12 Monkeys: Paradox review

Tying up some loose ends, 12 Monkeys is working its way towards an exciting finale, but a happy ending seems impossibly out of reach.

It’s possible that many viewers had predicted that a younger version of Cole would show up in 12 Monkeys, especially given what the visions that his older self has been experiencing for many episodes now have shown. However, I never expected a younger Jones to involve herself in the story because of what it would imply about the 2043 Jones’ memories. As it turns out, the narrative twist in this week’s episode, “Paradox,” provides a nice bit of closure to Cole’s story, but it is also unsettling for its lack of helpfulness in solving the larger problem: stopping the plague. Does there remain any hope of doing so?

In conspiracy stories where peripheral characters are not in the know, how quickly they accept the unbelievable tale of what’s really going on can be a sticking point. Cassie was very up front both with younger Jones and Matthew Cole, the father of the 2015 version of the protagonist, about the role of time travel in Cole’s declining health, and at first I worried about their quick acceptance. Jones may have been held at gunpoint plenty of times after the plague wiped out civilized life, but would she so easily turn a knife on an armed intruder and then drive with her attacker across several states? Matthew threatened Cassie with a shotgun and then drove down from Philadelphia with her to see his older son.

I guess the truth is very powerful!

Despite this convenient acceptance of an incredible truth, I liked the idea of using the young Cole’s blood to repair the older Cole’s deteriorating cells, and the paradox explosion taking out Pallid Man and his mercenaries was an exciting bonus. Having Cole’s father die helping his son escape the aftermath was appropriately inevitable and provided a final explanation for the dream sequences that have peppered the episodes for weeks. The only problem with the end result is that nothing changes, and it’s becoming clear that nothing can change, perhaps until this “cycle,” as Olivia calls it, is over. Whatever that entails.

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But of course I yearn for Cole to tell young Jones not to trust Ramse! I want him to warn her about the West VII invasion of the facility! Jones insists – and I’m certain Cole agrees with her – that to give her foreknowledge could hinder the mission more than it could help, but when you see how futile the mission has been so far, why not take a gamble? In the end I must accept that they can’t do it because they didn’t. What will happen has happened. Their actions are already written across the landscape of the past.

Oddly, this puts all of my faith in Olivia, despite her corruption of Aaron by reassuring him that “Darwin would be proud” of his survival instincts and desire to protect the ones he loves. I can only assume that this horrible plague must be unleashed to avoid something even worse. Perhaps something with high levels of greenhouse gases that causes the red English ivy to grow on the splinter chair.

Is it possible that the blue-skinned, hooded men that decimate Whitley’s platoon are from an even more terrible future than the one that has killed most of humanity? What could possibly be worse? All I know is that when a group of killers employ decapitation and enlist the help of Deacon, they can’t be considered good guys. That being said, I’m overjoyed to see the return of Todd Stashwick in the role of Deacon. It simply didn’t make sense that he never returned after his narrow defeat mid-season.

While mysteries remain, especially in 2043, I find myself wondering what Cole will do if he can’t time travel. Will the future have to come to him? Will the blue-faced men travel into the past to try and change their own circumstances? Speculation becomes almost impossible but inarguably enticing, and even if I’m wrong about the hooded strangers, it’s fun to guess.

Come speculate some more with Corey and I in our podcast, 12 Monkeys Uncaged, for more discussion of 12 Monkeys, including show news, episode analysis, and fan interaction!

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4 out of 5