Friday, June 22, 2018

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - Team Splinter Travels to Nazi Germany to Find the Weapon in 'Legacy,' 'After' and 'Die Glocke'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episodes 4.04 "Legacy," 4.05 "After" and 4.06 "Die Glocke"

Team Splinter goes back in time to the wild, wild frontier in search of a weapon to destroy the Witness. A clue to breaking the cycle leads Cole and Cassie to the 1960s. Zalmon Shaw returns. The team infiltrates a Nazi gala to steal an artifact known as "Die Glocke." Their operation comes undone when French Resistance interferes and an unexpected guest arrives.

404. "Legacy"
Written by Christopher Monfette and directed by Joe Menendez

Many of the main characters are currently keeping secrets. Jennifer is no longer having primary visions. Cole only knew the story that could unlock the ouroboros artifact because of his mother. Jones is dying. Deacon is now working for Olivia and hunting down Team Splinter. This is the episode where all of that is explored and exposed. It also reveals that the audience has been keeping a secret from the characters. We've know that Jones' husband and Hannah's father was the man who created Titan. And now, that story is being told more fully. The Army of the 12 Monkeys was able to play towards his sense of wanting a lasting legacy. He wanted a family with Jones but her resistance to that pushed him to this work. Meanwhile, she created that family that eventually meant so much to her because she lost it quickly during this apocalypse. Hannah never had any hopes or fears about her parents. She was looked after and trained by Jennifer and the Daughters. Her reunion with her parents has been quite powerful though. She has formed this connection with her mother and accepts that she is dying. She knew it before Jones even had to tell her that she only had 4-6 weeks left to live. And now, she has the opportunity to know her father. It's just for a few fleeting moments as they fight alongside each other in order to stop the completion of Titan. But it still makes it emotional when the two of them are saying their final goodbyes after he is fatally injured. The team is also able to figure out what Olivia plans on doing with Titan in order to create the Red Forest. She will be using this time machine in order to create a paradox so large that it rips a hole in time and space. That's so daunting. It puts such urgency on the mission for the heroes because they fail in this endeavor to strike and disrupt completion of Titan.

And yet, that only further proves that Olivia has long had a back-up plan in place for someone to complete Titan should something happen to Jones' husband. It turns out that the assistant who was working with the couple to perfect the machine is actually Olivia's daughter, Emma. She was just introduced last week as a baby. And now, she is proven to be a devout follower of the Army and her mother's commands. She has a role to play in all of this as well that will be fulfilled with the creation of the Red Forest. That's ominous and proves that Olivia still has so much insight into the various loops that will allow all of this to occur. Cole and Cassie are trying to break free of those loops. They want to do something that hasn't already been predicted by the Witness. Cole is afraid to find answers about his mother because he believes that will only create more tragedy for him and a woman he has never known. But the end of the episode suggests that the team will have to track her down in order to understand the importance of this story that was passed down to Cole. He already knew how to unlock this clue to find the weapon because of her. Of course, that only pointed him in the direction of another clue. These primaries have made it very difficult for the Witness to find them. And yet, Jennifer's selfish desire to be in on the secret is what leads to Olivia becoming aware that a weapon exists that can ruin her plans. That's a heartbreaking moment because Jennifer has long seen the voices and visions as a burden to her. It's what makes her unique and important. The world has told her she is incredibly powerful. And now, everything has gone silent for her and she wants it back. That just leads to Olivia getting the same clue as everyone else to find the weapon. As such, it's going to be a race to figure out what this weapon is and how to utilize it against Olivia and the Army. That will be very exciting while also forcing so many personal complications for the main characters.

405. "After"
Written by Oliver Grigsby and directed by Sheree Folkson

There has been so much talk about "The End" this season. The show understood that this was the final season. As such, they have produced a main story where everyone knows that this is the last stand between Team Splinter and the Army of the 12 Monkeys. The central mission is in finding this weapon left behind by the primaries that can be used against Olivia. It's a weapon that she couldn't see until Jennifer needed to take a peak herself. As such, there was the potential of the protagonists being able to break the cycle. And now, there is so much discussion about what happens next. Cole believes he finally has the way to put an end to all of this. But Cassie is wondering what that will mean for their lives. For the entire series, their journey has been about stopping the Army of the 12 Monkeys and the creation of the Red Forest. Both the characters and the audience have known this to be a one way mission to completely rewrite time. If they succeed, then the world doesn't end and a new timeline is created. One where a threat to humanity and all of time isn't present. It's a better timeline than the one they are currently living in. And yet, is it? The show uses the return of Christopher Lloyd as Zalmon Shaw in order to muse about the glory of the Red Forest. In that place, time doesn't exist. As such, people can live in their own perfect moments not being afraid of death. It's a way to be immortal forever. That means it has to be tempting to some of the characters. This season has seen Deacon betray Team Splinter by working for Olivia. He is the one currently in the possession of the weapon. The story of this hour ends in that position. But even then, there is the tease that Deacon is just playing the long game like Olivia always has in order to deceive her and get the weapon back to Cole and Cassie. What's probably more damaging is the idea that Cassie could become a fan of the Red Forest because she doesn't want to choose between saving the world or saving her relationship with Cole. That's a very promising tease that indicates that big things are going to happen between the core couple in the final stretch of the series.

