This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
12 Monkeys Season 2, Episode 2
Few shows are willing to trust their audience the way 12 Monkeys does. The show skillfully lays out its time travel intricacies and has enough faith in its viewers’ collective ability to figure it all out. With a timeline shift effectively pushing back the plague, changing motivations for several characters, and even resurrecting some fallen comrades, this second episode begins season 2 in earnest after last week’s transition. Suddenly, the massive potential for a much deeper story becomes clear, and the resulting reaction from the audience is sheer awe.
Because the story of 12 Monkeys is not always linear, it’s appropriate to find the most important thematic point for this episode at its end when Cole and Cassie are conversing in front of the investigation board. Cole notes that killing people never changed anything in his mission, only saving someone who should have died: “It’s the only thing that’s ever made any difference.” The role reversal for the hardened Cassie and the softened Cole will clearly be an important change for the season, and it’s set up beautifully here.
Was it a bit harsh for Cassie to leave Cole in the past, telling Jones he abandoned the mission? Maybe. But the eight months it took to repair the machine are still a blur for viewers. In that sense, the now classic “Where are you now?” opening narration was a wonderful illustration of events that must have made Cassie a cold killer. She had to kill scavs to get parts for Jones just like Cole had to kill to survive. They are now products of the time periods in which they’ve spent the most time.
Perhaps the one exception to that is Ramse, who, after 29 years in the past, seems to have earned his “old man” status by delivering a ruthless gut punch to Deacon, telling him the story of finding the young “Teddy” in 2013 and calling the cops on his abusive father. How long has he been holding onto that little gem? Sure, he gave in to Cole’s mission last week and admits he knows nothing about the Messengers, but it took him much longer to change than Cole and Cassie by all appearances. Perhaps the surprising reappearance of his son, Sam, will cement things for him!
Because, of course, the destruction of Jennifer’s plane-load of virus vials changed history in spectacular fashion with nosebleeds for anyone with Jones’ injections coursing through their veins. The visual effects for the shifting timeline in 2044 were the perfect illustration of the future results, and the fact that the virus still happens fit well with the recent departure of the Messengers. As Jones told Cole when he finally made it back to his own time, success if challenging fate gives the mission hope.
Cole likewise gave hope to Jennifer this week as her role in the release of the virus came to an abrupt end. There appears to be an unexpected attraction on her part, and his compassion in assuring her that she has a purpose outside of what Olivia told her is quite touching. But sending her off to found The Daughters makes it seem like Jennifer might not be very much part of things in the past, which is unfortunate. However, the mental note Jennifer made of the August 2, 2044 departure date Cassie mentioned was a nice way to complete the circle as older Jennifer forced Jones to bring Cole back into the mission. Convoluted, but like a brilliant puzzle that fits together perfectly.
Still to unfold throughout the season is how Cole managed to secure a suite in the Emerson Hotel in perpetuity and how the photograph from 1944 relates to the release of the virus or some larger conspiracy. Cassie and Cole will have to put aside their differences for that picture to be taken, and the can of Tab cola means other eras will surely be visited in this hotel room as well. The fact that Jennifer knew about the suite combined with some of the remembered mutterings from Olivia mean that Jennifer has some greater, as-yet-unknown level of perception of time. Very interesting!
By far the most intriguing moment, however, came from one of the briefest encounters with a welcome guest spot by Michael Hogan of Battlestar Galactica fame. Upon discovering that the change in history has restored a majority of her scientist team (including the dear, departed Dr. Lasky), Dr. Jones makes the acquaintance of molecular biologist, Vance Eckland, who calmly accepts that Katerina does not remember that they were a couple. His simple statement about getting to break down her walls all over again instantly won him favor in the viewers’ eyes, and it will be great to see this relationship unfold for the lonely character of Jones.
This episode of 12 Monkeys reminded everyone how great this series can be and how tightly woven its tangled timelines are written. It’s great to see the show has not lost its flair for the complex, and this week’s story promises more quality to come. For more discussion of 12 Monkeys, subscribe to the author’s 12 Monkeys Uncaged podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.
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