12 MONKEYS -- "The End" Episode 401 -- Pictured: (l-r) Aaron Stanford as James Cole, Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly -- (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/SYFY)
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’12 Monkeys’ S4 Episodes 1-3 Review: The End Begins

In the final season of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, the epic sci-fi series picks up right where season three left off with time running out for Team Splinter as Olivia is out to destroy them for good. But as we’ve come to expect, everything is never quite as it seems to be on this show and we wouldn’t it any other way.

Here are the important moments in the first three episodes of season four.

The Primaries

This season begins during medieval times with a narrator telling the story that Cole’s father had told him when he was young.

“There once was a serpent who only traveled in one direction. Always forward, never backward. Until one day, the serpent came upon a demon.”

A group of armed soldiers come upon individuals dressed in robes standing in a circle. The leader of the soldiers addresses the hooded figures as heretics, witches, warlocks, and primaries. He demands to know where the weapon is, but one of the primaries only laughs, saying that they’ve already foreseen this event and have covered themselves in oil. Soon they are all burned and we see someone wearing a medieval looking plague mask accompanying the soldiers. Some distance away, a young girl screams in terror as she sees the bodies engulfed in flames in her mind. An older man hands her a bronze ouroboros artifact and tells her that she must now take it because he can no longer keep it for her. The girl of course is another primary and now it is her mandate to watch over the ouroboros, remember the legend, and the name James Cole.

The Facility Splinters

With the Army of the 12 Monkeys outside their door, things are not looking good for Team Splinter as they can’t possibly hope to outgun their enemies. Their salvation comes in an experimental project meant to use in dire circumstances only. Jones is still seriously injured as she gasps and suggests that most of the facility should be splintered. Project Charon (tidbit: Charon is the Greek mythological ferryman of the dead) is time travel without the time part as Lasky explains that they’ve adapted Titan’s splinter array by modifying the Eliot Jones’s early machine prototypes. They will need to set up repeaters that will disperse the beam at the bottom levels of the facility to form a perimeter and everything within it gets taken along for the ride. Jones asks Cole to trust her one last time (despite her trying to kill him, Cassie, and Athan under Olivia’s influence).

With an assault outside and the core unstable because of the underground river being heated up, Team Splinter needs to hustle hard to get out of this precarious situation. Deacon volunteers to create a distraction and he heads outdoors to collapse the big chimney onto Titan like a giant hammer. He succeeds but at great cost because he ends up getting left behind when the beams are activated. Cassie is fighting Cole trying to somehow figure out a way to get Deacon but the Time Jesus drags her away. Cold Cole, real cold.

As the assault continues, Lasky gets shot in the head (R.I.P. Lasky) just after he sets the coordinates for their new location (it’s underground!). Cassie and Cole kill Olivia’s minions like super trained assassins and hell its impressive. However, the core still needs to get stabilized in order for them to splinter. Like a badass, Jones injects herself with an adrenaline shot to do the deed. Whitley finds her tries to dissuade her from cooling the core manually because she’ll get radiation poisoning, but time is running out for them as Titan’s beams is about to splinter the facility to shreds. The soldier tells the scientist that he’ll cover for her as much as he can. Jones is able to stabilize the power source and heads back to the hallway to find a critically injured Whitley seated on the ground. As the splinter sequence begins he closes his eyes and dies. The facility thankfully achieves its mission (albeit it without Deacon who is trapped on the other side of the beam) just in time before Titan’s beams collapse the outer structure of Raritan National Laboratory. While Olivia believes that their cycle has ended, Team Splinter lives on!

But where exactly did they go? It turns out that they got transported below the Emerson Hotel.

The Plague Has Begun

Meanwhile in 2018, the plague has begun and a very bright haired Jennifer Goines sits at an outdoor café looking at a very familiar sketch of the ouroboros and the monkey at its center in Prague. It turns out that she’s there to procure a very specific item that we first saw at the beginning of the first episode this season, the ouroboros puzzle piece that is supposed to be given to Cole. This old artifact just happens to be on display at a local museum. Once she enters the space, she appears to be talking to another Jennifer through an earpiece. Pink haired Jennifer sends a toy monkey in a car to distract one of the guards, then uses a laser device to create a hole through the protective glass casing. Unfortunately, once she takes the item a pressure alarm goes off. She then runs into the guard, but takes him out with some kickass moves…or does she? The other guard at the security desk watches a CCTV feed showing the actual Jennifer awkwardly tumbling her way into the exhibit. She was just imagining the edgy vaping version of herself! The dude lets her walk out because he doesn’t really care anyways. When the two Jennifers reunite at their hideout, we discover that the piece is the key to everything and that she and Athan both saw it in their visions.

