In the third week of the series finale event of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys, long-awaited answers are finally revealed and we learn the truth of what the real mission is to fix time and save the world.
The introduction to episode seven of 12 Monkeys begins intriguingly as we see how two young girls were raised to take very different paths and yet fundamentally both want to please their mothers. Emma was raised by Olivia’s minions and taught the sciences from a young age in order to fulfill her purpose, which is to complete Titan’s true purpose. Her mother had known that Elliot Jones would be killed and thus unable to provide her with what she needed. Meanwhile Hannah was raised with the Daughters, a strong sisterhood created by Jennifer Goines. Eventually she was reunited with her true mother Dr. Katarina Jones and since then she has fought to save time and has adopted Jones’s mission as her own.
Hannah has been sent back to 2007 by the scientist and been told that she needs to know what her mother has asked her to fight for. Jones gives her an envelope to be opened on March 8, 2009, which means that she will experience life in the past for almost two years. Emma in the meantime has returned to Titan and is working on the nuclear paradox to bring about the red forest. It is interesting to see the difference between these two mother-daughter pairs. Emma appears to be somewhat afraid of Olivia and seeks her approval while Hannah genuinely loves her mother.
Emma sees that the people around her in the future are stuck the past, desperately trying to regain what they’ve lost. She finds it sterile, haunted, and devoted to their obsessions. Back in 2008 Hannah sees how people have everything yet are distracted by their possessions that they don’t appreciate what they have. The people there appear empty and lose themselves in their imagery.
Time Gets Trippy For Jones
Meanwhile Jones is currently in Titan herself, having hatched a plan with Deacon who did not return with the weapon. Olivia is boasting about how she’s found new ways to see further and deeper through the time stream but she also plans on taking information from the scientist’s mind. As The Witness combs through Jones’s memories she does see the bell but still doesn’t know where it is. She compliments the other woman, stating that her mind is a maze but she’ll find what she needs eventually.
As Jones is led back to her cell, Cole arrives via Athan’s splinter vest that Adler was able to fix. He wants to take her back to safety but she insists that they need to take Deacon as well. Cole once again says that there’s no time. In a blink of an eye she is suddenly being questioned by Cassie at the facility where the doctor is explaining that Olivia may be doing the same thing that she experienced back in season two. Dr. Railly had been taken over by the Witness thanks to a full immersion that allowed the other woman to tether herself to Cassie’s body. Jones isn’t sure if she’s really back or if she’s still in her mind being manipulated. She then runs into Jennifer who is trying to figure out the clue when suddenly Hannah appears. The scientist is confused because she sent her daughter away. Well that should obviously be a big clue that this ISN’T REAL. Jones realizes that she’s still hooked up to the mind and tells the Witness that she’s going to make her way into the other woman’s memories. She is able to find the small box that Olivia was kept in by her father when she was a young child. The little girl begins to cry and then a grown up version appears, follow lastly by the Witness who pushes the scientist back into her own body.
In their second attempt Olivia kills Hannah over and over in order to make Jones spill when and where the primaries made the weapon. Eventually Katarina relents and reveals Hertfordshire, England 1491. Emma had witnessed what her mother was doing to the scientist and seems to understand the cruelty the Witness is capable off. Earlier as Olivia asked for a demonstration of Titan’s nuclear paradox, the system malfunctioned as her daughter explained that it wasn’t ready yet. The elder woman grabbed the younger woman’s neck and forced her over the edge of the building basically saying she had no right to call her mother. Ouch. But it seems however that getting Titan to go that far back in time was all part of Jones and Deacon’s plan. As he escorts her back to her cell Titan is getting ready to go back to the distant past.
With Elliot’s data on the time traveling complex they can use its signature as an anchor and Katarina’s tether telemetry as a beacon Adler will be able to send Cole and Cassie to 1491 themselves.
Old Jennifer Returns
Adler then works to get the calculations right to send Cole, Cassie, and Jennifer back to medieval times. At the last second Ms. Goines says that she’s going first because if Cole is the chosen one he’s too important and her role is to make sure he gets to where he needs to go. It’s an emotional moment for everyone and as Jennifer is being splintered out something doesn’t go quite right as she screams in pain and the light turns red and purple. After she vanishes Adler says that there is no record of arrival when there is a perimeter breach upstairs. When C & C go to investigate they find OLD JENNIFER!! Holy crap this is amazing because remember in 2043 she was still with the Daughters and not dead yet. The older primary explains that she did make it back to the medieval period but that the circle is now imperfect. They needed to hurry and follow her as she’s in a whole mess of trouble. She then tells Adler to fix the vest or else they would all be dead.
