As far as series finales come, I can’t imagine a more satisfying ending to 12 Monkeys as the show answers all the questions we’ve had since season one and brings a brilliant end to one of the best science-fiction shows ever to have graced the small screen.
Here are the unforgettably insane (in the greatest way possible) moments from episodes 410 and 411:
Athan Visits His Great-Grandmother
I was really hoping that we would see Cassie and Cole’s son one more time before the series ends and the show delivers on this! Athan pays Jones a visit in 2037 just as she and a team of scientists are restarting Project Splinter at Raritan National Laboratory. As she takes the protective sheet off the machine, Athan appears behind her posing as a scavenger. He tells the older woman that he’s not here to harm her and that the gun he carries is more for his own protection. Athan then offers her a cigarette but she declines and he remembers that she gave it up because of the loss of a loved one (Hannah). Now Jones suspects that Col. Foster sent him because how else would he know such an intimate detail about her? He asks if she’s prepared to send men to their deaths since she’s going to need a lot of test subjects and Jones answers back with a resounding yes. Athan comments that it’s awfully selfish of her to kill so many just to save one and it is presumptuous of her to think that she should change the world. He leaves her with the thought that there may come a time when one life to seven billion will be too much, but he asks her to consider that no matter what to save the one. Jones gets distracted as the machine comes to life and when she turns around Athan is gone.
Completing Cole’s Cycle
Back in 2043 Cole, Cassie, Jones, and Jennifer gather around the meeting room coming to grips with the truth that Cole is the demon that needs to be erased. Jennifer is crying (not knowing that all of her visions would lead to this), Jones looks exhausted and broken hearted, while Cassie is furious because of everything that they’ve given up for time. They have all lost so much and she refuses to accept that the man she loves needs to be wiped from existence. Zalman Shaw’s words to her never felt more true that she too would understand what it feels like to be robbed of a love so deep. She storms off after Jones asks her how else is it supposed to end? There might be another way, but they have just run out of time with Olivia already having activated Titan’s ultimate paradox.
Jones tells her grandson that they need to complete his cycle so that he ends up here with the answer. Well hello to you future a-hole. Cassie helps him get ready to intervene in all the times future Cole had gone back to help himself and the rest of Team Splinter. We finally witness those scenes from future Cole’s perspective such as fighting himself back in season three when past him was trying to rescue Cassie from Titan. What he said back then makes sense now that all they will both ever have are the moments in between the beginning and the end, but that’s true for all of us. I’m not crying you’re crying! As Cassie walks up to him at the decrepit Emerson lobby and says that there’s another way we now understand what she means. And lastly after saving Jennifer at the train station she asks which Cole he is and he responds the last one he’ll ever be. One major difference however is that now we can see the ominous red clouds of the paradox storm approaching outside.
As they return to the facility in 2043, a new problem arises. It appears that their machine would take 3 years to process the code provided to them by the primaries when they only have 12 or 13 hours at best before time collapses. Cole proposes that they use Titan because the complex must have massive processing capabilities. They would somehow need to upload the code into that system as well as stop Olivia’s paradox machine. Cassie tells him that they still stop the Witness but he doesn’t have to die, though he argues that this is the way it’s supposed to be because the virus mutates and there’s no one left alive in 2063. In this super serious moment Cole tells her that they can do this together and that he has a plan. After this whole time of winging it Cassie has to smile that it takes the end of the world for him to come up with a course of action to take.
Shock and Awe
As Cole explains his plan, Cassie makes a surprising suggestion to help them pull it off. What’s that you make ask? Bring back Jose Ramse for one last job!! Join me in the collective fangirl screaming because HOLY CRAAAAAAAP the gang’s getting back together! Cole grabs Ramse right before his past self catches up and to pull the trigger in the forest. The two men return to 2043 and duke it out with Ramse finally sobbing that he was sorry. Once things settle down Cole fills his bff in on Olivia being the Witness, her quest to destroy time, and their plan to thwart her. Cassie and Ramse have a somewhat awkward meet and greet but hey, it’s the end of days so they put their beef aside.
The trio then head to the meeting room where Jones, Jennifer and Adler are. The scientist of course is pissed because causality! Cole rightfully points out that it’s not going matter because if they fail everything goes to hell anyways. Casserole then reveals their strategy to take Titan. First things first, they need a sweet ride. Cole and Ramse go back to the past to pick up a car that Matthew Cole had stored away in a garage around the time Hannah had left. Speaking of which he finds a diamond engagement ring that his father intended for his mother to wear.
And that leads us to…
A Beach Proposal Y’all
That’s right! Amidst all the insanity that Team Splinter is about to embark on, Cole takes a moment before they jump into their last mission to take his lady love to a beautiful beach. It’s the same place that he had seen in a vision earlier this season. He presents Cassie with the engagement ring his father had gotten for his mom.
