12 Monkeys: Season 3 Trailer Breakdown

Season three of 12 Monkeys is right around the corner.  To whet our appetites, we got a nice little teaser.  It offers us some tantalizing clues and brings us up to speed as to where we left off.

So without further ado, let's dive in and see what it tells us.

We start with a voice over from Dr. Jones.  There are several quick cuts detailing Cole being sent back, "Primary" art work and the machine being fired up.

Perhaps oddly, Dr. Jones says, "Three years ago I sent a traveler back in time to change history."

I say, "oddly" because at this point, for them, time may have lost all meaning.  What are "three years" to them when their travels span decades in a blink of an eye?

I suppose Dr. Jones is our touchstone in time.  While events swirl around her and people come and go, she remains the bedrock for all that has played out.  

Okay, not so oddly after all.

The Tuning Fork


One of the first "teases" for this trailer is the traveler Cole standing in front of what seems to be the shattered windows of the Raritan facility.    

As the teaser progresses we find Cole in an expanded view standing amidst the  ragged ruins of a decimated city.  Perhaps Times Square or the nexus of some sprawling but dead metropolis.

It has a distinct post apocalyptic look to it.

The first image isn't necessarily related to the second.  Although they may be approximate.  It could be Cole moved on from the "Raritan" like scene to the city much later on.

There is one constant in each picture though.  The "Tuning fork" in his left hand.

What is it?  The spear of destiny?  Perhaps it really is a tuning fork of sorts wherein Cole uses it to divine something.

What is he looking for?  Something the fork can electronically pick up or maybe sense vibration with?  Is it sensitive to radiation?

Can it pick up the after effects of time travel?

Where did Cole get this "Fork"?

Was it something created by Jones to stay "In tune" with time despite the efforts of The Witness and his "Time bombs"?  (For more of my time bomb theory follow the link here.) 

Does the Fork somehow diffuse the Time Bombs?

A Swirl of Pictographs  

As we move on, images swirl before us and Dr. Jones continues with her mission statement to save the future from the Army of the 12 Monkeys and it's prophet, The Witness.

Prophet?  He seemed more god-like to me.

Anyone that can control the destiny of time looks to be a deity if they have that much power.  A prophet suggests someone that answers to or speaks for a higher power.

Perhaps Dr. Jones is speaking loosely in that The Witness is a prophet because he has a "vision" for the future.

The above image has an individual within a spiral of pictographs.  What do these symbols mean?  Who is the individual?

If I were to guess I would say it is Emily Hampshire's Jennifer Goines.  Has Jennifer lost her mind again and the symbols she sits amidst are the rantings of a lost soul?

Knowing her character, even in an unhinged state, these symbols must have meaning.  But why is she sitting in the center?  Does she provide the key to this puzzle?  Does her Primary status afford her some special power?

Maybe she is the "Counter Prophet" to The Witness.


Dr. Jones continues with, "But as fate would have it, we were hunting the wrong man."


"The man behind the apocalypse is my son" intones Cole.

Do these statements go together or is there a canard in play?

When Jones makes her statement the screen flashes to the name of James Cole on the map.  Does this suggest Jones and her group should have been hunting Cole all along?  It doesn't seem likely but it's possible.

Cole admits to Cassie the "apocalypse bringer" is his son and he is known to be The Witness.  We all know him to be the mastermind behind this epic time war.  We also know he needs to be stopped.  So why would Jones say they were hunting the wrong man?

Is she speaking of another player such as The Pallid Man or the new character that is his father?

Extra-Pallid Man?

Several scenes flash by and Jones continues by saying, "This whole time it's been about them."

One of the scenes that flash by is the above frame.

Jennifer stands before a young boy and in the background is a red cryptogram that we know as the symbol of The Witness.

So when Jones says, "it's been about them the whole time" it's probable she is referring to Cassie and Cole.  Several quick cuts of the two in this teaser buttress this.

