Wednesday, April 27, 2016

12 Monkeys - Primary




Truer words were never spoken our young speed dating friend.

So, if being single is not the "end of the world" is it okay to have a partial apocalypse?  12 Monkeys took a bit of a chance by altering the rules of the game for the episode "Primary".   Certainly not a total makeover, but by letting this narrative genie out of the bottle you run the risk of changing the rules of the game anytime it feels convenient.

No doubt the people behind 12 Monkeys would argue nothing has changed.  After all, this is a time travel show and the set goal is to stop the apocalypse in the first place right?

Right.

I'm just saying you can only use this device a handful of times if that before people start tuning out because things have changed again.





I do think this does help things in the long run in terms of the lifespan of the show.  Adding the dimension of new foes gallivanting about the decades gives Cole and company a lot more to do.  Plus a partial victory is really no victory at all.  Now there will be plenty of time to lengthen the show.  The only danger is the show constantly reinventing itself to suit creative ideas.  

Terry Matalas says there is a plan so this must be part of the plan.  So let's take a look at what went on.


The Event


Through the powers of persuasion Cole managed to put an end to the bloodletting and put a match to the apocalypse.   Sort of.  Setting all the vials to flame only delayed the plague by a couple of years.  As was noted in the future, thousands were saved but it was an incomplete victory to be sure.  

That doesn't mean there wasn't a seismic change that rippled across the years.  Lights flashed and blinked, the earth seemed to shake and Dr. Jones found herself walking amidst so many human bees whirling about the hive.





I liked that one of her first instincts was to make sure her departed child was still a part of the timeline she lived in.  She was, albeit only as a memory.   Hannah's name flashed in and out during the event but in the end it remained stable.  Jones would not have to suffer losing her child twice.  I wonder what Jones would have been like if Hannah had disappeared completely.   Would she have gone on?  Would the battle be worth fighting still?  She's injected enough of the serum in herself, would she have traveled back in time to fix what went wrong or simply snatch the still living Hannah and bring her into the future?  Would the younger Katerina have a problem with that knowing her daughter would be safe?





This must be something the conflicted Ramse is also be dealing with.  The fear of losing his son while stuck in the past.  Then being yanked back into the future only to see his son used as as a bargaining chip.  Cassie seemed to have a sadistic grin on her face as she presented Sam to Ramse. 

Is she really that far gone?





Truer words were never spoken part two!

Can Ramse let Cassie live now that she's threatened his son?  It's better they're to be separated by time.  Then again, Deacon is still alive in the future and he is no friend of Ramse.  Especially after that little scene where Ramse rubbed salt in the wound of the distant past when Ramse witnessed the beating of Deacon's mother and called the cops for the weeping child Deacon.

Somebody has miscalculated here and this particular seismic wave will be felt in the near future I'm sure.

Just as an aside, young Sam was pretty stoic when presented to his father.  Maybe he was frightened but kids are impulsive and an outburst like, "Daaad!" would not have been surprising.  What else could have happened in that time change?





What affect did the "Event" have on the "be-snorkeled" one?

I began thinking of this in the context of last week's nuggets where things didn't go as prophesied.  The most glaring example of which was the gun fight on the bridge where Cole and Ramse managed to make their escape.  

"None of this was foreseen" muttered the downcast Olivia.

So, here's a thought, If Cole and the gang can set the time line aflame, who is to say those newly formed ripples would not upset the Witness apple cart?

How can you foresee things when the rules keep changing?

In last week's 12 Monkeys blog I posited the theory the reason the Witness has become fallible because there is, perhaps, more than one Witness.  Or perhaps there are successive Witnesses.  Or better yet, the Witness is someone we know like Jennifer and she is deliberately feeding bad information to the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

If the Witness' fallibility can be directly attributed to the changing time, well then, that solves that problem.  But, really, where is the fun in that?

Primary Colors





What a terrific scene in Room 607 between Cole and Jennifer.  

