12 Monkeys is the best show on SyFy right now; in fact, I would say it is one of the best shows on television right now, bar none. The complexity of the story is second to none; add on top of that the cinematography, top-notch graphics, and amazing acting from one of the best casts in the business…it is one of the few shows on television that can draw me to tears with nearly every episode, this one being no exception.
We open up in 2020, with Jones singing to her dead daughter, Hannah. It’s heartbreaking, but we’ve known that this happened. What is significant, what is new is Cassie being there–she has a gun, and with tears in her eyes, she points the gun at Jones, and pulls the trigger.
We flash forward to 2044, where we find Jones quoting Shakespeare–Hamlet, to be exact. As the monologue goes on, Cassie watches Cole sleep, and Ramse walks away from the compound. Each is punctuated by a lovely stanza–the most fitting, of course, is, “from which no traveler returns,” as Cassie uses the machine to splinter back in time.
Deacon of course is concerned over this development and wakes up Cole from his slumber. I have to say, the fact that both of them can work together over their mutual worry over Cass is just touching–I’m glad they have found a common cause. Deacon demands to know what is going on, as we are told that Cassie’s tether has disappeared, then suddenly reappears. And…well. Jones, in her despair, has sent Cassie back in time to kill Jones in 2020. If Jones is dead, there will be no time travel, no ability to change anything…basically everything will be undone. Cole and Deacon obviously think that this is utter bullshit (I agree), so Cole is going to go back to try and stop this from happening. We end up shifting back to–
–2020, where Cassie shows up wearing a gasmask (where did she get it?). Gunshots go off as a military salute is ordered for the dead, and she heads into the compound. We find out from the head of the facility, Lieutenant Foster, that there is a West VII quarantine zone, and that those who cannot be identified are placed within a cage, labeled ‘scavs’. A great deal of this is set up for what is to come–but again, the world building for this show is intense and every piece is well thought out. They identify her as the doctor from the CDC, and state that she’s more than welcome. There is a group of women here that have been causing trouble (The Daughters, perhaps?)–eventually Cassie gives the Lieutenant the slip, and goes to shoot Jones. But instead of things changing, suddenly–
Cassie is back where she started, but Cole is now there, instead. Cassie is confused, and is insisting that she’s been through this already–but ah, she has. Both she and Cole go into the compound, but it doesn’t go well this time, and they get placed in with the Scavs, as Cole wasn’t recognized. One of the things that frustrated me early on in the time ‘looping’ is that Cassie didn’t seem to be paying attention. I understand that she was confused, but she usually focuses on details a great deal more–but I digress. Inside the cage is our favorite Primary, Jennifer! She has to figure out which version she’s talking to, and asks them if the word Hyena means anything to them (it doesn’t–but word to the wise, that’s the title for next week’s episode). She explains that this is a ‘reboot’–basically same day, different shit. Cassie claims that isn’t how time travel works, but both Jennifer and I agree that no, Cassie, you don’t understand how time works–not as well as Jennifer does, by far. So shut up and listen to our Primary.
Foster comes back and starts walking with Cassie and Cole, and unlike the time before says that Cassie can’t be the Doctor they knew–as Cassie has already been confirmed dead in this timeline. Cole and Cassie spring into action and in amazing fashion they take down all of the military men–but not before Cassie gets shot. So, to save Cassie, Cole has to shoot Jones to reboot the timeline.
And here we start a great many different reboots, each with different outcomes. Cassie and Cole try splitting up (doesn’t work), she tries saving Hannah (Jones’ daughter); it doesn’t work. What we do find out is that 1) Hannah isn’t dying from the virus, she is dying from a bacterial infection, 2) all these reboots are killing them, and 3), time likes Jones just the way she is–and will not allow any changes to occur. As Jennifer says, ‘time likes timetravel’. So they really need to find a new strategy, before #2 starts to kill them in earnest. This episode is like a demented version of Groundhog’s Day–but instead of laughing, you’re being left with a pit in your stomach with every reset.
On this next jump, Cassie finally agrees with Cole–they should simply just ride it out. As night falls around them, Cole admits that he would like to go back in time so he could erase ever having met Cassie, so she could have found happiness, even if it wouldn’t have lasted, damn the rest of the world. It’s a heartbreaking admission, and one that strikes to the core of Cole–there is no world that he cares about if Cassie doesn’t exist within it. Cole, at his core, is emotion–and his love of Cassie is something that has come to define him; to see it laid out, so bare, is moving.
Doing nothing, though, seemingly didn’t work, and they reboot. Cassie has a flash of Titan and the Red Forest (which we saw last episode); as Cole talks to Jennifer again, she tells him she is tired of them all going around in circles, and that he must do something, but nothing; everyone is a piece of a puzzle, and he needs to learn to put them together, and quick. And, well–he seems to understand, finally. Understanding, apparently, means getting to talk to Foster, and saying that they’ve all lied, and Jones is in on everything–the virus was all brought in by them. Which seems counterintuitive, but it allows Cole to talk to Jones, and ask her one thing–if a little bit of happiness is better than a lifetime of anything else. She answers yes. It’s a perfect, beautiful scene, and before they are all shot dead by firing squad, Cassie holds Cole’s hand.
Reboot. They know what to do now, and…we cut back to 2044, where Deacon is freaking out, as Cole and Cassie’s tethers keep showing up and disappearing again and again. It’s clear how much Deacon cares for Cassie now, and it breaks my heart. Both of our travelers come through the machine, though, and it’s time to explain exactly what they figured out to Jones, who is very upset that she is still alive.
Cole says, simply, “Time needs us, and needs you to set things right.” It’s such a simple idea, and while it gives Jones no comfort–I think it is such a comforting idea–that somehow, time, something that should be unfeeling, is sentient and needs everything in its place. It wants people in the world to set it right, to make things whole and good again.
Jones, of course, refuses to believe this idea, and claims that the machine was simply broken, but Cassie and Cole take her to see Jennifer, where the big reveal is made. Each of the players tell the story as we see the looping time jumps shown on screen–they did something, yet nothing. They saved Hannah, yet didn’t let Jones know. They gave her up to the Daughters, gave her to Jennifer…so she is here, now…alive and well. I cried, when Hannah and Jones reunited. This show, again, proves that what matters is saving lives, not taking them; it is at its most powerful in moments like this.
Back in the compound, Cassie and Cole share a touching moment, and it seems that they will come together, finally, finally, but Cassie is still too scared of losing everything, of letting Cole down. It’s the second time in the episode I cried, I’m not afraid to admit. She retreats to her room, where she finds Ramse lying in wait for her. He plans to kill her, then himself–but she convinces him, instead, that they should go try and take down the Witness, together.
It sounds like a great plan. But I see one small problem.
What if the Witness is Ramse’s son, Sam?