Spoilers through season 3, episode 10 of 12 Monkeys.
In the final night of the 12 Monkeys season 3 binge event and it’s the most important one yet as we discovered not one, but two Witnesses. One of the best things about the show is its continuous ability to surprise audiences with unexpected plot twists. When one question gets answered several more gets asked in kind.
Here are the most important events to know episodes 8 to 10.
Conception of The Word of The Witness
In 1879, Athan has become a young man who is tired of living in squalor. Sebastian (now played by Rupert Graves of Sherlock!) though is quick to remind him that one day he will have all the power in the world and he needs to be a person who’s lived through hardship to understand what wielding that will actually mean. Athan doesn’t want to be primary because of all the voices and variables, plus he still struggles with the insanity of what he has been told of his future. It turns out to be Sebastian who gives him a large parchment of paper and tells him to make it sane. As his charge begins to write and draw, the word of The Witness begins to take shape.
Jones Allies with Olivia
With Cole and Cassie as enemies now, Jones ends up turning to Olivia for a “fresh perspective” on their evidence in an attmept to catch the parents of The Witness as they keep coming to a dead end. The other woman advises that they need to stop thinking linearly. Jones takes her out of her cell and into the evidence room where Olivia explains that Cole and Cassie are going back to places they’ve been to retrace their steps and that The Witness actually has 2 more guardians protecting him now (his parents duh). She also tells them that Jennifer has been leading Team Splinter along and protecting C and C.
In Jennifer’s gut, she knows that allying with Olivia is wrong and so she creates a distraction by sacrificing her two turtles by causing a paradox explosion and giving her enough time to get to the machine room. There she has a heart to heart with Lasky who agrees that Olivia cannot be trusted and that killing their friends is bad. He tells her that if she had a gun then he would be forced to help her to save his own life. So she makes a gun with her fingers and he “fears” for his life. She tells him to send her back to London 1899 because Cassie and Cole are still there.
Let’s Go To a Masquerade
Cole and Cassie are able to figure out that there is a masquerade ball in 1899 that is a significant moment for Athan (its in the word of the Witness) but they don’t understand why. They work their way to attending it though hoping that he’ll be there. Instead they recognize Sebastian who is working as a server. The horseman explains that he was stranded by Athan and hadn’t seen his charge in twenty years. However, Team Splinter arrives and it’s a tense moment as former friends face each only to be distracted by Jennifer’s arrival. The primary enters the party dawning a plague mask and launches fireworks into the room to serve as a disturbance. Cole, Cassie, and Sebastian are able to get away and they head to the gardens where C and C stashed their splinter vests. The scenery looks familiar though because Jennifer had previously drawn it in 2046 at the facility. Sebastian makes the ultimate sacrifice and tells Athan’s parents the address to their son’s London home where he hopes they’ll find some answers before stepping in front of Jones and Deacon to serve as a distraction so that the duo can get away. Team Splinter shoots the guardian down and he turns out to be the dead body on the ground that Athan had seen at the very beginning of episode 8. This moment was significant to him because it was the death of his beloved tutor. Athan turns out to have been at the party all along masked of course and goes out to the garden to put two copper coins on the eyes of Sebastian quietly saying that they’ll see each other again in the red forest.
Jennifer Goes Back To The Future, 2046 That Is
After her London stunt, Jennifer is taken back to 2046 and locked up in Olivia’s cage in her place. This is such an intense moment for her character as she is now back in solitary confinement with just the voices in her head to keep her company.
We Learn About Athan’s Life
Cole and Cassie go to the address Sebastian tells them and finds a home full of memorabilia from Athan’s life that Cassie recognizes like the gramophone. There is a plague mask there but it is different from the one that was in Titan. There are also tons of journals in the house and the parents begin read through the, learning about their son’s life as a grown man. We discover that Athan had gotten stuck in London in 1891 because his vest malfunctioned, previously he had been hoping from period to period, essentially running away from the distant future of himself.
