This is our last three-episode week, readers. After this it’s the two-episode finale, and then the show is over. I can’t believe we’re almost there. After the slight missteps I felt the show had last week, the three episodes this evening tightened up the plot and really seemed to drop the contrivances. Things become very real for our heroes…and infinitely more complicated. I’ll confess that in a show where I’ve completely felt in lock-step with the plot, the last episode truly threw my mind for a loop, and I felt a bit lost. It wasn’t in a way that was frustrating, though–like the time loops that our characters often have to deal with, I know things will sort themselves out given enough time.
Out of all the episodes, I found this one to be the most poignant of the season. We open with voiceovers from both Emma and Hannah, discussing their roles in the timestream. They are mirrors of each other in so many ways; one has been able to live, while the other has only been allowed to learn. Hannah exists to stop the Witness, and Emma exists to finish what the Witness started. We see Hannah has been sent back to 2009 to try and find out what life was like before the virus, while Emma has been brought back to Titan, to see the full horror of it.
Like their daughters, Jones and Olivia also serve to be points of contrast in this episode; both of them are more than willing to use the most extreme measures to get what they want. While Jones wants to save people, and Olivia wants to end the world…is the idea that ‘the ends justify the means’ good in any form? While Jones has softened her methods over time, there is still a part of her that is willing to go to extremes.
Olivia is determined to gain the knowledge of the weapon out of Jones’ head, regardless of the torture it brings both of them. Olivia uses Hannah as a way to torture Jones, seeing family and daughters as a weakness–that love is useless. Of course, Emma is watching all of this, which makes her slowly start to turn against her mother.
Regardless of the indoctrination Emma has suffered, she still wants a mother figure, and learning that Olivia will never be that starts to cause her disillusionment.
Jones, for her own part, is able to use her terminal illness to her benefit, allowing her dementia to create a maze within her mind. She may not be in touch with reality, but that means Olivia is struggling to find any true information, as well. The show does an excellent job keeping the watchers on their toes; it’s hard to tell what is real and what is in Jones’ mind for a while–and when we finally realize it’s all in Jones’ mind, we realize she’s given up Deacon as a traitor. I’d be more upset, but he knew he was set for death–this was planned.
Interspersed in the episode are scenes of Hannah attempting to have a normal life. She struggles with it, but eventually she makes a connection with a bartender named Bryan. It’s sweet, and good to see her reaching out to someone beyond those she knows, but of course it goes badly on their first date. Hannah, as much as she can attempt to fit into a normal world, just isn’t capable of fitting in quickly. A minor situation will cause her to react with violence, quickly (though really in today’s climate–good on her). Sometimes people are trapped between times, between worlds–and it seems Hannah is in that situation.
Emma is struggling in her own way, as she hasn’t completed Titan quickly enough for Olivia. She suffers a series of abuses that nearly cause her to kill herself in despair, unable to see a way out. Despite having been in only two episodes, I find Emma incredibly sympathetic. She’s torn between what she was raised to do and what she wants to do–and she nearly kills herself over it. Instead, she escapes, ending up in 2009.
Desperate to find out about the weapon. Olivia conjures up a version of Hannah to kill over and over again, which eventually causes Jones to break down and give up the time/location of the weapon. I was really heartbroken over this initially, as it’s just an illusion–breaking down over that seemed to be too easy–but apparently that’s what Jones planned. By giving the location out, Olivia now has it, yes, but it also allows the rest of the team to finally create a tether–something they couldn’t do without Titan moving to 1491.
It’s ingenious, really, but totally something Jones would imagine up. It may have caused her pain, but again…it was for the greater good. The ends justify the means.
We see Jennifer go into the machine first; she feels it’s her duty as the seer. Amazingly, Old!Jennifer shows up soon after, announcing that the splinter suit has to be fixed if they are going to survive this adventure at all. I’m so happy to see her again; as she always said, the correct ending is the one you choose…and I suppose her ending isn’t over just yet.
Back in 2009, Hannah and Emma meet…and we find out that Emma is calling herself Marion now. Which, as we know, is Cole’s mother’s name. The idea that Emma might be Cole’s mother, a woman who rejected the darkness of the Witness and chose life–that is such a powerful concept. If that proves to be the case, though…well, that’s for another episode.
This episode, taking place almost entirely within 1491, was an hour of great genre television, and also brought one of my favorite characters full circle.
As seen in last episode, Olivia and Titan are able to make it back to the middle ages, where they encounter a man who has been fighting against his Primary visions and is more than willing to work with the Witness to stop the ‘weapon’ and our heroes. It’s interesting; the man has a lot of ‘inquisition’ sort of imagery that goes along with him, and with the mentions of witchcraft in this episode, there are some great call backs to the terrible things that have been done in the past in the name of getting rid of those ‘different’ than us.
Jennifer, having arrived prior to our other travelers, ends up declared a witch and thrown in a cage to have rotten food and …other things thrown at her. And really, out of all the people on the team, she is the one who would be declared a witch, Primary or not. Lucky for her, before she’s to be burned at the stake, a young woman who is also Primary (named Chorus) comes to help her escape…just as Cole and Cassie arrive, guns blazing. And really, bringing guns to 1491 will definitely ensure the team can beat the villagers back. And be declared witches. But the first part is more important.
Chorus is the young woman we saw in the opening of the first episode: her father Nicodemus is the one who created the key, and also helped create the weapon. While he isn’t Primary like his daughter, he has a gift for creation and uses it to help him. His creations are like that of Leonardo Da Vinci, as we see his flying contraption sitting up in his work area.
