While sophomore seasons are tricky, because sometimes you don’t know whether they will live up to your expectations, third seasons are tricky as well, because you are beginning to play the long game while paying off some things, or you are already beginning to start pushing the story forward to its natural end. With SyFy’s “12 Monkeys”, we know that everything was definitely pushing towards the “beginning of the end”, as it has been renewed for one last season with season four. However, the ten episodes of this season spared no expense nor wasted anytime in giving us some answers, and moving things towards the inevitable end.
Based on how things ended in the second season, I expected that there would be far worse consequences happening here, and that it would be darker and more emotional, and I was right.
The second season focused more on the mythology of Time and Primaries, while giving us a little bit more to go on the Witness. This time around, the third season primarily focused on the Witness, and started setting up things for season four primarily through Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire).
The acting for everyone involved in this show, again, fantastic, but aside from the usual suspects, I really need to give a huge shout out to James Callis, who, I think, gave one of his best performances yet.
Kirk Avecedo’s Jose Ramse made me cry yet again in this season, not just once, but twice.
Now, with time travel shows, your head will end up hurting a little when the big revelations are made, and when you start trying to make sense of things. But in this season, there was a major plot twist that I didn’t see coming at all, but after letting it simmer in my head for a day, I now understand why the writers made that particular choice. In the end, you’ll end up realizing that it all makes sense, even though a day later, you’ll probably have to go on reddit and browse the forums just to listen to other theories so that everything makes sense.
Also, themes such as destiny and escaping your own fate are very prevalent in time travel shows, but in the case of “12 Monkeys”, in almost every season, there are characters that you end up going on an emotional journey with them as they explore those themes. Another theme that is also focused upon in this series that became more prevalent here are the themes on nature versus nurture, and an exploration on what makes a person evil enough so that getting rid of that one person becomes justifiable or not.
All of these are explored in many different ways, and we see how each character makes their own decisions and how those decisions affect the people around them.
However, despite all the doom and gloom, there are moments of levity, such as the fact that there’s a whole episode centered on a heist, and that there are episodes in which we get different point of views, and an episode in which things are told in a different way from what we normally expect with this show.
The third season of “12 Monkeys” was a fantastic ride that totally changed the game drastically, and delivered one big plot twist that no one saw coming.
Now, just like with the season 2 review, let’s first make sense of everything that happened, and talk about some of my theories in which I try to make sense out of things.
The season begins where the last season left off, with Dr. Casssandra “Cassie” Railly (Amanda Schull) being kept captive at Titan during her whole pregnancy. While that is happening, Cassie struggles with whether she wants to go through with her pregnancy or not, knowing what her son will become. However, this becomes a moot point after seeing her baby, Athan, before he is taken away in a time capsule and transported to 1922 France under the care of four guardians. Meanwhile, James Cole (Aaron Stanford) becomes obsessed with trying to find Cassie in 2163 until his future self shows up and tells him to find poor Jennifer, who had been stuck in France from 1917 to 1921, trying to get their attention so that she could go home. When she is finally found by Dr. Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa) and Cole, she doesn’t get the warm welcome she had hoped for, as Cole only cared about Cassie and Jones started fiddling about with these new Splinter Vests that the guardians had. The three of them then find the guardians and the baby, but the Splinter Vests allow the guardians to warn themselves in the past and end up resetting time, this time, allowing Cole to properly greet Jennifer and bring her back to 2046.
Meanwhile, one member of the 12 Monkeys goes rogue, and nurses an injured Deacon (Todd Stashwick) back to health so that he could help Cassie escape Titan. Back at the laboratory, Cassie and Cole confirm with each other that their son, Athan (James Callis), is the Witness, and plan to keep it a secret from everyone else. Cassie doesn’t want Athan to be killed, while Cole is still hesitant. A fun heist sequence happens in which they get a copy of the Word of the Witness, but Jennifer, realizing who Athan is to Cassie and Cole, lies to Jones, and helps keep up the ruse.
Ramse is taken by Olivia (Alisen Down) to Sam, whom he encounters on his deathbed after getting injured thanks to an attack by the Witness’ armies. Olivia then tells Jose Ramse (Kirk Avecedo) to kill Cassie after telling him the truth about Athan, and Ramse strikes a bargain to bring her to Project Splinter. Of course, things turn sour after a mission goes awry with Cole and Ramse, after Ramse confronts Cole about Athan, causing Cole to kill him. However, this time around, Ramse promises Cole not to go back and save him this time around.
Cassie and Cole’s secret then wrecks havoc after the team’s ambush on Athan and his guardians goes awry, with Cassie shooting Deacon, and Cole becoming unwilling to kill his own son.
The group splits into two, with Cassie and Cole jumping through time to evade Hannah and Deacon, with Jennifer protecting Athan as well, as he is Primary, to be able to find their son and to convince him not to push through with his plans.
