Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
Ep. 2: “Please Don’t Go”
Directed by Clement Virgo
Written by Ryan Murphy & Ian Brennan
* For a recap & review of Ep. 1, click here.
* For a recap & review of Ep. 3, click here.
Police continue to remove “boxes and boxes of body parts” from Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment. The media are running wild with the gruesome story coming out of Milwaukee. Horror keeps on emerging as cops keep looking through the apartment. Dahmer’s taken to the police station where he’s stripped down and processed; all the cops look at him like he’s a specimen under a microscope. Eventually a couple cops sit with Dahmer and record his confession. But the motivations behind Jeffrey’s crimes go back a ways. So we lean back to 1966, when Jeffrey was only a boy. He was on the bus heading home from school, watching a Black boy get picked on, then he got back to the Dahmer residence where his little brother was crying, neglected in his crib, and his mother Joyce (Savannah Brown) was comatose on pills in her bedroom. After some time the ambulance arrived, and so did Lionel (Josh Braaten), who got home pissed off at his wife rather than worried about her. Lionel praised little Jeff for calling 911.
The Dahmer home wasn’t a happy one. When Joyce recovered, she and Lionel went back to fighting about their unhappy marriage. Jeffrey spent a lot fo his time listening to his parents fight. One day when Lionel left, Jeffrey asked his dad not to go, but dad went off; the start of Jeffrey’s issues with abandonment and loneliness. Young Jeffrey spent lots of time outdoors enjoying nature. He brought tadpoles to his teacher one day while others brought her apples. Other kids thought Jeffrey was weird. A kid named Kevin took the tadpoles and when Jeffrey saw that it upset him deeply. So Jeffrey followed Kevin home after school and slipped inside to steal the tadpoles back. He proceeded to then go out in the woods and pour motor oil into the tadpole jar, killing the tadpoles.
An unsettling sign of things to come.
One night Joyce complained about a nasty smell in the house, like there was something rotten underneath it. So eventually Lionel got around to checking it out himself, finding a dead opossum. Jeffrey wanted to touch the dead animal, and wanted to know how it died. Lionel started to inspect the animal with his son. They notice a hole in the opossum’s skull. Inadvertently, Lionel was indulging little Jeffrey in a world that would later swallow his son whole, including a talk about acid and the brain; you can almost draw a line from this moment with Lionel to the crimes Jeffrey committed later in his life. A brilliant scene early in this series.
More and more fighting was happening under the Dahmer roof. Joyce grabbed a knife one night and accidentally cut Lionel, who told her she needed “a fucking lobotomy.” So many aspects of little Jeffrey’s life moulded him into the zombie-making murderer he became as a young adult. Both Lionel and Joyce had a horrifying effect on their son, albeit totally unintentionally because of their own issues. Joyce’s zombielike medicated state combined with Lionel’s lessons in home animal surgery helped warp whatever was already wrong in Jeffrey. A perfect moment shows Jeffrey holding an animal’s tiny heart, asking about the state of his parents’ relationship only for Lionel to walk out frustrated.
Skip to later in Jeffrey’s life when he was working at a delicatessen in Miami during 1981, slicing up meat; it’s almost grim comedy, and we haven’t even gotten to the chocolate factory job yet, either. Jeffrey was struggling to find himself. His father didn’t even know he was gay. He was worried about his son’s drinking habit and a lack of discipline after getting kicked out of the army. Jeffrey was broke and spiralling into alcoholism. He desperately wanted to go back home with his father, and Lionel, in spite of his new wife Shari’s protest, caved. But it meant Jeffrey had to go live with his grandmother, and he had to abide by the rules Lionel set down: no drinking and get a job.
Jeffrey kept trying to live a normal life, except he couldn’t get himself away from the booze. He spent his days working odd jobs and his evenings sitting down for dinner with grandma. Yet grandma urged Jeffrey to get out and socialise more. A bit tragic to see how everyone around Jeffrey knew nothing about him being gay, and Jeffrey wasn’t about to tell them. The 1980s still weren’t easy for queer and trans people, especially while the AIDS epidemic was raging and gay men were being villainised. That couldn’t have helped the dark loneliness already festering inside Dahmer.