Back to the Beginning

As Cole and Cassie venture outside to look for supplies, the whole team is essentially demoralized. Cassie especially feels that they are just running around in circles. They need an atom cell to kick start the core but to get that they need another time machine. When the survivors gather to discuss their next steps, Cole suggests that they go back to Raritan get the an atom cell from spare core that was left behind. He also shows them Jennifer’s drawing of the ouroboros and the monkey and says that he knows this image (he and Cassie found it inside their old room at the Emerson). He insists that they need to get the machine up and running again because Jennifer is the key and there is more to this than what they’ve experienced so far. But everyone else thinks it’s too dangerous to go back to the lab and Cole storms off by himself. As he walks from New York City to somewhere outside of Philadelphia, he stops and tells whomever is following him just to come out already. Hannah emerges and says that she came so that he wouldn’t have to do this alone. Suddenly though they hear noises and follow the sounds. As the two hide behind an abandoned car, they see Ramse and another Cole walking along talking about Cole’s impending time travel adventure. The duo realize that they’ve didn’t just move through space they have also gone back to 2043, the year it all began. Geez It’s good to see Ramse again.

Cole takes Cassie and Jones with him as they follow 2043 Ramse and Cole back to Raritan after they make a stop to get dead Cassie’s watch at the CDC office where her skeleton is. We saw a part of this scene in previous seasons. As the three chrononauts camp out for the night trying to determine how they got here, Jones postulates that the machine must have scanned through its data history and sent them back during its first successful splinter (give or take a few months). As they debate the danger in stealing an atom cell from their past selves, Cassie says that they need to go after Olivia in the in the 70s because it’s their best opportunity to get her as she’s unguarded. The other woman had apparently been arrested in 1971 for some unknown reason. Aside from this moment she had been always off the grid and protected by the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

They decide to take the risk of robbing themselves and set up a mock outbreak to force a protocol that would have everyone be locked in their quarters. Thus the trio will then be able get what they need without the other party knowing. Cassie decreases the oxygen levels at the one of the decontamination bays, causing the canaries (that serve as a warning for contamination) to die (or pass out). Jones is to prep the time machine to send Cassie and Cole back to 1971. The scientist however suddenly has an idea and tells him to keep out of sight and wait for Dr. Railly.

2043 Jones Meet 2046 Jones

As 2046 Jones decides to lending a helping hand to her past self, Cassie observes 2043 Cole watching a video of her being interviewed in 2018. The virologist on the small screen almost turns to look at her in the future and says that sometimes a circle allows for a second chance. Does this mean that the Dr. Railly being interviewed is actually a future version of Cassie that goes back to 2018 at some point? Meanwhile the Joneses are debating on how future Jones trusted the wrong person (Olivia) and it cost them everything. The 2043 scientist tells her counterpart that if she’s lost hope borrow some of hers and to trust herself. This inspires 2046 Jones and she says suppose that the other her doesn’t remember this moment, to which 2043 Jones says a bottle of whiskey and some meds will take care of that. Her past self asks how to work the tethers to which she answers that time is a curve and to not think of machine programming so linearly. The answer to program with an algorithmic spiral.

There is a clash between Cassie and Cole as she wants to go to 1971 to kill Olivia while he wants to find Jennifer in 2018. Jones says that they can do both, investigate the future and attack the past because there no longer is one single mission. As Dr. Railly is about to leave she asks the man she loves to come with her, but he says not this time. Cole and Jones then enact another plan to steal an atom cell from the 2043 machine in order to power theirs. It explains why back then their core had been so drained because their future selves had used it and then taken a part. Jones tells Cole to wait until the core is offline before going in. As he makes his way to the core he runs into Ramse and the other man asks him what’s wrong.

