hand, he is only able to buy a few pills.
At home, Nick and his sickly mom play a game of cards. We can see the apparent difference from how he is around his mother to how he was at the pharmacy. They have a nightly ritual of playing cards and eating dinner together. His mom likes to ask Nick how his day was and he lies to her about succeeding in school and having lots of friends.
In reality, Nick is a lonely kid. He skips school to work in a fast-food restaurant and spends his nights playing video games with other online players. Pretty much, it’s his only social interaction apart from his mom.
One night while playing, Nick notices a shadow figure standing in the corner of his room. He takes a picture of it and shares it on Reddit. He then instantly found his way to a subreddit called Shadow Watchers. There, he meets two other guys named Dagr and West, and a girl named FinalGirl.
According to them, these shadow creatures are deadly and seeing them in the house meant they’ve got their hooks in.
Nick stayed up late chatting with the group and learning more about the shadow myths. As a result, he was over two hours late for work the next day. He then gets fired for that.
The following night, the shadow returns. Nick uses a flashlight to scare it off which startled her mom out of bed. Nick calls the EMTs and they tell him that she’s had a night terror. To make matters worse, they forgot to pay the internet bill resulting in Nick’s disconnection from his new friends.
He resorts to using the school library to contact them. However, Nick no longer attends there and his shady looks did not even help. The suspecting security then investigates and checks his bag, but only finds his gaming system. He plans to pawn some things to pay the bills.
Once the internet is restored at home, Nick vents all of his problems to his friends. They eventually encourage him to kill his shadow. FinalGirl also suggests that they send the shadows a message to make them the ones to cower in fear. In concurrence, Nick suggests they livestream it.
He then gears up with a weapon to search and destroy shadows. He comes up with an amalgamation of household items to cast a bright light. His friends are impressed with the design and West even suggests uploading it online.
Consequently, Nick starts to have apprehensions about becoming a killer and the other members of the group get upset. They tell him that Dagr found his father, Mark Smith. Imagining him in an expensive home with a perfect new family, pushes Nick over the edge. He’s finally motivated enough to do what needs to be done.
Nick bids goodbye to his mom, telling her there’s a war and he needs to do his part. He begins hunting for the shadow and his camera-helmet livestreams it on the internet. He starts prowling the corners of his house like a member in a secret raid, searching for the shadow.
Ultimately, even chillingly, Nick finds the shadow and kills it, as if it willingly surrenders.
Monsterland Episode 2 (Eugene, Oregon) Hot Take
As creator Mary Laws revealed in an interview, this particular episode was written in response to her fears regarding mass shootings. Many shooters are discovered to have connections to fanatical extremist groups who strategize and plan in dark web forums.
“We were all very concerned with the sort of growing power of the internet and the way that it can infiltrate the lives of these really vulnerable young people, especially really vulnerable young men,” explained Laws.
In today’s age, dangers like that lurk on every corner and page of social media. People exchange ideas rapidly online without having to meet face-to-face. The shadow in the episode represents any group of people belonging to different races, religions, sexual orientations or political views. For Director Kevin Philips, there was never a doubt that the shadows were harmless. Instead, the actual monstrosity of the episode was Nick’s indoctrination.
“I think that is a great metaphor for how this type of stuff works. The more one is radicalized into a certain type of thought, the more polarized their perspective becomes; the things that would otherwise be gentle or benign or harmless all of a sudden kind of skew in a different way for them.”
The episode points out the dangers of how the internet and these online groups can infiltrate and utilize a person.