The year of the monkey is upon us.
12 Monkeys made its long awaited return Monday night and to put it into a little context, Cassie managed to make it back from the year 2044 after spending 8 months trapped in the future while the show itself took 53 weeks for its long awaited return.
Where's a time machine when you need one???!!!
Fortunately, it was worth the wait.
One of the great strengths of this show, if not its greatest strength, is its diverse and talented cast of characters. As much as I like time travel, action set pieces and a little romance here and there, its the characters that drive this show. And, as important as saving humanity from an apocalyptic plague is, seeing this calamity from the perspective of our core group and how they react to it is what I missed the most.
Everyone handles catastrophe differently. Whether its dancing on the edge of sanity, to naked savagery or even sainted grace. No one is the same.
So as we are reintroduced to the world of 12 Monkeys I thought it might be interesting to recap this first episode of season two from the perspective of the main characters. To catch up on where they've been and see how they've adapted and developed as people in the face of unrelenting doom.
The Buddy Cops
I can't be the first one to think of these two not only as crime fighters but as partners in crime as well. Our tale picks up three months after the incident at the original time machine. (Did I say original? Hard to tell!) The Starsky and Hutch of the splinter set are still walking the beat.
Its apparent Ramse still harbors a grudge. The fate of his son still rubs him raw. Yet, he can't separate himself from the man who came back for him. He playfully chafes at the "Old Man" jibes Cole blithely tosses his way but he can't let go of the bitter fate that awaits his boy. He teeters at walking away from Cole but there is too much at stake and their shared past/future too important.
For his part, Cole is actually the person I was referring to when I mentioned "grace" above. The burden of Ramse's son's fate weighs heavily on him. Despite rescuing Ramse twice now, including putting a bullet into Dr. Benjamin Kalman, (thanks for the cup of coffee Brendan Coyle) he looks to separate himself from Ramse but just can't find the strength to do it.
There is a certain psychological balance that looks to conflict Cole this season. He can't bear to face Ramse knowing he's doomed his son but he can't continue the mission without him. He knows he needs to stop Jennifer from spreading the plague yet there is a sympathy he holds for her and he can't bring himself to simply shoot her. Now the greatest weight of them all has been thrown in his lap.
When Cassie suddenly reappears he now finds himself at odds with the woman he's sought to protect over the decades and whose emotional investment clearly spells out an attachment that can be simply defined as love.
Now they are holding a gun at each other.
Aaron Stanford has a lot to work with this year. This could actually be his breakout season as a professional actor. For his character of Cole, he will be walking on the razor's edge. One misstep could destroy all he's worked for. A man with one leg in the future and the other in the past stands to lose all. You have to know the delicate balance he seeks to preserve can't last forever and he'll forced to make a decision that may upset time itself.
"What have I become?"
Cassie hasn't said that yet but it is coming. Once a healer and dedicated scientist now finds herself as the warrior. What happened in those eight months she spent in the future? We got some interesting clues.
She made a deal with the devil in Deacon for her survival. She sought to leverage his condition with Wilson's disease and ended up holding a knife for him and killing one of the "Messengers." She immediately found herself allied with the "West 7" a group she's familiar with through Cole and must know as a force for destruction.
Deacon calling her "Hon" is slight evidence to a future romance between the two but he did make those, "hello gorgeous" eyes when he first saw her. They now have common ground in saving the future and she is beholden to him with her promise to cure his affliction. As the two work closely together whose to say a different type of relationship might evolve. Perhaps a little of Deacon's brutal warrior spirit has rubbed off on her judging by her willingness to hold a gun on Cole as the episode drew to a close.
What have you become indeed Cassandra Railly?
I loved that evil cackle from Dr. Jones when she partially sent one of the blue man group into the past. (I had this nightmare vision of him being sent back to a Papa John's sauce factory, wherein I would have to swear off pizza forever.)
Aside from that, Dr. Jones said something distressing to Cassie upon her regaining consciousness. She had asked her it must have been difficult shooting Ramse with her being a doctor and all. When Cassie replied "Not really." Jones responded, " That's good, grieving over who we were only gets in the way of who we need to become."
The obvious parallel here is, Dr. Jones used to be a person of healing and a dedicated scientist. Now we have Cassandra Railly with a similar background and ethic who is seemingly following the same path as Jones.
The lack of remorse is the most stunning trait here. We've seen Jones' bloodthirsty tendencies before. That isn't news. Seeing her move farther and farther away from the woman who, in her quietest moments, tenderly embraced the "Hannah" baby blanket is what I find most distressing.
Okay, distressing might be a little hyperbolic.
I did an interview with Terry Matalas (shameless plug) and I brought up the subject of Jones and Hannah (read it here) he did say she would be evolving but Hannah would always be a big motivation. I sure hope so because I want to see that moral tug of war that takes place internally and externally. Especially how it impacts Cassie and the eight months she had to spend there under Jones' tutelage.
