12 Monkeys - Season 3 Postscript

*Warning, spoilers for season three of 12 Monkeys to follow*

What a triumph.

Season three of 12 Monkeys subverted all of our usual expectations for this this show.  It flipped the narratives both large and small and basically left us wanting for more.

I thought it was genius.

I've been known to gush here and there about properties I love. But I have been tougher on 12 Monkeys the TV show because it is predated by a beloved cinematic property.

Well, you can toss that reserved reverence out the window.  12 Monkeys the TV show owned this past season. 

There was a movie?


The working title for this blog post was, "pancakes" because what do you do with pancakes?  You flip them.  12 Monkeys managed to flip the narrative we'd grown so used to, so effectively and so many times, that they left us wonderfully disoriented by it's end.

Let's take a look at some of the more serious pancakes that were flipped.

  • The Witness as a good guy.  Anyone see that one coming?  A living breathing human being with a beating heart.  Someone that found love and fought tenaciously to keep it.  Not the skulking monster hell bent on death and the destruction of mankind.
  • How about this biggie, one "Witness" replacing another.  A palace coup was orchestrated and the original Witness, son of Cassie and Cole, was unseated by the embittered Olivia.  This sent me reeling as I had to think back on all the Witness sightings and try to figure out who was who.  Even Olivia wasn't aware of her future travels to the past.  
  • The "adopted" son of Dr. Jones that was Cole, being replaced by Deacon as her new favorite hit man.
  • Moreover, a new "Hit Squad" formed by Jones comprised of Deacon and Hannah to not only hunt down the Witness but to eliminated Cassie and Cole!
  • How about that little shocker to open the season with Jennifer trapped in the past only to find Jones and Cole were not looking for her and didn't see her as an important part of the team.  (That really set my teeth on edge.)
  • There is the small matter of Cole killing Ramse.  They've been at odds before but murder?  Will he undo it?  
  • Olivia's comparatively minor flip (in hindsight) of joining Team Splinter and unseating Jennifer and gaining Dr. Jones' trust.
I'm sure there were many more but these represent some of the more stunning flapjacks that crossed our mental palates.

A Killer Closing

12 Monkeys had a stellar season overall but it really went out with a bang.  The last three episode were particularly good and set the tone for the following season.  

Episode 8, "Masks", was my favorite of the season.  I have a fondness for the work of Edgar Allan Poe.  So, when I saw Cassie and Cole dressed up for a ball in period costume during the season three teaser, my mind immediately to "The Masque of Red Death". 

I was not disappointed.  Poe's story deals with a plague and what better environment than to have The Witness make his grand debut.  Cassie had sussed out as much when she explained the scenario to Cole.

Try as I might, I pored over the ballroom scene to see if I could spot the Witness.  The was one particular guest in the deep background that wore a plague mask but it was not to be.  As we were to find out, The Witness really did wear a mask of death as he appeared at the end of the episode.  (See immediately below.)

Additionally, It was a pleasure to see Rupert Graves as Athan's (The Witness) mentor, Sebastian.  Graves is so likeable and he climbs into every role he takes as fans of Sherlock know.  His role as mentor started the process of humanizing The Witness which was one of the great flips of the season and it segued into the next great episode.

"Masks" was a great title too.  In psychological terms, it refers to the persona people are will to project to others but really doesn't represent their true selves.  This was never more evident than the confrontation at the ball when Jones and her group confronted Cassie and Cole and each side had to divulge their true feelings.  Love and betrayal were quite evident.  
By the way, how cute did Hannah look without her battle makeup.  I didn't recognize her at first! 

The Ball itself was a terrific metaphor (as Poe intended) as the rich and privileged sought to insulate themselves from the world while death secretly moved among them.

Episode 9, "Thief" was another great episode.

Imagine, The Witness humanized!  What a coup it was to cast James Callis.  I was trying to think of the right word that describes his onscreen persona.  Or at the very least how he communicates his sense of humor.  I think I found the right word.


  By definition, "A curious and unusual way that provokes dry amusement."  He was perfect.

