12 Monkeys S2E1 Review: “Year of the Monkey”

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12 MONKEYS -- Season:2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly, Aaron Stanford as James Cole -- (Photo by: Kurt Iswarlenko/Syfy)

“Year of the Monkey”

Warning: Spoilers


[Note If want to see some interviews I conducted last October regarding this upcoming season, check out this post: https://whennerdsattack.com/2015/11/05/cant-wait-for-season-2-of-syfys-12-monkeys-tide-yourself-over-with-these-interviews-from-nycc/ ]


So here we are into Season 2, everyone. If you don’t remember where we left off, Cassandra Railly is now in 2043 after having been sent through the machine, James Cole is trapped in 2016 with Ramse, and Jennifer Goines now has the virus, ready to unleash it on the world. Fate has actually changed for once, because the power of love changed Cole’s heart and caused him to save Ramse’s life, thereby changing the timeline. We ended the season on a bittersweet note, because as much as there is hope, there is still the sense that so much could go wrong and the two lovers are still lost to time.

We open the episode up with a voiceover of the Striking Woman giving you a summary of exactly what I just summarized (Thanks S.W.), as we watch a forest turn red. It ends with the lovely line, “I told you this is a story of how the world ends. That starts at the end, and ends at the beginning.”

We open up the episode for real in Budapest, 2016, Ramse running from cars–how he’s doing it, who the hell knows. Even with the path he’s taking, I’m pretty sure he couldn’t outrun them like he is, but I’ll suspend my disbelief because it’s a great action scene. A great cover of ”Time Is on My Side” by The Rolling Stones is playing in the background, which is just hilariously ironic. The show runners, Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett, have such a wicked sense of humor, and this is one great instance.

12 MONKEYS -- "Year of the Monkey" Episode 201 -- Pictured: Kirk Acevedo as Ramse -- (Photo by: David Lukacs/Syfy)

The cars do corner Ramse eventually on a bridge, and the Striking Woman gets out. She reveals that, due to Cole saving his life, time has changed and in order to set things right, Ramse needs to die. Too bad Cole is there, ready to set off a bomb and explode things. (And man does he look hot walking out from between explosions, which he of course doesn’t look at.) Seems the Witness knew about that part of the plan though, and both Ramse and Cole have to jump into the river to get away.

This opening action scene is a great way to open the season up, and I’m just so damn pleased to see Cole and Ramse working together, even if things aren’t as great as they (initially) look on the surface. Because while Cole still is solely driven to stop the virus, well… Ramse still wants to save his son. It’s also established that it’s been 3 months since the end of season 1. So they decide they are going to go their separate ways once they get out the tracker out of Ramse’s body that was put there when he was working for the bad guys. At least they aren’t at each other’s throats, but it’s sad to see them at the opposite sides of the spectrum.

In 2043, things are a different version of dire. Cassie has visions and flashbacks to her time with Cole and the red forest, and wakes up to Katerina Jones checking on her. It’s only been 4 days since she’s arrived here (yay time traveling mumbo-jumbo!). After explaining what happened back in 2016, Cassie says she had no trouble shooting Ramse, despite being a doctor, and Jones gives my favorite line of the episode: “Good. Grieving over who we were only gets in the way of who we need to become.” I’m not quite sure when Jones became my favorite, but she genuinely is–no matter what happens, she is always willing to do what she must to ensure that the mission goes forward, no matter what the sacrifice. Speaking of sacrifice, we see her shoot herself with the serum, meaning she is preparing to send herself through time, if necessary. Before more can be said, though, Deacon comes in, and says that the 12 are ready for them.

It seems the 12 Monkeys (remember them? Weird cult members covered in makeup who can fight insanely well?) need to send themselves back to undisclosed points in time.The first one tries and… it does not go well. Jones encrypted the system so that only she could tamper with it, and the Monkey goes up in a pile of bloody goop. Good woman. Everything is a mass of chaos, but before anyone can be shot (ie: Cassie), one of Deacon’s men unlocks the machine.  The second Monkey makes it through successfully. Interestingly enough, the Monkeys keep talking about the red forest. We still don’t know what that means, yet, but I’m dying to know. I have a feeling we won’t know for some time yet, however.

Back in 2016, Cole goes to visit a Dr. Benjamin Kalman, who used to work with Ramse, and also got out. He is a self-professed coward, but claims he wants to do right and help Ramse this one time, as he made Kalman realize there was good within himself. However, it was a double cross.

