This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
12 Monkeys Season 2, Episode 3
The shift to the 1940’s could have been an awkward transition for 12 Monkeys with the potential to lose focus on the underlying conspiracy in favor of exploring the visual appeal of an historical era. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun to see Cassie and Cole in period attire, but thankfully the story stayed true to the mysterious goals of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, having now handed the baton to the farther-reaching Messengers, without getting distracted by the setting. Although the 2044 storyline felt truncated this week, the 1944 plot was quite satisfying and opened up new possibilities for what role Jennifer Goines and those like her will play.
Since the photograph taken on September 1, 1944 was the only clue to follow, it made sense that the time travelers would seek to stop the Messengers from killing T. H. Crawford, whose murder on that date could hardly be coincidental. Because T. H. Crawford was a molecular biologist, it made sense to assume he was a target because of something to do with the virus, and it was a nice touch to have Ramse remember the Army of the 12 Monkeys digging up the grave of Thomas Crawford. A wonderful red herring!
The fact that the murder of the scientist was a mistake and that the target was actually Thomas, Jr. was a perfect foil both for the Messengers and for Cassie and Cole. The possibilities that the true target presents, though, are much more intriguing. Does this mean the mission of the Messengers is to track down Primaries and eliminate them? If so, Jennifer’s survival through the years leading up to 2044 seems remarkable!
And if Primaries comprise the consciousness of time itself, as Tommy seems to suggest, why are the Messengers seeking to destroy them? The ritual enacted by the Messengers includes the statement, “It is only the passage of time that fools us into believing we are not forever.” Are the Messengers trying to achieve immortality by eliminating the passage of time somehow?
Whatever the case, the use of sprinkled flowers (a la Pallid Man last season) and a bone knife created from the Primary’s own exhumed skeleton brought the paradox back in spectacular fashion! The fact that Cassie and Cole are implicated in the young man’s death creates a credible conflict in the past, and now Cassie can’t deny that Jennifer may be more important than she gave her credit for.
As for those still in the future, the dilemma of what to do with Ramse definitely did not result in the expected outcome. Although Ramse was helpful in conveying the importance of Crawford and was rewarded with a visit from his son, Sam, Jones decides his continued presence is causing conflict. Her fondness – and Cassie’s for that matter – for Deacon is a mystery that may lie hidden in the eight months of the time machine repair. Otherwise, Cole’s reminder that Deacon was the one who brought the Messengers to the facility in the first place would be more persuasive.
This puzzlement combined with the rather abrupt ending made the 2044 plot feel incomplete. Not to mention the appearance of the red vegetation and strange blooms in the sky are a complete mystery. They seem to be connected with the paradox that is unfolding in 1944, but the reason is likely purposefully unclear. Doubtless all will be revealed in time (pun intended), but the hint of connection would certainly be nice to end with.
Still an excellent episode, though, and 12 Monkeys continues to impress viewers with its smart writing and attention to detail. Details such as casting Erik Knudsen, the intrepid time traveling Alec Sadler from Continuum, as Tommy the Primary, and making his room in the asylum a prime number (313) is a nice nod to an audience who notices such things.
12 Monkeys Uncaged Ep. 18 – One Hundred Years Review