There are the subtleties of his expressions.  The slight head tilt.  The eye roll.  The half smile tinged with exasperation.  All pure gold.

As seen above, he's got a great way of delivering a line too.

What a terrific pairing with Claire Cooper too.  I need to see more of her.  Maybe I should catch up on Crackle's "Snatch".  (Although she's only in 7 out of 10 episodes so she is obviously being under-utilized!) 

The quick witted and rapier sharp repartee between the two was a joy.

This episode was significant because we got to know what made The Witness tick.  I was recently on an episode of The Fangirl Zone Podcast and we briefly discussed the title, "Thief".  Sure there were references on how time was a thief and how Eliza stole to finance her medical operation but one that had the most meaning to me was how Eliza stole Athan's heart.

Yes, a beating heart that could be broken at a very personal level.  I've always wondered at what motivated The Witness to pursue his vengeful act against humanity.  Now we all know.  As it turns out, that singular instance of heartbreak led to that slight crack in the door where his parents could reach him.  

Episode 10, "Witness".  What an ending.  Did anyone see that coming?  I did.  About a year ago.  What did I do with this little gem of prescience?

Not much.

I always thought The Witness could be a woman.  I think it was the cloak.  It was hiding more than an identity,  It was hiding a gender.  Here were my thoughts from back in April 20, 2016,

"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."

I had the biggest of clues in front of me and I took a different direction.  (Jennifer instead of Olivia but at least I was right about Jennifer feeding them false information.) I've gone back since then to look for that teaser trailer and I can't find it.  I saved three of them on YouTube but none of them show Olivia's face evolving.  Strange.  You can read my whole blog post on "The Year of the Monkey" at the link.

So now that we know Olivia is the once and future Witness, let's take a look at that sequence together.  I kept in the subtitles to make it easier to follow along.  (Yes, the video is a little rocky but not bad.)


Super informative. 

I wanted to come up with a blog post to try and separate all the times we've seen the "Olivia Witness" versus the "Athan Witness".  But now I have a feeling most of them are Olivia.  Especially the ones that include the breathing apparatus connected to the mask etc.  

Sure, some might be of Athan especially the one from "Meltdown".

I say this must be the "Athan Witness" because he is sharing the same room with Cassie.  (It's the hotel room and she is out of frame.)  If you look closely, we see a fuzzy pair of dots, one red and one blue, along the torso of The Witness.  The time travel vest seems to be the preferred conveyance of Athan.  Plus, if this was Olivia, why doesn't she just throttle Cassie there and then?  

Athan said he needed Olivia to ensure his own creation.  I'm assuming he means his creation as "The Witness" and not just being born. 

Does it have to be the other way around?  In other words, does Olivia need Athan to be "The Witness"?  Can't she just create her own cycle independent of Cole, Cassie and their "procreation"?  Hard to say.  Some rules in 12 Monkeys are inviolable and others aren't.

Either way, there is something wrong with the Olivia Witness.

I have the above still from the episode and knowing how 12 Monkeys love their shades of red and blue I figured this was just for dramatic purposes.  But, after watching the video a few times her face seems to be pulsating with red.

Now I'm think poor Olivia may have been time traveling a bit too much and the tubes or breathing apparatus are needed to keep her going because she's making herself sick.

An alternative theory would be, the Red Forest of the future may have a different atmosphere and she needs the gear to breath the air we've normally grown accustomed to.

Either that or she's started down the plague path again she'd rather not succumb to it her self.

Tinfoil hat theory time.  Sometimes I wonder if she is prepping herself to be "Patient Zero".  Why not?  Make herself sick and start a new cycle and bury her dead self in the Himalayas.

Sounds like a plan. 

Here's something funny.

As Olivia pulls off the mask we hear the sound of an infant crying in the background.  Terry Matalas rightfully chastised us for not picking out that little Easter Egg.

So, first thought, Olivia has a child of her own.  The cycle must continue and she needs an heir.  Good thinking O, keep the cycle going with your own offspring.


The child created eventually becomes Patient Zero.  Wow, real good planning Olivia.  Cynical and grim but good planning!

But, hold on there's more!