This is an intense moment for Cole and us the viewers because his best friend currently is clueless about all the craziness that will happen to them, eventually leading to their showdown. He asks Ramse what if they just keep trying to do the right things the wrong way over and over again. The other ex-scav answers that there is no right or wrong, good or bad. You just have to do what matters in the moment. Cole says that he’s trying really hard to forgive himself but he doesn’t know if he can. Ramse tells him to stop trying because only the dead can forgive and that you need to give them a reason to absolve you. The original time traveler is finally gets unload of some of the guilt he’s been carrying over the death of his bff. Before heading off, Ramse states him that he’s going to be ok. Thanks guys I am now a puddle of tears over here.

Cole is able to grab the atom cell after Jones powers down the core. She runs into Whitley in the splinter room and this time she is able to say her own goodbyes to him. She says that she may never say it but she’s grateful for everything he’s done and everything he will do. Whitley is clearly kind of weirded out by this and so excuses himself to look for Ramse. As 2046 Cole and Jones watch their past selves from above the machine, the scientist asks him to promise her that they’ll see this through to the end. He promises.

Jennifer Loses Something Important

In 2018, an Interpol agent (played by Game of Thrones’ Conleth Hill!) has been tasked to find Jennifer and retrieve the missing ouroboros artifact. Ms. Goines in the meantime has been talking to her imaginary cooler self. We discover however that for an unknown reason she no longer is able to hear the voices of the other primaries. This frustrates her to no end because she doesn’t know how to solve the ouroboros puzzle. Not only that but being primary is such an intrinsic part of who she is that it is completely understandable that she would freak out when the visions and voices vanished. Sadly though, even pink haired Jennifer is about to go away as she tells her other self to get out of there because it’s too dangerous. Understandably the ex-primary is freaking out because the imaginary person is all she has left. But the other her says that she doesn’t need the voices anymore because she’s got herself. Her last piece of advice to Jennifer is to not forget her passport, which of course she does in her mad dash out of the building with the police arriving. The Interpol agent catches up to her at the train station and asks her where James Cole is. She takes a cue from pink hair Jennifer and does something totally gutsy and irrationally rational by falling in front of a moving train.

Let’s Meet 1971 Olivia

Meanwhile back at Titan in 2046, Olivia deals with some of her followers doubting her capacity as The Witness because she isn’t primary while Athan Cole was. Olivia decides that paradoxing is not the answer for the red forest and needs a more permanent solution. As she speaks to another minion, she espouses how she understands all the instructions she must give to ensure this cycle except for one, the very first one she gave herself in 1971.

Speaking of which, 1971 Olivia seems to be on the run from her mother and the Army of the 12 Monkeys. She finds help from another young woman and together they live in an abandoned building, stealing and doing what they must to survive. Her mom soon finds her hideout though and she’s forced to run away only to be picked up by the police. In the meantime, Cassie is stalking her, trying to ascertain the right opportunity to use her sniper rifle. Just when she seems to have an open shot, she is fired on herself and ends up in jail too. Guess who’s in the cell next to her? Olivia naturally. The virologist soon discovers though that the other woman is pregnant and she is unable to fulfill her original plan. As the two talk, Cassie empathizes when Olivia says that her mother wants something for her child that she doesn’t. Apparently, she is also supposed to make a terrible choice. The doctor reveals that she knows about the Army of the 12 Monkeys, what their capable off, and what Olivia is capable off.

We then see the young woman’s branding ceremony and when she first speaks to The Witness. After ingesting the red tea Olivia walks through the red forest and enters the house of cedar and pine. There she is told that she has a purpose and that she will have a child for their leader. When her younger self asks why, The Witness responds with the word sacrifice. After sharing her story, Cassie feels compelled to help her.

But all is not what it seems whenever it comes to Olivia and as Cassie goes to find the other woman and her mom, we learn the truth behind the pregnancy. Dr. Railly confronts Mantis (also known as Vivian Rutledge and one of the 12 Messengers) and she tells the virologist that she didn’t want Olivia to give up her child for The Witness and she was trying to protect them both. It had been Olivia who questioned her mother’s faith in their leader then purposely ran away from home to get herself knocked up.

