12 Monkeys - The Inscrutable "Divine Move."

Yes, inscrutable.

As I wrapped up my second viewing of "Divine Move" I thought to myself, "How am I going to distill this one down to something I can write about?"  Should I go with something thematic like sacrifice and choosing the one versus the many?  (Something Ramse, Cassie and Aaron struggled with.)  Or should I chronicle the breakdown of Cassie as she suffered a lack of faith, turned to the bottle and nearly murdered Peters.

Except she didn't break down. (Railly has continued to develop a "Heroes Journey" to rival that of Cole.  Credit goes to the writers for bringing much depth to her character.)

No, I think I'll stick with the part of the episode that both confused and intrigued me at the same time.  (Yeah, that should make things easy.)

This was a "bridge" type of episode, something that connected what preceded it and then vaguely spelled out what is to come.  The exchange between Ramse and Goines I see as crucial because it connected some plot threads and layed out a few more

To wit, Jennifer Goines of the future opened a Pandora's Box of non-sequiturs that outdid anything she has offered in previous incarnations.  I know what she imparted to Ramse was important, it's just trying to make sense of it all that is mind boggling.

But here I go anyway.

Time and Travel

We've learned 12 Monkeys that there are certain parts of time that are immutable and will remain so.  Here is further evidence of that from "Old Jennifer."

What is Jen saying here?  No matter what Cole and company do to stop the plague they will never succeed?  Is the plague one of the immutable strings of time?  Then what is the point of trying to fix it?

Ah, she said the plague couldn't be stopped but she didn't say it couldn't be cured. 

(Quick aside, Eddie Redmayne is my go to guy to play the Riddler in any upcoming Batman movie.  But I wonder how Emily Hampshire would do as a female Riddler?)


 Jen seems to imply that the timeline is out of order.  I take this to mean because Cole has traveled to so many different times that the events of the general timeline have been put out of order due to the changes Cole has made.  (Such as Cassie dying and then not dying and perhaps the watch being scratched and then unscratched.) 

1987 seems to be the year where things are put in their proper order (More on this soon.) Jen also spoke of "no straight lines."

In the above frame, taken from my "Night Room" blog post in which I attempted my "String" theory, we see a myriad of lines as laid out in a relief by Jones.  There are no straight lines here, in fact they branch out into many different directions.  In actual String Theory time can be splintered into many different timelines all similar yet unrelated.  More importantly they can also exist at the same time. (I don't think "12 Monkeys is going there but you never know.)

I took the above frame to show how many times sent Jones sent her previous subjects back in time, how long they survived and what affect they had in repairing the timeline especially in relation to the survival of Jones daughter Hannah.  (Hmm, "daughter.")  Perhaps this is "Old Jennifer" meant by no straight lines.

The Mutable

Like I intimated above, there are things that can be undone in time.  The overall general timeline remains by and large the same but the subsets of it can be changed.  I think this is what Jen is referring to in this immediate frame seen above.  I'm not sure what Jen is referring to when she says, "Undo what I've done" (but I bet it's a whopper) but I think what she is referring to when she says, "You've done" to Ramse, is his destruction of the Splinter Lab and his fraternal break with Cole.

Jen is aware of the mutable parts of time and when she says "We" to Ramse above.  I think she already knows who he is and the part he is about to play.  How does she know who Ramse is?  Did Cole mention him to Jen earlier?  More importantly, how can Jen possibly know of the role Ramse will play if everything is out of order?  (Don't worry I'm getting there.)

The Catalyst

As Ramse leaves the Daughters campsite, Jen tells him "Death can be both cause and effect."   As part of her knowledge of what is to be, I think Jen is referring to the death of Elena that will set Ramse on his immediate path.  This is what makes 1987 so important.

It seems to me Jen knows Ramse is fated to go back in time to 1987 as part of the reordering of time and "undo what they have done."  Elena had to die in order to set Ramse on this path.  Is Ramse fated to die also?

Ramse enters 1987 as disoriented as Alice entering Wonderland.  (The neon Japanese character behind his head reminded me of the White Rabbit of the same story.)  And this where  I jump right into a crackpot theroy,

Crackpot Theory!

As part of the "re-ordering" of the timeline and "straightening out" does Ramse have to die?  Jen told us things have to be undone and she implied Ramse had to be part of it.  What part would his death serve?