One day at a store, Jeff noticed a half shirtless mannequin that caught his eye. He bided his time in a waiting room until the store closed, then stole the mannequin, bringing it back to his room at grandma’s place. It was a surrogate for the motionless lover who’d never leave that Dahmer always wanted. It was almost a way to try curbing his murderous urges. Though we know it wasn’t enough to stop them. Quite the image to see Jeffrey in his room listening to music, having a beer, and lying with the mannequin in bed, treating it like an actual human lover. Problem is, grandmas are notoriously nosy, they like to know what’s going on in their house, so it was only a matter of time before grandma opened her grandson’s door to discover the creepy mannequin underneath Jeffrey’s sheets.
Skip to Jeffrey standing over one of his victims in 1991. He sat at the edge of his bloody mattress, a dead Black man lying there. He had a beer, but then he had to go get more. He found some kids hanging around the liquor store and offered to buy them booze. One kid asked for some cheap wine. So Jeffrey bought it and then offered money for one of the kids to go back to the apartment with him. Unfortunately the Boone’s Farm kid took Dahmer up on the offer.
At the apartment, Jeffrey and the kid drank together on the couch. The kid was only fourteen. Eventually the kid said Jeffrey knew his brother. Turns out, Dahmer took photos of the kid’s brother, and “other things.” A small world. The kid was only there to make $100; he wanted to help his family out. Jeffrey starts rambling about being a victim, claiming the kid’s brother lied to the cops about what happened. The kid got the money from Dahmer upfront. Then Jeffrey made the kid chug the rest of his drink before they moved onto taking some creepy photos. The kid came to at a certain point and tried to get out but he was too messed up, leaving him there at Jeffrey’s will while Dahmer put on Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. Very creepy moment with Dahmer wearing contacts to make him look like the Emperor, too. When Jeffrey was ready he got his power drill to turn the kid into one of his personal zombies, along with acid and some hot water.
The kid—Kokonerak Sinthasomphone—woke up, still alive somehow, and wandered out of the apartment. A couple Black women—one of them being Glenda—noticed Kokonerak half naked and barely able to speak. They tried to help him. Cops showed up. Glenda and a couple girls attempted to tell the police something was wrong when Jeffrey got back to the apartment building, claiming that Kokonerak was his boyfriend and had fallen over after they got into a drunk fight. It was so obvious Jeffrey was lying, and yet the cops were more than willing to believe him above the Black women. Not to mention that Jeffrey was a registered sex offender at the time; if the cops only checked into him they might’ve stopped him right there and then.
The cops went with Jeffrey, who hauled Kokonerak, back to the apartment. They were more worried about coming across any “gay stuff” and possibly “catching anything” than the drunk, bleeding boy in Dahmer’s arms. Absolutely despicable shit, really. Jeffrey explained everything away with the photos he took, which the cops wouldn’t even look at, stepping back like they might catch AIDS off a Polaroid. There’s even a little casual racism about Kokonerak being Asian; the cop trifecta with anti-Black racism, homophobia, and anti-Asian racism all in one evening. The cops excused themselves to go take a shower after coming in contact with gay men. After that, Jeffrey proceeded to kill Kokonerak while the cops laughed over their vicious homophobia in their car and headed to another call.
On May 27th, 1991 at 2:25am, an officer called Glenda back. She wanted to know about what happened with Dahmer and the boy. The cops said it was nothing but a couple gay men having a fight. They didn’t want to entertain any more of Glenda’s worrying. Glenda was sure Kokonerak was underage, but the cop insisted nothing was amiss. Stellar police work. Love how the first two episodes have ended with Glenda questioning the police about what’s going on because we see how little the cops cared about the Black community amidst such horror. Unsurprising, yet eternally frustrating.