This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
12 Monkeys Season 4 Episode 1
With total defeat literally on the horizon at the end of 12 Monkeys season three, it shouldn’t have been so surprising that such complete and utter devastation awaited everyone in the season four premiere, but actually the sheer scale of it all was pretty breathtaking. The resulting feeling was that, even though like Cole we may want to believe that the mission can continue, we also understand Cassie’s desire to retreat, and another darker part of us admires Olivia’s commitment to end the battle once and for all while she has the advantage. But Jennifer’s mysterious mission in 2018 and the surprise ending of where — or when — the team ended up guarantees a thrilling and unexpected adventure ahead.
Kudos to the writers for going all in on Jones’ near-fatal wound and Cassie’s subconscious desire not to help the woman who shot her son last season. We can almost feel Dr. Railly’s inner turmoil as she tells Cole in a tone of utter hopelessness, “We may have saved Athan’s soul, but I am losing mine.” Her idea to find a moment in time to hide from the fight makes total sense, especially when Cole reminds her that the last time they gave up back in 1957, the storms came anyway, but for Cassie, those were the best moments of her life even so. Nothing about Cassie’s inaction inspires resentment, only sympathy.
Who among us wouldn’t have thought about giving up when Titan’s arrival boils the underground river keeping the core cool? When the remaining Daughters line up behind their barricades with Cole, Hannah, and Deacon to take on an army of Witness disciples, the overwhelming numbers are downright soul-crushing. It wasn’t until Jones choked out the words “Project Charon” that we remembered the mysterious plan she put into place back in season three, and the idea of splintering the entire facility a la Titan to get away from Olivia is pretty genius.
Olivia is no slouch herself, of course, and splintering apart the entire Raritan facility seems like a good use of the Titan towers — no need to waste too many minions, right? It appears as though she thinks her plan was successful, too, when she tells Mallick, “Their cycle has ended,” indicating that Jones and company need not worry about a pursuit. Heading to the Emerson hotel makes a certain amount of sense, too, since it was a place Jones had a chance to case out during her one trip to the past in 1944 to make sure it would suit her needs. New York City should make a nice backdrop for the new mission, even though half of the building didn’t travel with them.
Few viewers could have expected Deacon to be left behind, but the possibilities for what might happen to him are enticing in the extreme. One never knows if resentment, despair, or unconquerable hope will steer his path wherever he may end up. His use of explosives to knock over Raritan’s smokestack into one of Titan’s towers should keep Olivia’s men busy for awhile, and hopefully he’ll find a way to help the team in some unexpected way in the future as he takes up residence near the “death star,” as he humorously refers to Titan mid-battle in classic Deacon style.
Although perhaps “in the future” is the wrong way to characterize what will happen to the team in their new location, and as Hannah follows Cole on his journey to reclaim the power source from the original site (did they plan on also picking up Deacon?), we get the biggest surprise of the episode when we see another Cole walking with dear departed Ramse and hear him talking about Cassie’s watch as a way to convince Dr. Railly that he’s a time traveler. When they said the end would be the beginning, they weren’t kidding! With the core out of commission, seeing the events of season one from a new perspective could be a delightful, ongoing narrative device for the final run.
Plus there’s always Jennifer, making her crazy way through the plague of 2018 picking up Primary signals in Prague centered around an Ouroboros exhibit, an appropriate symbol for the beginning and the end repeating in cycles. Although we’ll no doubt have to wait and see what the significance of the codex she stole is and how it ties in with the circle of Primaries and the girl in the castle we saw in the opening flashback, the possibilities are enticing despite whatever sympathy we may feel for Jennifer being all alone, regressing back to her deteriorated mental state.
Perhaps she can communicate through those drawing left at the Emerson, or maybe Cole and the others will find a way to take advantage of being back at the beginning of their quest. Needless to say, the writers can’t make a wrong choice here; any direction they choose is bound to be an exciting one. Viewers eagerly anticipate every aspect of the end of 12 Monkeys including the intrigue surrounding Olivia becoming the Witness, the nostalgia associated with revisiting 2043, and the foreknowledge that the story will have an ending that both fans and writers have had a chance to prepare for. Let the end begin!
The author of this review is the host of the 12 Monkeys Uncaged podcast, which features a discussion with showrunner Terry Matalas about Night 1.