12 Monkeys Season 3 Night 3 (Masks, Thief, The Witness)
Here we are guys, the final stretch! These last three episodes were devastating in a lot of ways, and I’ll admit I ended up crying. The large twist at the end was one I didn’t see coming, either. This show continues to prove that it’s one of the best things on television, and should be considered a modern scifi classic.
We start with Masks, which opens in 1879 London, where Athan (forgive me readers, we just got the correct spelling of his name last night, after my publishing) is getting a wound treated by Sebastian, now being played by the beloved Rupert Graves (of BBC’s Sherlock fame). They are in hiding, trying to make a life of things. Again, Sebastian is kind, doing his best to show Athan that he can choose his future, if he wishes it. We see he is the one who encourages Athan to create the map, if only to make sense of the jumble in his head, to help calm the voices. During this, Athan sees Sebastian’s death in 1899. What I love is that it’s clear Sebastian is a father to him, and out of everyone we have seen teaching him, Sebastian is the first true nurturer.
The Facility crew are currently searching for Cassie and Cole, but never manage to get ahead of them, as our fugitives are getting better using the personal splicers. Jennifer’s information isn’t complete, either, and Deacon, as usual, picks up that she isn’t being completely truthful. Olivia has started to become more integral to the group as well, acting as a guide to Jones and providing her more information along the way–a dangerous thing, if you ask Jennifer (and me).
Olivia realizes that Jennifer has been misleading the group, and they go after her. Luckily, Jennifer realizes that they know, and uses her poor turtles (goodbye, Terry!) to create a paradox to blow up her drawings, and give her time to get away. She’s heading to her friends, in 1899.
Cassie and Cole are in 1899 as well, where they determine that Athan will most likely be at a fancy masquerade. They have to spend time conning money out of people and learning how to blend in with higher society, and it’s honestly a great lull in the action to show that despite everything they’ve been through, they still love each other deeply. I may not agree with all of their actions, but I can understand the deep drive to do things for someone you love.
Once at the ball [Note: Cassie’s dress, with full bared shoulders/upper arms is so out of place in the time period she would have been kicked out of the masquerade], they realize they aren’t looking for Athan–but Sebastian, who is there looking for Athan, as well. This is a chance for all these parental figures to discuss things, but everything goes quickly south as Jones, Deacon, and Hannah arrive, ready to kill our little group.
They are given a small reprieve when Jennifer shows up, which allows Sebastian to escape with Cassie and Cole, and for him to explain why he isn’t with Athan right now. Apparently Sebastian tried his best to make the young man see he could be whatever he wished to be–and that he could be a good man, if he wanted. However, Sebastian tried to bring him to Titan early, which made him feel betrayed, leaving Sebastian stranded for the last 20 years. Again, I’m just touched by how kind and selfless the Protector is; he isn’t sure Athan is good anymore, but knows that perhaps he can be, once again. He also tells the duo to go to Athan’s old home, as answers can be found there. Sebastian even sacrifices himself to allow Cassie and Cole to escape, and that is how he meets his end.
He is mourned by Athan, who is now played by James Callis (of Battlestar Galactica fame). This leads us into our second (and strongest) episode of the night, Thief. The majority of this episode is told in flashback, giving us insight into why Athan is who he is ‘today’. There is some great use of music here (including “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop) in the early section as he’s passing through time, showing how jaded he has become. It makes sense, though; when you know when everyone will die, they are just ghosts around you.
However, his personal splicing device breaks in 1891, and he ends up stranded–and that is when our story truly starts. A young woman named Eliza steals a piece while he’s at a repair shop trying to get it fixed, and through a series of events it’s revealed she’s a doctor at a poorhouse, where she steals items to afford medication for her patients. She is completely disinterested in Athan, and sees straight through his disaffected mask. She’s a woman ahead of her time, and he’s completely charmed.
Throughout this we also see that Athan went through time to meet his parents before they started to time travel, and each influenced who he became, for better or worse.
If any of you know how these stories go, you know it’s going to end badly. The entire time I watched this I felt both warmed by the love he learned to feel for Eliza, and sick to my stomach over how badly I knew it would go–because something would have to turn him into the sad, bitter man The Witness becomes. It’s a love story, but it has to be a tragedy.
And yes, it does become a tragedy. Athan is ready to show Eliza what time travel truly is, but on that day she ends up having her neck slit by a gang she had stolen from, her thievery catching up to her. Athan saves her, of course, but in that moment he becomes something of a monster to her. She is insistent that he not alter time–that it should always stand still, and that the present moment is all that matters–all that should matter. She gives him her father’s watch, and that is where the pocket watch truly comes from! The “E” stands for Eliza! Sadly, Eliza dies in her sleep the next night from a pulmonary embolism, and Athan, against her wishes, tries to save her.
