Hulu’s Monsterland Episode 5 Plainfield, IL Explained- Life And Love Live On
Monsterland Episode 5 Plainfield, IL, makes a monster out of mental illness in a segment that should come with a trigger warning.
Shawn and Kate have been together for sixteen years. Kate is beautiful and wild but suffers from crippling mental illness. She is bipolar, and the mood swings that come with it are brutal for both her and Shawn. Over the last sixteen years, they have endured highs and lows, including the birth of their child Heather and several suicide attempts by Kate. Three of them, in fact, in the last year. Monsterland Episode 5 takes a page from Babadook.
After a night celebrating their sixteenth anniversary, they return home and argue about Heather’s enrollment in boarding school. Heather was sent away after Kate attempted suicide the previous year. Shawn doesn’t blame Kate outwardly, but you can tell she is under a great deal of pressure to maintain equilibrium with Kate, her career, and their suburban existence. On the other hand, Kate worries incessantly that Shawn blames her for Heather’s absence and wants to leave her. It is a nasty cocktail of self-loathing and desperation.
Shawn loves Kate unconditionally, but Kate can be mean. She warns Shawn that when the monster of depression is in her, she is hateful and obsessed with death. It terrifies Shawn while it also wears on her. She never knows when Kate may try to kill herself again. On the other hand, Shawn is controlling. Kate is cut off from work and the outside world because “they” chose for her to stop working and send their daughter away. There is a cabinet of locked-up tools, including a wine bottle opener. It’s alarming, to say the least. They both are hostages. Shawn begs her to love her and stay. Kate begs her to let her go. In Motherland Episode 5, love is not beautiful, it’s just damaging.
The couple goes to sleep, and when Shawn wakes in the middle of the night, she finds Kate has committed suicide in the bathtub. We don’t see exactly what has happened, but there is a lot of blood. The next day Shawn goes to work and returns home as if nothing has happened. When she returns home, she finds Kate has come back to life with no memory of what transpired. Throughout the next couple of days, Shawn tried everything to keep the spirit of their love alive while Kate decomposes in front of her.
Was Kate a zombie?
Kate committed suicide in the bathtub and Shawn found her before she had passed. Shawn consciously chose to let Kate die instead of calling 911. It wasn’t that she didn’t love Kate, she couldn’t take the pain of living with someone with severe mental illness anymore. The next morning instead of finding Kate dead in the tub she is walking and talking. She looks like death and has no memory of the previous night but she is moving. She still has the self-inflicted wounds from the night before. From Shawn’s perspective, she has come back to life. Shawn is an unreliable witness, however.
The first clue is the White Dove Orchid Kate vows to keep alive come hell or high water. The orchid is often called to Holy Spirit Orchid. Kate is a spirit. She is a vision Shawn conjures up as a way to say goodbye. There is no doubt Kate’s dead body is in the basement, but she hasn’t reanimated. Barb, the nosy neighbor, did hear a woman’s scream shortly after Shawn attempted music, and Kate screamed. It seems as if Kate is alive, but grief is a funny thing, and it probably was Shawn screaming in pain for her loss. She is so lost without Kate reality has begun to distort around her. Monsterland is all about the metaphorical monster, and Kate’s zombie is a huge one.
The second clue is the unmoving body in the basement before Heather arrives home. The body is slumped against the wall. She is not there because she is consciously angry with Shawn, but because she is nothing but a bag of bones at this point. She never came back to Shawn.
What happened in the end?
In a grisly reveal, Kate accuses Shawn of leaving her in the tub when she could have been saved. Kate was not dead. Shawn could have called for help. It may not have made a difference, but she blames herself nonetheless. After Shawn falls to sleep, Kate escapes to a graveyard and tries to bury herself. One final time Shawn brings her back.
After several days of Kate’s disintegration, she begins sleeping in the basement with Kate to keep her hidden and “safe.” She is unable to leave her wife and move on until her daughter comes home from school. It is only then that Shawn understands she is free of Kate’s illness and her wife lives on in Heather. The ending, although grim, is hopeful that life will go on for Heather and Shawn.
Other Monsterland curiosities?
Monsterland highlights grief and loss. In Episode, 8 parents grieve for their missing child. In Monsterland Episode 5, Shawn grieves for Kate. She doesn’t want to lose her. It doesn’t matter that she is losing pieces of her literally every day, she holds on with an iron grip. There is also a correlation with Monsterland Episode 3, where Annie can’t listen to jazz music without piercing her eardrums. Similarly, Kate can’t listen to music without screaming in pain.
Although at first blush, Monsterland Episode 5 appears to be about the monster of mental illness. It speaks more to the beast that it grief and obsession. Shawn’s refusal to say goodbye to Kate created a zombie who is unhappy and horrific. Only the love of her daughter can pull her back. Find all our Monsterland coverage here.
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.