In short, Ramse is destined to become, "The Remains!"  In that, he becomes both cause of the plague and in effect it's cure as Patient Zero.

Spoiler Alert!  I saw a screen grab from the next episode, "Shonin" where Leland Goines seems to be gazing at The Remains.  We'll see what happens to Ramse when he gets close to The Remains and acts like Cole when he gets too close to his other selves when he time travels.  Also, if you remember, Cole had a dizzy spell when he encountered The Remains back in the "Night Room."  I don't think it was because he encountered his other self.  I think it was because he encountered another time traveler such as himself that was injected with the serum.

Like Ramse.


So what gives Jennifer's inscrutable rant such agency and leaves her words with such import that would lead me down this rabbit hole of my own?

Jennifer is aware of The Witness!  Okay, we all know she had a vision of him when she drank the Pallid Man's tea long ago.  But as the above words imply, she knows of The Witness' ability to either look through or travel through time.  (I've referred to The Witness as a being that exists "out of time."  You can interact with him in a fugue state by drinking the tea.)

The above stunning reveal to Ramse is twofold.  Jennifer has apparently been interacting with The Witness, she does have the herbal tea, and by this interaction, Jennifer is aware of the many strands of time because of what The Witness has imparted to her.  (Intentionally or not.)

So now, Jennifer is aware of what is "out of order" and what constitutes "no straight lines."  This constitutes immeasurable knowledge of import in setting things right. 

(It also might get her in terrible hot water with The Witness whom I feel is the the one who set the world asunder.)  (BTW, I've theorized The Witness is one of Jones "failed" attempts to send men back in time, only he survived unbeknownst to Jones and is now exacting his revenge on the future and her by spreading the plague.)

It was important that Jennifer gave Ramse the Medallion.  First off, the Medallion may interact with a previous incarnation of itself and the sparks will fly.  Secondly, the symbolic imagery of the Medallion may have become clearer. 

I've noted before the image above evokes thoughts of the Gemini twins.  To sprinkle a little more crackpot sugar in your herbal tea, the Medallion may represent Cole and the Witness.  Brothers in time travel but with two separate agendas.  But to further my crackpot theory from before, it could represent Ramse as both catalyst and cure for the plague.  Freaky!

So, if I can translate my own inscrutable rant, because of Jennifer's ongoing interaction with The Witness and the information she has gleaned from it, she has now put things in motion to set things right. 


(It doesn't explain why we have a season two of 12 Monkeys but I don't want to give myself a migraine trying to figure that out right now.)

Odds and Ends


Did you notice all the cages were empty in Peter's stinky container lab?  He then went on to speak of "The Messengers."  Do you suppose the messengers are the monkeys and that is how the plague is being spread?  Seed them in various zoos and labs around the world to infect everyone eveywhere.  I was hoping the "12 Monkeys" referred to the failed test subjects that Jones sent back in time and The Witness dubbed his army after.  It's possible the inspiration it is as a mundane explanation as this.  (Maybe that's why Old Jennifer was so dismissive of the Army of the 12 Monkeys to Ramse.  The original monkeys are all dead and gone and there is no "Army."

Jen mentioned to Ramse that you can only see the pictures when the leaves are red.  Cassie had a vision of red leaves during the episode.  Still under the affect of the tea?

Speaking of visions.

Cole had another one of his "Blue Visions."  This one segued right as he was dealing with Cassie.  I think this visual segue is important because it adds credence to the theory it is Cassie in the blue vision and is possibly the one that shoots him.

This is the face in the vision that Cassie's transitioned to.  Is it Cassie?  I know it is super tough to tell but it does look like her mouth and this would add import to the segue.  Then again it could be someone else's mouth.

Like this lady, the Striking Woman.  I bet Aaron was happy to run into her.  Why did she tell Aaron Cassie was important?  To whom?  The so called  "Army" or just the Witness and his Druze inspired guardians of time?  And if she is so important, why risk getting her killed after kidnapping her?  Unless of course they knew Cole would fix it. (Ay yi yi.)

The watch is back and it's scratched, Yaaay!  What does that mean I don't knooow!