While Olivia and her new goons are running after the group, Deacon has already managed to reach Nicodemus. There’s a great reunion between Deacon and Jennifer here, and he gives her his knife, saying that he’ll want it back one day, but for now, she needs to use it to protect herself.
Out of all the relationships and friendships on the show, Jennifer and Deacon’s is the one that has surprised me the most, and the one that I’ve always loved. They genuinely care about one another, and have had faith in each other even when others have faltered. But I suppose in some ways it makes sense: they are the survivors, the ones that have often been abandoned and left behind time and time again…and have still managed to survive despite that. They learned to make their own way in life–their own family. And that matters.
As seen in the first episode of the season, the group of Primaries burn, as back in 2046 old!Jennifer and the scientists are working to fix the splinter suit. It’s incredibly important, though Jennifer refuses to say why.
Eventually our group does climb those foretold steps, which lead to an awesome church-like room, complete with a copy of their own bell (ah, paradox, hm?), and a chair between two machine-like devices. It’s so cool looking, and parallels everything of the future. It was created to send Cole somewhere–to sometime…but as with all darkest moments, time runs out, and the enemy catches up.
Olivia is going to kill Cole, but proving himself to be a pretty damn good person in the end, Deacon sacrifices himself instead, giving the rest of the group enough time to escape just as the vest is fixed. However, Olivia uses Titan to destroy the temple…and with it, any chance to save Deacon.
It’s heartbreaking, for the team to know they truly have lost their friend to time. Jennifer for her part is truly lost, and as the chords of Deacon’s theme song play in the background (Simple Minds’, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”), she seeks out herself, who of course still has the knife. She knew…but again, it was the ending Deacon chose. That has to be respected.
All isn’t lost, however. While the weapon is gone, and Titan is fully ready, now…Jennifer seems to have gotten her mojo back.
And a Primary Jennifer is always a dangerous thing.
409 – One More Minute
So I’m going to tell all of you straight off: this episode threw me for a loop. This was one of the few times that all the timelines converging caused me some confusion. After a second or third watch, however, I’m sure I’ll sort it out!
As we hear Cole’s father tell the story of the snake once more, Jennifer finishes the spiraling symbols she had started last episode–she drew until her fingers bled. They called back to something Jennifer said back in season one: “if you give me yellow I could paint the world!” and that’s exactly what she’s done with the yellow chalk…she’s painted a spiraling time code…or another world.
Meanwhile, back in 2009, Hannah and Emma are doing their best to escape the Monkeys; Hannah also lets it slip that Emma is Cole’s mother, and she has a chance to save the world–not destroy it. It’s a powerful thing to help someone keep going, even if such knowledge (and going into finding the father) is a bit…odd. While they are driving to Hannah’s parents, they are attacked, causing Hannah to crash the car. We soon see Hannah dragging Emma towards a trailer in the woods, which of course contains Cole’s father. This would be the first meeting, right? It would make sense…except we find out that Emma’s been shot.
Emma dies on the way to the hospital, and Hannah takes on the name Emma wished to carry–she is Cole’s mother. Talk about a huge bomb, right? Jones is Cole’s grandmother! While I think Cole’s mother being no one important (other than a Primary) would have been a great idea, being Hannah isn’t so bad, either.
We see the rest of the team travel back to April 3, 2018, two days before the first reported case of the plague. They arrive at JFK airport, where they see that the plague has already been released, with the Pallid Man (I got his name right this time, guys!) walking off in the distance.
As they return to the machine to restart the sequence, they all remember patient zero–Jennifer said there was something about the eyes. …given that Cole is ‘otter eyes’ to her, it would make sense that Cole is patient zero, the origin of the virus. After all, everything seems to begin and end with him.
Time’s up, though; Titan is complete and with it powering up, time travel will be erased. The team starts to believe that the Primaries were sending them to release the virus: that yes, millions will die in the process, but it keeps everyone from being lost forever in the Red Forest.
Which really, is an interesting idea, but I just don’t know if I believe that to be true. Cassie and Cole seem to believe it (though they are in conflict over what to do with that knowledge), and head back to JFK to release the virus, as Olivia travels from body to body as the Witness, attempting to stop them.
Back in 2046, Jennifer and Jones are doing their very best to try and sort out another way to read the signs–a way that doesn’t involve killing so many people, or having the Red Forest come. Jennifer realizes that the signs aren’t about dates or times…it’s about the functionality of the machine the Primaries built. …and that machine was to erase James Cole.
Honestly, there was a lot in this episode to unpack regarding quantum theory and time travel; a few rewatches, especially in this part of the episode (backed by some research) would be a great thing to do in order to understand how removing Cole from the narrative could change everything.
In 2018, it looks like the Witness is finally going to be able to put a bullet in Cole, but Hannah appears, taking it for him. As she dies, she confesses that she’s his mother. It’s a gut punch for Cole, and for once he’s shocked into inaction.
Cassie is confronted by the Pallid Man, who speaks to her as they watch the scene of Cole and Hannah…and after being tempted with the Red Forest once more, she releases the virus. I’m not sure if she’s doing it out of love for Cole (to stop the Forest) or to bring the Forest down.
In a voiceover, we hear Hannah read a note she wrote for Cole, telling him about her time with his father. It’s really poignant, and explains why she would sacrifice herself for him, in the end. It has to be strange for Hannah, to be a friend first to her son, then a mother to him after.
Back in 2017, Cole, Hannah, and Jones discuss what might be done; it seems they’ve told Hannah about the future, and about the choice she makes–but of course, she will most likely make the choice again.
In the future, Cole has come to realize what the Primaries were attempting to tell him all this time: he’s the demon. Destroy him, break the cycle.
…well, if that isn’t a bitch.