He goes to a clockmaker to create a piece he needs to fix the vest, but then meets a woman who robs the artisan of some valuables. The most striking thing about this person is that she is wearing a plague mask as a disguise to hide her identity. Curious, Athan follows her to a makeshift hospital where she turns out to be a doctor helping to care for the sick. Slowly he begins to fall in love with Eliza because she isn’t afraid to stand up to him and despite being primary, he strangely is unable to see her death. When he asks her why the mask, she says if your promising death you best look the part.
Eliza Dies Over and Over Again
We discover that Eliza ends up dying and that Athan in unable to stop it no matter what he tries. First, she is killed in cold blood by the men who owned the watches she stole. The primary sensed something wrong and goes to the hospital only to find her dead body. Furious, he goes to the clockmaker and kicks his ass, finally realizing that the man had been playing him to keep getting paid. With the part he finally needed to fix the splinter vest in his hands, Athan goes back in time to stop Eliza from being killed by shooting the men intent on murdering her instead. She is shocked but he explains that he did it to save her. They have an intense argument that Athan should not be manipulating time. Eliza ends up giving him a broken pocket watch (the same one that was in Titan that Cassie saw!) that her father had given her and that it was broken. She explains that the hands cannot be moved forward or backwards to serve as a reminder that there is only today. He says that he would do anything for her and she responds that he should never manipulate time again then. Later on, he is about to destroy the splinter vest and calls for her when she doesn’t respond. Athan comes over to their bed only to discover that Eliza has died in her sleep. This time she passed away from an infection stemming from her leg. He tries in vain to save her 607 times (same number as the Emerson hotel room interesting) and fails. She always dies on June 26, 1891 no matter what.
Athan Meets His Parents In Their Past
Cassie and Cole also discover that they had both met their son at different periods in their lives. Firstly, James met his son at some point after the plague hit as a grown man. He was on his own and still scavenging for food when Athan showed up and offered to trade him a can of beans for whatever he had in a bag he was ransacking and a conversation. Cole agrees and the two talk. During this time, James was in survivor mode and was in a kill of be killed mentality. The son asks his father about his grandparents, if he had any happy memories of them. Cole shrugs and said that he never knew his mother and only remembered a little bit of his dad. Athan says that they have that in common. He then asks how many people Cole has killed and the other man gets upset and defensive, retorting back that surely he’s done things he regrets. Athan calmly answers that he’s afraid of what he’s going to become. The two men end up discussing happiness and Cole reveals that if he could have that he would give up a lifetime of anything else. Careful dude, these sounds like thoughts for justifying the destruction of time.
At some point while he is trying to save Eliza, Athan visits his mother who is a young doctor struggling with the pain of just losing a patient. He poses as a fellow colleague who had been on leave and also had lost a patient recently. Cassie’s son describes how Eliza (though doesn’t mention her name) had an infection and so he prescribed her with a medicine but it in turn resulted in a cerebral aneurism. He goes on to say how some people just can’t be saved and how if hypothetically you could try hundreds and hundreds of times but still end up with the same result. Cassie shares her own frustrations regarding time and how it seems to just run away from you when you need it to stop. Dr. Railly exhales slowly, adding that it simply doesn’t. Athan agrees that it takes and runs away, his mother adding, “like a thief.” He says that it sounds like time is an enemy and from her current perspective, Cassie agrees that it is like fighting a clock who always wins.
After this conversation, he finally realizes that he must return to Titan to become the demon he’d always feared. As he looks upon Eliza’s body inside the church yet again, Cassie and Cole finally catch up to him.
Jennifer Is Slowly Going Mad…Or Is She?
