Hulu’s Monsterland Episode 2 Eugene, OR Explained-Nick Becomes The Shadow
Monsterland Episode 2 Eugene, OR, is the most emotionally wrenching, and that’s saying a lot considering the bleak things in every episode.
Charlie Tahan from Netflix’s Osage plays Nick, a lonely boy who is the sole caregiver for his mother, who had a stroke. He is overwhelmed and deeply depressed. Tahan is often underappreciated in Ozark next to powerhouses Laura Linney, Jason Bateman, and Julia Garner. As smart but sensitive Wyatt, he is vulnerable. That painful vulnerability is perfectly cast in Monsterland Episode 2.
With more responsibility than anyone his age can handle, he begins to see shadows in his home. He loses his job and can’t pay for the medication his mother needs. These two singular events are the tipping points for a young man who was already on edge. After taking several pictures and posting them on Social Media, he becomes convinced the shadows cause everything terrible in his life. The shadow caused his Mom to have a stroke. It is another example of false blame that Monsterland uses so cleverly in every episode.
Monsterland Episode 2 brilliantly uses social media chats, specifically a Reddit sub, to give voice to the isolation that can breed from desperation. Nick has dropped out of school to work a dead-end job at a fast food place because his mother needs medication and care. His father left the family when he was very young and has not been back since. His mother clearly loves him, but needs more from him than any teen could give. As Nick becomes more alone and hopeless, his online friends are the only ones he communicates with.
What is the shadow?
Nick feels like his life is slipping away. He feels invisible. In fact, he even tells FinalGirl he feels that way. His life is not his own. It is a series of unfortunate events that led him to this place in life. He is cut off from the world, poor and abandoned. Worse still, he feels there is no way out. He wants to care for his Mom and feels guilty he can’t do more but is helpless to change anything. His life is a shadow of what he thought it could be when he was younger. There is no shadow. It is only the manifestation of his loneliness. Later, he becomes the darkness and kills the last remaining shred of his life.
Nick has no social interaction beyond his mother and his online group. They are his lifeline to the outside world. One he wants to be a part of but can’t see a way into. He imagines his three Reddit friends are with him because it is the only way to make a connection.
What happens in the ending?
Nick goes to the school library to use the internet, and a teacher asks him why he is there and scuttles off to get something for him. Shortly after, two security guards escort him out. The implication is clear. The teacher is worried about his propensity for violence. With what happens in the explosive ending of Monster Episode 2, she was right to worry. The episode is a blunt instrument that shows how continued pressure and isolation mixed with online encouragement can lead to terrible violence. The “friends” on Reddit are only radicals who want to incite violence. It is as much an indictment on social media culture as anything.
When Nick is forced to confront his father’s new family, which is not necessarily factual, he snaps and arms himself. Internet deep fakes and social media lies are used brilliantly in Monsterland Episode 2 to show how easily people can be manipulated. All it takes is an at-risk person and a monster with an agenda. It would be reasonable to argue; the shadow isn’t the monster, but Nick’s Reddit friends who create a violent killer are. In the end, Nick pulls a real trigger and shoots a kneeling unarmed person. In all likelihood, he shot his mother. It is also possible this is a metaphor for suicide.
The parallels to school shootings are obvious as Nick prepares for war with the shadow. His mother even tells him she can no longer see him during this scene. It is because he has become the shadow. He is the darkness. Nick has become death and destruction forged in the rage of an online community and the hopeless heart of a neglected and forgotten son.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.