This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
12 Monkeys Season 2, Episode 8
Only those without a soul could watch this week’s 12 Monkeys episode with a dry eye. In an episode that leaves viewers wondering if they will ever be able to watch regular TV again, 12 Monkeys has reached a pinnacle in an already peaked season. With a Groundhog Day scenario that could easily have become stale, the writers have instead offered up a beautifully varied tapestry of interwoven choices that bring hope back into the time travel mission.
I mean, let’s face it. The infiltration of the Witness last week and the resulting losses were pretty dejecting. The success garnered from pushing back the plague is minuscule when compared to the battle for time itself, and blame has been thrown around liberally. It’s interesting then that Ramse’s argument that Jones’ mission started the whole ball rolling both for the Army and for the Messengers turns out to be the conclusion Cassie and Katarina settle on.l
Never mind that the ladies are more focused on the more immediate pain of Cassie’s manipulation by the Witness, the sacrifice of Eckland, and the disappearance of Sam. On the surface of things, taking out Jones on the day that Hannah’s death put her on the path towards inventing time travel isn’t a terrible plan, if a bit fatalistic. It was nice that Cole’s incapacitation, which was necessary in freeing Cassie from the Witness last week, served to prevent him initially from interfering with this mission motivated by so much guilt.
Thus began one of the most masterful time loops this side of Groundhog Day (and bonus points to Jennifer Goines for making reference to that film to the oblivious Cole). The reason it worked so well is that the characters’ choices made perfect sense each step of the way. Whether it was Cassie’s blindness to the fact that no one from Spearhead remembered her from the first iteration or Cole’s decision to shoot Jones to reset the timeline and undo Cassie catching a bullet, there was an easy-to-follow, logical progression to their actions.
Splitting up makes sense, of course, and allows Cassie to notice that Hannah’s fever was not caused by the kalavirus but by bacterial meningitis. Despite the futility of her trying to change Jones’ path for the better, it made viewers appreciate all the more when Cole and Cassie decide to wait out the night hoping for a splinter home. Plus the inaction allows Cole to beautifully confess to Cassie that he doesn’t want to save the world, only her.
The added ingredient of Jennifer always spices things up. Her unique perception of the repeating day and her clarification of time’s desire to keep things as they are, was as entertaining and amusing as it was informative. References to “yester-today” and the coaxing of Cole to do something but nothing kept viewers’ heads spinning all the way up until Cole and Cassie inexplicably returned to 2044. All viewers could say was, “Wait, what just happened?”
And then came the waterworks! Perhaps the realization crept up upon the viewer as Cole led Jones to the camp of the Daughters. Or maybe it was the montage of Cassie’s frantic resuscitation of Hannah after the younger Jones left her death bed or Cole’s rescue of 2020’s Jennifer that elicited a few knowing gasps from the audience. But the appearance of an older Hannah, hidden among the Daughters for 24 years, was such an exquisite reveal, even writing about it makes this reviewer tear up.
The emotional impact of this moment was accentuated both by the poetic voiceover from a happier, more hopeful Jones as well as by the gut-wrenchingly sad realization between Cole and Cassie: that more sacrifice to come makes it impossible to give in to the feelings they both clearly still have. Cassie’s choked whimper of regret almost overshadows the shocking return of Ramse, but the fearless look in her eyes as she compels him to go after the Witness with her makes the perfect transition to whatever’s coming next.
How the writers of 12 Monkeys are going to top this episode in what remains of the season is a mystery. This level of storytelling is reserved for only the most visionary of science fiction television, and if this episode alone doesn’t warrant a season 3 renewal, there’s something seriously wrong with Syfy. To hear more fan reaction for 12 Monkeys, subscribe to the author’s 12 Monkeys Uncaged podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.