Back in 2046, Jennifer’s cage is covered with drawings on the floor. Jones asks her what all of this is and she said its what she sees (it’s all she sees). Deacon is obviously disturbed by this despite his macho-I-am-a-bad-guy mentality. He suggests they let her go outside and get some air but Jennifer says it’s inside her mind where she is struggling. Jones asks the primary to help her understand what its like to be her and what and when these sketches are. The other woman only responds that it is the end and that they all play a part. We see a drawing of a dead body again and a figure inside Titan’s Red Theater. At some point while alone, Jennifer sees her past and future selves who both tell her that she needs to listen to the voices in her head because they are the voices of the other primaries and that they are trying to tell her something. They proceed to lecture that she has everything she needs already and that she needs to think. Jennifer shows her other selves a picture of the mausoleum and they help confirm that this takes place in her present and that she must save the dying man. But to help him she needs to get out of her prison and the other two say use her head. They vanish and Jennifer begins to pound her head onto the cement floor. She is soon strapped to a chair where Jones asks why she won’t help them and Jennifer responds that all that the scientist ever wanted was what was in her head and she doesn’t want it anymore. Showing compassion, Deacon says enough and tells Jones that he watched the primary die once already and he wasn’t going to let Jones or Jennifer herself end her life again. He asks where she wants to go and she responds home. As she is preparing to sit on the machine, the German scientist tells her that she will be instrumental in saving her daughter and she will always be grateful for that. Just as she is about to splinter, Deacon apologizes and she turns and gives him a wink before vanishing. Well played Jennifer, well played.
Cole and Cassie continue to chase Athan through time via synching their splinter vests to his though he puts up quite a fight. Their son finally gets the jump on them by coming in from behind the doctor and setting her vest onto self-destruct mode and tells his dad that he can either save her or follow him. Cole helps Cassie out of her vest and then they both follow him, but only he appears first. Athan thinks his dad let mom die until she grabs him from behind and the three of them splinter to 1959 and the house of cedar and pine for a little family time. Once there, Cassie and Cole try to convince their kid that he doesn’t have to become The Witness. She gives him Eliza’s pocket watch as a reminder that his beloved would not want him to do this and that the only time they have is now.
Team Splinter Catches Up
Olivia helps Jones to find the location of the trio, tapping into her mindset as a mother and helping the scientist realize that they would want to go somewhere safe – aka the house of cedar and pine. The former 12 Monkeys member then offers her services again to locate the time period but she will need some red tea to do that. Once she drinks the brew, she is taken back to the house in a time out of time and is able to communicate with Athan. He is able to get across that he and his parents are in 1959. Just as Olivia is about to return to her present though, The Witness (in the full get up mask and all) appears and freaks her the hell out.
That was a dumb move on Athan’s part because Team Splinter is now on their way to kill him. Jones, Hannah, and some of the daughters arrive and a shootout commences. But then Titan appears behind the house and so the scientist and her daughter go in, sensing that they must kill The Witness now. We end up with a Mexican standoff where Jones is pointing a gun at Athan and Cassie instead of pointing her gun at Jones switches to Hannah. Dr. Railly pleads mother to mother, for the other woman not to kill her child. Jones apologizes to her daughter and shoots Athan, which also causes his vest to malfunction and he splinters away.
Hannah looks at her mother and in sheer horror asks what have they done? The Monkeys shoot the Daughters posted outside the house and we hear Mallick calling for Cassie. Jones injects her daughter to be taken back to 2046, saying do not come after her. The three go outside and Mallick asks Dr. Railly if he’s found her son and she explains that she did but he got shot and she thinks the suit’s self-destruct mode was triggered. The other man asks to confirm that The Witness is dead and when she says yes, he says good. Uhm, what the what?? Cassie shares our confusion, thinking that Mallick had wanted her to save him. He begs to differ that he just wanted her child found. Cole, Cassie, and Jones are taken into Titan and the house is burned down.
They are brought to the Red Theater where as the doors open, Pallid Man turns to look at them then collapses, revealing Olivia behind him. Oh hell this is AMAZING.
