Friday, June 29, 2018

REVIEW: '12 Monkeys' - Team Splinter Uncovers the Truth About Cole's Mother in 'Daughters,' 'Demons' & 'One Minute More'

Syfy's 12 Monkeys - Episodes 4.07 "Daughters," 4.08 "Demons" and 4.09 "One Minute More"

Jones sends Hannah back in time to 2007 on a personal mission that could be the key to everything. Everything changes when the team finally climbs the steps and rings the bell in the Middle Ages. The beginning of the end as Cole and Cassie embark on their final mission.

407. "Daughters"
Written by Christopher Monfette and directed by Mairzee Almas

It was always inevitable that there was going to be some big reveal regarding Cole's mother. The end of the third season teased her importance. And now, Team Splinter knows that she is the person who told him the story that set them on this new mission to find the weapon that can be used to defeat Olivia. As such, it was important for there to be a mission at some point where the team went back in time to figure out who Cole's mother was and why she told this story over and over again. The big reveal in this hour may seem a little lackluster in the grand scheme of things. It's definitely going to send the minds of the viewers spinning. Olivia was only created because of Ethan predicting and mapping out the future and the path for the Witness. And now, Olivia's daughter is revealed to be Cole's mother. She went back in time to forge her own path in life after feeling unappreciated and lonely in Titan. But that just further increases the importance of this cycle where Cole's son leads to the birth of Olivia who then gave birth to Emma who then produced Cole. As such, it's clear that Cole may be the only person capable of breaking this cycle and being able to fix all of time. It just may also be setting up the inevitability that he will have to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to prevail. The world may be saved as soon as this circle is removed from it. That would be so tragic though because Cole and Cassie want to be together after all of this is over. Those personal dynamics still have to mean something as well. This hour is essentially about mothers and daughters. It's a fairly minor hour for Cole and Cassie. But it shows the different ways that Olivia and Jones parent their daughters. Jones easily could have sent Hannah back to the day where she found Cole's mother in the past. But instead, she ensured that her daughter had a choice to make sure that she was still committed to this life knowing what she would be giving up in the process. Meanwhile, Emma is deprived of that choice because her mother demands only one thing from her. She is only designed to finish Titan. That work is almost complete by the time she leaves. As such, Olivia is more than fine killing her daughter.

That's so tragic to write out while also proving that no one should be willing to follow Olivia into the destruction of the entire world. Humanity may dislike the cruelty of time and the destruction it does on our minds and bodies. But it's still important. It's a key part about being human. It allows us to keep moving forward. Olivia is an immediate threat to that. And yet, stopping her will also destroy the lives that the main characters have created for themselves throughout the entire series. It's also fascinating how many of them are trying to be smarter than Olivia. She was able to fool everyone at Team Splinter last season. They let their guards down and trusted her. They are trying to do the same thing to her. She really shouldn't fall for it though. If she did, then it would be a lackluster final act for her as a character after being so strong, smart and terrifying across the series. She is able to enter into Jones' mind in order to torture her for information. That's more effective than simply hunting down Hannah and killing her once. Here, she can do it multiple times until Jones breaks. And yet, she also has to be concerned about it just being some elaborate trap. When she first does this ruse, she is able to get confirmation that Deacon is still loyal to Team Splinter. As such, she is already preparing to kill him the moment that he stops being useful in this war. However, that should make her very suspicious about why Jones wanted to be in Titan right now. She should be wary of the information that she gets out of her even though it does come out during a time of high stress. It's an emotional reaction. Jones believes she has played the game well. It should just be intriguing to see who ultimately comes out on top. Both sides manage to make the long trip back to 1491 for this meeting with the primaries who created this weapon. And yet, the signs are already there that tragedy is about to befall everyone once more as well.

408. "Demons"
Written by Sean Tretta and directed by David Grossman

This final season started in the Middle Ages. It was such a cryptic opening that teased that things were only going to get more complex and complicated in the final mission to stop the Witness. It gave Team Splinter a purpose and hope. They believed they had a way to discover a weapon that could be used to defeat Olivia. They were racing against time to find it before she could complete Titan and create a paradox so large that it breaks time forever. And now, that mission has come to its conclusion. The team now understands what "climb the steps, ring the bell" means. They are able to travel back to the Middle Ages to understand the message that was left by primaries for them to find. This episode shows more of that sequence that opened the season. It confirms that Olivia was the woman behind the mask who was hunting these primaries. She was ready to torture them for information in order to figure out where their powerful weapon was. She is following a completely separate set of clues than Team Splinter is. And yet, both sides ultimately reach the same destination. Cole is guided there by the primary who was tasked with looking after the ouroboros artifact throughout time. That was the way for a message to be delivered to Cole without having to rely on primaries and what Jennifer could see. Jennifer gets the clarity that she can no longer hear the voices and see the images of the past and future because Olivia is watching everything that she does. Olivia was only aware of the existence of the weapon because Jennifer was so desperate to be primary again. She still holds that as a key piece of her identity. And now, it's apparent that her skills will return to her when the situation requires it. She is still leading this team through time. They didn't know if they would land safely in the Middle Ages because it was so far back in history to go. And yet, it's so rewarding to see the team reunite and piece together the pieces that lead them directly to the weapon. They have found what the primaries wanted James Cole to find. They now see that it is a machine powered through a paradox that is bound to deliver him to some place in time. It's thrilling to think about where he could possibly be taken for this mission.

