12 Monkeys: Tomorrow Review

12 Monkeys might make viewers despise the decisions its characters make, but a successful mission keeps them cheering.

Cole’s mission to change the future by re-writing the past had better be successful – and soon! Because if 2043 stands as the disaster area that it currently is, and I don’t just mean the extinction-level plague, it’s going to be a hard place for any of our characters to live and retain their humanity. In this week’s episode, “Tomorrow,” just about every character in the cast is reduced in stature, and all hope is practically destroyed. So why did I come away feeling like this was one of the best episodes of the season?

I’m guessing it’s the sheer power of emotion this show manages to evoke. All of those suffering in 2043, even the so-called villains, are ultimately sympathetic characters. It’s understandable that Ramse wants a cure for the virus rather than a time travel solution: he wants to keep his new family intact. Meanwhile, Cole and Jones remain steadfast in their mission because it’s the only way they can reclaim lost loved ones. They’re both justified in their motivations!

How can Cole watch Cassie die and NOT want to return to fix things even more than before? It’s not often that a show gets a chance to kill off its leading lady for maximum impact on its audience, and the opportunity is not wasted here. Being told about the plague that’s part of Cole’s history is one thing; experiencing it firsthand is quite another. I’m sure many viewers had to find their box of tissues this week! Cassie offers hope before her passing, though, saying that Cole will make at least one if not several visits to her past. This show’s mastery of time travel complexities continues to impress, and I can’t wait to see what Cole will do with his foreknowledge.

I particularly enjoyed the appearance of Jennifer Goines this week in the chaos surrounding the Baltimore CDC. She appears to be gathering female followers with her impassioned speech, which makes pointed reference to the word “daughters,” bringing to mind the “Daughters” group mentioned by Deacon, leader of the West VII, in an earlier episode. Will Jennifer begin a movement that lasts into Cole’s native time? Jennifer Goines is one of the show’s most unique characters, and Emily Hampshire plays her with impressively endearing eccentricity every time she appears on screen.

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My other favorite character has been Jones this season, but I admit to feeling conflicted about her actions in this episode, as I’m sure the writers intended. She criticizes Colonel Foster’s obsession with a cure that can’t exist, yet covers up the evidence that one might have been found. Foster’s murder and the ensuing bloodbath was extremely brutal, no matter what you might think about how little it matters if this timeline is erased. Clearly, Jones is just as reliant on faith in her mission, as evidenced by the 2041 flashbacks where we see Cole’s initial recruitment to the cause, even as she scoffs at the blind faith of the inhabitants of Spearhead. Oh, Jones, what have you wrought?

12 Monkeys is masterful at forcing the viewers to make their own decisions about right and wrong as the story unfolds. Whether you side with Cole and Jones or Ramse and Elena, you can’t help but be dejected by the dismantling of the relationships and much of the admirable characteristics of the show’s protagonists. Ironically, although all hope is destroyed by the devastation of both the past and the future depicted in this episode, it is the death of Cassie and the address she gives to Cole that gives the audience hope.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to have received the news this week that 12 Monkeys has been renewed for a second season either! As the series begins the downhill ride towards the season one finale, it’s nice to know the show’s future is brighter than the one depicted on screen. Want more discussion of 12 Monkeys? Check out my podcast, 12 Monkeys Uncaged, for show news, episode analysis, and fan interaction!

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4.5 out of 5