So, it's not a leap to infer the symbol above is two figures joined together (Cassie and Cole) making one which is The Witness.  How's that sound?


We are afforded a quick look at Christopher Lloyd who is known to play The Pallid Man's father.

But this is followed by Cole lamenting, "If there's something wrong with him, he got it from me."

Cole as Damaged Goods

The above image of Cole with a gun coupled with the actual Cole aiming his gun at someone zips by.

Is this what he's lamenting about?  His proclivity for violence and death to solve all of his problems?

Cole may think the apple that is his son, The Witness, hasn't rolled too far from his tree, Cole himself.  That is why The Witness wants to remake time through an apocalypse.  

Because death is the only answer and he learned it from his father!

If true, a pretty sad and damning indictment on Cole as a father.

Also, in the above drawings we see Cole amidst a swirl of pictographs much like the one we saw Jennifer sitting among.

How are these images related?

Are these images just symbolic of the "swirl" of time that Cole and Jennifer find themselves in? Or do the pictographs have true meaning that must be deciphered by the two in order to extricate themselves from the vortex they find themselves in?

Caged Up

The ever inscrutable "Striking Woman" comes in with a mysterious line, "The very edge of time, an inch from falling over."  Here's hoping Alisen Down's "Olivia" gets an action sequence or two this year.  We've seen her throw a mean hatchet in her down time so let's see what she can do in a fight sequence.

Above, she seems to be caged up.  I have a sneaking suspicion this has something to do with Kirk Acevedo's Ramse.  The two were reunited at the end of season two and I have a feeling it didn't "feel so good" to him.  

Perhaps he has the upper hand on her this time.


Either way, the equally confined Jennifer Goines retorts, "Stop talking like a super villain." 

If Olivia is inscrutable then Jennifer is just plain enjoyable.  Emily Hampshire's delivery is edgy-nervous but still spot on pop culture cool.  Love her.

The Mask and Vests


Ah, but in between the clever repartee of Jennifer and Olivia we get a quick look at Cassie approaching the Witness mask.

This is where the trailer ramps up the action.

"Don't make me put you down" snarls Jones.

"They're coming" gasps Jennifer

"Go!" commands Deacon.  (BTW, he's the new Nine Lives Cat of the show.)


Cassie's "Motherhood" is reinforced with a couple of quick cuts including one of an apparent delivery scene.  

12 Monkeys newcomer Hannah Waddingham growls, "You can't have him" which I take to mean the infant Witness.  

Her picture above shows her in the same garb as these fellows.

They all seem to be wearing the same vest which is be-dotted with lights.  Is she an "Agent of Time" like the Bowler wearing dudes?  (Or the could be wearing Homburgs.)   Are they some sort of Palace Guard for The Witness?  Or, preferably, are they all part of the delivery team for The Witness' "Time Bombs"?

In the promo poster for season 3 Cole is wearing the same garb and I call it a vest because he seems to be wearing the same overcoat he is wearing in his "Tuning Fork" picture way above.  Only the gloves have changed from finger-less to full fingered.

What has Cole gotten himself into?

The Witness Revealed


At last, at last, at last the moment we've been waiting for.  The Witness confrontation with Cassie and Cole, his parents.


"Mother, Father, after all this time."

And who are you kind sir?

Kidding.  In all probability this is the voice of The Witness.  To invoke probability again, that's James Callis speaking.  It is an English accent we hear and Callis was born in London.


If Callis isn't The Witness then I'll guess I'll have to commence munching on my Bowler.  That would be quite the sleight of hand to cast Callis and not make him The Witness.

So why is The Witness in a church?  Why is he standing over a coffin?  The church itself seems perfectly intact.  Nothing post-apocalyptic here.  So either Cassie and Cole have found The Witness somewhere in time or big W loves his cathedralesque recreations.  Does he fancy himself a deity as I alluded to earlier and this place of worship is dedicated to him?

