Home TV ’12 Monkeys’ Review: Kill Primaries, Destroy Time

’12 Monkeys’ Review: Kill Primaries, Destroy Time

12 MONKEYS -- "Emergence" Episode 204 -- Pictured: Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)
12 Monkeys
Season 2, Episode 4: “Emergence”
Air Date: May 9, 2016


In this week’s episode, Ramse time travels to 1944 at the behest of Jones to retrieve Cassie and Cole and in doing so will gain freedom for Sam and himself in 2044. But do you really want to be outside with all those temporal anomalies popping out of nowhere?

He is sent back two days before the paradox explosion in hopes of finding the other two chrononauts and is instructed to put an ad in the paper everyday so that Jones and the other scientists in the future can pinpoint a specific date and location to their exact whereabouts. Naturally though things don’t go according to plan and Ramse gets hit by a car and is brought to a hospital where he lay unconscious for a whole day.

We flash to the scene when Cassie and Cole first meet at the Emerson Hotel and we find out that the phone call for Cole had actually been Ramse on the other line at the hospital. He was going in for surgery at some point to reset a broken bone (in his wrist maybe?) while a nurse also commented on how he healed super fast, but weirdly had osteoporosis (strange for someone his age). Before he was able to even say a word to Cole, the hospital attendants catch him and he is drugged back to sleep.

Ramse is knocked out through most of the events from last week’s episode. After regaining consciousness, he commandeers clothes from a visiting relative of a fellow patient and manages to walk out of the hospital without being caught. He then heads straight to the mental asylum where Cole and Cassie already are trying to find Tommy Crawford Jr. Upon arrival, he sees the body of a dead security guard and calls out for Cole in Tommy’s room but instead runs into the female messenger who is surprised to see him there.  She ominously says that he shouldn’t be here because his cycle is complete. He tries to bluff his way out (as she has the bone dagger up against his neck) and tells her that the cycle has changed and that he’s looking for James Cole. The messenger is unsure of whether to trust him as the audience is as well. He calmly explains that there were problems after she left the facility in 2043 as some of the others were killed and Dr. Railly and Cole pursued her to 1944. Ramse goes on that he can stop Team Splinter as he’s infiltrated the enemy. He pushes it a little too far though when he claims that The Witness personally asked him to do this and the messenger is quick to realize that he is lying because their leader never asks. Ramse is then handcuffed to the radiator pipe while the two messengers deal with Cassie and Cole.

He is able to set himself free eventually but the authorities make their appearance and take the other two time travelers into custody while the female messenger is taken to the hospital. Ramse lays low as the NYPD is all over the hospital but manages to rescue Cole and Cassie as they are getting interrogated at a motel. Reunited, he explains that Jones sent him because their tethers had been lost after the paradox explosion. As the three discuss their next move and returning to 2044, Agent Gale is completely confused before Cole does the kind thing and knocks the poor guy out.

12 Monkeys

Regrouping at the Emerson, Ramse tells his companions that he needs to put an ad in the paper so that Jones can retrieve all of them and Cassie decides to go with him to make sure he doesn’t do anything funny. After the deed is done, the two share a drink at the hotel bar where Ramse tells Dr. Railly that she should forgive Cole because it’s the right thing to do. Cole forgave him and the other man would do the same for her.

Meanwhile said individual sees a story in the newspaper about the female messenger at the hospital and goes to investigate on his own. He runs into Agent Gale and pulls out a gun on him, except the other man doesn’t think that they killed Tommy anymore. In fact he believes something strange really is going on and allows Cole to talk to the messenger. In the patient’s room, the woman begins to speak, telling them that her mission is complete but she didn’t expect to survive. It looks like her father made them too well. When asked why kill the Crawfords, the woman responds that Cole understands that Tommy is a primary. When the time traveler inquires on why paradox him she says to stop time’s cruel destruction and to unlock the infinite. Now what could that mean? The next moment though she over powers them both and takes Cole’s gun. Just when it looks like she is about to shoot him, she stops claiming that she cannot kill him because The Witness has spoken. He passes out and she disappears. Some fans have theorized that Cole is actually The Witness, or an alternate version of him is (or will become?). That would be real tricky of you 12 Monkeys.

I’m watching you 12 Monkeys.

Cole, Ramse, Cassie and Gale return to the Emerson where the time travelers invite the government man to see them get splintered back to 2044 to prove that he’s not going to crazy and everything they’ve said is real. When the three disappear in front of his very eyes Gale’s response is an appropriate holy sh*t. He takes the picture of Cassie and Cole at the military party and then writes the message that would one day be found by Team Splinter in 2016.

In 2044 Jones, Whitley and some others examine bodies aged by the temporal anomalies that began after the 1944 paradox explosion. When Whitley asks her why now and here, she has no answers as well known theories of time had never included this. In frustration Jones finally seeks out Old Jennifer who has been camped outside the facility with her Daughters.

