Monsterland season 1, episode 5 recap – what happened in “Plainfield, IL”?

By Daniel Hart
Published: October 2, 2020 (Last updated: January 10, 2024)
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Monsterland Season 1 Recap
Monsterland Season 1 Promotional Image Courtesy of Hulu


Episode 5 discusses grief at a raw level as it showcases a couple that was battling with many demons — this is a rather touching episode that requires patience from the viewer.

This recap of Hulu’s Monsterland season 1, episode 5, “Plainfield, IL” contains significant spoilers.

We recapped all of the anthology series — check out the archive.

The opening

To start off with a warning — Monsterland season 1, episode 5 has themes of suicide that could be traumatic.

Episode 5 begins with a prospective lawyer named Shawn (played by Roberta Colindrez), doing a debate in a lecture. The person she’s opposing is a woman named Kate (played by Taylor Schilling). 16 years later, the women are in a relationship with each other. While at a bar, Kate wants to travel to Italy with Shawn — they’ll be traveling for 6 weeks. They’ve been together for 15 years — the barman asks what the secret is. Kate says “Marry her”. We’ve established that this is a very loving relationship.

We aren’t breaking up

But like all relationships, behind closed doors, there’s always something buried that the outside world cannot see and Episode 5 is a good indication of this.

When they get home, Kate wants to keep drinking but Shawn is done for the night. She grabs the corkscrew from a cupboard. The episode then goes to 16 years earlier — Shawn knocks on Kate’s door — she seems annoyed as she feels like they’ve broken up. Shawn has decided that they haven’t broken up. Kate tells her she has bipolar which is why they need to break up.

But I love you

Episode 5 shows how new relationships often come with naivety and Shawn’s reaction to hearing about Kate’s bipolar is that “we’ll be fine”. It’s a heavy commitment that requires a level of understanding and compassion.

Kate shows Shawn all the medication and her routine. She wants to walk away as she’s in it too deep. Shawn tells Kate that she loves her. Kate explains that this illness will wear Shawn down. In the present day, Kate gets annoyed with Shawn that she mentions that Heather (their daughter) is at boarding school. Shawn shouts back that they lost Heather to boarding school because Kate kept trying to commit suicide and one time their 12-year old found her attempting it.

I can’t do this forever

Shawn says their planned trip to Italy was impulsive and she can’t just take 6 weeks off work. Kate starts breaking down and Shawn tries to bring her back to normal by explaining that the night was fun. Shawn then says “I can’t do this forever”. These words are important — Shawn knows these words will impact Kate more in the state she’s in — she’s having an episode — but couples who love each other always say things that they regret and this was one line that you can tell will eat away at her.

Shawn falls asleep and in the middle of the night she suddenly wakes up and she realizes Kate isn’t in bed. Shawn goes into the bathroom to see Kate dead in the bathtub with blood everywhere.

It was harder than I thought

It flits to 16 years ago — Shawn talks to her therapist about Kate’s mental health and how it was harder than she thought. She mentions how Kate always talks about dying. In the present day, Shawn sits on her bed and she looks empty. Dripping can still be heard from the bathtub. She suddenly wipes the cream carpet that has red wine on it.

What do you remember?

And then episode 5 takes a dark turn — again, the question of whether this is all in Shawn’s head is up for debate but regardless, it’s metaphorical to the entire situation.

Suddenly, Kate walks up behind her and asks what happened and why is she wet. Shawn is in disbelief. When she looks at her wrists she can see the deep cuts. The couple goes downstairs and Kate asks what happened the night before. Shawn reminds her about the night out and how Kate fell asleep in the tub.

Back to normal?

Kate then enters the bathroom and asks what’s wrong with the water — it’s red. Shawn blames it on the pipes. Life then goes on as normal as Shawn goes to work. When she returns home, however, Kate is in the same position doing her work in darkness. She’s dead and it’s clear this is not going to work.

Episode 5 then flits to 14 years ago. Kate tells Shawna that she’s doing so much better with fewer psychotic episodes; she wants a baby. Shawn has her doubts but Kate doesn’t want her mental condition to stop them and she even offers to reduce working hours. In the present day, Shawn finds Kate ripping out dead hair. She tells Shawn that she wants to go outside. Shawn tries to lighten up the situation by having an Italian themed dinner with wine. When Shawn plays music it hurts Kate’s head.

Goodbye eyeball

Kate says she wants to go outside but Shawn states she needs to stay inside — the way Shawn emphasizes the need says everything — she’s refusing to let go of her deceased loved one. Suddenly, Kate’s eyeball falls out and then there’s a knock on the door. At the front door, a neighbor asks Shawn if everything is okay in the house as she heard screaming.

You left me in the bathtub

Episode 5 turns darker for Shawn and it feels unpredictable at this point.

Shawn heads upstairs and sees Kate under Heather’s bed. She doesn’t want to get out because it’s dark. Kate asks Shawn to leave her alone. Shawn gets frustrated and tries to drag her out from under the bed. After failing, Kate asks if she can go outside and wonders if she’s a prisoner. Shawn says that’s it, the story of her life that she wants to go — she calls it selfish. Kate remembers that Shawn left her in the bathtub and that she wasn’t dead.

She left her

A flashback shows that Kate was still alive when Shawn entered the bathroom. There was blood but she was alive at the point she saw her in the bath — Shawn froze and left the bathroom. In the present day, Shawn apologizes and explains she was tired — she hugs her while sobbing — “I’ll never leave you again, I promise”.

But you have to question Shawn’s motive at this point — she confessed to her therapist that sometimes she wishes her partner would go through with the suicide. Episode 5 makes the audience question whether Shawn had grown tired of managing her partner and in a millisecond, she just wanted it all to end.

Have it your way

In the middle of the night, Kate goes outside in the cold and immediately breaks her ankle as she’s very brittle (she’s dead after all). She lays down next to a gravestone. Shawn finds her and Kate screams — Shawn gives in and tells Kate that they will do it her way. She makes her a hideout in the basement and feeds her rats.

The ending

Eventually, Kate’s skin and flesh wear away and she’s a walking corpse at this point. Shawn talks to her like it’s all normal. The scene flits to 13 years ago and Kate has created a garden in the living room — she’s heavily pregnant. Shawn tells her about a baby name and they agree on Heather. It then flits to the present day, and their daughter returns home.

Heather tells Shawn that she reeks. The mother and daughter catch up. Heather tells her that she joined the Debate Team and Shawn is excited for her and they do some practice. Heather starts with her points and it reminds Shawn of Kate and she chokes up the tears. This is a difficult scene to watch — you can feel Shawn’s confliction as a parent and as someone who loves her partner; seeing her daughter have the same enthusiasm for debating as her deceased partner cut through her like a knife.

Monsterland season 1, episode 5 discusses grief at a raw level as it showcases a couple that was battling with many demons — this is a rather touching episode that requires patience from the viewer.

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