Monday, July 11, 2016

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - Cole and Cassie Struggle to Find the Last Primary in 'Blood Washed Away'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episode 2.12 "Blood Washed Away"

Cole and Cassie attempt to stop the final paradox in the past while Ramse, Jennifer and Deacon struggle to survive the apocalypse in a last ditch effort to find the Witness.

Syfy's 12 Monkeys has really stepped up its game in Season 2. The first season was fine but it did embrace opaque mysteries more than anything else. This season has really refocused on the central mission and emphasized just how important all of the characters are to it. All of the main characters have had purpose this season while the motivations of the villains have been more clear. That has really helped the show a lot even though it is telling a grander and more complicated main story. Cole and Cassie were successful in stopping the virus. But that didn't stop the Witness who is actually trying to destroy all of time. That has been a captivating main storyline this season that has allowed the show to be more experimental with its time travel mechanics. Yes, the missions to protect the primaries were largely hit-or-miss. Jennifer is really the only significant primary with value to the overall show. And now, the war with the Witness is really ramping up in interesting ways. It's a war that has divided the team into two missions - each with their own complications.

Cole and Cassie have traveled back to 1957 to track down the last primary the messengers are targeting. That paradox is big enough to end the entire world. It's the last time jump that Cole and Cassie are capable of making. The time storm in 2044 has destroyed the temporal facility - with Jones going down with her beloved machine. There is no place for Cole and Cassie to return to if they aren't successful. They believe this is where and when they should be in order to do the most damage to the Witness' plan. He has been in control of the timeline for so long. He needs the messengers to be successful in paradoxing the primaries in order to end time. Some messengers have succeeded while others have failed. This is the last stand Cole and Cassie can make against the Witness. They do so united but unsure of who the target actually is. It's a tad surprising that the search for the primary and messenger really isn't all that important to this episode. Yes, it is important. But it's not the basis for Cole and Cassie's entire story of this hour. That's a curious decision that sets up an even bigger moment between the two of them later on.

The episode does compress a lot of the stuff pertaining to the primary in 1957. The last few episodes have been building up the threat from the Witness and the need to save this primary from paradox. So, it's a bit of a let down that the ultimate reveal is just a minor character who really isn't important to the overall episode. Cole and Cassie get jobs at the factory where the paradox explosion happens in November 1957. They fail to find the target before the fateful day happens. They fight which sends Cole to the bar for his whiskey sour. It's there where he has a conversation with another worker who talks about there never being enough time in this world for humanity. So, it's not surprising at all when it's revealed this man, Charlie, is the messenger. But apparently, he is no longer enamored by the Witness. He has been lied to and has fallen in love with his target. The primary has no connection to this workplace. She simply walks into the building with a gun to make sure it's empty when it explodes. She understands she is suppose to die on this day. The paradox goes off without a hitch too. Cole and Cassie fail to stop it from happening. After so much talk of it being the big and important paradox, it really doesn't seem to change things all that much. The state of 2044 largely remains the same - though Titan mysteriously appears after it happens.

So, Cole and Cassie failed with their mission. They are trapped in 1957 with no way of returning home or knowing if Ramse was successful in his mission to kill the Witness. Nothing changes for them. They are now able to just live normal lives in the 1950s. Of course, Cassie is in a coma following the explosion. The doctors have no idea if she'll ever wake up. Cole believes she will. But he doesn't wait around to see if she does. He runs away. It's definitely a weird moment. He runs away because he is in love with her and afraid of what would happen if they were to ever act on those feelings. He doesn't want to pull her into any more craziness. He wants her to have the opportunity to live a normal life. Of course, she can only be so normal living in the 1950s with medical knowledge from the 21st century. She is able to make a living out of that for a few months. But she still wants to be reunited with Cole. She doesn't want to live a normal life without him. He is important to her. Her life changed because of him. It became more complicated. She is a different person now because of him. And yet, he is still important to her. She wants to know what happened to him. And yet, her pursuit for answers only leads to another big revelation.

Cassie finds Cole living in the house she saw when she traveled to the Red Forest. As soon as she is reunited with him, it seems all the prophecies Olivia was saying have come true. This house is familiar to her. A storm has swept the land. The water has washed away a lot of the blood. All of these strange details have new context now. When she arrives, it's raining and Cole has cut his hand while trying to fix the house. Cassie knows this place will have significance. She looks at it as a "memory of tomorrow." She has no idea what that means. All she can really do is hold Cole close and embrace the unknown with him. After everything that has happened to them this season, Cassie is finally ready to embrace a life with Cole. Yes, the episode did foreshadow that a bit too much with Charlie telling Cole he needed to be with Cassie before time runs out. But it was still quite a swoon-worthy moment when Cole and Cassie finally kissed. It's a moment the show has been building towards for a long time. They don't know what the future will bring. They just want to embrace happiness and normalcy with each other.

Of course, it seems unlikely that Cole and Cassie will have that kind of bliss for very long. Ramse, Jennifer and Deacon are struggling with their mission in 2044 to kill the Witness. Jennifer doesn't know how to lead the Daughters. She doesn't have the wisdom to lead like her older self did. She hasn't had the wise life experience yet. She embraced the challenge to lead Ramse, Deacon and the Daughters to Titan. She wanted to change the future. She wanted to be stronger than her older self was. But Jennifer doesn't know how to survive in this harsh landscape. She is actually living in this place now and isn't just being given insight about it. She's not prepared for the violence and death. She loses several of her daughters in this voyage to Titan. Ramse is still devoted to killing the Witness though. Jennifer has her doubts. Sure, it seems solely like plot setup that Jennifer's concerns keep her from going to Titan in this episode. Ramse, Deacon, Whitley and Hannah are the only ones who make the final journey. They meet the Witness but are killed before being able to do anything. That's an incredibly bleak ending heading into the season finale. It means Cole, Cassie and Jennifer are the only ones left to do something to stop the destruction of all of time. And right now, Cole and Cassie are living in 1950s with no way back to 2044 and no idea if the world is still ending. That sets up a pretty interesting finale next week.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Blood Washed Away" was written by Sean Tretta and directed by David Grossman.
  • A lot of time is covered in Cole and Cassie's adventures in the 1950s too. They land in January of 1957. Then, it's suddenly November with them having made almost no progress. Then, Cassie is in a coma for six months. And lastly, she lives as a doctor for a little while before reuniting with Cole in the house in Upstate New York.
  • A lot of main characters have been killed off over the last few episodes. And yet, they probably won't be gone for good because of whatever happens in the season finale. Plus, time travel can easily bring them back and change things around.
  • Hannah is the only Daughter who is willing to continue on the journey to Titan with Ramse because she's the only Daughter the audience really knows. All of this despite scouting the location earlier and Titan not being there at all.
  • The fight between Ramse and the one Daughter who wanted to leave because Jennifer was no longer the same Mother she has protected for all of these years was a very weird action moment. It didn't make a whole lot of sense. Plus, it was hard to care about what was happening.
  • The Witness is clearly going to be someone the audience already knows, right? That's why the mystery of his or her identity is being propped up so much. Here, he appears behind a mask and Ramse isn't able to know who he is before he can kill him. Is The Witness being Ramse's son too obvious of an answer? The show set up the fact that Ramse's son was still alive but has never revisited him since - and this show has a purpose with everything it does. Plus, how powerful a reveal could it be if Ramse isn't there to experience it?