12 Monkeys first season being thirteen episodes long (A good length for a series -Ed), with the eighth episode we are approaching the closing act. It has, on the whole, been a remarkably well-paced piece of work.
My concerns around the conversion of a feature film into a TV series have evaporated as far as the story to showtime ratio is concerned. They have stretched the story without treading on the core of the original story.
The choice to primarily do this through the future setting was a good one, I feel. It’s left untapped in Gilliam’s film, and the series has created a world as real, vibrant and tense as the story in the past. It has also made very good use of supporting characters, fleshing them out into a real and believable chorus.
After the airstrike on Wexler’s Chechnyan hideout in the last episode, Cole is trapped in the rubble, with only a sick sounding Chechnyan girl and her father to help get him out. In the future, Jones’ attempt to bring him back fails, as the core becomes unstable, and she sends Ramse and Whitley to the base they used to live and work at, Spearhead. And Cassie tries to make sure that Cole’s body won’t found, and still unleash the virus.
So we knew that Cole would survive. This is, after all, episode eight out of 13. His being trapped in the rubble is a little implausible, but then again so is a time-travelling convict trying to stop an apocalyptic plague before it happens. He is on the back-burner this episode, though, trapped in a crumbly cave, waiting for rescue.
Which isn’t going to come from Jones. At least not immediately. That’s where the majority of this episode is. And we get another big insight into the world of the future. Mostly, Spearhead. This was the base where after the virus the political and military leaders holed up with the best scientific minds, looking for a cure. Which didn’t go too well. When they were about to give up, one of the military officers launched a coup, and rededicated the facility to finding a cure. And Jones and her faction left for “Project Splinter”.
So the reunion, when they need a spare part for the core, is a bit frosty. Foster is clearly a fanatic, of a religious bent rather than Deacon’s nihilist streak, but similar nonetheless. His and Jones’ sniping over each other’s solutions — and, to be blunt, a time travelling man is no less far-fetched than curing an ever-mutating virus.
Whitley, also, has a reunion with his father. Who is Foster’s head of security. And actually, the flashback shows us more: he was apparently in on the coup at the ground floor. There’s some good acting here, tense chemistry between the two in only a few scenes. Understated, and powerful.
Ramse also gets a reunion. Helena, the woman who got away, about whom he has waxed lyrical before, is at Spearhead. Along with their five year old son. I like Kirk Acevedo a lot, and he has done excellent supporting work here. There’s also a lot of the “you didn’t tell me!” stuff cut out, mercifully, as each thought the other was dead. But it introduces some conflict for Ramse. He clearly wants his friend back, but if his lost love and son are in the way…
At the end of it all, they don’t have the part they need. Project Splinter is without power, and they have only hours until they lose their lock on Cole. Jones authorises Whitley to take the spare part, by any means necessary, but it’s far from clear that this will be possible.
Cassie, meanwhile. bribes her way to the blast site, as Cole and his new Chechnyan friends haul him out of the hole. Just as it looks like she’s come faced to face with him being lifted out into the open air, the camera pans round and shows she’s looking at the scorched and empty blast site. As Cole emerges, he sees a virus-ravaged world of 2017, having splintered forward two years when they tried to bring him home.
So Cole is trapped in 2017, and Jones is unable to bring him back. Whether she will go down a bloody path to bring him back remains to be seen, but the airstrike didn’t stop the virus, so the Army of the Twelve Monkeys are still to be contended with. But as far as Cassie knows, it’s already over. The mission was a success, and Cole’s apparent sacrifice saved the future.
- Ramse’s first name is Jose. Now we know…
- I really think this show is better than needing a love triangle between Cassie, Cole and Aaron.
- Atlanta fell in flames, according to Colonel Foster. Fleshing out the history.
- And Jones had a daughter, who died in the plague.
- Those strange memories Cole has been having since he went into the alternate future are still plaguing him, this time with a small child added into the mix. I think anyone who has seen the film has the same theory about what this means.