Jones mused with Whitley over what they have done.  She even imparted that God's wrath doesn't require her belief system.  She knows whatever they have done and whatever they will undo, there is one being that stands out of time that bears witness to their deeds and will render judgement no matter what their fate is.  God.  (It is an interesting parallel to what the Witness is possibly doing.)

Hey, why is the box containing the time travel serum labeled with a Spearhead logo?  What do they have to do with the Splinter effort?  Shouldn't the serum be in a Splinter box?

Nice work of light and reflection.  We caught the flames reflected in Ramse's eyes as he set fire to the Splinter lab.

We also caught a glimpse of Cassie's picture going up in flames.  Is she always fated to die only to rise like the Phoenix from the ashes?

Adler referred to "Sequence 44 Alpha."  I wonder if this is in relation to the other numbers and letters like we saw in Jones String Relief Chart.  See below.


This is extremely bad news for me as I have been a Scotch drinker much of my adult life.  What was all the Scotch that I drank for?  Because I like it?  Okay, I'm happy with that.

Oh, but look, we have another Globe sighting and it turned toward the Indian sub continent.  I think we'll be traveling to the Himalayas soon.

Think we'll find out who The Remains belong to? 


  1. Dave, great thoughts as always.

    I like your crackpot theory of Ramse being the remains. I know several fans like the theory of Ramse being the witness, but yours of one of the other of Jones' experiments makes more sense.

    I was wondering about the plant turning red. Did that actually physically occur due to Cole's interaction, or was it Cassie's vision due to the drug? The latter as you think is easier to see, but I keep thinking about the watch scratch appearing and disappearing.

    I like what Jones said about God's judgement for actions in any potential timelines, even those undone. Brings up great theological questions. Remember when I brought up "middle knowledge" before in a Fringe post I think? Somewhat applies here too - God knowing what anyone would potentially do in any circumstance. Probably wouldn't apply to the Witness however.

    One thing that confused me was Ramse being able to just take one injection and time travel. I thought much work had to be done and tailored to one person. If splintering is killing Cole, why aren't others sent back in rotating cycles?

    Honestly, I struggle to cohere any of my own thoughts on this show. It is amazing in its complexity so far, and I feel it is really going to pay off.

    1. Thanks Chris, good to hear from you.

      Yeah, I don't like the theories floating out there that Ramse is either the Witness or the Pallid Man. That Pallid Man one doesn't make any sense at all. I was thinking today that Cole might be the Witness but I don't have much to back that up and I kind of hope it isn't true.

      Jennifer said the leaves turn red when the Witness has been around. So was he skulking about through time when Cassie saw the leaves or is Cole the future/current Witness? My first thought was it was the after effects of the "tea." Cole hallucinated of the Red Forest when he was drugged by Deacon. There was no Witness there right? It's a little confusing.

      Why wouldn't God's knowledge apply to the "Witness?"

      To answer your question about Ramse and the serum. Maybe it is a perfected serum they are using now.

      I'm looking for a good payoff too Chris, thanks!

  2. Hi Dave,

    wasn’t that just a ‘kick the table over‘ episode? I mean, Ramse! WTH!

    I agree with you that Emily most definitely has the potential to play a female Riddler. During my live-tweeting I called her “She who speaks in riddles”.

    Concerning the time line questions, I think I remember an interview that Hank did with Terry where he asked him about the brand of time travel that Terry and Travis use in the show. I think he said that there are smaller loops that correct themselves and there is the big time line that can be changed. I have been wondering if Ramse’s role would be a loop (like Elena and Sam will die in some way and he will want to change the past as well and come back to project splinter; does this remotely make sense? LOL) or a big change. As we have seen now he will most likely be a big change. Do you think Cole will be able to kill Ramse should he have to?

    I agree with you again that Ramse might be “The Remains”. I thought that Cole’s reaction might be a red herring and that it was not due to the fact that the remains were him. I think Terry and Travis want us to think that. It happened one episode after Atari. So maybe he thought it would bring us to think it was a paradox. We will have to wait and see. :)

    Yes, it could be that one of Cole’s forerunners is the Witness out for revenge. Or could it be Ramse? The Gemini Twins could be Cole and Ramse?

    What do you think about the speculation doing the rounds that Ramse might be the Pallid Man? I’m totally unsure about that one.

    I like your theory about why Jennifer gave Ramse the medaillon: to create a paradox. But what would they want to create the paradox for?