Marion Woods Part 1
In 2009, after a date gone wrong where Hannah attacked two men that were trying to force their way into the closed bar at the Emerson hotel (she is dating the bartender Brian!) she finally reads the letter that her mother gave to her. Inside Jones writes that she’s totally ok if her daughter walks away from the fight, but if she’s still got on more left in her she has one more important mission to do. The scientist found Marion Woods and she had reportedly been killed March 8, 2009 at a club in the city. After realizing that she just may be too different to live in that time period, Hannah goes to find Marion and when she does the audience realizes that it’s Emma in a blonde wig. Olivia’s daughter had nearly jumped from one of the buildings because she didn’t want to be a demon like her mother. But she realized that she had a choice and so she went back to 2009 instead.
Let’s Get Medieval!
Olivia makes her way to 1491 and recruits Andros, the man we saw at the very beginning of the premiere episode this season who burned the other primaries. He turns out to be one as well but renounced his kind as heretics. He has seen the Witness in his visions and dedicates himself to her service. Meanwhile Jennifer has gotten herself captured by some local folks who had been warned that if anyone recognized the symbol of the 12 Monkeys they would be a witch and a heretic. But while imprisoned and waiting her fate at the hands of Andros, the young primary we saw who last had the ouroboros artifact sets Ms. Goines free. In their escape they run into a mob who was waiting for them but luckily Cole and Cassie arrive with guns to save the day. The young girl then tells them that they must go to her father Nicodemus who can help them.
Upon arriving at Nicodemus’s very impressive looking home, Deacon greets them. Of course the ScavKing survived, he killed the other two men who were supposed to end him after Olivia found out that he was still working for Team Splinter when she infiltrated Jones’s mind. He also makes Jennifer take his knife for protection. Awww these two really need to get together! Later on Nicodemus explains to the group that the primaries travelled from all over the world to build the weapon for Cole in parts but he doesn’t know what it actually is. We also learn that Jennifer is still a primary but the voices stopped because the Witness was listening.
Andros leads Olivia to the 12 primaries who are waiting for them. We get to see the full extent of the scene from the first episode of this season. The leader of the primaries tells her that she basically wants the red forest because she is afraid of being alone and the one who truly matters is James Cole, not her. In typical Olivia fashion she threatens the old man asking if he can continue blocking his mind from her even as he screams to which he responds that they have already foresaw this and covered themselves in oil. We also see Nicodemus giving Chorus (the young primary) the ouroboros to guard for the future Team Splinter to find while he takes the group to what looks like an old abandoned church or monastery. To get there they climb a lot of steps. When they get to the main hall, they see the exact same bell and behind it a chair on a raised dais. The weapon turns out to be a freaking splinter machine! Cole hesitates and isn’t sure what to do so Jennifer grabs the bell he is holding and puts it on top of the other to cause a paradox. The paradox then powers the machine but then Titan arrives with Andros and armed minions of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. He and Cassie both grab a bell each and now we find out how Dr. Railly got the strip of white hair ala Rogue that we saw last season.
Olivia waltzes in soon after and decides Cole should die first, when Deacon goads her into taking him first instead. This buys our hero just enough time for Adler to send him the splinter vest and he is able to get Jones, Cassie, and Jennifer out of there. The ScavKing did not make it though as Andros cut off his head. Olivia then paradoxes the church so that Team Splinter isn’t able to use the weapon or save their friend either.
Two Daughters Chat
Back in 2009 Hannah takes Emma to the Emerson and the two reveal their true identities. Hannah says that she’s the daughter of Katarina and Elliot Jones, while Emma admits she is the progeny of the Witness. The short haired woman also says that her purpose was to learn everything she could from the Jones’ so that she could finish Titan’s true purpose of creating a paradox so massive that it could not be undone. As the two women are on the run, Hannah this time tells Emma (who also explains that Marion was just a name she made up for herself) that James Cole is going to be her son and that her role in all of this is to help save time not end it. The two then decide to go to Raritan to seek help from the Jones when the Army of the 12 Monkeys finds them and runs their car off the road. Once they regain consciousness the duo dash into the forest trying to get away from the man trying to kill them. They run into a parked trailer and Matthew Cole comes out to help them. CUE ME JUMPING UP AND DOWN BECAUSE WE ARE WITNESSING COLE’S ORIGIN STORY.