Olivia’s Long Con
We finally see Olivia’s true plan for revenge against The Witness and the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Earlier as Jones left to go to 1959, she attacks her two female guards inside the makeshift cell, showing audiences the true strength that she possessed as a genetically modified human. It’s freaking glorious. Deacon is supposed to join Jones and Hannah but he gets a sense that something is wrong and goes to investigate the alarm in Olivia’s cell just as we hear her words, “Nothing stays in a box forever.” It is also finally revealed that Mallick was indeed in cahoots with her, their favorite saying, “We honor time with patience.” She is able to disable Deacon, telling him that everything he is is wasted on them, but not with her. Olivia uses him as shield to get into the machine room where she shoots Adler and other members of the Daughters, then knocks Deacon out. She then proceeds to splinter herself to Titan, having gotten the coordinates from Mallick (he left her a note back when the Monkeys attacked her camp where Sam was). Now we know why he didn’t want PM to alter Titan’s course after Cassie escaped. Once she is there, she tells her minion where The Witness will be, they splinter to 1959 and then she kills her brother inside the Red Theater (as he thinks she is The Witness returned to them) just as Cassie, Jones, and Cole arrive.
Mallick confirms that The Witness is dead, having been shot and the suit triggered its immolation sequence. Olivia then launches into super villain explanation mode, where she gives her motive – that when the red forest failed last season, she took it upon herself to get it right because that failure was evidence of The Witness’s weakness. So she used Team Splinter themselves to get her what she desired, Ramse and Sam, Jones, and Cassie especially to find her son. Olivia tells Jones that she was never a fool, but that now she was going to fulfill her purpose to be rid of the scientist. Then she stabs the other woman in the gut. Holy crap!
Olivia walks up the steps at the center of the Red Theater and proclaims that they should also be rid of The Witness because he was never anything more than a dying man and that he shall never return. Except on wait, the lights begin to flicker.
Jennifer Is In The Right Place At The Right Time
Jennifer returned to 2017 and finally found the mausoleum that had been plaguing her mind (it’s in England). She had been chatting with two kids who thought she was a ghost when the lights begin to flicker and she knows that the time is right at last. Athan appears (Jennifer had been in Eliza’s mausoleum!!!) having just been shot and Jennifer tells the kids to go get some help. He was the dying man that she had to save. She helps him recover and tells him that as a primary he can skip through time and so he just needs to fast forward a little. Athan jumps his consciousness into his body as he healed until he lands at a point where he’s back at full capacity. So I guess primaries don’t need red tea to do this!
Theory: I think the person Jennifer was seeing in her visions pointing to the dying man wearing the plague mask wasn’t The Witness, but Eliza, showing the primary where she needed to be to save Athan.
Back Back To The Future, Err 1959
After recovering, Athan splinters to Titan in 1959 just after Olivia gives her speech that The Witness will never return. Whoops, his bad. He then open fires on the congregation with Mallick spiriting Olivia away to safety. He then helps Cassie, Cole, and Jones, telling them that they need to run now. As they are making their way towards the exit, Athan gives Cole his vest saying that its his now and they need to go. He’s going to stay because it’s where he’s meant to be. The father and son share a tender moment where Cole says that he wishes he’d gotten to know him. Athan then goes over to Cassie, who is more than willing to sacrifice herself for her family, but he tells her that she needs to go as well and that is her window. He gives her Eliza’s pocket watch and tells her that nothing is written. She pleads with him but he keeps saying to go and that he’ll see her soon. Cassie uses the two pocket watches as a paradox bomb to cover their escape killing Mallick while Athan is taken to Olivia.
