Episode 8 ends Hulu’s series successfully, giving an insightful story of a couple grieving over a missing child and their way of overcoming it.
This recap of Hulu’s Monsterland season 1, episode 8, “Newark, NJ” contains significant spoilers.
We recapped all of the anthology series — check out the archive.
It starts with Brian in a supermarket buying a doll for his daughter. The cashier drops some change which alarms Brian and he quickly leaves. When he gets home, it’s clearly Christmas as his house full of lights and spirit — he tells his partner Amy that he’s got an upset stomach. He doesn’t want to go out — Amy says their therapist said it would be good to meet other couples who have had the same experience when their child has died. Brian claims it’s not the same thing.
Episode 8 shows a bereaved couple going through difficult times.
Forcing the memories out
In hypnotherapy, Brian is asked to go back to the day his daughter went missing. He tells the story and relives it, pushing out the memories — he sees a car and forces out the license plate number. He brings the number to the police and he asks if the case has gone cold. They assure him it will be solved.
The scene in the station is acted brilliantly — you can tell the cop speaking to him understands his case will not be solved — it’s a dead case.
She wanted to be a ballerina
Amy goes to a grief group for parents of deceased children to talk about her daughter Tabitha. She talks about how she wanted her to be a ballerina. The police ring Amy afterward about a license plate and explains that it was a dead end. Amy didn’t know about Brian looking into this.
I feel it
While in her car, Amy thinks she sees a ballerina so assumes it’s Tabitha. She enters a broken-down building and shouts for her. She approaches a trolley and sees a chopped off head inside — we learn later that it’s the head of an angel. When Brian gets home, Amy tells him that their daughter is dead — she says she feels it — “I feel she’s gone in the air”. Brian is angry that she’s giving up on their daughter.
This is a stressful scene to watch — two parents who view their missing child differently is the kind of stress that is difficult to imagine.
You are losing me
The true state of Brian and Amy’s relationship comes full circle in this scene. Monsterland season 1, episode 8 really does become about healing and mending a loving but broken relationship.
Brian is given an address as part of a lead — the police arrest Brian for trespassing. Amy is fuming at Brian for going after a dead lead. Brian states he was just observing and accuses Amy of wanting to bury their daughter so they can move on. Amy feels like Brian is purposefully tearing them apart. She admits to having an affair with someone from grief counseling. Amy asks Brian to fight for her before he loses all of her. Brian says he can’t because if he fights for her, their daughter is dead.
Brian ends up at the diner where Toni works from episode 1 — he asks for a strong drink and they do some shots. Toni offers “sex or pie”. Brian raises the fact he is married and they drink more tequila. Toni explains she recently had an epiphany; she tells him that last week there was a baby in the diner that wouldn’t stop crying — she went outside to get some fresh air and that’s when she saw the same man across the road. Toni asked this man for drugs. These drugs apparently f*ck you up so she took them while on shift.
I don’t want my kid back
Toni’s senses were heightened. She could hear everything. The drugs got too powerful and she threw up in the toilet. Toni says it opened up her eyes to the truth — “I’m a monster”. Brian says he is a monster too. Toni admits that she goes to counseling groups for parents of lost kids, except her kid isn’t lost — she left her in a middle-class suburban place. She says the lies make her feel better. Brian asks where her daughter is now — Toni says she’s unfit to be a mother; Brian reminds her that it’s her kid. Toni says she doesn’t want to go back and get her.
There’s plenty of context here about Toni’s mindset that we didn’t expect. Episode 1 left her state of mind unanswered but episode 8 shows how Toni is escaping and living a lie that she is comfortable with — or at least that’s what she is telling the audience.
Brian then tells his story about his daughter’s disappearance. The guilt eats away at him. The pair do a toast to the “Worst people in the world”. Toni puts the jukebox on and they dance and laugh. As they are about to kiss, the jukebox turns off. She goes to get more money from the cashier but she drops change which reminds him of the day his daughter disappeared so he leaves.
We came to save them
And episode 8 wouldn’t be Monsterland without a disturbing ending and we sure get one.
On the way home, Brian thinks he sees Tabitha, and then he sees her marker pens littered on the floor. He opens a bin and sees an alien-like body. The narration talks about angels and how they may not be here to save anyone — “Maybe we were here to save them”. Brian carries the alien-like figure home and they put it in Tabitha’s bed. Brian talks about how it’s an angel. Amy looks at the angel with care — “I think it’s here for us”. The couple stays next to the angel’s bed all night.
A needed trip
The angel touches their finger in both Brian and Amy’s mouth. They both start tripping and Brian starts panicking that if Tabitha is dead, he can’t live 50 years without her. Amy reminds him they are a family — she starts smashing the Christmas tree and presents and their aggressive trip continues — they let out all their emotions and relieve their pain and trauma in a heightened state. They both get out of their trip and Brian asks Amy if the man from the grief counseling is a good f*ck. She laughs and says yes.
At first, it’s confusing when Amy laughs at Brian’s question but then it’s realized she is laughing out of happiness — Brian being bothered about her affair means he is finally ready to fight for her.
Brian goes to the counseling group and punches the man who slept with his wife right in the face. He then returns home. The pair reminisce about their relationship. Brian tells her he loved her from the start. The pair have sex and the angel walks down the stairs and watches. The angel then slits its neck and blood gushes all over the couple as they carry on having sex.
Soaked in blood, the pair end up at a theatre. On stage is a young girl doing ballet. It’s Tabitha. The narration says that it was February that the angels came during an ordinary winter — “An angel mended their broken hearts // the angel gave them a chance to say goodbye”.
Monsterland season 1, episode 8 ends Hulu’s series successfully, giving an insightful story of a couple grieving over a missing child and their way of overcoming it.