Jennifer Gets Her Primary Mojo Back
After returning to the facility in 2043, Jennifer runs into Old Jennifer the two women briefly chat. The older version says that she’s got to go do a thing when her younger self says that she doesn’t have anything left except symbols in her mind. Old her says that she should go draw them and hands her a piece of yellow chalk. Young Jennifer then realizes that the symbols aren’t random at all and so goes into the zone working for hours before collapsing into Cassie’s arms after completing the project. Cole, Jones, and Adler look to try and decipher it, but it’s Dr. Railly who realizes that they are looking at it from the wrong angle when Jennifer mumbles to start at the center. The virologist takes the group to a higher vantage point where they see that Jennifer’s scribbles were in a spiral. Jones and Adler work on decoding it and discover that it’s a series of dates and coordinates that correspond to splinters that the team has done except for one, April 3, 2018 at JFK Airport in New York. That also happens to be two days before the plague was released worldwide. So Cassie and Cole travel back through time at that exact date and location but they’ve arrived too late. Pallid Man seems to have already released the virus and Cole had accidentally gotten pushed and falls on the broken test tube. They decide to regroup and go back to 2043 where Jones confirms that it is the kalavirus. Cassie suggests that they take the vial before PM can release it and actually find it in a lab at an abandoned Markridge building. We ominously see the silhouette of Pallid Man looking from behind them though so that can’t be good.
The World Turned Upside Down/Marion Woods Part 2
After taking the virus from the Markridge lab, Cassie and Cole return to the Emerson where Hannah is waiting for them. Jones’s daughter had chosen to wait for their return linearly instead of finding them sooner because it was too dangerous. Hannah begins to fill them in on her mission to find Cole’s mom. She tells them about Emma, how she used Marion Woods as a pseudonym and that she had been from Titan. She describes how Emma’s purpose had been to finish the time traveling complex’s capability to create a paradox of time itself, moments upon moments so that it could never be undone. Cassie argues though that they have the virus and they can destroy it but Hannah says that once Olivia turns her machine on she will exist outside of causality. It’s Cole who then understands that the primaries sent them here to cause the plague not to stop it because they need this event to happen for time travel to exist in order to still stop the Witness. Hannah comments how mothers die for their children and that Cole’s had died protecting him. She goes on to describe that his mom seemed lost having grown up without her mother and never knowing her father. Hannah didn’t think that the other woman realized how much her circumstances had shaped her until having to grapple with the idea of giving Cole up. He sardonically states how she then dumps him with his dad and that BS story but Hannah insists that the story isn’t over yet. As Cassie comes out and tells him that they should get going, he gives the scientist’s daughter his tether injection so that she can go home.
At JFK, Cole and Cassie are trying to work out when they will unleash the plague when Olivia arrives by taking over various bodies of her minions who are planted at the airport. She previously decided to end James’s cycle after Pallid Man came to visit the house of cedar and pine to let her know that C & C stole the virus. The Witness finally decides to inhabit a cop in order to use his gun. Cassie is still struggling with the moral implications of killing seven billion people to save the rest of humanity when the police officer pulls his gun and points it at James. Suddenly Hannah jumps in front of him and gets shot instead. Cassie quickly forces the cop to point the gun at his own head shooting himself and pushing Olivia out. As she is in his arms bleeding out, she pats his hair and tells him that its ok and that this is her choice. This was all she could do to protect him one last time and Cole remembers what she told him at the Emerson. It finally clicks in his mind that his real mother is Hannah, not Emma. Hannah in tears as she says that she never wanted any of this for him. As Cassie watches on in utter despair Pallid Man sneaks up behind her saying how time is utterly cruel and that in the end we all lose. But he adds that she might win still if she chooses it, AKA the red forest hint hint. As he walks away, we finally know how the earlier airport scene really played out. The body on the ground was Hannah, people were running everywhere because of the gun shot, and the vial was dropped by Cassie under extreme duress not PM. She makes the choice to sacrifice seven billion to save one life, Cole’s.
The True Purpose Of The Weapon
Back in 2043, Jennifer wakes up from her nap and is filled in on where C & C went. She is confused by that because why would her drawings provide them hundreds of dates when all they needed was one. It then dawns on Jones that perhaps the weapon-machine in 1491 was not about sending Cole anywhere at all. However before she can figure out anymore, her neurological deterioration worsens and she is unable to fully articulate her thoughts and collapses. Once she is more stable, Jones tells Adler to run a simulation on the primary code against the current time stream. Voila when he executes it the time stream untangles itself but then confirms with the other scientist that the dates aren’t actually all of Team Splinter’s time travels but only Cole’s. Katarina further states that this code was designed to erase a djinn who could not just be erased from one moment but from every moment. The primaries built a machine to erase James Cole and that’s why he’s the only one that truly matters.