The True Witness
This is the part that will throw fans in an uproar of epic proportions because we learn who the true prophet of the 12 Monkeys is. When Athan is brought to Olivia inside the room that housed so many relics from his life, she asks him why the mask. He gives the same answer that Eliza gave him all those years ago, if you promise death you might as well look the part. However he adds that he supposes its now her job. WHAT THE WHAT?!? This is the moment when I was screaming at the screen because holy crap what the hell. Olivia herself is shocked when Athan tells her that surely she’s figured it out by now. It had taken him awhile to realize that the sad lonely demon at the end of time was in fact not him. He turns to her explaining that ensuring his own creation meant securing her own. The promise of a timeless realm, the deceiver, it was always Olivia. We get a flashback montage of The Witness from season 1 onwards to when we last saw her with herself in the house of cedar and pine. A shocked Olivia stared at her own face as when The Witness finally took the mask off. She can’t believe it though because she hasn’t given orders through time and Athan comments not yet but she will. Olivia is even more pissed off because she worshipped him. He notes that even though she has an army at her back, she is alone and that’s why she will lose. In fury, she finally kills him in cold blood.
Well so many things make sense now. No wonder The Witness never wanted to communicate with Olivia because hello paradox! In the end her mother was right that The Witness would always be with her because duh she’s always watching out for numero uno.
We jump to London 2018 and the plague has started, Cassie’s voice is heard on TV saying how the CDC is working on a cure day and night. Jennifer and Athan are in a house where he tells her that its time and this is the moment before he returns to Titan in 1959. He says that whatever the symbols she’s drawing may mean, this is her mission now and that she’s better than him.
Back in 1959, Deacon and Hannah arrive outside of the burning house to see Cassie, Cole and Jones. Deacon slowly gives Cassie an injection, an offering of peace knowing that they had all been tricked by Olivia. Team Splinter is reunited once more all return to 2046.
Olivia in the meantime addresses her followers inside the Red Theater, saying that Athan Cole is dead but his cycle begets their own and that they will begin another. They will have their forest, their peace, and that she would make for them what he could not. But first they would destroy their enemies where they live and that she, The Witness has returned. Olivia has accepted her purpose to become the true Witness. Titan splinters to 2046 right behind the facility and this is how the place gets destroyed.
We go back to Jennifer and Athan in 2018 where they put down her most recent sketch of unknown symbols. As the camera pans out we see that it makes a larger picture of an ouroboros encircling the symbol of the 12 Monkeys.
But wait, more mysteries are afoot! A different scene unfolds in 2015 where young Cole is in a trailer with his dad who is reading him a passage from The Wizard of Oz. As young Cole tells his dad to keep going because he knows there’s more, a piece of paper falls out of the book and it has an ouroboros symbol on it. His father begins to read it out loud:
There once was a serpent who only traveled one direction. Always forward never backward. Until one day the serpent came upon a demon.
When Cole asks what it means, his dad says that he doesn’t know because he didn’t write it, Cole’s mother did. WHAT IS THIS?!?
There you have it folks. So many masterful plot twists that had us collectively screaming at television and computer screens due to sheer epic-levels of insanity. Season 3 tied all the threads from the first 2 seasons and then kicked up a notch because thats what they do. While many questions were answered, new ones arose like who is Cole’s mom and what is her purpose in this story?
- Is there another Athan still? He did promise Cassie that they would meet again.
- We’ve only met/heard of 7 primaries so far, will there be more?
- The significance of the ouroboros surrounding the monkey at the end of the season finale, is Olivia the serpent? Is she now the snake that has surrounded the Monkeys? Is Jones the demon who gave her the ability to time travel?
- Is Olivia Cole’s mom or is it another person we haven’t met yet? After extensive conversations with fellow Workprint staffer and 12 Monkeys fan Bilal, he theorizes that it is a new person and a primary, which would explain the ouroboros note.
- Olivia’s journey into a super villain is a fascinating one (remember Jennifer saying stop talking like a super villain, hello HINT) as she is truly a master manipulator. She’s used Ramse, Deacon, Cassie, Cole and Jones to serve her purpose. At the same time she herself discovers her true purpose to be the real Witness and become the supreme leader. However she is still lonely because has anyone ever truly loved her and in turn has she ever loved someone in her life?
