’12 Monkeys’ Review: Olivia’s Origin Story Revealed

12 Monkeys
Season 2, Episode 10: “Fatherland”
Air Date: June 20, 2016


We’re back and in this week’s episode of 12 Monkeys, the show takes us to Berlin in 1961 where we discover the origins of Olivia and the 12 Messengers. It’s a time when there was a lot of heightened tension during the Cold War and Team Splinter find themselves right in the middle of the action.

But first we start off in 2016 Berlin, Olivia visits an abandoned facility with one of her minions. Still wheelchair bound and recovering from her injuries, she explains to her attendant that this is place was where a great betrayal happened many years ago.

In 2044, Ramse and Cassie argue with Cole and Jones about going to Berlin in 1961 to find former Nazi scientist Dr. Isaac Kirschner (played by the fantastic Matt Frewer) because of a CIA report they found noting Titan and The Witness. Though much of the report was redacted. Meanwhile, Cole wants to find a primary in 1957 to save their life and hopefully to undo the storms in their present. After an intense argument, Ramse does a 180 degree turn and says that he’s willing to go with Cole’s plan instead prompting a confused Cassie.

But the former scav isn’t really giving up, instead he convinces Adler to help him and Cassie to program the jump for 1961 instead.

12 MONKEYS -- "Fatherland" Episode 210 -- Pictured: Jay Karnes as Robert Gale -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)
12 MONKEYS — “Fatherland” Episode 210 — Pictured: Jay Karnes as Robert Gale — (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)

The three time travelers splinter back to the past, but as Cole is roofied by his compatriots, realization dawns upon him that that they aren’t actually in 1957. He wakes up to find himself alone inside room 607 and decides to contact FBI Agent Gale for help. Gale meets him at the Emerson and says that Cassie and Ramse had used fake passports and landed in Berlin about an hour ago. Cole asks for the agent’s help since he’s broke and doesn’t speak German and eventually the other man heeds the call to adventure. Gale makes an interesting comment though that he’s known the chrononaut for a long time, but Cole is confused because this is only their second meeting. So that leads me to believe that they’ll meet again in Gale’s past/Cole’s future.

Meanwhile Cassie and Ramse track Kirschner to an opera in Berlin where they attempt to nab he doctor before lethal Mossad agents beat them to it. Unfortunately they are cornered and are captured themselves along with the former Nazi scientist. As they are being interrogated, Cassie tries to explain that the just want to ask the doctor about a place called Titan and a man who calls himself The Witness and that’s it. The Mossad agents understandably want to know who they are actually working as the CIA had never heard of them. Thankfully, Cole and Gale arrive in time for the rescue.

Cole tells Ramse that they stupidly created their own clue because he saw the full CIA report and that the only reason Titan and The Witness are mentioned is because they had said it while they were being interrogated. Whoops. Cassie is hell bent on getting information though and proves to Cole that they aren’t just blinded by revenge when they see the all too familiar necklace with the Titan symbol on Kirschner’s neck.

The scientist then reveals that as a young man he was approached by a mysterious figure who had witnessed many things. This person told him about the coming plague, the Berlin Wall, and that he would be asked to do terrible things by the Nazis. He also said that he was brought a woman who was different from anyone else, genetically perfect (Vivian!). Gale puts together that Kirschner must have been the person who responsible for creating the 12 Messengers through his research. Fearing for his life, the scientist agrees to take them to his lab to show them his work but first they must somehow get through the wall.

12 MONKEYS -- "Fatherland" Episode 210 -- Pictured: Aaron Stanford as James Cole -- (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)
12 MONKEYS — “Fatherland” Episode 210 — Pictured: Aaron Stanford as James Cole — (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Gale takes them to a section of the Berlin wall that was supposed to be unprotected but now a number of troops were patrolling it to prevent anyone from sneaking in or out. Ramse goes first and manages to move one of the wood panels to make an opening and then Cassie and Kirchner were to follow next. Except that the damn doctor trips and the soldiers begin shooting. Gale tells Cole to go while he covers him, saying that when he sees his granddaughter all he sees his a dead girl and there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it, but Cole can. The FBI agent sacrifices his own life and Team Splinter gets away with Kirschner taking them to an all too familiar facility.