Also in last weeks blog post, I predicted this would be a break out acting year for Aaron Stanford.  So much to work with!  (Read that post here.)  No slight intended against Stanford, fans might argue he's already "made it".  I'm just saying I feel he has a lot more to work with this season and evolving as an actor should be every thespian's goal.

Take for example what he brought out of Emily Hampshire in this particular scene.  I've written at length about Hampshire's gift for comedy.  She can really bring the manic crazy to her character and now she can add anger to her repertoire.  How about that mirror smashing bit?  That worked on so many levels.  Not liking what she sees.  The duality of her personality.  Seeing that she might not be good enough for Cole and venting her jealousy over Cassie.



  


From the very beginning Cole has connected with Jennifer.  Somewhere deep down and swirling near the surface Jennifer knows this. 

It's just processing it that is difficult for her. 

Jennifer has a deep affection for Cole. He really gets her and has proven to be the only one that really does.  Now Hampshire has brought a new depth of sadness to her character.  It's clear her love for Cole is an unrequited one.  This pains her deeply.  Even when she refers to Cassie she haltingly refers to as "h-her" its just too much to refer to her by name.  A great bit of acting by Hampshire.  Anyone that has felt the sting of rejection felt her pain.


 
As far as being a "Primary" is concerned that's a tough one.  

We know Jennifer was fascinated with primary numbers when they walked into the Emerson Hotel.  When they got to the wrong room she began to freak out.  Once settled in room 607 she began to calm down.  (As much as Jennifer can calm down.)

She told Cole she was "Primary" and that Olivia told her she was, "important, special."  

"You can see the changes made in time, can't you."

"I am time."  "Your are time."

"I see everything.  The others like me.  The numbers.  607.  You.  Her."

All this cryptic to be sure.  It was hard to tell how much of this was Olivia's brain washing and or Jennifer's delusions.  I even thought when she said, "The others like me" and then "You."  "Her."  I thought she was lumping everyone together that had her special ability.  That is, to see the changes in time.  I don't think that anymore but it was a lot to digest.  Was Olivia just taking advantage of Jennifer's delusions and telling her what she wanted to hear?  Or does she really have some special power?  Is is it all number based?  That is, primary?  Does Jennifer have an internal algorithm wherein she can reduce everything to numbers and thereby have a special insight to time?

I kind of like that.  No magic.

Jennifer even prophesied the nature of Cole and Cassie's relationship.  Basically telling Cole that he and Cassie would mean the end of the world.   

That would be news.

Was that jealousy, delusional, or can Jennifer really see the future and Cole with Cassie equals a figurative mushroom cloud?

The one thing I can say about the "Primary" moment was that, this too serves to lengthen the life span of the show.  With Jennifer a major figure now and the possibility of her possessing special powers allows the show to deviate from the main mythology in order to focus on a certain player (Jennifer) and follow her story line.


Odd and Ends




In addition to the many things we learned in room 607 there was so much more.

In an odd twist of fate we learned that Cole was the inspiration for "The Daughters."  If not the inspiration, then that unusual society of women was formed perhaps in homage to him.

Cole talked Jennifer back from the ledge and in doing so seemingly broke the spell Olivia had over her.  He snapped her out of her manic delusion and instilled a sense of purpose in her. That purpose became the Daughters.

Even the delivery of that note was profound.  It managed to survive the past only to resurface in the future and be delivered back to the past like some sort of holy relic.

Naturally it was delivered by Cassie.  The one figure that has brought so much heartache to Jennifer.  Real and imagined.  Fitting I suppose.




More room 607 fun.

Take a look at the time on the clock as Cassie makes her appearance behind Cole.  10:05.





Here's the clock in the lobby when Cole and Jennifer first arrive.  A fun little Easter egg. 
Either time doesn't move there or there is a deeper meaning to it.  Something that we have yet to learn.

Or the maid just likes 10:05.






The other face of the Lobby clock did read 6:15 (or 5:15) so maybe there is something to the 10:05 thing.





