Monsterland Episode 5 – Plainfield, IL: Breakdown & Review

Monsterland ep5
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Monsterland Episode 5 (Plainfield, IL) Recap

Episode 5 stars Taylor Schilling and Roberta Colindrez as wives, Kate and Shawn. We first meet them while they happily celebrate their anniversary at a local bar. They’ve been together for 16 years already and appear to get along very well that even the bartender finds amazing. It is during law school when they started their relationship, and debating is something that they’ve always enjoyed doing together.

Kate surprises Shawn after with tickets to Italy for a six-week carousel trip to several different countries. But as good as any relationship appears to be, there is always a lot more brewing beneath the surface.

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The thing inside, you can’t escape it. #Monsterland

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We go back to over a decade earlier when they were together for only six months. Kate tries to break up with Shawn because she is bipolar and struggling with a lot of various medications. She thinks Shawn won’t be able to stick around for long haul even though she is her one true love. However, Shawn thinks otherwise. She wants to be with Kate no matter what, so they debated about it. Shawn eventually wins but isn’t fully aware of the gravity of the situation. Kate is not only bipolar, but she is also obsessed with death, regularly trying to commit suicide.

In earlier years, Kate was able to get better for a while. She tells Shawn that she wants to have a baby, and she wants to carry it, not adopt. Eventually, she gave birth to a little girl named Heather. Unfortunately, Kate’s mental health doesn’t improve even with Heather around. On multiple occasions, Heather has seen Kate at her worst that Shawn decided to send her to boarding school.

Back in the present, while still enjoying their anniversary night, Shawn comments about Heather being away at a boarding school. Kate takes offense as she knows it’s because of her that they had to send their daughter away.

Later, Kate tries to kill herself again through slitting her wrists and bleeding out in the bathtub. Shawn finds her still alive in the tub, but decides to leave her be. The following day, Kate suddenly comes back looking a lot worse. She appears as a strange, zombified version of herself that slowly decomposes overtime. 

Feeling guilty for not helping Kate out of the tub, Shawn commits never to abandon her again. She stays by Kate’s side through her slow deterioration even quitting her job. She joins her to sleep in the basement, killing squirrels to feed her as Kate devolves into an animalistic state.

In the end, Heather returns home early to surprise her parents. She finds Shawn looking disheveled and dirty as she emerges from the basement. They catch up at the dining table where Heather excitedly tells Shawn that she joined the debate team. She becomes eager to see if she can beat her mom, so she challenges her to a debate. As Shawn watches Heather state her proposition, she sees Kate reflected back in her daughter’s face.

Monsterland Episode 5 (Plainfield, IL) Explained

In this episode, Monsterland highlights the themes grief and loss. Shawn grieves for Kate’s early death, and doesn’t want to lose her. It doesn’t matter that she is losing pieces of herself every day, as long as she could be with her. At one point, she was almost willing to let her go, even if it meant leaving Kate to die. Ironically, when Kate returned to “life,” she was still eager to die again. Shawn could still not let her go despite already losing her in reality.

More than the monster of mental illness, the episode speaks of the beast that is grief and obsession. Shawn’s refusal to say goodbye to Kate created a zombie who is unhappy and horrific. 

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Dinner didn’t turn out as expected. #Monsterland

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Finally, seeing Kate reflected in Heather made Shawn realize that the best parts of Kate will live on through her daughter. Hopefully, she’ll be able to truly let Kate go this time and give her a decent send-off, to truly free both herself and her memory.

Ria Genteroy
Ria Genteroy is an English Language Studies graduate from the University of Santo Tomas. A media personnel by profession and a storyteller by heart, she aspires that her words spark meaningful conversations.