Monday, May 2, 2016

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - Cole and Cassie Travel to 1944 to Stop the Messengers in 'One Hundred Years'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episode 2.03 "One Hundred Years"

Despite growing tension between them, Cole and Cassie embark on their first time travel mission together, splintering to New York at the height of World War II. In this sepia-drenched, bygone era, the pair track a dangerous member of the Twelve - a seductress who is on a mission of murder that could ultimately shatter time itself.

The main mission has changed on 12 Monkeys this season. It is no longer the same mission that Cole and Cassie originally signed up for. The plague that ended the world is still the primary purpose of it. And yet, Cole and Cassie were successful in changing history once and that only altered the inevitable destruction of the world. So now, the entire team has had to change tactics in the hopes of being truly successful in erasing this harsh and violent landscape of 2044. The Army of the 12 Monkeys are a much more formidable enemy than they had originally planned. They are aware of so much more of the mechanics of time travel and their importance to this cause. It's still unknown what the Red Forest is and why the Army is desperate to keep it intact. But the addition of the Messengers has increased the tension of this season as Cole and Cassie have to pursue new leads in new times to understand what the Amy is up to.

That ultimately means Cole and Cassie take their furthest journey yet back in time. They travel one hundred years in the past to 1944. A photograph of the two of them at a gala pointed the time traveling team to that destination. But that only further confuses the main team over what they have to do once they arrive. Cassie has changed because of her time with Deacon in 2044. And yet, she still doesn't consider herself to be a time traveler. She's committed to the mission and willing to do whatever it takes to change history. But she just wanted to get back to her reality of 2016 and go about living her life as normally as possible. Now, that has changed. She needs to go to 1944 with Cole. It's what is destined for them in this new timeline. The two of them aren't on the greatest footing right now. Cole has changed as well. He's much more appreciative of the nuances of the mission and how important alterations to the timeline can really be.

All of this sets up a fantastic dynamic between the two leads. Their partnership is the heart of the show. Cole was the rogue time traveler from the violent future forced to team up with the rational doctor of the present-day in the hopes of stopping the apocalypse. They came to rely on each other in this quest to save the world. But now, the mission has altered who they are as people. They haven't had the time yet to understand who the other has become. They are thrown reluctantly into this mission together. Once they address some practical concerns, they have to pose as a couple at a fancy event in the hopes of stopping the Messengers before they kill a crucial scientist. The action and immediacy of the danger keeps the two focused on the mission at all times. Their presence in this time is a change to history as the Witness sees it. They are important to this story. But Cole and Cassie aren't getting along right now. They are posing as a happy couple but are still bickering over the lengths they need to go to in order to be successful in this mission.

It also turns out that the Messengers are capable of making mistakes as well. They have each been trained for this mission. It is their purpose in life. They have been raised solely so they can travel through time and kill the various primaries throughout history. It turns out that moniker isn't as rare as the audience was led to believe last week with Jennifer. She is deeply connected to time. She is able to see things that don't make sense at the time. Cole and Cassie run into another person like that as well. The scientist's son is the true target. His story is basically identical to Jennifer's. Cole and Cassie track him down to a psych ward where he is talking out of his head and drawing the symbol of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. He knows that he is destined to die on this day. He believes it's his fate. He understands the world that Cole and Cassie have come from. He runs away from the Messengers but he still knows what their purpose is. It's a fraught action set piece that closes this hour.

Once again, Cole and Cassie prove just how serious a threat they are to the plan that the Army of the 12 Monkeys has for all of time. They aren't suppose to be in 1944. And yet, they make their way to that time. The Messengers know that Cole and Cassie are important to this story. But they are still taken aback when they arrive to interrupt their mission and kill the primary. That unpredictability is very engaging and thrilling to watch. Cole and Cassie's presence in this new time isn't going unnoticed. They fit into this world as best as they can but are still here for a reason. It looks like they are successful in thwarting the Messenger's plan too. When she tries to kill the primary, Cole and Cassie set off a paradox that is bound to have many major repercussions. It severs their tethers to 2044. They are now trapped in 1944. They've followed their lead to its conclusion. They've saved the primary from death. But now, that creates an uncertain future. One where a detective will complicate their lives because of the trail of bodies that leads to them. But also one where the timeline itself is corrupting onto itself because of the actions they have taken.

Jones created the time machine in order to save her family from the horrifying virus that ended the world. The Army needed that to happen so that they could fulfill their plans throughout all of time. But now, Jones is realizing that she is playing with elements of time that she doesn't fully understand. She recognizes that anomalies have happened. But she doesn't realize the extent of their purpose until the very mysterious final act. The paradox Cole and Cassie create is much bigger than anything they've seen before. The consequences of that are playing out as the most dangerous battlefield yet in 2044. That is seen through the eyes of Deacon and Ramse who go out into the woods to put Ramse into his final grave. The temporal facility no longer has any need for him. Sure, the presence of the world changing red around Ramse indicates that something mystical is about to happening. But it also creates a harsh reality where time is corrupting the world. That's a terrifying threat as Deacon and Ramse see it. So, that just adds to the tension of the narrative right now - even though so much of it is still just cryptic teasing of what the Army of the 12 Monkeys' ultimate goal with the Red Forrest really is.

Some more thoughts:
  • "One Hundred Years" was written by Michael Sussman and directed by David Grossman.
  • It's amusing that Cassie is concerned Cole won't be able to blend into 1944 life. And yet, when she shows up, he's already lived there for two months and has put a plan in place for them to succeed. That was a nice change of pace.
  • Ramse is able to provide Cole and Cassie with the clue that directs them to the murdered scientist and his importance to the Army. Even though he doesn't think he knows anything about their plans, he really does. But Jones is still content with Deacon killing him.
  • Plus, with Cole and Cassie's tethers to the time machine being disconnected by the paradox. Jones will need Ramse to travel back to 1944 and reconnect them, right?
  • Just how close are Cassie and Deacon? They've really formed a close bond. He helped her survive in this world and become the woman she is today. But has that dynamic ever gotten romantic? 
  • The detective looking into the various murders that surround the mission is played by The Shield's Jay Karnes. That basically guarantees that he's going to be an important part of this story moving forward. His reaction to the aftermath of the paradox is pretty great too.