12 Monkeys executive producer and showrunner Terry Matalas was directing the second episode of season 4 when he spotted me and the handful of reporters visiting the set to get the scoop on season 3. He beckoned excitedly as we approached, directing our attention to a scene playing out between Katerina Jones (Barbara Sukowa) and James Cole (Aaron Stanford). Behind him, the time machine was fully lit, looking just as imposing as it does on the show. We were in the future, in more ways than one!
With all ten episodes of 12 Monkeys season 3 set to air this weekend, anticipation is high for an epic, movie-like experience. “I’m really proud of season three,” Matalas told us between takes. “In season three, I wanted to get to this point with our characters where we just explore new aspects to all of them and new dynamics. You have to tell your story. The story should get better as it goes.”
There’s definitely a clear progression for 12 Monkeys, and each season seems to outdo the previous one. As Matalas describes it, “Season one, in a weird way, was the pilot. You needed to set up the mythology; you needed to set up the characters; you needed to set up the notion of betrayal and the brothers. Two is sort of the beginning of it. With three, you are at the midpoint where there is much more mythology that you’ll learn.”
Once Aaron Stanford was finished filming his scene, he confirmed that his character, James Cole, will reach his lowest point in the coming season, trying to reunite his lost comrades to continue the mission. “Season 3 begins with him in a very desperate place, and he’s scrambling to find his family,” he said, sitting on a sofa in full Cole costume. “He’s lost the only family he ever had. He’s specifically searching for Cassie when we first find him because she’s the only person that he has any sort of a lead on whatsoever, but he’s trying to put the pieces together and find everybody.”
Cassie, in the meantime, starts out 12 Monkeys season 3 where the season 2 finale left her: in Titan in 2163, pregnant with a child who appears to be very important to the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Amanda Schull, although she was not filming on the day of our visit, came in to speak about Cassie’s resulting dilemma: should she love her baby or abhor it? “She actually says aloud calling into question nature versus nurture,” Schull admitted. “Is this child destined to be something horrible, or is there a way to prevent it? Cassie, from the very beginning of this show, has struggled a lot with fate and whether she believes in it. She often claims she doesn’t, but this will really put a lot of what she thinks to be true to question.”
Back on the set, Matalas shared his impressions of what 12 Monkeys, including season 3, has brought to the table during its run. “What I love the most – what’s the most creatively satisfying part of the show for me – is I get to do science fiction, I get to do comedy, I get to do horror. We do a lot of real horror. We get to do romance…we get to play in all these genres, but never does it feel like you are doing something else. It feels like part of the DNA.”
This mixture of genres was apparent in season 2 as well, but when Matalas was asked what new elements viewers can expect to see in 12 Monkeys season 3, he was very clear and direct. “You’ll learn a lot more about Titan,” he promised. “You’ll learn a lot more about the people there. You’ll learn a lot more about the return of the Witness.”
A couple of the Titan inhabitants that 12 Monkeys fans can expect to meet are the characters played by guest stars Hannah Waddingham and Faran Tahir, whom Schull told us more about since Cassie spends the most time in Titan. “If you meet Hannah, she is such a crack-up; I mean, she’s so much fun and so enjoyable, but her presence on camera is such the antithesis of who she is,” she said, admitting that Waddingham’s character, Magdalena, is “strong and intense.” Schull also promised that Tahir, who plays another permanent Titan resident named Mallick, “has a beautiful presence on-screen.”
Later in the afternoon, Emily Hampshire showed up and greeted her castmates, whom she hadn’t seen since 12 Monkeys season 3 finished filming, and then spoke to us about Jennifer’s journey in season 3. “I think at the beginning people are still treating her the way she used to be, kind of like saying crazy stuff, but now I think she’s got a different confidence in herself, and she’s not okay with not being a real member of the team. And I think she really proves herself.”
Barbara Sukowa finished up her scenes for the day and came to speak to us still dressed in Dr. Jones’ trademark coat and scarf. “I have basically one pair of pants, same blouse just in a different color, and this coat, and that is just Jones. I think it’s the perfect costume for her. She doesn’t think about what I’m going to wear today. I don’t know when she ever washes it, but…”
Sukowa admits that, beyond appearances, Jones has mellowed a bit now that her daughter, Hannah (Brooke Williams), has been around for awhile when season 3 begins. “I think she’s definitely not as ruthless anymore. In season 1, we see that she does these experiments with people, and I think her daughter has softened her in some way. I think she’s thinking more about certain moral questions.”
Whatever 12 Monkeys season 3 brings, viewers know that the series will end with season 4, and Matalas promises a proper ending for the narrative. “There are a lot of other stories we could have told over other seasons, but we are telling the entire narrative the way we wanted to,” he pledged. “There’s lots of other little pivots we would have really loved to go down, but… the entire narrative, which we get to tell every moment of, we’re super grateful to do. It’s a rare thing to be able to tell the beginning, the middle, and the end. We’re definitely going to tell the end.”
12 Monkeys is produced by Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and begins airing season 3 with its first four episodes, presented with limited commercials, from 8:00 until 11:00pm ET on Friday, May 19. Saturday and Sunday will each have three episodes from 8-11pm as well to wrap up the season. Viewers may either binge through the entire weekend or view one episode at a time at Syfy.com.