Maybe, just maybe, the sound of that crying infant is a clue the season four appearance of Cole's mother.


We got a big clue to her reappearance at the end of this episode.

The note that Cole's dad reads to him is from Cole's mother.  There is a picture of a "Ouroboros" on it.

The Ouroboros is also featured in the scene between Athan and Jennifer and leads off the season four trailer.  

Cole's mother must figure heavily into this new part of the 12 Monkeys mythology.  If she's the one that introduced it to Cole through the note and we're seeing so much of it now, then maybe the crying infant from the video and the one Olivia refers to in the picture above is really Cole.

"Only the mother could find the son" isn't just a reference to Cassie finding Athan.  It's a clue to Marion finding her son again. 

Phew, that's a lot.  Time for a report card.

Season Three Report Card

You know, I had made out a 12 Monkeys report card for season 2 but I never published it.  I tinkered with it for a while and then let it sit on the proverbial shelf for far too long.  It never made it to the digital universe.

That's too bad because I wanted to make special mention of Aaron Stanford's work.  The lead off for the season 2 report card was this, "A for Aaron" and it applies for this year also.

"A" for Aaron

There was a particular scene near the end of last season.  Cole and Cassie were holed up in the House of Cedar and Pine.  Tension was simmering and finally Cassie blurted out, "Coward".  I thought that was pretty harsh (Cass also called her son, Athan, "nothing" at the end of this season.  Very harsh from a mother even though she qualified it moments later.)  Stanford's reaction was priceless.  

The very first minutiae of facial reaction sells it.  Cassie's words hurt and he fought back.  But, the initial sting was still there.

When Cole found out The Witness was his son this season and how he feared Athan had learned all the wrong lessons from his father, you could see how he was anguished.

Crushed even.

Great work by Stanford.  Go for an A+ this year buddy.  ;)

T for Todd

What is it you say?  There is no "T" letter grade?  Well then, how about T for terrific?

I had feeling early on "12 Monkeys" fell in love with Todd Stashwick the way Orphan Black fell in love with Ari Millen.  He may or may not have been part of the long term plans.  But there was now way they could do without him once he began to contribute.

What's not to love?  Stashwick's enthusiasm is infectious on and off camera.  Anyone who's seen his dance video just before the last San Diego Comic Con knows what I mean.  

You get an "A" Todd.  Glad you're on the show.

Alisen Down should get special mention too.  

The Striking Woman has always been a joy to behold.  But this season, given the chance, she took the ball and ran with it.  Behold the new Witness.

Two things come to mind from this past season.  One, her stuttering reaction to being told she's the Witness by Athan in the above video and then there's this....

Ha, ha, ha!  So funny.  Brilliant too.  "A" for Alisen.  Well done.

Of course, since we saw the indispensable Emily Hampshire in the video above also, I have to make mention of her incredible turn from the very first episode.  Someone should steer this young lady towards show biz.  ;)

Her little stage act to garner attention from the future was downright incredible.  Then there was the hurt when she realized Cole and Jones weren't there for her.  

Ouch, I was hurt too.  Never do that to Emily/Jennifer again.  An "A" for Emily.

Overall, the show gets an "A" too.  Kudos to Terry Matalas, Sean Tretta and all their crew.  Your show will be deeply missed once it's gone.  (Don't go too fast!)

Everyone else did stellar work too.  From the enchanting Amanda Schull, to my favorite Barbara Sukowa, (I wonder why she doesn't answer my fan mail?) to Brooke Williams and Kirk Acevedo.  You guys rock.  Oh, and, Scottie Thompson too.  You better find any way to to bring her and Jay Karnes back Terry.  I just saw Acevedo's workout video on Twitter yesterday. He says he's ready to give you a beating.  We're holding the leash for now!

A+ work from all.

So that's it.  Is there more?  Of course there is!  I have a season Four teaser trailer to dissect.  

Not now though. 

I think I've gone long enough.  Sorry for the late, late posting.  See you soon!

(Apologies for the odd font/size changes here and there.  That's "Blogger" for you.  It drives me crazy.)


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