Season 1, Episode 11 – “Shonin”
Air Date: March 27, 2015
Major Spoilers for 12 Monkeys’ “Shonin” below
Thank you “12 Monkeys” for confirming my suspicions and making this episode one for the books because as I theorized last week, Ramse is indeed The Witness and one of the major players in the Army of the 12 Monkeys.
“Shonin” was a huge reveal episode, chronicling Ramse’s journey from unexpected time traveler to becoming The Witness in the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Unlike previous episodes, “Shonin” spends most of its time following Ramse’s initial recruitment by the 12 Monkeys and his actions up till the present 2015 timeline. The odyssey is filled with interesting new details as well as new questions that will baffle any fan’s mind (including my own).
Ramse is contacted by Olivia (the lady whom Aaron met last week played by the lovely Alisen Down) while in prison for stabbing Cole during their fight to the death inside the White Dragon. Incidentally, it seems that Cole telling Leland Goines that there was a virus inside the body is what triggered the man to buy it in the first place. Great!
During Ramse’s period of incarceration, Olivia sent letters and a copy of “The Art of War” to keep him sane and prepare him for his role as The Witness. This led to a masterful takedown of a prison yard bully that mercilessly beat him for years. One day Ramse reveals to his fellow inmates (after learning Japanese) that his attacker was working for the guards and snitched on them causing the other prisoners to kill the man for him. Such manipulation! Soon after Ramse is released and meets Olivia, Pallid Man, and others at an undisclosed sanctum.
At this meeting, Pallid Man wears the same necklace that Jennifer gave Ramse in the future. PM mentions Olivia’s father would have been so happy to see this occasion. Olivia and a confused Ramse take the two necklaces and place it on a dish with the same symbol etched on the sides. Since the necklaces are the same item just from different time periods, a paradox explosion occurs the way it did when Cassie’s two watches were put next to each other. The event yields a strange aftermath where all of the shrubbery transitions from green to red. This must be significant because in the last episode when Cole splintered at the bar, a plant also changed colors from green into red. There could also be some link to the Red Forest, perhaps an area that becomes red somehow is somehow changed from the rest of the world?
After this, Ramse pretty much lays the groundwork for the events that take place during the season so far. He invests in Leland Goines’ Markridge, gets Pallid Man to kill all the Markridge scientists and lets Jennifer take the blame, he purposely has the Army of the 12 Monkeys lose the virus in Chechnya and then have Peters recreate it for them. He even has Olivia meet Aaron to secure his compliance, going so far as having a hand in Senator Royce’s selected survivor private sector project. Speaking of which, could that have been the origin of Spearhead and Project Splinter?
In addition, Olivia gets Jennifer into the fold by creepy brainwashing. She manipulates the younger woman into trusting her by preying on the former asylum patient’s abandonment issues. This is a disturbing scene because Olivia basically tries to become a mother figure with Jennifer as her “daughter.” We know of course that Jennifer will lead The Daughters in the future, thus making certain that she helps trigger the events that sends Ramse back in time.
While he’s been working to make sure the present timeline goes according to plan, there are some unexpected circumstances that have occurred. One example is Ramse’s weird skin issue (his hands look like their slowly rotting). Olivia only comments that time is imperfect, yea you got that right. Secondly, why are they not aging? This particular scene jumps 16 years into the future and Ramse, Olivia, and Pallid Man look the same. Did the explosion from the necklaces in 1995 alter their bodies due to exposure?
Still, throughout the years Ramse isn’t the unquestioning believer that Olivia and Pallid Man appear to be. There is some spiritual/prophetic aspect to the Army of the 12 Monkeys that I don’t think Ramse buys into. He’s just there to ensure a future for his son. And on that note, who are the 12 that are coming? More time travellers?? It makes you wonder if somehow in the future future something happens to Jones that allows for more chrononauts.
Speaking of which, Jones in 2043 is in dire straights as everyone in Project Splinter abandons the facility. Beforehand they make a last ditch effort to send Cole to 2015 after he is stabbed by Ramse in 1987, but doing so cuts their tether and they no longer will be able to bring him back to their present. Whitley soon leaves with his men after he realizes that Jones is kind of crazy to remain there even after their mission was over. As a viewer, it is a sad and telling moment for the German doctor who’s determination to stay the course has seemingly crossed over into delusion.
Meanwhile, Ramse believes he killed Cole back in Tokyo. However thanks to Team Splinter, the other man managed to survive in 2015 by making it to Cassie’s place.
We can guess that Ramse doesn’t know what happens next after this point since all the events he’d been told about had come to pass. I wonder if Olivia has more information that she’s hiding, perhaps secrets her father told her? It’s going to be interesting to see how the next two episodes play out because “Shonin” had been all about making certain the present timeline was preserved. But like in many time travel narratives, we are faced with the unanswerable question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? Let me know if you figure that out.
Great performances all around but especially from Kirk Acevedo, Alisen Down, Barbara Sukowa and Emily Hampshire in this episode. Acevedo’s portrayal of Ramse from a confused, bewildered state to a sinister one is a treat to watch as this is a side of the character we have never seen before. Down takes Olivia’s enigmatic and slightly sexually charged persona to new levels. Sukowa’s Jones is almost heartbreaking to watch as she brings a fragility to her final scene (being alone in the facility). And Hampshire shows us a different Jennifer, exposing her child-like emotional vulnerability.
So now that we’ve gotten a glimpse of what the Army of the 12 Monkeys have been plotting to this whole time, there are many more unanswered questions that hang in the air. We still don’t know what exactly the group wants to accomplish and for what purpose? How did Olivia’s father know that Ramse, aka The Traveler as she calls him, was going to time travel to 1987 Tokyo? Is there another unknown time traveler that went even further back in the past? Why did Ramse, Olivia, and Pallid Man stop aging? Where did the other people who were in the 12 Monkeys 1995 meeting go (they disappeared shortly after Olivia and Ramse linked the necklaces) ? Will Jones survive all alone in 2043? How will Cole and Cassie fight against Ramse, Olivia and Pallid Man? The odds seem stacked against them and humanity at large.
Last and most importantly how much did Zeljko Ivanek rock that toupee?? A LOT.
“Shonin” left me in a state of overwhelm in the best possible way. Next one please!
“12 Monkeys” airs Fridays 9/8 central on Syfy.
Follow Nicole on Twitter: @niixc.
Images courtesy of Syfy.