Friday, June 15, 2018

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - The War with the Witness Prepares for the Final Story in 'The End,' 'Ouroboros' & '45 RPM'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episodes 4.01 "The End," 4.02 "Ouroboros" and 4.03 "45 RPM"

The final conflict with the Army of the 12 Monkeys begins when the Witness returns to Project Splinter. Travelers come face to face with ghosts from their past when they find themselves maneuvering around their own timelines. Cassie travels back in time to confront a younger Olivia while Cole helps Jennifer find the meaning behind her final Primary vision.

401. "The End"
Written by Sean Tretta and directed by David Grossman

There has always been a lot of symmetry between beginnings and endings. That is especially true of shows that know in advance that their final seasons are going to be the end for them. As such, 12 Monkeys is playing into the concept of ouroboros. It was a design the show was fascinated with long before the creative team knew the fourth season would be the end as well. So, they have clearly been writing towards this ending. And now, it is all coming to fruition just how they planned it to. Sure, there are still some very mystifying elements throughout this final season premiere. The opening sequence appears to go back to medieval times which is much further back in history than the show has ever gone before. It suggests that an actual relic depicting the snake eating its own tail actually holds value and must make its way to James Cole some day. Of course, that's just one big mystery at the moment. There's no real understanding why this device is important and how it is the key to the ending of this entire story. And yet, it is introduced in medieval times and eventually rediscovered by one of the main characters. In fact, it's a lot of fun seeing Jennifer break into this museum in order to retrieve the object. She is now living in a world that is falling to the plague that wipes out humanity. She can steal this item in the middle of the day. But it's much more important to highlight the split in her personality at the moment. She has always heard voices and been confused by what they were saying. But now, it appears that she actually has multiple personalities. The show is having fun with that concept by showing how the various skills are beneficial to Jennifer in the moment even though the actuality of what she is really doing isn't as fun or exciting as she believes it to be. That's a great reveal too. It's exciting to see her as this badass version with a killer haircut and color. But she's still the messy Jennifer talking about saving the world and people letting her go because she seems delusional.

Elsewhere, it's simply just exciting to watch as the destruction of the Splinter facility occurs. This is a fate for the building that was predicted from the future once Cassie and Deacon made their grand escape from Titan. They knew this was going to happen. And now, the time has arrived for the war of the time travel machines. Temporal energy destroys the facility and saves the facility. Olivia uses it as a weapon. She knows just how dangerous these rays can be because Jones used them to torture her last season. That was such a brutal moment that showed that Jones was willing to do anything in order to achieve her ultimate goal of saving the world. It also proves that Olivia has an actual army now that is willing to fight for her. That's daunting. The main protagonists are able to fight off as many as they can. But more keep on coming. They have to rely on this prototype device just to make it out of there. It manages to work. They are able to travel to the Emerson hotel in the apocalyptic future as a way of seeking refuge. Olivia believes she has finally ended this cycle. She no longer has to worry about James Cole and Cassandra Reilly ruining her mission. But that's not true. At least, the audience should know better. The heroes may fear that their journey has come to an end because this kind of jump requires them to deplete the core necessary to power the time machine. They have no means of traveling through time. They are stuck here with no hope of being able to continue to track and fight Olivia. As such, it's devastating because they lost many people just getting out alive. Jones managed to survive her injuries and exposure to radiation. That seems miraculous and a little hard to accept. But she's a great character who deserves to last awhile into this season even if she's destined to die for this mission. Meanwhile, Deacon is left behind. He isn't able to make it into the parameter in time to reunite with everyone. That's a devastating moment too because Cassie doesn't want to say goodbye to him and send him to his death. However, he doesn't die here which means we will likely see him again. But the much larger twist is that the team has actually gone back in time and didn't just travel distances. They wound up just a few years prior when Cole was first going on missions for Jones. There will be so much potential for him to change their story. But it also places him in a reality with a functional time machine and a mission to do. As such, it's very exciting to see what will come next.

402. "Ouroboros"
Written by Terry Matalas and directed by Terry Matalas

Across four seasons, has the Splinter team ever really changed their mission? Cole, Cassie and Jones going back to the very beginning of this story puts things into perspective for them. There is so much risk going back into the facility and interacting with themselves. They could change their timeline or create paradoxes. But that is never really a worry for very long. They are able to blend into this world as well because they belong there. And yet, this time period is remarkably different than where the characters are currently at on their emotional journey. Jones is so focused on the mission believing that it's morally right to kill one person if it will save seven billion lives. That has primarily been the mission over the course of the series as well. The team is racing to stop all of this from happening. They want to create a future where the world doesn't succumb to the plague and risk complete destruction because of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Over the course of the series, they have just been dealing with different targets. Who is responsible for all of this keeps changing. As such, there is never any one specific mission that would undo all that has been in this very circle that has come to define all of their lives. Cassie is still willing to chase the lead that currently presents itself. Jones dug into Olivia's backstory and was only able to uncover one time in the 1970s when she was arrested. As such, that presents an opportunity for Cassie to strike against the woman who is currently serving as the Witness. Taking her out would radically change the future. But it's also just pure vengeance against the woman who killed Ethan. Cassie wants to avenge her son's death after he gave his life in order to rescue her and Cole. They were able to get him to deny his destiny and change his fate. That's what is fueling her actions at the moment.