When they get there, the he tells them that if what they say is true then they shouldn’t be weakened by sympathy when they see his research. Surprise it turns out to be a little girl! The child is locked inside a brick room within the room itself and she comes close to the glass window calling Kirschner “father” and asks if he’s come to say goodbye like Mother said he would. Team Splinter definitely wasn’t prepared for this scenario but it makes sense. The scientist had been able to create this young girl to be stronger, immune from diseases, etc. through the genetic material he received from the female messenger Vivian (also Pallid Man’s mom). Soon enough she arrives with her goons and shoots Kirschner, taking the young girl away to safety.

Amidst the gunfight, Ramse sees the big word of The Witness map and as they are being pulled back to 2044, he grabs the coordinates of Titan’s location before splintering. Once they are all back in the future Cole has Whitley lock Ramse and Cassie up for sabotaging the original mission to stop the primary from being paradoxed in 1957 through the help of Dr. Adler. Earlier, Adler had admitted that he had helped the two out of anger and frustration that Jones had not fulfilled her end of the bargain and saved all of them from the plague that took his son. Cassie tries to plead with Cole that they can still fix this but Cole says that there is no we anymore. Ouch.

Back in the past, Vivian brings the little girl to her new home and we discover that she is in fact, young Olivia. The female messenger gives her the necklace that was pardoxed back in season one and tells her how she has a purpose. In 2016, the grown up Olivia gets up from her wheelchair and walks out on her own two feet. We then cut to her speaking to the bust of a statue, angrily saying she had told her that The Witness would never abandon her but she lied. Olivia chooses to end her place in the cycle today as she leaves the necklace with the Titan symbol and seemingly abandons the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

Olivia’s origin story is fascinating as she came into being only because time travel itself exists. She was created through Vivian (one of the time traveling Messengers) who later on will be created from her. A question of who came first, the chicken or the egg? But at least now we know why Pallid Man and herself don’t seem to age, they are both genetically modified to be stronger, disease resistant, slow to age, and fast to heal. Essentially PM, Olivia, and the Messengers are Wolverine minus the adamantium and claws.

“Fatherland” sets us up for the final three episodes of the season, which undoubtedly will be full of unexpected twists and turns. Now that mission 1957 didn’t happen, will Team Splinter be able to save themselves from the time storm? Or are they all doomed by Ramse, Cassie, and Adler’s actions?

Final thoughts:

  • Deacon admitting to Cassie before she splintered that he had feelings for her and then being rejected was so awkward, but also you had the feels. We luv you Tearsy McTearson!
  • It’s so fun to see relationships between characters change as temporary new alliances are formed due to changes in circumstances (aka Ramse & Cassie).
  • Can’t help but sympathize for Dr. Adler because while Jones got her child back, his son is still dead and so he wants to find another solution. He’s the biggest underdog on the show and I’m rooting for him!
  • Now that Olivia has appeared to have left the Army of the 12 Monkeys, where will she go and what will she do? Interestingly enough she now must find a new purpose like Jennifer. I’m sure this won’t be the last we’ll see of her.
  • Alisen Down’s performance was fantastic in this episode! Bravo.
  • The show puts a lot of emphasis on family, both the ones you are genetically related to as well as the one you create yourself.

Until next week! Here’s the promo for episode 11, the first in the 3 part finale for season 2.


12 Monkeys airs Mondays 9/8 central on Syfy.

Catch up on all things 12 Monkeys here.

Nicole C
Nicole Chttps://theworkprint.com
Nicole is the Features Editor for The Workprint. She may or may not be addicted to coffee, audiobooks, and sci-fi.

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  1. Great to have you back, Nicole! Are you going to do a catch-up for the two episodes you missed?
    If you were Cole, would you consider going back to 1957 and that lab–better armed–to kill Olivia and Vivian? Seems to me it would solve all your problems. You can even get a message to the “other” Cole and Gale to come and help you. No one ever suggests “do-overs” on this show and that seems strange to me. Especially when something critical has happened.

    • I don’t understand why they couldn’t have simply compromised by executing both plans. Go back to 1957. If the plan fails, continue living normally, in that timeline, until 1961. Additionally, during those four years, they could have discovered other opportunities to act. There doesn’t have to be a time machine in every episode.

      • Thanks Darrell! I am aiming to incorporate some of the important events from episodes 8 & 9 into next week’s review 🙂

        Lost In Time – that’s a great point. I wonder if their characters were too impatient/feeling rushed to consider that option.

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