That's what makes it so devastating and heartbreaking the moment that Olivia shows up and is able to completely destroy this place. The episode was signaling throughout its running time that something horrible was about to happen to Deacon. He was making his peace with knowing that he was going to die on this mission much sooner than everyone else. As such, it's crucial that he tells Cole that he's lucky not just for being the chosen one but also for getting Cassie. Their love is so powerful and special. It's worth holding onto. Meanwhile, he hands his knife over to Jennifer with the intention of getting it back some day. And now, it's clear why he does that. He must have known that he was going to die. He did get a nosebleed in the previous hour while in Titan. Time was already changing then. Older Jennifer is back at Splinter headquarters knowing that the past is changing as well. She is able to provide the team with the next clues as well as salvation through the fixed personal time machine jacket that Cole can now wear. But it's still absolutely crushing when Deacon is killed. It's a brutal moment for a character who was always going back and forth in his loyalties even though he always felt the special bond with the rest of Team Splinter. The show was always teasing the audience with Deacon. And yet, this is still a rewarding but devastating conclusion for him. He dies for his team. They try to save him but Olivia is just much quicker with her actions. She can use Titan to completely destroy this place. She can erase it from time so that the team can never return to this moment and reunite with their friend. That further shows that there are real and lasting stakes to this mission. Titan is now complete and the team doesn't have a mission to explore. Yes, Cole has made the transition to Future Asshole. That will come in handy in completing the various circles left open ended by his adventures already. But it's also going to be so fascinating to see what this latest mystery that Jennifer passes along to her younger self will produce for the team. That's the key moment of hope that the hour ends on. It's once again Jennifer just drawing on the walls. But it's bound to be the key to unlocking whatever the team can use to defeat Olivia.

409. "One Minute More"
Written by Kristen Reidel and directed by David Grossman

It was just a few paragraphs ago when I said that it was a little lackluster that Emma, Olivia's daughter, was revealed to be Cole's mother. And now, that lineage is completely upended once more with such a rewarding and powerful reveal of who his mother actually is. In fact, these three episodes really compliment each other well in one setting because of the story between Hannah and Emma. Sure, it's also clear that I wrote my reviews of each episode as soon as I finished that specific episode and not after I had watched all three. And yet, it's also important to have that initial reaction knowing that these episodes aren't always going to be viewed three in a row. People will watch according to their own timeframes which makes it valuable to offer up an initial thought to what ultimately became nothing but a tease. These episodes highlighted the importance of being daughters for Emma and Hannah. And now, it's clear that being mothers is also a very important detail for them. Hannah went on this mission in order to find Cole's mother and the answers that she must have. She did find Emma but only learned of her life trapped in Titan and the life inside the box that Olivia is so completely afraid of repeating. She traumatized her daughter to serve her own selfish needs. And now, Emma's first choice that is completely her own seems to be ripped away from her. That's so destructive and surprising. The show wants us to believe that Hannah is dying. But instead, it's the other way around. Emma dies and Hannah takes on the name of Marion. She lives this short life with Cole's father. She falls in love with him even though she knows she can't stay with him after she gives birth. She doesn't want to completely change the timeline. But this is also so much more than her going through the motions to ensure the timeline stays intact. It also feels like fate for her because she has finally found the perfect life for her. This short time together with Cole's father was never going to be enough. Just like it's not enough time once the rest of the family learns what truly happened regarding Cole's conception. And yet, it's still truly special and loving for Hannah as well.

This episode is actually surprising in a number of ways because it takes Team Splinter all the way back to the beginning for its final mission. It wants the characters and the audience to remember why time travel was invented in the first place. So much of the show has been about stopping the Witness from creating the Red Forest. And yes, that has become the most looming and lethal threat for the team to face. But all of this started in order to save humanity from being wiped out from a mysterious virus. It still seems like Cassie's destiny to be a part of the research team who then broadcasts several messages of importance that Jones can use to better understand the time. Cole and Cassie fought so hard to prevent this from happening. And now, it seems inevitable because they have to make it happen. They have to ensure time travel's own creation in order to put a stop to Olivia's plans. That just means needing to release the virus for the Army of the 12 Monkeys. It also means Hannah making the ultimate sacrifice in order to save her son. It's such a powerful moment especially once it dawns on Cole and the audience about the biological connection between them. It also makes it so bittersweet when Jones and Cole go back in time to enjoy just one final moment together as a family with Hannah. It's never going to be as long as they want it to be. They enjoy it while also being armed with the information that the primaries wanted to erase Cole completely from the timeline. He was the first creation of time travel. As such, his story needs to end in order to break all of the cycles that have come to define all of their lives. And yet, it should be really powerful to see if the team can actually go through with that plan. Or perhaps they will be tempted to live in this perfect moment forever in the Red Forest with Olivia. Cassie increasingly seems tempted especially as she's shocked to see Hannah die and the Tall Man tease what her future could become after a life surrounded by death and destruction. It certainly sets up a compelling two-part series finale.