This 12 Monkeys review contains spoilers.
“This is an important moment,” says the Pallid Man in the latest episode of 12 Monkeys. “When you open that door for us, we’re going to set things right.” Implications abound as the story progresses, and for those who love time travel complexities, “The Night Room” will certainly elicit enjoyable speculation. However, this is the first episode of the season that has shown narrative inconsistencies: nothing alarming, but unusual for this nearly flawless show.
Should it bother me, for example, that the show’s protagonists are captured so easily, even after Cassie berates Cole for not going in with a plan? The villain also seems aimless this week, allowing – in fact wanting – the pair to listen in on his interrogation of lab technician, Ivan, quoted above. Pallid Man tortures cole with bamboo skewers, but his only goal seems to be revealing the murder of Henri two episodes back to Cassie. To what end? I’m willing to concede the fact that mysteries yet to be revealed are being drawn out here, but there’s a fine line between being intrigued and being confused.
That being said, I was happy to see the return of Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines this week. Her performance has been one of the most solid elements of the series so far. Her willingness to do anything for Cole leads me to believe there’s much more to her character than meets the eye, especially when she continues opening the vault only she can access even after realizing she and Cole have walked into a trap. And anyone who didn’t get chills when Jennifer looked at the age-old preserved corpse and said, “There’s something about its eyes,” is made of sterner stuff than I.
Does Cole’s ensuing dizziness and Jennifer’s earlier reference to his “otter eyes” indicate he’s looking at his own desiccated body? Is he the source of the plague he’s been trying to prevent? This central mystery overshadows all else, and smooths over many of the episode’s flaws.
Just as Cassie got a peek at Cole’s darker side once she found out about the murder of Henri and other misdeeds in his younger years, so Ramse also makes some horrifying revelations about the human costs of making the time travel mission work. Jones, like Cole, had to make some dark decisions, weighing individual lives against the survival of billions. Morality is a huge theme in 12 Monkeys, and the writers execute these scenarios beautifully, forcing the viewers to make their own decisions about what they might have done given the apocalyptic situation. Max encourages Ramse’s mistrust of Jones, but I was pleased that she is also treated like a snake in the grass by Ramse – and rightfully so.
Meanwhile, I felt the same frustration Ramse felt about the mission since it doesn’t appear to be working. Even after the strange, rotted half-body is destroyed in the “big burn,” nothing changed! And was anyone else surprised that actual fire was involved? I thought it was supposed to be UV radiation! Not as visually exciting, I guess, but still.
Or did something change? Cole certainly returned to a different lab than the one he left, but only in the sense that West VII is squatting in the complex. Did he actually change circumstances? Or is something else going on? These are questions I feel perfectly fine fruitlessly tackling, relishing the suspense until next week’s episode as it leads into the second half of the season.
However, the questions surrounding the Pallid Man’s odd behavior and unintelligible motivations, the strange Night Room set-up where only Jennifer could access certain areas, and the lack of a plan from Cole where one was clearly needed were exacerbated by being thrown in along with the all too abundant albeit more intriguing time travel mysteries and deeper explanations of the central mission. Overall, this made the episode feel uneven to me.
I loved it, but I’m left feeling as dizzy as Cole felt when he saw the origin of the virus. Hopefully the pieces will start to fall into place next week, or at least the puzzle itself will become more recognizable.
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