- Jennifer’s role is even more important now after the events of season 3. Even though she can’t see the full puzzle, it seems that she’s seeing the language that Athan did not. His words that she is the best of all of them makes me wonder if she might have a different kind of connection to time.
- I still need to know who the plague body is. Maybe Olivia uses Athan’s body as the carrier and sends it back through time??
This binge event was glorious beyond all expectations and just blew me away. 12 Monkeys continues to be one the best science fiction shows of all time and thank god we’re getting a season 4 because if not we should all picket outside of Syfy’s office to demand more. There were so many nods to the original film as well as other amazing time travel movies as Back To The Future (hello Christopher Lloyd and Cole’s 80’s get up as Marty McFly). Bringing in Cassie’s mom Kathryn Railly as a psychologist was just an unbelievably beautiful touch as well as featuring Madeleine Stowe last season. Now if Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis could come in for our final season that would be the pièce de résistance.
What a crazy and amazing ride this was. Until next time, keep hydrated as you formulate those conspiracy theories as to what Olivia and the Monkeys are planning next season.
12 Monkeys season 3 airs on Syfy May 19-21.
For more on the show click HERE.
I’m writing this the second I finished watching , and my take is that Jennifer is Cole’s mother. That’s one of the reasons that she is the greatest primary of all–the one that saves time. I didn’t think Cole’s father was reading from OZ, either. I thought it was the story we have already seen so far. The answers are in James Cole’s head, whether he remembers them or not. Thanks, Nicole, for another greater season!
I totally agree that Jennifer is Coles mum Though how she hooks up with his father I don’t know Next season eh? This was a great season, all in one viewing I love this series I am loving Athan, though I was sure it was Ethan Then some people saying Nathan Anyway Was so weird to see Jackie from Hollyoaks as Eliza Two totally polar opposite characters Cannot wait for season 4
Mmm if Jennifer turns out to be Cole’s mom, wouldn’t it mean that she was kind of into her own son? 😉
At a time she didn’t know. And she instinctively backed off when they were in the hotel. Granted, Cole had something to do with that–not showing enthusiasm, shall we say. And do recall she spent time with Athan. I can’t see the show going there on one hand. But on the other, writers like the creation/origin paradox with time travel. And wasn’t Olivia bioengineered with Witness DNA, as well? Besides, who always draws Ouroboros?
Now you say DNA… I’m positive Olivia is a clone of herself. f*cking mind-blowing, tail-eating-serpent time paradox. There are times when the story writes itself and writers just have to be there to acknowledge it…
I knew that there was another game afoot and that Athan wasn’t the ultimate enemy. I can see why Cassie and Cole were chasing Athan through time, but would Team Jones be doing that once they found out the witness was Cassie and Cole’s son? They have a time machine and Jones knows enough of Cole’s and Cassie’s history to take them out (just one, actually) before they conceive a child. Why go against seasoned fighters wearing a portable time machine? Deacon even remembers Cole’s past before he joined Jones’ program. I know it’s not part of the equation, but recall that when someone splinters from a few moments into the future to talk to their past selves that they then destroy themselves to prevent a duplicate paradox? Well, the Witness could certainly not follow the rules and could have multiple copies/remnants of himself spread over time to prevent ever being totally eliminated, couldn’t he? That’s another reason to target Cassie and Cole, though, not the Athan-witness. None of this matters for Season 4, though. I would think that Olivia could be taken out at any time next year during her period in the cage–assuming Cole still has a portable time machine, which I’m not 100% sure of, given my single viewing.
That’s a really interesting idea with having multiple Olivias out there, all of them careful not to paradox each other. If Titan destroys the facility before they can go back in time to kill Olivia while she’s still in the cage then that would prevent the current Team Splinter from warning their past selves right? And the splinter vest might still be currently damaged since it got shot during the skirmish.