12 “Paradox” (12 Monkeys season 1) [SPOILERS]


12 monkeys

We’re up the penultimate episode of 12 Monkeys now, and I have to say I’m impressed. As I stated at the beginning, I had some serious doubts about whether adapting the Terry Gilliam film into a TV show was even a good idea.

The end result has not only been a worthy adaptation, but an excellent TV show. It’s not perfect, no, but has the will to actually push the boundaries.

In my opinion, it thoroughly deserves the second season that it’s already been renewed for. But it doesn’t get an easy ride. I’ve said for a few episodes now that it hasn’t felt like it has the space for more than the first series, as it barrels down the road towards an ultimate conclusion.

In the two episodes left, it needs to check that, and demonstrate that there is more story left to explore, more room still for Cole et al to grow.

With Cole now stranded in 2015, with both the knife wound from Ramse and the damage of repeated time travel killing him, Cassie makes a desperate gamble and reaches out to the only person who might be able to help. Meanwhile, Aaron pursues his own plans to keep Cassie safe from an apocalypse he doesn’t believe can be stopped. And in the future, Jones and her crew try to piece Project Splinter back together.

If the last episode filled in the gaps left as the plot had meandered around through space and time earlier on in the series, it didn’t really advance the plot any further, or solve the immediate problems facing our protagonists. This episode more than makes up forĀ it, with a very tightly focused story.

So after last week Cole is in a bad way. I genuinely thought that the knife wound was the most pressing concern — that was quite a lot of blood on the floor at the Japanese club — but apparently he’s coming apart on a molecular level. Which, to be fair, sounds unpleasant.

There’s not many people who can help with something like that, but this being time travel we know at least one who can help. Yes, Cassie breaks all the rules of time travel by going and finding the 2015 version of Jones. After everything that she’s already seen, especially with the whole explody paradox stuff, I’m amazed she did this.

Actually, though, Jones seems remarkably comfortable around the whole thing. In 2015 she’s already working on timey-wimey stuff, which helps, and she decides that injecting Cole with an earlier version of his DNA will make him a paradox and fix him. Which, hey, is about as good an idea as any. So they head to track down 2015 Cole, living with his mechanic father.

So Cole is sorted then. Or rather, he would be if Aaron didn’t choose exactly that moment to turn on Cassie. For her own good, you understand? He gives the Army of the Twelve Monkeys Cassie and Cole’s location, and attempts to take her away to the prepared safehouse. He seems shocked that she wants nothing to do with him. Instead she helps get Jones, 2015 Cole and his father out before the Monkeys get to them. Cole’s father stands up to the Pallid Man and his goons, and gets a shot in front of his child for his troubles.

When Cole himself is face-to-face with the Pallid Man, we get to see some actual fireworks. I thought from the moment that injecting Cole with his own blood was suggested that paradoxes tend to be…explodey, in this show. And true enough it is. Cole plunges the syringe into his heart, and levitates, glows and explodes, only for Cassie to pick him out of the rubble unharmed and indeed a lot healthier. Though naked. Which feels a bit Terminator.

I quite likews the way that Cole’s disintegration was resolved. I mean, on many levels it was a cop-out, but that’s partly the joy of a time travel story. You can rewrite whatever you want. One thing that did disappoint me was the resolution of those blurry memories. They were, it seems, the repressed memories of his father’s death, unlike in the film the repressed memories of witnessing his own death. And…eh. I know which I think is the more profound.

As all this is going on, future Jones rallies what’s left of Project Splinter to resume the mission. They rebuild the records that Ramse destroyed when he attacked the facilities. We now know that Jones always knew about Cole and the mission, so she’s not particularly worried about him. But a strange red plant from somewhen else in time has started appearing.

Before she can get to the bottom of it, though, Whitley returns from his expedition at the end of the last episode. Carrying the severed head of one of his men. Cut to a bunch of pallid looking men in what looks like monks’ habits meets military uniforms. And they’re working with Deacon (Remember him? -Ed) to get at something inside the facility.

So, that’s our set up going into the season finale. I’m not actually sure that we needed another antagonistic faction to deal with, but a) it’s nice to see that West VII haven’t been completely cast aside, and b) I suspect this isn’t a new faction at all. Could this be what becomes of the Army of the Twelve Monkeys after the plague.

At any rate, the battle lines are drawn. The nice thing is that Aaron, like Ramse, is clearly trying to protect the people he loves. And both Cole and Aaron are, ultimately, driven by the fact that they want to protect Cassie.

Seeing young Cole, at the end, make friends with young Jose at the children’s home was kind of sweet, especially given how far apart they’ve been driven. And if Cole himself is a paradox, then it could well play an interesting element into the whole mystery behind the Monkeys, who they are, and what they actually want.

Closing thoughts:

  • I’m still less than convinced that Ramse is the witness.
  • Cole’s mother disappeared, leaving him with his father, for fear she couldn’t protect him from the Monkeys. So, as with the mysterious woman’s father, who is Cole’s mother?
  • Aaron is an idiot. He couldn’t seriously expect Cassie to agree to leave Cole to die.
  • Future Jones reckons the red plants are time deciding it doesn’t like being screwed with. Which is either the most trivial consequence, or there is something greater about it yet to be shown.
  • For the first time in weeks this show now feels like it has the legs for a longer series run.
  • I’m also less than sure that the thing the mysterious monks are after is the time machine. It seems too obvious.
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