Deacon Has Nine Lives

The ScavKing really has nine lives because this dude survived having a whole building collapsed on top of him. He is taken to Titan where he reveals to Olivia that he isn’t lucky but got left behind, revealing to The Witness of course that Team Splinter survives to fight another day. Now it makes sense to Olivia why she met Cassie in 1971. She has Deacon beat up but he doesn’t actually know or care where the others are.

Jennifer and Cole Reunite

Back in 2018, Jennifer is saved by future a-hole Cole, but forgets the ouroboros artifact which is now with the Interpol agent. This Cole appears to be using Athan’s splinter vest (Jennifer notices the bullet hole) and does this mean we’ll still see the other primary before the end of the series? Here’s hoping! He tells Ms. Goines that she needs to reunite with her Cole who’ll be at the Charles Bridge tomorrow at sunrise. Lastly, he asks her to buy the guy a cheeseburger.

True to form, she gets 2046 Cole a cheeseburger the next morning and they catch up. He explains Cassie’s revenge mission in 1971 and says he didn’t go with his lady love because he had to find her and discover the meaning behind her drawing. Jennifer explains that she and Athan kept seeing this image and hearing tons of voices. Then she found the ouroboros puzzle but left it behind. After nineteen tries they finally find the right Interpol agent Barnum and he tells Cole for them to meet him at the beginning. So they rendezvous with the law enforcement officer back at the museum. Surprisingly the dude turns out to be one of the good guys! He is a descendant of the female primary from medieval times and his family had passed on a story from generation to generation about the end times and the man who they believed could save it. The Interpol agent then gives the artifact to Cole. Time Jesus is able to solve it by remembering the story his mother told him about the serpent and the demon. Once he unlocks the object they find a hidden note that said, “Blackleaf May 11, 1852.”

Olivia Becomes Primary

Meanwhile at Titan, Olivia discovers from Deacon that Team Splinter is still alive and she bids Mallick to find them. He however throws back the question of how. If she’s The Witness she should know how to find them. Olivia decides to take some red tea and ask her future self how she is supposed to lead the Army of the 12 Monkeys when she cannot see the path. The other woman says that only primaries can see the path from above and that even though they weren’t born with the gift, they would acquire it. Titan it seems has another purpose. She uses technology within the structure to open her mind to the time stream and likely because of her own unique genetic structure she survives. One of her chief minions also hooks up substantial life support systems and modifies the plague masque for it. This happens to be the same mask the future Olivia wore when the two women chatted in the house of cedar and pine. 2046 Olivia does indeed bare witness and realizes that Titan is incomplete. It has an even greater objective – creating the red forest via a huge explosion. She now knows what steps they need to take.

One of these steps includes jumping back into her body in 1971 to chat with her mother and Cassie. She tells the two women how the future she sought was given to her in the past. It was Dr. Railly telling her that her child should have purpose and so it would. She goads the other time traveler to take a shot at her as she was meant too and when Cassie does Mantis steps to block her daughter. As more minions arrive, the virologist tells Olivia that she’s coming for her with The Witness saying that she’s counting on it.

Going back to 2046, Olivia has Deacon brought to her along with Mallick and other henchmen. She ends up killing her once ally and offers the ScavKing his position, preying on his vengeful heart to hunt down Team Splinter.

We then see that 1971 Olivia carried out the order of her future self and left her baby in the woods. The child was then picked up by The Witness. 2046 Olivia now made certain to ensure her own creation and the unbreakable cycle so that at the end Titan’s true purpose could be completed and the red forest would come. She then burns the word of The Witness because hey she knows better than that!

Final Thoughts

  • Who does Olivia’s baby turn out to be? Could it possibly be Cole’s mom?
  • Will we find out why Jennifer loses her primary-ness?
  • I still need to know who the dead body (Annapurna Remains) was from season one.
  • It was so nice to see all the people from Team Splinter alive again even for a short while. Especially Ramse and Eckland!
  • We circled back to the beginning (aka season 1) and it’s freaking BRILLIANT to see those scenes from a totally different perspective.
  • The action scenes are amazingly choreographed this season.
  • What could this mysterious primary built weapon be?

About Nicole C

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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2 comments

  1. Great recap, Nicole. Nice to have you back for the final journey..Buckle up!

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