Monsterland Season 1, Episode 8 explained: ‘Newark, New Jersey’

Two parents struggle with saying goodbye to their missing daughter in a world where angels exist in Monsterland Episode 8.

Monsterland Episode 8, the final episode of the batch, is also one of the season’s most depressing, grotesque and beautiful hours. Set in Newark, New Jersey, the story follows married couple Brian (Mike Colter) and Amy (Adepero Oduye) Cooke. Their daughter Tabitha has been missing for months and they both have different ways of coping — or not coping.

The episode opens with an eerie story narrated by a young girl about the day when comets came to earth. These “comets,” were really fallen angels.

When we first meet Brian, he’s shopping for a doll to add to the pile of gifts beneath their Christmas tree. But when the cashier drops change on the ground, it triggers a memory and he runs out of the store.

At home, Amy discusses the possibility of attending group therapy sessions for parents who have lost their children. Brian is reluctant to do so because it would mean admitting Tabitha is dead. He refuses to believe that. Their case is different, Tabitha is just missing, nothing is confirmed.

While he’s not interested in chatting with other couples who have experienced a similar loss, Brian does visit a personal hypnotherapist. But it’s more of a ploy to try and dredge up old memories that could potentially hold a clue to finding his missing daughter.

During one session he conjures a license plate and takes it to the precinct. One of the officers assures Brian they’ll look into it, but it’s obvious he doesn’t think it will lead anywhere.

Amy attends a group session alone, revealing that Tabitha wanted to be a ballerina and admitting that some part of her wants Tabitha to be dead so they can put her to rest. Afterward, she’s contacted by the police. The license plate number didn’t pan out. Amy is furious with Brian for digging into this again.

On her way home, Amy thinks she sees Tabitha running down the street so she follows. Instead of finding her daughter, she sees the decapitated head of an angel. Amy takes it as confirmation that Tabitha is really dead. Brian can’t believe she would even suggest that and accuses his wife of giving up on their daughter.

Later, Brian is arrested for trespassing after doing more digging into the license plate number and things reach a breaking point in his marriage. Amy admits to cheating on him with a guy from group and he hardly cares. He doesn’t have the energy to fight for her right now when he’s still trying to find Tabitha.

Monsterland Episode 8

Monsterland Episode 8 — “Newark, NJ” — Episode 108 — Toni (Kaitlyn Dever), shown. (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Hulu)

Monsterland Episode 8 gives us an update on Toni.

Eventually, Brian makes his way to a diner where Toni is working as a waitress. The bond over their messed up lives and Toni tells Brian about these drugs she found supposedly made out of chopped up angel bits. They helped her see clearly for the first time, and what she saw is that she’s a monster. Brian says he’s a monster, too.

Toni tries to start a contest to see which of them is worse. Toni admits to abandoning Jack and says even if she could find her kid and get her back, she wouldn’t. Some part of Toni seems to think both she and Jack are better off this way, but Toni is in the same place she was when we first met her. She’s a depressed waitress without anywhere to go, just in New Jersey and not Louisiana. The only difference now is she doesn’t have Jack, but now she’s started taking drugs.

Brian thinks he’s terrible because he was with Tabitha when she vanished. Brian says he turned away for two seconds to pick up change off the floor and when he looked back, she was gone. That’s why the sound of coins hitting the floor rattles him so badly.

Toni and Brian make a toast and dance around the diner, but when the song ends and Toni runs to the register to get more change, she drops some on the floor. By the time she looks up, Brian is gone.

Monsterland Episode 8

Monsterland Episode 8 — “Newark, NJ” — Episode 108 — Amy Cooke (Adepero Oduye) and Tommy (Michael Chernus), shown. (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Hulu)

Monsterland Episode 8 recap: Brian brings an angel home.

After leaving the diner, Brian witnesses a similar vision of Tabitha in her ballerina costume running down an alleyway. He doesn’t find Tabitha, but he does find a wounded angel in the dumpster. He takes it home so he and Amy can help it. They lay the creature down in Tabitha’s bed. Brian comments on how the second these angels came to Earth, humans started hunting them and farming their body parts for things like Toni’s drugs. It’s a dark world out there.

As a way of expressing gratitude to Amy and Brian for their generosity, the angel feeds them each a drop of its blood from a cut in its abdomen.

They experience something similar to what Toni did, except Brian and Amy get blood directly from the source, in a pure form. It seems to help them heal, at least a little. The blood appears to accelerate their grieving process, sending them through the seven stages quickly.

More: Monsterland Episode 7 explained: 'Iron River, Michigan'

In a fit of rage, Amy destroys the Christmas presents and decorations. Suddenly, Brian wants to know if Amy’s affair was a good f**k. She says it was, and then she starts to laugh. It’s the first time in a long time that Brian had shown even an inkling of interest in their relationship.

He goes to the support group just to punch the guy who slept with his wife in the face. When he returns home, he and Amy have sex in the living room. The angel comes downstairs to watch them and abruptly slits its own throat, drenching them in its blood as they make love.

When they’re done, still bloodsoaked, Amy and Brian are transported to a theater and on stage, Tabitha performs ballet.

Monsterland Episode 8

Monsterland Episode 8 — “Newark, NJ” — Episode 108 –Amy Cooke (Adepero Oduye), shown. (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/Hulu)

What does the ending of Monsterland Episode 8 mean?

I don’t know what was going on with that ending, it was wild but somehow seemed to work for the overall tone of this grim episode. What caught my attention was Brian’s comment that Heaven might be a dark place. What’s darker than two parents covered in blood watching their presumably dead daughter perform ballet? Perhaps for eternity? Yet it’s not torturous either if they’re happy just to see her even if it isn’t real.

Why did the angel slit its throat? The blood shower seemed euphoric, in the moment. The closing narration mentions that the angel healed their broken hearts and gave the couple a chance to say goodbye. The theatrical performance is obviously a way for both Amy and Brian to say their final farewells to their daughter.

The violence though, why was the angel so violent in its final sacrifice? I think the angel’s blood is healing. But biblical angels have always been ferocious and terrifying, so simply giving Amy and Brian a little of its blood was enough to motivate them, but not as impactful as an entire shower of blood. It’s a disturbing moment, but beautiful in its own way, like a rebirth for their new lives where they can put Tabitha to rest and hopefully find peace.

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What did you think about Monsterland Episode 8? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

All eight episodes of Monsterland are now streaming on Hulu.