Moreover, this is just a fun episode because of how playful it is with the need to send multiple copies of the same character back to the same events. They run the risk of running into each other. And yet, it's also clear that all of this is a cycle that they created themselves in order to find this weapon. Jennifer found this clue in a crime scene photo that has the same phrase as what the primaries told the team in the previous hour. And yet, it was actually them who killed these two Soviet spies. Of course, it still leads to the weapon that everyone is fighting over. It's just a lot of fun to watch. Sure, it's very stressful as well because Cole is poisoned even though he is operating with the confidence that he'll survive because he still has to become Future Asshole. But it's also so intricate and imaginative to see Cassie and then Jennifer have to go back to these events while still preserving the timeline for themselves. They are so afraid of creating paradoxes. But they also have to allow these events to occur in order to get the message from Cole of the weapon's location. It's even better because it also brings back Jay Karnes as Robert Gale. The show needed to provide some resolution this season as to whether or not Cole and Cassie were able to successfully warn him about his death at the Berlin wall. And now, it appears that he was able to defeat fate and survive. In fact, this story seems to suggest that he lives well into the 1990s. That's great news for such a wonderful character even though this also seems like the last time he will be featured. As such, it's a very fitting and appropriate ending. One that allows him to interact with Jennifer, Jones and Hannah as well. Plus, he's able to provide the team with the clue as to where the weapon was earlier in history. It just means needing to go back to World War II and Nazi Germany. That's going to be an interesting and dangerous mission.

406. "Die Glocke"
Written by Sarah C. Mueller, Terry Matalas & Sean Tretta and directed by David Grossman

12 Monkeys went into this episode saying that it would be the most dangerous mission that Team Splinter has ever embarked on. That set the stakes incredibly high. As such, it is so surprising and amusing to see the show interject some very ridiculous situations into this very precarious environment. It's the show creating the inevitable question if somehow has a time machine. Do you go back and kill Hitler? This show has produced four seasons and it is just now getting to that dilemma. They are here on a completely separate mission. They need to retrieve the Bell that currently resides in the basement of this mansion with a dozen armed soldiers protecting it. As such, they can't really focus on trying to forever change history by killing Hitler. And yet, he does actually show up to this event. The team just believes it's going to be this low-key event for one of the generals hoping to get a promotion in the Reich. Instead, it's proved to be one of momentous importance because Hitler arrives to see a demonstration of this weapon. Of course, that means that the Nazis were able to do something with the Bell. After the team retrieves it, they are mystified as to what it can do. It seems to only point them in a new direction with the tease that it could either be the weapon or the key to unlocking the weapon to defeat Olivia. And yet, all that goes flying out the window the moment that Jennifer gets up on stage to perform P!nk's "U + Ur Hand" in front of Hitler and the rest of the Nazis. That is so completely unexpected from this show. Yes, the show has always mined some great comedy out of the main characters traveling through the past. But it's also just completely ridiculous. Plus, they are even able to succeed in getting the Bell and detonating this bomb. Of course, it doesn't change anything. Nazi Germany still thrives even if Hitler dies. But it's thrilling to see the team actually embrace a time machine for what it could be ideally used for.

The show even has a sense of humor when it recognizes that there is a language barrier involved with this mission. It means that Jones and Jennifer have to go because they are the ones who happen to speak German and French. In fact, it serves as a reminder that Jennifer spent five years in France and had this completely different life as a performer. As such, she's still a natural up on the stage. But it's much more intense watching if Jones is going to be able to make it through this party fine or succumb to her radiation exposure. Her condition is worsening. Her hand trembles all of the time now. She gets lightheaded and dizzy. At one point, she even gets lost in her own mind and needs Jennifer to pull her out. She needs the assistance from the team now more than ever. And yet, she's still a complete badass as well. That's so exciting to watch and has been earned across the seasons. Meanwhile, who really cares about a Nazi cutting a swastika into Deacon's chest? Back to Jones though, she is able to craft a compelling story to get her and Cassie into this event while also being able to tell off the general in the end too. This also turns out to be the episode where Deacon proves that he has been working with Team Splinter this entire time. He's been trying to fool Olivia just like she did last season. It may still be completely pointless. But it's a survival instinct that has allowed him to continue helping the team without compromising their mission too much. Yes, he killed Jones' husband but he thought he was doing the right thing to disrupt the past and throw off production of Titan. He was completely wrong. But now, it's exciting to see Jones join him in Titan in an attempt to fool Olivia. They are two dying soldiers who are willing to do absolutely anything. That makes them very unpredictable and dangerous foes for Olivia.