After releasing the virus, Cole and Cassie return to 2043 where he discovers a letter that Hannah left for him in her room at the Emerson suite. We find out what happened to her in the past. Emma had actually died from a gunshot wound and Matthew had taken her to the hospital. When he came back to the trailer, he told Hannah that her friend had kept calling for Marion whom he suspected was her. Her time with Cole’s father was indeed a love story because while she thought about leaving every day he kept giving her a reason to stay. At first she stayed to protect him should the Army of the 12 Monkeys come, but eventually they fell in love. Until one day when he proposed and she knew that she couldn’t stay for both his sake, Cole’s and all those they have yet to save. Then at one point after giving birth to James she left him with Matthew along with the story of the demon and the serpent. Her last words were to thank him for saving her life when she was a child and her soul when he was born. She was in her life proud to be a daughter but proudest to be his mother.
We shift to 2017 where Cole, Jones, and Hannah share a bottle of whiskey amongst the three of them. Grandmother and grandson having travelled back to have one more moment with a loved one. Hannah tells them both that for years she was by herself but never alone. She had seen them, Jones looking over a little girl (her younger self), when Cole lost his father and when he found his brother (Ramse). She tells him that she’ll be there at the end. Cue flood of tears.
As Olivia has turned Titan’s nuclear paradox sequence on, time begins to collapse everywhere and when. Back at the facility in 2043, the group is gathered around in utter desolation. Cole announces, “I’m the demon.” End scene. UHM WHAT?!?
WHERE/HOW DO I EVEN BEGIN….
- Ok Hannah’s talk with Cole in 2018 at the Emerson so cleverly done that she was really talking about herself as she described Emma. Both women went through similar ordeals where they grew up without their real mothers and never knew their fathers. They were also in raised in different periods and sent back in time on a mission. The two women also ended up living a totally different lives in the past and had come to appreciate it. When Hannah took the shot for Cole and told him that this was she could do to protect him one more time, holy crap my heart could not take it. Then that scene with Jones, Hannah, and Cole sharing a bottle of whiskey was just so gut wrenching to watch as they find out the truth only at the very end. Thanks 12 Monkeys for just pushing the knife even deeper into my already bleeding chest.
- “All this time, it was always us.” I along with Cassie can’t believe the sheer mastery of this move that all along it was never the Army of the 12 Monkeys who released the plague but them, the people trying to stop it. Sheer mind screwing I tell you! No wonder killing Leland Frost did not change history because time travel needed to be invented in order to prevent the Witness from destroying time. Also what a ridiculously amazing throwback to the original 12 Monkeys film where the final scene was at an airport with Cole and Railly trying to stop the plague from being unleashed.
- There is also the revelation that Cole and not Olivia is the demon. Since only the demon could use the weapon, the time traveler was meant to paradox himself back in 1491. The chair was never meant to send him anywhere but to destroy him from existence in order for time to revert back to its intended course. Another mind-blowing realization that after everything Team Splinter’s been through they were after the wrong person. Yet they likely had to take this path in order to arrive at this moment when Cole understands that he has a choice to make to save humanity.
- Let’s also take a moment to say good bye to the others we lost in these episodes: Deacon, Emma, and the 12 primaries. R.I.P. Deacon especially had such an amazing character arc in this series that became one of the most surprising yet endearing parts of 12 Monkeys.
- As Team Splinter finally learned the true mission that the primaries needed them to accomplish, erasing Cole to fix time, audiences everywhere experienced mind explosion because after everything that they’ve gone through it has come to this. But it does makes sense why despite so many opportunities, Cole was never killed by the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Even when Olivia tried in episode 9 Hannah sacrificed herself instead and he survived. Time seems to need Cole to use the weapon in order to remove himself from every moment and reset the natural order.
With the finale airing next week it’s going to be ridiculously hard to say goodbye to this masterpiece of a series. From the writing to the acting, the costumes, the sets, editing, music, and special effects, 12 Monkeys is truly one of the greatest science fiction shows of all times and we’re lucky as hell to have in our lives. Before watching the first season I wasn’t sure how this film to TV adaptation would turn out but it was a home run and then some. We’ve got one more giant episode left and I can’t wait to see how it all ends.
12 Monkeys airs on Syfy Fridays at 8/7 Central.
If I know I have to step in front of a bullet, I’m going to be wearing body armor.
Hannah! Don’t die for your son, live for you son!