This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
12 Monkeys Season 2, Episode 12
Condensing a year-long investigation or journey to Titan into one episode would be challenging enough, but this week, 12 Monkeys manages to include the years following the mission to prevent the 1957 paradox and does so with amazing depth. Anyone whose head isn’t spinning after the final moments of this episode has an iron constitution, especially with the dissonance of the love and death scenes cut together. Only this show could make such spectacular failure seem like the prelude to a hopeful finale.
All that being said, the accelerated investigation into the employees of the Maxwell Rigfield factory was awfully quick, and relying on the imagination of the viewers for the glossed over months was a lot to ask. However, adding off-handed comments about Cassie going on a lot of dates and Cole having a paranoia about communists was a nice way to handle it. Their personas as a factory worker and a secretary were believable as well, and it made sense that the stress of their situation kept them at odds with each other.
The red herring of discovering a potential Primary among the day laborers was skillfully executed, and the drawing of the monkey on the back of the job application was a convincing clue. Nothing about Cole’s barroom discussion with Charlie about the wife with cancer screamed Messenger or Primary, and yet in retrospect the time spent on that scene makes it obvious that Charlie bore further scrutiny. The idea that a Messenger could fall in love with a Primary could never have been predicted, yet it provided the perfect motivation for Charlie both to delay and to carry out his mission.
The passage of years for Cole and Cassie following the explosion brought some of the most compelling moments of the episode. Of particular interest was Cassie’s decision to return to medicine, offering helpful tips with her future knowledge to the same doctor who helped her during her coma. But nothing could have prepared viewers for the bombshell of Cole residing in the house of cedar and pine, presumably during the key years of 1957-1959. Does this mean he’s the Witness, and why doesn’t Cassie tell him why she’s freaked out about his chosen home?
Apparently, either Cole figures they’ve failed and should live what life they can, or he assumes that Ramse was successful in Titan with no red storms in sight. However, it’s a toss-up as to which was more surprising: the failure to avoid the paradox killing of the Primary or the massacre at Titan. Perhaps it was the ease with which the opponents in both cases were successful in foiling the heroes’ plans that made it so shocking.
Plus it’s not as though Ramse and company had an easy time getting to Titan. Jennifer’s fortune cookie wisdom in leading her daughters was as unexpected a failing as any of the other encountered difficulties, but the battle with the gang of cannibals in the wasteland gave a nice sense of scale to their troubled journey. Although Hannah’s insistence that Titan wasn’t where it obviously ended up being was puzzling to say the least, an explanation is hopefully forthcoming.
12 Monkeys manages to make the idea of a timeline reset not feel like a copout, and that’s impressive. Intellectually, viewers know that Jones is not permanently dead nor are those who perished at Titan, yet the utter defeat this week still seems unsurmountable. An explosive finale is undoubtedly in store! To enjoy further discussion and other fan reaction for 12 Monkeys, subscribe to the author’s 12 Monkeys Uncaged podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.