We got a future look at Jennifer but this time without the Asian conical hat.  Seen above, she looks to be in mourning.  Uh-oh, who died?





Is there a Red Sox fan on the 12 Monkeys payroll?  Deacon's first two names are Theodore William or Ted Williams.  A stretch?  Ted Williams middle name was Samuel.  Ramse's son is named Sam.  See that?!!!





Good to see 12 Monkeys retained its sense of humor.  Dr. Lasky finds out he died in a previous time line.  He is much relieved to be alive in this one.  

Bringing back dead characters is fun but its dangerous.  You can only go to the well so many times.

And lastly.






So why did Cassie shed a few tears when presented with the 40's version of her and Cole?

The prospect of once again time traveling?  No.

Seeing herself and Cole as a couple when she already has someone waiting for her in the year 2044 like Ted William Deacon?  Quite possibly yes.






Hoo boy, see you next week!


Hey, if you like 12 Monkeys you should like Orphan Black.  I review that show also.  Here's the latest recap and review.

Orphan Black - Transgressive Border Crossing

I'll be doing Penny Dreadful soon too.




So much TV so little time!




Sunday, April 24, 2016

Orphan Black - Transgressive Border Crossing




So the worm has turned.  

It may have been all smiles when Sarah was reunited with Cosima and Scott to start the episode but by the end Sarah finds herself in virtually the same place as Beth.  That point being punctuated by seeing Beth in the clothes she wore when she went, ahem, "Trainspotting."

Sorry, two bad puns to start this post.

Like many of you I was stunned by the close of the episode.  Stunned in the sense of what the implications are in Sarah's discovery.  So let's get right to it and see what we can dig up.




Sarah makes the grim discovery the Neolutionists have embedded a worm in her.  Or, "Maggot-bot" as it was referred to in the episode.  As has been intimated, this does not bode well because at one time, the "Neos" had  Kira also.

Let's take a look at some of these implications.

  • Maggot-Bot as bio-tracker 

So does the little worm in Sarah's cheek serve as a bio-tracker?  In other words, is that how the Neos were able to track Sarah's location to Iceland?  My first impulse to seeing the Neos approaching Sarah's icy hideaway was that somebody talked.  Mika made the call to warn Sarah of the Neo's approach and, as we were to learn, it was because she was monitoring the Neos.

If it was a tracker, what took the Neos so long to track Sarah to her location?  Shouldn't it have been "pinging" all along?  The worm seems to be purely organic, nothing electronic that would be able to send a radio signal.  Unless, the worm is constructed something like a bird's brain or eye wherein it can sense the Earth's magnetic field in concert with it's night vision.

Birds are known to have a neural cluster that runs along the "dorsal surface of the brain and is adjacent to the visual pathway" this is called an "N cluster".  I'm not saying the worm could see where it was, but since it is biologically linked to Sarah it would be using her senses to discern where it is and then through the magnetic field of the Earth the Neos could triangulate where Sarah was. 

At least, that sounds like it would take much longer than a simple electronic bug in her system much like we just saw in the season two 12 Monkeys premier.  (For more "Bird brained" information follow the link.)


  • The Neolutionist Angle 

So why would the Neolutionists create a worm to embed into people?  

We know they are into "self-directed evolution".  They are into body enhancements and physical alterations and they seem to have a fascination into Projects Leda and Castor.  I began to wonder as the episode progressed if the worm acted as a sponge of sorts.  You know, absorbing all the information inside a clone, in this case Sarah, and extrapolating all the genetic information inside her for extraction later.

Especially valuable would be not only the clone information itself but the genetic abnormality that had allowed Sarah to become pregnant along with her "Sestra" Helena.

As far as embedding a worm into non cloned people, I can only assume this fits into their mantra of genetic alteration and perhaps there is genetic material within the worm that would leech into the host body and "enhance" them genetically with whatever code the worm contained. 