This scene between Jones and Jennifer is a significant one as the primary explains that there are no straight lines regarding time (aka it’s not linear). Jennifer continues to say that who created the temporal anomalies isn’t important (it’s the 12 Monkeys duh) it’s how and why that are the real questions. Jones quickly answers that the Monkeys used her machine and that’s how but the elder woman brushes it off and tells a story about an ant line wherein a singular ant only knows the one in front of it and behind it. Only when it steps out of line does it see how many ants there really are. Old Jennifer tells Jones that she’s looking at time incorrectly. The primary begins to brew some red forest tea for the scientist but the woman leaves thinking that she was wasting her time. Oh Jones, if you only knew!

Back at the facility, she rips Dr. Adler a new one because he didn’t think checking the 1944 newspaper would lead to anything. She has an epic meltdown and begins tearing down the research on the wall. Jonesy, you should go outside and have a cigarette and calm down.

She gets a little pep talk from Dr. Eckland who reminds her that she’s not just a scientist, she’s also an explorer. When explorers get lost they go full steam ahead. So swallowing her pride, Jones returns to Old Jennifer where she gives the scientist the cup of temporal anomaly red tea. Once the effects take hold, the she meets young Jennifer during in another time, specifically the beginning to man’s existence. The two have a somewhat existential conversation with Ms. Goines asserting that time and man grew up together, depend on each other while Jones disagrees that time is older than man and infinite. Jennifer then goes on to say that in the here and now man helps time to think, some more than others and these are the primaries. Primaries are the gears that keep time moving steady but if someone where to destroy them the gears would break and paradoxes would ensue. If this were to happen there would be no past, present or future. It would only be an infinite now of death and life happening all at the same moment. Jennifer ends by saying, “a memory of tomorrow,” the same exact words that Olivia used to guide Cassie when she had taken the same tea.

Jones now has a better understanding of time and when she arrives back at the facility, Dr. Adler finds Ramse’s ad and they are able to bring the trio back. As they debrief one another in what’s happened in both periods, Jones says that the 12 Monkeys are using time against itself and that there’s no way to know how many primaries must die before it all collapses. However things get heated as Cassie, Ramse and Jones begin to argue and it’s up to Cole to get them put their differences aside and work together because otherwise they will truly fail. The team needs to somehow track down all the messengers who are trying to kill primaries. It’s nice to see him play the peacemaker and the voice of hope. He tells them that they need to bury the past to save the future. You tell them otter eyes!

The episode ends in the year 1971 where a man in a hat visits his dying mother who’s room holds various bouquets of flowers. Gasp! It is the female messenger on her deathbed. She tells her son that her journey is ending but his is beginning and that the Army of the 12 Monkeys will show him his path. Now who could this strapping lad be? It’s YOUNG PALLID MAN!! So this is how he got his penchant for flower themed killings. It makes me wonder if Olivia’s father is also a messenger. Back in season 1, PM had commented that he wished her father could have seen this when they had created a paradox when Ramse was with them.

As we learn that the 12 Monkeys are intent on killing more primaries to destroy time, I still wonder how the plague would have helped them achieve this goal. Was the plague created so that Jones and Team Splinter would be forced to invent the time machine in the first place? Was that the only way time travel could be achieved? We’ll just have to wait to find out.

This was a great episode that showed audiences that there’s a much larger plan afoot and that we are only beginning to scratch the surface. Particularly great performances from Kirk Acevedo and Barbara Sukowa in capturing the complexities of their characters as both Jones and Ramse are essentially two sides of the same coin and it will be interesting to see if they can put their differences aside and truly work together. Cassie may finally forgive Cole for dragging her into this as they have a much bigger problem to face that requires their cooperation. They’ve all got to learn to trust one another because otherwise, they’ve already lost.

Final Thoughts (AKA More Questions)

  • Is Cassie still meant to die in 2017?
  • How many primaries are there?
  • How did Pallid Man hook up with Olivia and the Army of the 12 Monkeys?
  • Who is The Messengers’ father? Is he The Witness as well?
  • If the female messenger thought her cycle would end in 1944 after the paradox explosion, did The Witness lie to her then since she eventually gave birth to Pallid Man and he becomes an important agent of the 12 Monkeys from 1971 into the 2010’s?
  • Is Ramse fully on Team Splinter now that he’s fighting to save time itself as well?
  • Who is Jones’ cigarette supplier? How has she not run out after all these years?

Only four episodes deep into season 2 and so many new questions already. Well done 12 Monkeys.


12 Monkeys airs Mondays 9/8 central on Syfy.



  1. Great recap again, Kristen!
    Ramse has no choice but to be fully committed now. His son will die if everything ends in 2044 or before. Jones had advanced warning to stock up on cigarettes when Cole and Cassie met her in the past, pre-plague. Half of her government grant probably went to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The plague helped weaken time since time and man were linked. Perhaps killing the primaries (especially a single one) wouldn’t have had as great an effect if 90+% of the people hadn’t died.

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