I don't have a lot to say about Deacon. At one time I thought he was going to be the 12 Monkey's version of the Walking Dead's "Negan." But it doesn't look as though they will head in that direction. Cassie seems to have softened him a bit. Of course, self preservation has a lot to do with his motivation. Now that he is actually allied with Jones and Cassie, as evidenced by him shooting the Messenger's head honcho (poncho?) and the time machine obviously being repaired, it looks as though there is a united front in the future. It would stand to reason he would have a hardening influence on Cassie and in turn she may have a softening one on him.
We've got a lot of catching up to do in those eight months!
Ah, "The Striking Woman." If Jones can have that evil cackle then Olivia can have her malevolent purr. I really dig it. She could whisper in my ear I was going to have a crucial body part of mine removed and I would respond, "Okaaay."
The above frame shows her when everything does not go her way. Once again her cherished "Witness" has proven to be wrong. What's it like when "Everything that is written" goes awry? Methinks she puts too much stock in the now fallible "Witness." (O for 2 in this episode?)
When her assistant (Olivier from Orphan Black!) approaches her in the car right at the end of the bridge scene he tells her what she is doing goes against the will of the Witness. She just snaps, "Just do it."
Interesting. Another character with their faith shaken. How long will Olivia toe the company line now that time has proven to be malleable?
Speaking of the hooded wonder. Here is Mr. Fallible now. Or is it Ms.?
Cassie's earliest scenes were inter-cut with Witness flashbacks or visions. Do they have a psychic connection or is she the witness? There was also a season 2 teaser where The Striking Woman's face eventually evolved into the Witness. So, we are either getting clues that the Witness is really a woman or one of the two aforementioned is the Witness.
I should add, if it is a woman, who would blow us away by being revealed as the eventual Witness?
I'd say so. Since the Witness has proven to be unreliable it make me wonder if big W is really playing a double game. Could the new witness really be Jennifer and she is deliberately feeding the Army bad info?
I like it.
The Witness has taken on several guises. From that World War One gas mask breather to that metallic like masked foe like the Nazgul from the Lord of the Rings in the teaser. It makes me think there is more than one Witness. Well, maybe there is just one at a time. But I think the role or inhabitant is ever changing. Now I have to work what it takes to become a Witness.
Hmm, I like that too.
So who does that leave?
Of all our conflicted characters Jennifer is perhaps the most torn.
She at once wants to carry out the plague and at the same time be stopped. She ran from Cole when she saw him in Chinatown and then was relieved to be caught so he could finally end her.
Same too for her speed dating experience. She spills the beans to poor Gary and then offers up a gun so he can shoot her. Too bad she's too hot to kill. (Face palm.)
Oh, and speaking of that speed dating scene, take a look at the ceiling decoration in the above picture. Don't those hangings kind of look like red leaves? To me, they evoked images of the Red Forest. So, perhaps a subtle clue of the Witness' influence or if you want to carry it further, a clue that Jennifer will one day become the Witness. Or a Witness. Or one of many Witnesses. (I'm hoping for one at a time but as a revolving role.)
Emily Hampshire was promoted to a series regular right after the end of last season so her Jennifer will have a lot to do this season. We know she can provide comic relief and she will surely act as a divisive force. I'm hoping also she can provide a touch of pathos too. Her reaction to the massacre at Markridge was one of deep despair and I'm sure it touched everyone.
Odds and Ends
We got our first look at Scottie Thompson's Vivian Rutledge. Like the other Army of the 12 Monkeys Messengers, she was coated with a blue paste that was rubbed off before she time traveled. There was some sort of ceremonial chant they uttered also that mentioned ash. (Should have written it down.) So I wondered if this blue paste was part ash. Is it a protectorant? Does the ash refer to what's left of the world post apocalypse? Or was there another cataclysmic event that involved ash? Something nuclear or volcanic? It could all be symbolic or ceremonial but it did have to come off before she traveled. I suppose you can't exactly blend in when you're covered in blue.
Vivian Rutledge was also a character from the 1946 film, "The Big Sleep." She was played by Lauren Bacall who was opposite Humphrey Bogart for the film. It was a noirish flick so that certainly fits for 12 Monkeys. It can get very dark at times. Plus, we know that 12 Monkeys will be headed for the 1940's so that works too. Bacall often played the femme fatale so I would imagine Scottie Thompson's role will be quite similar also. You know, attractive but nothing but trouble and perhaps quite deadly.
The Big Sleep was a detective drama and 12 Monkeys often plays that way too. Is Cole going to play the role of Phillip Marlowe? (Bogie) Will he be seduced by Vivian? How will Cassie react to that?
Sigh, more conflict.
See you next week "at the movies" and have the popcorn ready!