Again, and again. 607 times to be exact. She is the one person he never could save, and it destroys him. In desperation he visited his mother, who told him that time was the true enemy; Cassie inadvertently gave him the idea to destroy time.
It’s utterly heartbreaking, and humanizes a character we’ve been trained to hate for three seasons. It’s storytelling at its finest.
Back in 2046, Jennifer has been locked up for months, and is slowly going mad. She finally starts to see other versions of herself, who make her realize who she’s been hearing all this time–Athan. She manages to finally get Deacon to set her free, and she ships herself off to places unknown, ready to meet her destiny.
So here we are, with the final episode, The Witness–and that title isn’t referring to who you might think. Jennifer, knowing her place, has been living in the Mausoleum where two kids find her, thinking she might be a ghost. She bought the entire building, and has been waiting for whenever the dying man will arrive, ready to save him.
We head back to 1891 then, where Cassie and Cole have arrived to speak to their son, still mourning over Eliza’s body (dead for the 607th time). He thinks that he’s broken himself enough that he doesn’t care about them, that he could kill them easily–but they won’t allow that. What follows is a great chase sequence that involves jumping through different time periods in London, and slowly destroying all but one of the personal splice suits. Finally, they take him ‘home’–to the house where Cassie and Cole were happy, once, and where Athan was conceived.
Back in 2047, Jones lets Olivia drink the red tea to contact Athan, to find out where in time they are. Deacon thinks this a stupid idea, and I do too–but Jones has lost her ever-loving mind. At this point, she’s become more than a bit irremediable. She has always believed the ends justify the means, but at some point, it goes too far. Later on, she’s even willing to sacrifice her daughter for the cause. Olivia drinks, and we see her ask Athan questions through the mirror, which allows him to convey the date to her. She also apparently sees the face of Future!Witness–but we don’t see it.
All the while, Athan’s parents are trying to get him to see the light. Athan seems simply exhausted, and begs for them to kill him, or he will kill them both. While I don’t know if he will actually murder them, it’s clear he’s just tired of living and is desperate for things to end. I don’t think he can be saved, but he wants to be put down, like Sam.
Of course, Cole can’t manage this; I’m a bit frustrated with Cole and Cassie at this point. While I understand not killing your child, in a lot of ways they are just waffling on everything. Again, I understand their motivation, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be incredibly annoyed with it.
Still, in the one scene that I’m a bit confused by, Athan suddenly seems upset by the idea of the Facility group coming and tries to get Cassie and Cole to leave. While I knew he didn’t really want his parents to die, the heel turn was a bit jarring for me. Titan shows up at the same time, as well, and our little family is torn between two warring factions, all who want Athan–and neither of which Athan really wants anything to do with, it seems. Cole manages to get Athan the last personal splicing device and just as he jumps Hannah shoots him–leaving it unknown if he’s alive or dead.
However, as we hear from Mallick calling for Cassie, he announces that the Witness is dead…and surprise! He wanted him dead. It seems that there was a long con the entire time, for Mallick never wanted the Witness saved, just found so he could be killed, as someone else was supposed to rise in power.
And who is that person?
We flash back to the Facility where we see Olivia taking out all the daughters, injuring Deacon (the last time we see him this season) so she could jump to Titan. As Jen said, she was never any place she didn’t wish to be. She kills her brother (the Pallid Man), then stabs Jones. However, not everything is lost, as the power starts flickering through Titan–something is happening.
That’s because Jennifer? Jennifer saved the dying man–Jennifer saved Athan. I cried, readers. She took care of him, showing him all the kindness he sorely needed. Before he leaves to head back to Titan to save his parents, he tells Jennifer that she is the one who has to sort out the puzzle now, and that again, she is going to be the best of all of them. I cried, as Jennifer once again feels so lost–but this is her purpose, and despite her fear, she is going to find a way to hold onto it, even as she loses another person she cares about.
Athan arrives back at Titan and goes on an amazing killing spree, giving his parents and Jones time to escape, but in return, he has to sacrifice himself. Still, before he is killed, he tells Olivia that he realizes now that he was always creating her–he was not the Witness, but instead he witnessed. She was always the Future!Witness in the mask. He has the best line of the night: “Though you have an army at your back, you are alone. And that is why you will lose.”
We can only hope.
As the group arrives back at the Facility, Titan arrives as well–the war is truly on, now.
Jennifer, in 2018, has finished realizing that the symbols not only create the monkey, but the serpent eating its own tail, as well.
But what do we end on? A shot of 2015, with Cole’s father reading to him from The Wizard of Oz, when the story of why the serpent ate its tail falls out of the book.
His mother put it there. His primary mother.
So what does it all mean? Will we finally meet Cole’s mother Marian? Who is she? And how are we going to last until season 4?