    Concerning the red leaves Cassie saw, I had a first theory that she might have seen them because she was drunk. After listening to The Walking Naked Podcast I agree with their theory of the leaves turning red due to the time travel, that Cole’s splintering will leave a residue or suck up energy. I think that also works with what Jennifer said about the tea having to be made of the red leaves/plants and that the leaves will only be red when the Witness has been there.

    About the blue vision I don’t think Cassie will shoot Cole. Maybe she will shoot someone else or she will only see Cole getting shot?

    I think the Pallid Man and the Striking Woman (nice name for a band :P) let Cassie run off in “The Red Forest”.

    Didn’t Jones start working on Project Splinter when she was still working for Spearhead and then leave to fully concentrate on it when Foster killed those people? Or maybe it’s just an old box from Spearhead she brought with her to keep fragile things in?

    I find that your speculation about “Sequence 44 Alpha” as a part of Jones’ chart makes sense. Hadn’t thought about that. Seeing the screenshot of the chart Jones kept in her room I wonder why she sent a test subject to 1991.

    I’m so sorry about the revelation that Scotch can’t stop the apocalypse. At least you were trying. Now you can drink it for enjoyment. ;)

    I love your globe sightings. Being too busy with live-tweeting or just flailing with emotions I never notice the small stuff. LOL

    Now we know where Max has been the whole time. She never left. ;) But… R.I.P. Max. You will be sorely missed. :(

    1. Loops within larger loops. That's interesting Eileen.

      I can see how the smaller loops can be fixed but didn't Jennifer intimate the larger loop couldn't be fixed, i.e. the plague itself? I swear Cole and Jones had a conversation about what is fixable and what is not. It made my mind spin and wondered why they are trying at all.

      I would say this actually gives credence to my "Hannah" timeline. She must be one of the smaller fixable loops that Jones is only interested in. Which, of course, means Jones has been playing everybody for a sucker just to save Hannah and curing the plague for everyone else is just a ruse.

      She's evil! I love it! It doesn't diminish my TV crush on her either because all the Scotch will smooth thing over. What an amazing cure all! Well, except for trivial things like a global apocalypse.

      Will Cole be able to kill Ramse? Boy, that is a tough one. An accidental death? Someone intervenes and kills Ramse? Jennifer did say Ramse will be his friend again so maybe he will die for Cole. Jen also said death had cause and effect. So Ramse's death will help to set things right. In theory.

      The red leaves are a mystery. Was the Witness there at one point to make the leaves turn red or is Cole "The Witness?"

      Pah! Wouldn't that be funny. One of the after effects of splintering turns you into a "trans-dimensional being." Sounds interesting but I really hope it doesn't happen.

      I thought ever since Cole taught Cassie how to shoot it would come back to haunt him. Incidences like this are in the TV bylaws and rules.

      So you think SW and PM let Cassie run off? It's hard to remember. I thought she made a dash for it because of some distraction. In one timeline she dies while trying to escape and in the next, Cole and Aaron rescue her. So why risk killing her if she is so important?

      Yeah, I guess you're right about the Spearhead box. She must have brought it with her.

      Yes! I've been wondering about the 1991 date also. It doesn't have any strings extending from it but there is one from 1987 to the space '91 should have extended to. My thinking is '91 was a failed year and the original splinter subject died there. Maybe the '87 subject will be able to pick up from there.

      I tried the live tweeting thing back in my Fringe days. Too distracting. I need total concentration!

      Yeah, poor Max. Maybe she'll be fixed in a small loop.

  3. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the post. The only thing I am certain about with regard to this show is that I'm going to have to re-watch it all when the season is over. Every interaction is so laden with extra meaning and teasing it all out is a lot of fun. That said, like Fringe, all the crazy works because the characters are compelling. I wish I had some profound insight to offer or a cool theory, but I'm just enjoying the ride.

    Keep pondering, Lynne

    1. Well Lynne, it is good to have you aboard.

      There has been some criticism in other quarters that 12M has been a bit fast and loose with their time travel. I'm a string theory guy myself and they don't seem to be creating multiple timelines/universe. They seem to be in the straight time line camp that loops within itself. I'm fine with that. It's all theory anyway and I'm happy to be along for the ride.


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