12 Monkeys Season Finale Review: Arms of Mine

The 12 Monkeys season finale delivers shockers, tantalizing cliffhangers, and the promise of more greatness in future seasons.

There’s a delicate balance a season finale must make between providing answers to questions that simply must come to light, leaving possibilities open for future scripts, and – the dangerous one – keeping some mysteries hanging for fans to speculate about. The 12 Monkeys finale, “Arms of Mine,” was balanced on the point of a pin, and it was maddening and wonderful and frustrating and perfect. Never have I been so happily strung along without complaint for an entire season by a single question: can the future be changed?

I just don’t know, and you know what? I’m not sure I want to know!

The main question that had to be answered by season’s end was concerning the origin of the virus, and presumably we have our answer. Shockingly, it appears Jennifer Goines either was persuaded by Olivia to enact the apocalypse or is actually genuine in her desire to turn the planet back to its rightful owners, the animals. As she loaded up her suitcases full of M5-10, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the final scene of the Twelve Monkeys movie where Peters boards an airplane with the goal of spreading the virus all over the globe. Why, I wonder, is Jennifer the harbinger of the apocalypse?

An unresolved question I’m surprisingly okay with going unanswered is the identity of the Witness, who I thought was Ramse based on the long journey from 1987 two episodes back. Obviously, Cassie and much of the viewing audience thought the same thing. The magnificence of this misdirection overshadows any disappointment I might have about not discovering the truth. Likewise, the identities of Olivia’s father, Cole’s mother, and Jennifer’s mother are tantalizing hints at a larger mystery with deeper roots and farther-reaching timespans than were present in season one. It gives me hope for the future viability of the series.

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A favorite line this week came from Ramse, who said, “It took time travel to create time travel,” and there are a couple of masterful examples in recent episodes. Ramse, of course, is referring to the fact that he, as Ethan Seki (that surname being another Go reference, like the “Atari” and “Divine Move” episode titles), funded the Splinter Project that eventually would send him back in time to found it. Brilliant! Other favorites include Cassie giving Jones’ address to Cole who gives it to her younger self; or Jones being motivated by her daughter Hannah, who never would have been born had she not encountered time traveling Cole. I absolutely love these Escher-like, self-causing effects, and 12 Monkeys executes them expertly.

The show still manages to surprise me, even this late in the game. I never would have guessed Cassie would travel to 2043, but her internal bleeding and impending death is belied by her earlier (later?) appearance in 2017, which we’ve already witnessed. She can’t die yet! What really gives me shivers is the fact that now she, Cole, and Ramse have taken the serum, which may or may not provide a kind of immortality or at least the avoidance of age. Imagine the possibilities! Cassie’s arrival is left completely open-ended, but rather than feel like a cliffhanger, I’m left with nothing but hope for her crucial role in the overall mission.

Many mysteries remain, not all of which fail to frustrate me, but no one promised perfect resolution! The “coming of the 12” Olivia has been prophesying is revealed to have centered around 12 immune babies who would grow up to become the “ghost soldiers,” as they are billed in the credits. These apparently deadly assassins infiltrate the splinter chamber only to capture Jones and announce, “The cycle is complete.”

So what now? And why the chalky faces?

Plus what the heck was Jones’ ex-husband doing running the Splinter Project and sending English ivy 28 years into the future? And where did he get the one sample of Katerina’s serum? I also can’t figure out why the red ivy would send Cassie into visions of the Red Forest with no discernible consequence. It must mean something! There are mysteries that are still enticing, but maddeningly so now that I have to wait until next season.

But that’s a finale for you! It’s been a fantastic, mind-bending ride, and this show has set the bar high for Syfy’s new slate of shows. If they keep up with this caliber of sci-fi, the future – despite what you’ve been told about world-killing viruses – is very bright indeed.

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4.5 out of 5