We then learn that Athan has become so disensitized to the world because he knows everything, as a Primary, and that he is trying to run away from his fate. And then, after his Splinter vest gets broken in 1890, he meets Eliza, a nurse and a thief, whom he ends up falling in love with. However, she ends up dying, and no matter what he does, no matter how many times he goes back, he cannot save her life. He also ends up talking to past versions of Cole and Cassie at low points in their lives, and in which they give him words of wisdom that validates his world view as the Witness. Cassie and Cole bring him home to their house in 1959, but Titan, Jones and the Daughters catch up with them. In the ensuing battle, Jones hits Athan’s vest, causing him to splinter, dying, landing in Eliza’s mausoleum in front of Jennifer in 2017, who nurses him back to health. Before he leaves to return to Titan in 2018, he encourages Jennifer, and we see that she has drawn a monkey surrounded by glyphs in the shape of an ouroboros.
Back in 2046, we discover that Olivia had been playing the long game, in order to get her revenge against the Witness and Titan. Athan sacrifices himself to allow Jones and his parents to escape, but before he dies, he tells Olivia that SHE and not he was the Witness. That she was the one who deceived everyone into thinking that he was the Witness so that she could become the Witness, and that she was that “lonely demon in the red forest”, while he had his parents.
After everything is said and done, we were left with a tag scene in which Cole’s father reads the Wizard of Oz to him, and in the book is a poem with the same drawing that Jennifer drew, only, this time, this drawing belonged to Cole’s mother.
Now, the theories are rampant about Cole’s mother, and I myself thought that it could have been possible that Jennifer was Cole’s mother, but all I know for sure is that she is connected to all of this in some way.
I loved how we were given two interestingly different things narratively this season. I loved the episode in which we learn of Athan’s and Eliza’s love story, as narrated by his parents, who also start remembering when Athan had come to them in the past; and the point in the season finale in which we saw things from Olivia’s point of view.
I actually like the reveal. It is interesting that Olivia is the Witness and not Athan, and I am pretty sure that this is going to stick this time around. Athan was only the author of the Word of the Witness because he is Primary. Olivia is the Witness through and through. Just think of it. Future Olivia needed the plague to happen so that there would be time travel. Time travel being invented would ensure that she would have a way to contact Dr. Kirshner to ensure that she was created, and without time travel, Mantis would have never been sent through time, and Cassie and Cole would have never met and made Athan. Athan’s Word of the Witness is Olivia’s road map as to what to do next, and without believing that Athan was the Witness, then she wouldn’t have ended up being disappointed in him with her expectations of the idea of the Witness, and she would have never had made it to Titan like that and killed him, which allowed her to ascend to become the Witness. Why the writing in the house of cedar and pine? It was for them to all think that Athan was the Witness.
If you look at it this way, it all makes sense, especially as Olivia wants the red forest because it was something that was promised to her, and she has all the blind rage in the world that will motivate her to make it happen. The moment Cole and Cassie started to try saving Athan’s soul, we should have known that Athan wasn’t the Witness.
All of this was a wonderful exploration of what fate and destiny is all about, and what do we do with that knowledge. Do we try to prevent it from happening, or do we end up becoming what was decreed?
This show tackles it in very interesting ways. For some, there truly is nothing that can be done about it and they either try to fight it, or become defeatist, while others try to change it, and others accept it whole heartedly as their purpose.
I love the emotional struggle that Cole and Cassie went through here, and it was amazing that even Jones could be a believable villain.
Athan’s whole emotional journey was something that was definitely a treat to watch, and kudos to Callis for delivering such a wonderful performance that outshined his work as Gaius Baltar in “Battlestar Galactica”, for me.
I am also very much excited about what will happen next, and in particular for Jennifer, because she knows that she holds all the answers and knows what will happen next in ‘the beginning of the end”.
Once again, the acting, the effects, the plotting and pacing were all well done.
Down knocked it out of the park as Olivia, whether she was being her Machiavellian self or going all out with a great Jennifer impression.
For me, Cole and Cassie grew stronger as a unit, Ramse’s death was inevitable and he went down doing what he thought was right in true Ramse fashion, Jennifer went from doubting herself to taking a stand and truly being able to connect more with time, Athan’s evolution was fascinating, Olivia coming into her own was triumphant even though we shouldn’t be rooting for her, and the one who got shortchanged the most was poor Deacon. Poor Deacon was doubting his place, and got shortchanged by everyone. However, I think the best relationship that Deacon has is with Jennifer, so I do really hope that regardless of what side he ends up on, in the end, he ends up saving Jennifer in the end.
This season was an exhilarating ride, and yet, it left me drained and emotionally exhausted as well, as this was more punishing when it comes to the emotional consequences that happened in this season. However, I have no regrets whatsoever.
With that being said, I cannot wait to see what will happen in Season 4, and in particular, Olivia’s rise into becoming the Witness. I’m also curious as to see whether things from all the way back in Season 1 will also be paid off in Season 4, because I’m pretty sure it’s all connected and will loop on itself, especially as we haven’t yet seen the origins of that first corpse with the plague virus, and we haven’t seen Cassie dying at the CDC in 2018 yet.
Once again, “12 Monkeys” continues to deliver, making it on the best science fiction has to offer on television today.
What did you think of the third season of “12 Monkeys”? What did you think about that major plot twist in the end? Did it make sense to you? What are your predictions for the upcoming fourth and final season? Let me know what you think in the comments below!