Monsterland Season 1, Episode 5 explained: ‘Plainfield, Illinois’

Monsterland -- "Plainfield, IL" -- Episode 105 -- A suburban lawyer debates life and death. Shawn Greene (Roberta Colindrez), shown. (Photo by: Jeff Neira/Hulu)
Monsterland -- "Plainfield, IL" -- Episode 105 -- A suburban lawyer debates life and death. Shawn Greene (Roberta Colindrez), shown. (Photo by: Jeff Neira/Hulu) /

Monsterland Episode 5 focuses on a married couple celebrating their sixteenth anniversary, but behind closed doors, things aren’t as perfect as they appear. 

Taylor Schilling and Roberta Colindrez star as wives, Kate and Shawn in Monsterland Episode 5. When we first meet them, they’re giddy and crazy for each other while celebrating their momentous anniversary at a local bar. Even the bartender is struck by how long they’ve been together and how exceptionally well they appear to get along. They met during law school and throughout their relationship, they’ve always enjoyed debating each other while balancing their successful careers.

Warning: This episode contains sensitive topics of a graphic nature that might be triggering to some viewers. 

Kate even surprises Shawn with tickets to Italy for a six-week carousel trip to several different countries. For all intents and purposes, they’re the poster couple for true love. But as I’m sure you’ve come to expect in this horror anthology series, there is a lot more brewing beneath the surface.

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Monsterland Episode 5 recap: The truth behind Kate & Shawn’s marriage.

We flashback to over a decade earlier when it was still Kate and Shawn, the early years. After they were together for only six months, Kate tried to end things with Shawn because she is bipolar and struggling with a lot of different mental illnesses compounded by various medications. She fears Shawn won’t be able to stick around for the long haul, even though she thinks Shawn is her one true love.

Shawn doesn’t care. She wants to be with Kate, no matter what. As they so often do with major decisions, they debate it, and Shawn wins.

But she doesn’t fully grasp the gravity of the situation. It’s not just that Kate is bipolar, she’s obsessed with death, regularly tries committing suicide, and suffers from frequent death ideation.

Despite her treatment course, Kate struggles every day to stay alive. Shawn goes to therapy to work out the trauma she’s gone through from being the pillar of support in their relationship. She admits that sometimes, she thinks if Kate wants to die that badly, then she should.

In earlier years, Kate was able to get better for a while. She went an entire year without any trips to the psych ward or severe fits. She wants to have a baby with Shawn and she wants to carry it, not adopt. At one point, while pregnant, Kate tells Shawn she’s still waging a debate about whether to live or die. She keeps going, giving birth to a little girl named Heather.

Sadly, Kate’s mental health doesn’t improve, even with Heather around. On multiple occasions, Heather has seen Kate at her worst and even walked in on her almost drowning in a pool of her own vomit once. To protect her daughter, Shawn sent her to boarding school.

Monsterland Episode 5
Monsterland Episode 5 — “Plainfield, IL” — Episode 105 — A suburban lawyer debates life and death. Kate Feldman (Taylor Schilling) and Shawn Greene (Roberta Colindrez), shown. (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Hulu) /

Monsterland Episode 5 recap: Kate kills herself and Shawn watches.

Back in the present, Shawn and Kate are trying to enjoy their anniversary night when takes take a dark turn. Shawn makes an offhand comment about Heather being away at boarding school and Kate takes offense. She knows it’s because of her that they had to send their daughter away.

Later, Kate tries to kill herself again by slitting her wrists and bleeding out in the bathtub. Shawn finds her in the tub, still alive, and leaves her there. But then, Kate suddenly comes back later looking worse for the wear. She turns into a strange, zombified version of herself that slowly decomposes over the next few days, and weeks.

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The cuts on her arm deepen, her eyeball falls out, her skin starts to melt off her bones, etc. It’s rough. Feeling guilty for not helping Kate out of the tub, Shawn believes she can never abandon her again and stays by Kate’s side through her slow deterioration, even quitting her job and killing squirrels to feed her as she devolves into an animalistic state and starts sleeping in the basement.

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 sit down together at the dining room table and heather delights Shawn by telling her she joined the debate team.

Heather wants to see if she can beat her mom at the game, so she challenges her to a debate on school uniforms versus free wear. As Shawn watches Heather give her side, she sees Kate reflected back to her in her daughter’s face.

Monsterland Episode 5
Monsterland Episode 5 — “Plainfield, IL” — Episode 105 — A suburban lawyer debates life and death. Shawn Greene (Roberta Colindrez) and Kate Feldman (Taylor Schilling), shown. (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Hulu) /

What does the ending of Monsterland Episode 5 mean?

I think some part of Kate expected Shawn to save her when she tried to kill herself again. Shawn was willing to let her go, even if it meant leaving her there to die. Ironically, when Kate returned to “life,” she was eager to die again more than anything and Shawn just could not let her go despite already having lost her.

I think the ending, 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, although I assume she’s going to be haunted by the guilt for the rest of her life.

That said, this episode is a complicated one when it comes to the “monsters.” Can we really call Shawn a monster for giving up on Kate? Yes, she should have prepared herself better before getting involved in the relationship. If she couldn’t handle it when it got tough, she should have left earlier. But can’t bear the responsibility of forcing Kate to stay alive forever when she doesn’t want to be (even though that’s what she’s technically been doing throughout their entire relationship, including when Kate transforms).

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What did you think about Monsterland Episode 5? What did you make of the ending? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

All eight episodes of Monsterland Season 1 are now streaming on Hulu.