Monday, April 25, 2016

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - Cole and Cassie Change the Future But Only Find More Mystery in 'Primary'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episode 2.02 "Primary"

When an attempt to destroy the virus changes the future, Cole finds himself stranded in 2016 with an unstable Jennifer Goines, who may or may not be his key to getting home. Jones and Cassie must deal with both the consequences of the changed timeline and the temporal facility's newest prisoner - Ramse.

Jones built the time machine with the sole purpose of changing the past in order to save the entire world. The virus wiped out the majority of humanity and she wanted to erase this bleak and desolate era from the timeline. Her team has worked through so many obstacles with the goal of changing history. The mission has expanded from what it initially was. Cole, Cassie and Ramse have all traveled through time. The threat from the Army of the 12 Monkeys has intensified. They are a much more serious and lethal enemy than anyone first thought. And yet, the action that takes place in "Primary" sees the team being successful with their mission. They change history. They all live to see the ramifications of their actions too and just how complicated this whole situation still is despite the changes they've made.

This mission has changed the members of the team in some profound ways. Cole has connected with his emotions and the rest of humanity. He no longer sees things in dark life-or-death terms. Conversely, Cassie has hardened because she needed to do whatever it took in order to survive in 2044. Ramse discovered he had a son and was desperate to make sure that the efforts to change history didn't destroy this newfound happiness. Jones was very reserved and mysterious at the start of the mission but has opened herself up to the fellow members of the team in order to build actual trust. All of this change is significant. This season has changed the main character dynamics. Cassie ruthlessly wants to kill Jennifer in order to ensure the virus never makes it out into the world. Meanwhile, Cole wants to protect Jennifer and get her away from the Army's false fantasies of importance. It's a tense situation that starts the hour. But it still leads to Cole and Cassie stopping the virus from destroying the world in 2016.

That's a huge moment that happens in "Primary." The entire series so far has been trying to achieve that goal. And now, Cole and Cassie are finally successful. But it does not change things the way they were expecting. It provides the show with an immediate reset that refocuses the direction of the narration for the remainder of the season. Cole, Cassie, Ramse and Jones sit idly by while time changes around them. They are fully aware of the worlds they came from. They all stand out in time now - which is a significant difference from the last time Cole's actions in 2016 changed the future of 2044. It largely means that the temporal facility is once again stocked with a full staff of scientists and not just Deacon's military men. It brings the characters back to the same position as the start of the series. But now, the future is just slightly different. Cole and Cassie were still successful in 2016. And yet, the Army still releases the virus eventually in 2018. That's a significant change to the timeline. Because of the efforts of the team, the future is changed and isn't as dark or bleak as it was when the series started.

But all of this change still leaves the team with a renewed sense of purpose. Cassie and Ramse are able to return to 2044 in order to sort out everything that has happened to the timeline. Jones is convinced that the Messengers who were sent into the past are the key to understanding why the world is still destroyed in the future - even though it's slightly better than before. This new future presents new opportunities for the team as well. Deacon is still there and a key ally to Cassie and Jones - though it's unclear if he's still suffering from that illness. But more importantly, Jones is given a new love interest in Michael Hogan's Dr. Eckland. That's an enticing prospect for the future. And yet, everyone is still committed to the mission. So that leads to some minor torturing of Ramse for information. He doesn't know anything about the Messengers. But his fate as a prisoner in the facility serves to show just how radically changed the characters have become. Cassie even leverages Ramse's son in order to learn what he knows. It doesn't work but it does show just how hardened she has become during her few months in 2044.

Additionally, Cole finds himself trapped in 2016 for a little bit. He only has Jennifer by his side to help make sense of what has happened. He knows that the timeline has changed because he successfully destroyed the virus. But he doesn't understand why he is still in existence. If the mission was completely successful, he would be erased from this time. That's what he has always been led to believe. But now, he's at a loss. Fortunately, Jennifer helps point him in an interesting direction. Jennifer has always been an intriguing character. She's had some murky characterization in the past. But here, it's well-defined that she has a special connection to time. She is able to hear key details about the past and future that can benefit others on their mission. That's what brings Cole to the Emerson Hotel. She knows that he belongs in Room 607. Once there, he realizes that the mission is only just getting started simply by seeing a photograph of him and Cassie in 1944.

So instead of trying to figure out how the Army once again released the virus in 2018, the team will be making its biggest jump yet into the past to see what exactly the Messengers are up to. It's because of Cole that they have a destination to investigate. Cassie was willing to cut him out of the mission completely. She saw how he compromised things with Jennifer and believes he no longer has the drive to complete the mission. To her, Jennifer needed to die in order to ensure a happy and prosperous future. Instead, Cole saved her and helped her find new purpose in her life. Cole was only able to return to the future and the team because of Jennifer. She was spiraling after losing what she believed was her purpose. He saved her from committing suicide. And now, she's repaying that favor because she found a purpose in the future. She became the leader of the Daughters and has been able to use time to her advantage over the years. She kidnaps Jones and forces her to bring Cole back. That action is quickly rewarded with the team now knowing exactly where to go in time to battle the Messengers. And yet, it's still going to be a precarious mission because Cole and Cassie no longer get along as well as they used to. But they are destined to make this trip back to 1944 together to continue to try to save the world.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Primary" was written by Sean Tretta and directed by Magnus Martens.
  • Olivia refers to Jennifer as the Primary. That's what gives this episode its title. It's just another vague name that gives importance to a character. But it also signifies that Jennifer has a much deeper connection to time than it initially seemed. She has a much larger purpose in the grand scheme of things than just delivering the virus that kills the world.
  • Wouldn't the Army have wanted more protection around the planes carrying the virus knowing that Cole and Ramse could ruin their plans at any moment? Instead they along with Jennifer and Cassie are able to just walk in, steal the viles and set them on fire - thus changing the world. Unless, of course, that's what the Army wants right now?
  • Ramse didn't just use his time with Olivia and the Army for nefarious things. He also helped saved Deacon during an encounter in the past where his father almost killed his mother. Police were able to intervene just in time because Ramse tipped them off. He is able to lord that over Deacon as he's overseeing Ramse's torture for information about the Messengers.
  • Even though more people were saved by this change in the timeline, Jones' daughter, Hannah, still dies from the virus. So, she's still personally motivated to undo all of this destruction. But in this new reality she was able to let her guard down and be with another person. It should be interesting to see if she can do that again now.
  • Also, it's so great that Jones and Cassie are upfront to the rest of the team at the facility that they come from a different timeline where the world was much worse and their actions made it slightly better. Trying to keep that a secret really wouldn't have worked at all.
  • However, the show still tries to fool the audience into thinking that Cole and Jennifer are in danger at the hotel because an employee recognizes them. But it just sets up the reveal that this hotel is important to Cole's future work in the past.
  • Cole and Cassie seem very close in that photograph. Are they faking that in order to preserve their cover in 1944? Or do they genuinely reunite as a couple? Only time will tell.