12 MONKEYS -- "Year of the Monkey" Episode 201 -- Pictured: (l-r) Brendan Coyle as Dr. Kalman, Rick Acevedo as Jose Ramse -- (Photo by: David Lukacs/Syfy)

After getting the item out, he informs Ramse he injected Ramse with a paralytic so he could deliver him to the Witness personally. Kalman, in a typical villain manner, monologues, and says that Jennifer is going to release the virus in Manhattan during the Chinese New Year– the “Year of the Monkey” (Oh hey the episode title!).  When Kalman goes to take out Cole, though… well. Cole takes him out first. Everything seems good, right? They know where to go now, right? Well… they would, if Ramse would actually tell Cole about what Kalman said. But as he’s still not on board with the whole ‘stop the virus’ idea, he keeps his mouth shut. Keep being a selfish jerk, Ramse. I understand saving your son means a lot but–this is humanity, Ramse. Sorta more important.

12 MONKEYS -- Season:2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly, Todd Stashwick as Deacon -- (Photo by: Kurt Iswarlenko/Syfy)

In 2043 Cassie ends up diagnosing Deacon with Wilson’s Disease [Note: Wilson’s Disease is an inherited disorder that causes too much copper to build up in vital organs. Learn more about it here], and tries to bargain with him: if he gets her back to the past, she can get him medication that will save his life. And you know what? While it looks like for a moment he won’t take the bait, he does. It seems he’d rather live than die, and gives Cassie the same speech he once gave Cole–that if you let someone live, you create an enemy. There are so many parallels in this episode between her journey and Cole’s original journey–both are going in opposite directions now. It’s going to hurt when they start colliding once more. With little hesitation, Cassie does indeed help Deacon take down one of the Monkeys, and just like that, Deacon smiles at her and announces, “Welcome to the future.” Welcome, indeed. Deacon calls in the West VII, and they storm the time machine area, and we cut to–

2016, where Ramse and Cole splitting up. Cole apologizes for not being able to be a better friend, before walking off. In a fit of guilt (I suppose) Ramsey tells him the truth about where the virus will drop. And well, looks like they aren’t splitting up after all. Thank goodness! Their friendship is one of the highlights of this show, and when they broke apart in season 1, it was gut wrenching. While there is no doubt there is business unfinished, them working together now is important.

So we head to New York, where Jennifer seems to be having issues with the voices in her head once more. She goes to a speed dating session and attempts to get a stranger to shoot her before she releases the virus. Sadly, he doesn’t take her up on it. Don’t get me wrong–I love Jennifer, but I still want humanity to survive–and clearly a part of Jennifer does as well.  

Back in 2043, Cassie and Deacon are struggling to get to the time machine, where the Monkeys have already sent six people through. The only way to stop them is to overload the system, causing an explosion. In doing so, though, they’ve blown so many circuits it will take Jones over a year to rebuild. Why is this important? Well, It gives Cassie time to become hardened, more time to become more like Cole was, before he got sent back the first time.  

In 2016, the Chinese New Year is in full swing, and we can feel the slow dread of what may soon happen start to descend upon us. Cole manages to find Jennifer in the crowd and a chase ensues, leading up onto a rooftop. While Cole does draw a gun on her, he seems unwilling to use it, despite her pleading for him to shoot her. Jennifer seems desperate for someone to stop her from completing a task part of her is so bent on. He hesitates and asks for the virus instead. Maybe a good choice, but the bad guys show up, so really, it was a bad choice, Cole. Ramse (who split off from Cole earlier) is knocked out, and the baddies are taken out in quick succession, but by who? Well, none other than Cassie, who is ready to kill Jennifer, her gun trained on her.

12 MONKEYS -- "Year of the Monkey" Episode 201 -- Pictured: (l-r) Aaron Stanford as James Cole, Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)

She is more like Cole than we have ever seen her before–hardened and ready to follow through with the mission to save the world–ready to make every sacrifice, as long as it keeps humanity safe. Cole, for his part, has become softer, more willing to try and save everyone–just like Cassie taught him. He pulls his gun on Cassie, to try and stop her from killing Jennifer. It’s a heartbreaking dichotomy.


We’re back where we started. The end is the beginning. But not as we thought.


And we cut.

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