11 “Shonin” (12 Monkeys season 1) [SPOILERS]


12 monkeys

Time travel is a headache. Really, it ties the brain in knots. And if you like your stories complex, overwrought, with layer after layer, it really is a must.

We’re approaching the conclusion of the series, so bit by bit we’re uncovering the answers to what’s going on in 12 Monkeys. Or some of them at least.

The joy of this sort of show is like a hike up a mountain. It’s the looking back, and seeing where you’ve come, laid out clear and complete. With the series’ renewal, we’re a full season away from that point at the very least, but we’re all sneaking glimpses back, aren’t we?

Cole heads back to 1987, chasing Ramse to Tokyo, with one trying to stop the plague and the other trying to ensure it happens. When Cole attempts to stop Goines from acquiring the virus in the first place, Ramse intervenes…

Okay, so this episode fills in a lot of the gaps left in the story by previous episodes. Which is no real surprise, given how close we are getting to the end of the series. Mostly, though, it’s Ramse who is the subject of this story.

After he “kills” Cole in a knife fight (Come on, nobody actually believes Cole is dead, at any point during this episode… -Ed), he ends up in a Japanese prison, receiving love notes from the woman from the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. They basically keep him supplied with cryptic notes and books about Sun Tzu, etc. Eventually they get him released, and oh look — he’s the witness. At last, one of my predictions has actually come to pass.

So we get to see “the other side”, as it were, through the series we’ve seen so far. Ramse, directing the Army of the Twelve Monkeys against Cole, up until when they finally get the virus from Dr Peters, as we saw at the end of the last episode.

That’s interesting, but the most fascinating scene comes upon Ramse’s release from prison. He is welcomed by the Monkeys, and the amulet given to him by future Jennifer Goines is put together with its past self. The explosion turns all the greenery abruptly red. A red forest.

Now, I missed this at the time, but apparently when Cole splintered in the bar with Cassie last episode the houseplant turned red. A residue of time-travel? Damage done to the timeline?

We also get to see more of the Goineses. Apparently Leland knew that Jennifer didn’t kill the other scientists in the lab, and kept her locked up in the asylum anyway. Her mother, it seems, was a bit on the kooky side, and Leland locked her away too.

No wonder future Jennifer is less than keen on men.

And Cole. Cole isn’t dead. Not yet at least. As he’s about to be put out of his misery by some Japanese bloke with a gun, a panicky Jones has him splintered to 2015, straight to Cassie. In 2043, they lose their grip on Cole altogether. The project is doomed. An angry, mournful Whitley abandons Project Splinter, even as Jones can’t.

So where does that leave us? Two more episodes to go, and 12 Monkeys is still behaving like a one-season series. It’s getting a second, but it looks like nobody told the writers, because loose ends are being tied off.

Not all of them, though. Ramse being the Witness fills in a lot of the blanks, but given that the Monkeys were already active and about when Ramse came to them, how did they come about? The mysterious woman’s father is deliberately referenced a number of times, as is the Monkeys having invested wisely around historical events. They’re even planning for the apocalypse, setting up a program to help humanity survive — which Aaron is funnelled into after being dropped from Senator Royce’s campaign for president.

There is still a lot going on, a lot we don’t know about the Twelve Monkeys. And with this show, everything we have learnt has led to more questions.

Bring ’em on.

  • Ramse doesn’t even appear to age over the nearly 20 years he’s living through the past. Are we meant not to notice that, or is it a time travel thing?
  • Here’s the thing: is Ramse the Witness? Both Jennifer Goines and Cassie were drugged, and saw that odd figure in a plague doctor costume. And the mysterious woman refers to him as “the traveller”. Cole reckons he’s the witness, but actually it’s less than certain. Just saying.
  • Royce would be the worst president. Just the worst.
  • It’s never entirely clear why the Monkeys want to make the plague happen. Ramse wants to ensure his son’s existence, but they are clearly more interested in his knowledge of the virus’ origins.
  • That Goines wig was worth every penny that the costume department spent on it. And it is measured in pence.
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