And yet, Cole and Jones are looking at things on a much larger scale. They don't know why the machine sent them back to this specific moment in time. It appears as if the universe too is telling them to start once more at the beginning in order to make sense of the end. It is one viable option to go after Olivia in the '70s. But it's no guarantee that the world will actually be saved. As such, it dawns on Jones that it's better to just place one's complete trust in Jennifer. She is the one who was able to see the ouroboros of all of this. The Splinter team needs to change up their tactics if they are going to prevail in this war. Jennifer is the key to all of this. As such, it continues to be so important to spend time with her as she tries to unlock this latest clue that has been given to her. Instead, she is finding that all of her voices have gone silent. She no longer has her new personality to provide comfort. She is all alone. It must be scary for someone who has spent her entire life hearing voices and being guided to events that would occur either in the distant past or in the future. Right now, she has spent months tracking down this artifact. And now, she doesn't know what it means or how to use it. Nor does she have the time to actually experiment because the Army of the 12 Monkeys has sent its latest agent to eliminate her as a threat. Sure, it's late in the game to introduce a significant new character. And yet, Conleth Hill from Game of Thrones is a fine addition who proves to be very mysterious. He also knows that James Cole is coming soon. But it's all in service to the big cliffhanger ending with Jennifer falling in front of a train. It should kill her. It probably won't. She is putting her complete trust in time and that she will be saved somehow. It could be Cole who is able to travel back to this specific moment. Or it could be the new artifact she has that will prove to unlock its secrets right when the person needs it the most. As such, that could be very beneficial to Cole as he prepares for the end of this story and finding peace with all that has happened so far.

403. "45 RPM"
Written by Sean Tretta and directed by Christopher Byrne

It was such a shocking moment when Olivia was revealed to be the Witness at the end of the third season. It proved that she was the grand foe everyone has been chasing. For the entire series, the show was misdirecting the audience about the identity of the Witness. First, it was Ramse. Then, it was Cole and Cassie's son, Ethan. And now, the final season confirms that it has always been Olivia. Yes, Ethan was the one who drew the map that the Army of the 12 Monkeys idolized and followed for so long. He was raised to believe that it was his purpose to become the Witness. He had to wrestle with the fact that he was a man out of place in time if he even existed within it at all. He saw all but was unable to protect his greatest love. That was his tragic story. And now, that continues to play out with Cassie trying to avenge her son's death by killing Olivia when she was a teenager. She wants to kill the woman who killed her son. It just happens to also be the Witness. It's also clear that Olivia has always been the Witness whenever the prophet spoke to anyone about what they should do. Whenever the Witness appeared while wearing the mask, it was Olivia. She is now able to become primary as well. All she has to do is connect her mind to the temporal energy from Titan. That opens her up and makes her aware of everything that has happened and will happen throughout time. It makes her such a menacing threat. She always had the skill of being able to think 20 moves ahead of everyone else. She had the patience to strike when the moment was right. This has always been her long game. And now, she is on the verge of leading everyone to the Red Forest. She knows how to get there. She is also wrestling with the fact that she still has this memory of Cassie. That makes it tragic that all of this is simply a part of the cycle for Olivia and Cassie. This is just another instance where their paths merged but their stories didn't end. Yes, Cassie killed Olivia's mother who has always been as equally terrifying and powerful. But that doesn't change anything with the mission at hand and what Olivia is now capable of.

As such, it's very understandable why Cassie is so depressed upon returning to the Emerson hotel after failing with this mission. She came back to kill Olivia. Instead, she just followed the story of the circle. She doesn't know what she is doing or how to break the pattern. Fortunately, that's where Cole comes in. He made the decision to pursue Jennifer. He saves her from the train platform as well. And yet, it's not the version of the character who currently exists. It's the Cole from the future who interacted with himself at the start of the third season. That mystery is still ongoing. That's still a part of this loop that needs to be answered and revealed. He has Ethan's time machine jacket. That's a key plot point. But it's clear that he has experienced a lot in this world based on what's about to happen as well. So, the struggle and the fight is going to be even more intense moving forward - that's not even mentioning that Deacon survived and now wants to hunt Cole and Cassie for Olivia. All of this just means that Jennifer is in the right spot at the right time to find Cole in the city. They have to retrieve the ouroboros artifact that will reveal how Cole can break the cycle. That in turn leads to the reveal that Bonham doesn't actually work for the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Instead, he is a member of the family charged with protecting this artifact and ensuring that James Cole received it when the time came for the world to be saved. He didn't always believe in the story. And then, the world started to end. As such, he knew Cole was coming and could figure out this puzzle. That just reveals that Cole's mother continues to have importance in this mystery because he only knows the story that can unlock the device and point him in the direction of the next mission because of her. Sure, the show is still setting up some big reveal as to who Cole's mother is. But it's going to be very exciting to see what happens next as Cole has the opportunity to defeat Olivia thanks to all of the hard work from primaries so long ago.