Extracting the worm was seen to be fatal as we were shown when Sarah pretended to be Mika and witnessed that video in the Neo night club.  It even gave itself a little wiggle when Mrs. S probed it with her finger.  Now that was creepy.




  •  Did Beth kill herself over this? 

As I mentioned earlier, Beth seems to be wearing the clothes she killed herself in.  We saw the flashback where Beth returned to her apartment and was confronted by M.K. (or Mika).  Beth was quite agitated and her hands were covered in blood.  This horrified Mika but Beth assured her it wasn't hers.  So whose blood was it and did she kill somebody?





I first suspected that Beth had killed Detective Duko her police union rep and Neolutionist co-conspirator.   We haven't seen Duko in any of the other Orphan Black seasons which leads me to believe he didn't survive past the "Beth" timeline.  Why would killing Duko lead Beth to taking her own life?  She said she had "screwed up" does that mean the killing of Duko was a mistake?  Would his death propel things in the wrong direction and actually make matters worse?  It could be she extracted information from Duko which allowed her discover an implant of her own and that led to her suicide.  Maybe all the worms are different and Beth's particular worm made life not worth living anymore.

I'm not completely comfortable with this scenario but aspects of it could turn out to be true.  Beth killing Duko shouldn't be enough for her to take her own life.  There are bodies dropping everywhere in this battle and she should have been able to cover up her complicity in his death.  (Cop tricks right?)  We don't know all the answers from that night yet but it seems Duko didn't survive it either and I'm sure we will get more answers in the next episode.




The "Maggot-bots" do seem to be individually oriented towards their host.  This was revealed when the two fake Para-medics from episode one of this season probed around in Sarah's mouth and determined it was her as opposed to another one of the clones or hosts.  That's a little spooky and maybe this had something to do with Beth killing herself.






Beth was studying the Neolutionists as evidenced by the Leekie book in her apartment.  With her knowledge of their philosophy, it could be she gained some knowledge of their experimentation and gained some insight that we, as the viewing audience, aren't privy to yet.  Piecing the puzzle together may have led to her suicide.






  •  How much does Mika know?
Mika is definitely the missing link to all of this.  She ominously passed on the warning to Sarah that pursuing the investigation will, "Kill you like it did Beth."  So the implication there is that Mika knows more about Beth's death than we do or Sarah does.  Well, perhaps not, she could be speaking in general terms.  But, knowing this show, probably not.
Mika seemed to only deal with Beth.  She was anguished over Beth and pleaded with her not to leave her as she saw Beth as her protector.  She only seems to come out of the woodwork now that Beth is gone and Sarah is creeping closer to the Neolutionist's  plan.  
I'm not sure why Mika would keep her distance from the rest of the Clone Club but it could have something to do with her hermit lifestyle and this particular lifestyle kept her far from the Neolutionist's nefarious plans.  Does this mean the rest of the clones may have a Maggot-bot in them?  They've all come in contact with the Neos in some way or shape.


Odds and Ends

 

Orphan Black could not have inserted this little Easter Egg as a homage to the passing of Prince this past week could they?  It was just a coincidence right?




Down another "Rabbit Hole" with Orphan Black!  Oddly enough the name of my local comic store is "Wonderland Comics."  Weird!






Cute how compassionate Donnie was with Helena at the clinic.





Sad how Fie seems to be distancing himself from everyone else as he doesn't feel part of the family anymore.  I think we all that coming from seasons past. 




How precious that Alison sees herself as a manslaughterer and not a murderer.


  

We then get to see her ample scissor collection.  Makes her seem rather "stabby" doesn't it?  Keep telling yourself you're just a manslaughterer Alison!




Hmm, a clone having identical twins.  So a clone essentially making a pair of clones. 

What could go wrong with that?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

12 Monkeys - Year of the Monkey




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.


Cassie
 



"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?


Dr. Jones





"Who's next?"

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

Deacon 

 
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!


Olivia

 
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?  

The Witness

 



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?

Jennifer Goines?

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?


Jennifer


 
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!