This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
12 Monkeys Season 4 Episode 6
Who’s to say 12 Monkeys doesn’t deserve a Nazi romp in its swan song season? Besides giving us the acquisition of the very important “weapon” referred to in the tale of the serpent, “Die Glocke” delivered a reconciliation of sorts for Deacon, a worrisome manifestation of Jones’ deteriorating health, and the immeasurable entertainment that Jennifer Goines always provides. Although the legend of Die Glocke is based on actual accounts of a secret weapon in the Nazi Wunderwaffe collection, the escalation of the episode from a Vichy France adventure to a tale that includes the assassination of Hitler may have been a bit over the top, but it’s understandable that the temptation to tackle the quintessential time travel mission was too great to resist.
Everything before Jennifer singing Pink’s “U + Ur Hand” was on par with any of the period adventures of seasons past, including the undeniably fun 80’s auction caper when the team acquired the Word of the Witness. The manner in which the assigning of mission roles in 2043 was edited together with the actual enactment of their cover identities in 1940 was reminiscent of the best of the Ocean’s 11 films, and giving Barbara Sukowa the chance to speak in her native German carried real power as Katarina Von Heinrich and her niece, Eva Marie, muscled their way into Sturmbannfuhrer Waesch’s party. As Cassie said, “You’ve got some balls on you, Jones!”
Using Emily Hampshire’s French was similarly useful, but even more impressive was addressing her reluctance to visit wartime France after her ordeal in WWI last season as well as her career as J.H. Bond, the singer who tried to use music and theater to contact her friends in the future. Jennifer’s role as a maid also allowed her to interact with the French resistance couple, who are instrumental in forcing Jennifer to distract Hitler. The death of the diva and Jennifer’s replacement of her may have been predictable, but the choice of song was not. Although it was no “99 Red Balloons,” once we accept the ridiculousness of the rockin’ orchestra and Hitler bopping his head to Pink, the fun becomes infectious.
In fact, if it weren’t accompanied by Cassie in boots and a bustier, it might have been easier to immerse ourselves in the goofiness of Jennifer’s song. Not that 12 Monkeys has to be serious all the time; in fact, it probably needs this levity before the mission to defeat the Witness inevitably descends into darkness. But perhaps things got a bit too spoofy with Cassie’s sexy distraction, even with Jennifer’s F-you song to Hitler in the background. The triumph of acquiring the monkey-shaped bell was somehow lessened by this out-of-place grindhouse moment that objectified Cassie, however willingly.
It should be noted that 12 Monkeys has integrated humor into its serious tale quite well over the years, and there were plenty of more successful comedic moments in this episode, including Cole only being able to say, “Oui,” and Deacon spitting on his Nazi torturer because, hey, bucket list. And if we put aside the fact that killing Hitler in 1940 should probably have changed history more than just Himmler replacing him, there’s no denying that Jennifer ignoring Jones’ warnings and hitting the detonator with an adorably malevolent “Boop!” was just priceless! It’s just that all of these crazy things together became a chaotic giggle-fest adventure rather than the well-woven humorously dramatic tapestry we’ve come to expect.
For instance, just think about the balance required in having Jennifer talk Jones through how to Nintendo cheat her way out of a catatonic vision in a lighthearted way while still emphasizing the dire nature of Katarina’s worsening condition. Examine for a moment the sick enjoyment we get from Deacon defiantly changing the swastika carved on his chest into a West VII emblem after being tortured by the Nazis. And how can you not love Cole’s hypocrisy in telling everyone, “Mission comes first, each other last,” and then rescuing Deacon who just moments earlier clarified his double agent status within Titan? Now that’s layered storytelling!
In fact, Deacon may end up being the MVP of this episode, not only because of the scenes mentioned above, but also because of his ability to put things in perspective. Jones is justifiably furious at him for killing the husband she just reconciled with, but Deacon reminds her that if they succeed, she and Elliott and Hannah will soon be arguing over who’s doing the dishes. Deacon himself plans on running a bar with his dear departed brother! Put that kind of deep thinking alongside the fact that he legitimately saves Jones’ life when he shoots the men guarding her, and we can understand why all might be forgiven by Night 3.
Plus it was good to see how the fake bell got scooped up by the soldier playing dead, the man who eventually became the seller in the 1960s, and Deacon being on thin ice with Olivia provides Jones with a plan that sees the inevitability of their death as an advantage. With Jones’ magnificent toast and the 1491 target date on the bell, the ending of this romp put us right back into mission mode, even though Adler says the machine can’t extend a tether that far. Ultimately, Jones speaks for the 12 Monkeys fandom when she says, “We may not have all the answers we seek, but tonight, we have each other. And that, in this moment, is enough.” Amen to that, sister.
The author of this review is the host of the 12 Monkeys Uncaged podcast, which features a discussion with showrunner Terry Matalas about Night 2.