What about the coffin?  Is there someone in it?  Or will someone be in it soon?  A sacrifice perhaps?

(If you want to get weird, The Witness is looking down at the body of himself.  He is a time traveler after all.  Oh, wait, he's prepared a funeral because he knows Cassie and Cole have come to kill him.  How grandiose.) 

It's hard to tell but Cassie and Cole look to be wearing overcoats.  When we finally see the reverse angle of this scene will they be wearing the same vest the Time Agents and Hannah Waddingham are sporting?  

It's hard to tell if The Witness is wearing one of the vests.  Probably not.  I posited earlier the vests may allow the wearer to slip through time.  Perhaps the vest also allows the wearer to move through time without an injection.  

It makes you wonder why Cole would wear a vest since he's a veteran traveler.  Maybe he and Cassie are just impersonating agents to gain access to their son. 

The man whom we think is The Witness begins to remove his mask.  

But wait, that's just an ornamental mask.  Nothing as sophisticated as the mask we normally see The Witness wearing.

No tubes or pipes.  Nothing to suggest it has any functionality at all.

What gives?

Well, if he did recreate a church to honor himself perhaps he imbued with an atmosphere that he could tolerate without all the tubes etc.  The mask Cassie comes across earlier in the trailer seems to have tubes running to and fro.  So this is a real mystery.

We don't get to see much of his face but the portion we do isn't scarred or otherwise deformed.  So I guess the mask isn't designed to hide a disfigurement.  At least not from the chin down.

The hand is gloved though.  There seems to be gloves aplenty in 12 Monkeys.

There is nothing sophisticated in the appearance of the gloves.  Just normal dress gloves.  Perhaps they suggest a phobia or two.

Not wanting to be touched or to touch anything.  Maybe The Witness is a germaphobe.  Anyone that would go to all the trouble of changing time and remaking the world would have to be concerned with it's current state until he could remake it to suit his own needs.  

I'd like to think The Witness is an Edgar Allan Poe fan.

Earlier in the trailer we get to see Cassie and Cole enter a very stylish ball.  A setting Poe once used in "The Masque of Red Death."  Perhaps The Witness fancy's himself as a bringer of death much like the character in Poe's story.

In the above picture where The Witness is removing a reddish ornamental mask.  So maybe that is the connection.  It could be he is attending the same Ball as Cassie and Cole too.  A Ball that looks decidedly 17th or 18th century.  

Is that the setting for the cathedral also?  Do they finally track him down in the distant past instead of the apocalyptic future?


Phew!  That's a lot to digest.  But some interesting points have been raised.

  • The nature of Cole's "Tuning Fork."
  • Spirals and pictographs, real or symbolic?
  • Jennifer as the "Counter Prophet."
  • The nature of The Witness Symbol.
  • Ramse turning the tables on Olivia?
  • Time vests?
  • Is The Witness a germophobe?
  • Is he found back in time and not the future?
  • Is he a creepy Poe fan?

Well, if he is a Poe fan let's hope Cassie and Cole have read "The Cask of Amontillado".  A brick wall in time might prove a little handy!



  1. How on earth can anyone (ie you) get so much from a one minute trailer? I'm confused before even watching!! Oh, those "caged" pictures...looks to me like the caged person is looking out at Jennifer and Striking Woman. If caged is imprisoned then Striking woman would not be smiling. Looking forward to series and your dissections,

    1. So much from from a one minute trailer? Deep study my friend. Deep study. Plus, I'm a geek. That counts for a lot.

      I think they are imprisoned Linda. Olivia would be smiling no matter what. I think she likes playing the role of a super villain. Plus, I bet she has a card up her sleeve.

      This picture seems to be from the past too. (Whatever counts as the past in this show.) No grey hair for The Striking Woman. When she met up with Ramse in the last episode she looked decidedly older. (But, still striking!)

      More dissections to come. Thanks Linda!


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