Monday, May 9, 2016

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - Jones Learns More About the Connection Between Time and Humanity in 'Emergence'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episode 2.04 "Emergence"

When Cole and Cassie are stranded in 1944, Jones must turn to the person she trusts the least to bring them home - Ramse. For Ramse, the mission will give him a chance to atone for his sins - but can he mend the broken relations between Cole and Cassie? Jones visits old Jennifer Goines to explore the true nature of Time - and the Twelve's method to destroy it.

12 Monkeys has never been afraid to delve deep into the complicated mechanics of time travel. The majority of the narrative has centered around Jones' belief of causality. Something happens in the past that affects something later on in the timeline. The show has always been very meticulously plotted with the complications of time travel. It makes sure that each jump back into time has purpose and has its own mystery to unravel. This season has gone deeper into the mythology of this war between the team at the temporal facility and the Army of the 12 Monkeys. It's getting more complicated than ever before. There's a vast information dump during one part of this episode that helps explain why certain things are happening. And yet, so much of it works because of how committed the show is to developing these twists while still making them so engaging to the audience as they happen.

Things are more uncertain for the future now than ever before. Cole and Cassie are still just chasing down the Messengers hoping to stop them even though they have no clue what their ultimate plan really is. Their journey to 1944 in the previous episode was very fun and amusing. It forced Cole and Cassie to work together again. They are a reluctant pairing but are committed to the mission because of its severity to the timeline. And yet, this endeavor only produced more mystery and intrigue for the future. Something that "Emergence" needed to address right away. It was thrilling as Cole and Cassie tracked the Messenger down to a mental health asylum to eliminate another primary. But things really took a turn to the mysterious when his death created a paradox that not only severed Cole and Cassie's tethers to 2043 but created time anomalies that threaten to destroy the entire world. That gives this season such tremendous stakes. Jones is just trying to make sense of everything that has happened. But it takes a huge leap of faith on her part to ensure that there is still a world worth protecting in the end.

This mission started for a very selfish but altruistic reason. Jones built the time machine in order to stop the virus that killed her family - along with the entire world. That was the mission in its simplest form. She enlisted scientists, Cole and Ramse to her cause. She knew how important the Army of the 12 Monkeys was to this plan. But now, she's seeing the true extent of their power and influence across all of time. Her creation of the time machine is so much more than trying to save her family. It's a pivotal turning point for this entire war that both sides have manipulated to their benefit. Jones is starting to question everything she has been led to believe about time. She's in unchartered waters right now. She's forced to rely on Ramse to bring Cole and Cassie back home. But she also doesn't know what kind of a home they would be returning to. The time anomaly is ravaging this land. She sees the consequences of coming into contact with this dangerous force. More importantly, she has no idea what's causing it or how to stop it. She's at her most defeated throughout this episode. She's grasping for answers. She has theories of how to keep this mission afloat. But she is no longer certain of anything.

Jennifer helps Jones understand what time truly is and what the Army is trying to do with it. Jones has always believed that time knows no bounds. Its existence is limitless throughout the entire universe. Time has existed since the very beginning and will always be a part of the world. Jennifer counters that belief with saying that time and humanity go hand in hand. The primaries help keep the timeline in check. The primaries are connected to the past, present and future. They understand things that others cannot. They understand what needs to happen and when. That allows for things to happen just as they are suppose to. Throughout all of history, they are the targets of the Army who want to end time itself. That's a very nefarious plan that helps give the Army more urgency and purpose moving forward. The why of the question is still unanswered. Everyone from the Army boasts of the Red Forest. That's essentially what the Earth becomes once the anomaly arrives and wreaks havoc. But right now, Jones and her team are at a loss. They are doing their best to protect time. Jones has the benefit of seeing the concept from a different perspective now. But that doesn't offer any greater indication of how to beat the Army in this war. No matter what, it seems like time is heading towards destruction. And that's a very tantalizing tease of doom for the rest of the season.

Elsewhere, "Emergence" shows the role that Ramse played in Cole and Cassie's 1944 adventure from last week. He was there at the same time because of the paradox that was set off. Jones had to rely on him because there was no one else who could make the journey. She sure does look foolish now for believing Deacon could just execute him. She needs him as another time traveler. Of course, he's not completely successful with his mission either. When the time machine sends people back in time, they could appear in any given moment. Jones has mastered the science to have a relatively good idea of where and when they will land. But she couldn't have predicted Ramse getting hit by a car as soon as he arrived in 1944. That was the complication that doomed his mission from the start. He's still fighting for a future with his son. His body has been broken down by the harsh effects of time. He's a mystery to the doctors and nurses at the hospital. But his injuries don't keep him from trying to stop Cole and Cassie before it's too late.

Unfortunately, all Ramse can do is rescue Cole and Cassie before they get into more trouble with law enforcement after the paradox goes off. Detective Gale identifies them as the perpetrators for all of these weird events. He's mystified by what any of this means but he knows they are connected. It's quite amusing seeing him repeatedly get in the way of what Cole, Cassie and Ramse are trying to do. He's an important part of the puzzle in the 1944 story. He learns that this trio are time travelers from the future. He too takes a leap of faith so that Cole can interrogate the Messenger who caused the paradox. She is having an existential crisis because she believed she was destined to die from the blast. She survived. And now, she has a future filled with possibilities. It shows that the time cycles aren't as fixed as people are led to believe. The Witness keeps Cole alive even though he has caused nothing but problems with the mission. That's significant. But it's also important that Cole, Cassie and Ramse are able to return to 2043. They can regroup and figure out their next strategy. That's complicated because of tense personal relationships. But now, everyone is realizing they have to let their past feelings go because they need to be united in this battle that could destroy all of time.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Emergence" was written by Richard E. Robbins and directed by David Grossman.
  • Because the Messenger doesn't die in 1944, she is able to live and give birth to the Pallid Man. Does that indicate that he will continue to have a presence this season as a face from the Army? Or does it show that the Witness has always know how things would go in 1944?
  • This was the first episode where the dynamic between Jones and Dr. Eckland didn't feel too forced. Here, he is just trying to be a friend to her. He encourages her to embrace the unknown because she is an explorer on the verge of understanding a new frontier.
  • Gale has been a fine addition to the story over these last two episodes. And yet, his presence is directly linked to the 1944 story. So even though he knows about this trio of time travelers, it doesn't seem like he'll be important to the overall narrative again.
  • If the Army is targeting the primaries throughout all of history, why haven't they tried to kill Jennifer yet? 2043 was the year where they could finally go back in time to carry out this mission. After she failed to deliver the virus to the world, what is her purpose to their plan? She must still be alive for a reason.
  • It's such a good thing that there is now a trio of time travelers fighting against the Army in various time periods. This mission has become too important for one man alone to deal with. Cole, Cassie and Ramse will need to rely on each other in the past in order to succeed in this war.