“I don’t have forever to promise you, the most I can give you is this moment. But it’s yours if you’ll take it.”
Cassie doesn’t say yes but she lovingly caresses his hair and face while trying not to cry. He then slips the ring on her finger and they hug it out. She then whispers that this isn’t enough. Cole tells her to look at the sun and that it’s so beautiful because it sets. That is real deep Time Jesus. The hue of the scene though begins to change from a mild yellow to tints of red, telling us that the paradox storm has arrived at this moment as well. Darn you Olivia for taking this! Reality catches up and they now must return to fulfill their mission.
Mission Impossible: Take Titan
Their first objective is to make contact with the Witness in order to bring Titan to them. To achieve that Jennifer makes some red tea and visits the house of cedar and pine. Ms. Goines tells Olivia that even though she destroyed the weapon what it was meant to do was in her brain the entire time. Jennifer bluffs that their machine was ready to blast the other woman from existence and purposely antagonizes her. Olivia falls for it and jumps into the primary’s body where she sees Jones sitting on her wheelchair. She tells the scientist that it’s too late and the red forest has begun when Jones challenges her assumption. The Witness then sees the code written all over the walls and surfaces inside a massive room in the splinter facility. She freaks out, jumps back into her own body and orders Titan to splinter to Manhattan in 2043.
Meanwhile above ground, Ramse and Cole are inside the black car and readying themselves for Titan’s appearance. What comes next is just a beautiful moment that had me jumping up and down in sheer joy. Cole suggests that they listen to some music but Matthew was into country and western, not exactly the tunes you listen to when one is about to go out in a blaze of glory.
“I gotta die to a good song brother! A GOOD SONG!” I absolutely agree with you Ramse.
After one more shuffle what comes up next is that iconic song from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warner and could there be a more perfect accompaniment for this scene? No because it’s freaking brilliant. Ramse bursts out laughing because he is totally digging it.
“It feels right,” Cole says. Amen to that brother!
Ramse revs the engine just as Titan appears and the camera zooms out as the music continues to play. The moment feels very reminiscent of the Delorian zooming down the street in the Back To The Future films and I love it so much. The song’s light hearted melody to the seriousness of their mission is such a contrast but works brilliantly. The two come barreling through interrupting Olivia’s evil overlord pep talk to her minions. Meanwhile Cassie orders the rest of the Daughters to protect their machine while she andJennifer head to another part of the complex to upload the primary code and have the system process it.. But first Jones splinters the facility from its underground location beneath the Emerson hotel into the heart of Titan. When then Olivia instructs for Titan to move location, Katarina counters that by using her machine to disrupt the towers. Cole and Ramse then need to take out the power station to stop the temporal spire from continuing to paradox time.
Olivia’s advisor suggests that they splinter the central spire, but they would need to stop the sequence in order to do that. The Witness says hell no and commands him to take their troops to destroy Jones’s machine because it is their only weapon. If they stop the paradox now it would reverse everything which she doesn’t want of course. There are only 15 minutes left to go before she achieves the red forest.
Don’t You Forget About Me
Outnumbered and outgunned, things are not looking good for Team Splinter inside Titan on all fronts. But who comes to save the day? Old Jennifer and the glorious folks from West VII led by Deacon, who is still alive in 2043!! The ol’ primary radios her younger self requesting a song and here is another perfect moment where the tides turn in Team Splinter’s favor. Turns out that what she had to do when she left the facility was to recruit an army of scavengers, knowing that they would need more manpower to for this last stand. Old Jennifer uses Deacon’s knives to prove to him that time travel and everything she said was true via a paradox demonstration. Thus convinced he heads to Titan and eventually runs into Cole and Ramse after shooting some Army of the 12 Monkeys goons. He asks why he shouldn’t just kill them and the two men show their West VII scars, signifying that no matter what’s happened they are still brothers in the end. As Ramse says, “We’re ride or die.”
With the decoding complete, Cassie and Jennifer head to the controls at the spiral tower in case Cole, Ramse, and Deacon aren’t able to take out the power source. Upon arriving there, Olivia knocks Jennifer out but Cassie puts up a glorious fight. In this epic battle, the Witness seems to have the advantage given her special genes and all. But like most evil villains she has to give a little speech and Olivia tells the virologist that she envies the other woman because she’s never loved anything (except the red forest). In fact Cassie has more need of time collapsing than she does. All she’s done is witness while Dr. Railly has lived up to this very moment. This girl talk has given the CDC doctor the opening she needed to grab the knife strapped to her boot and plunge it into Olivia. Cassie then flips the leader of the Army of the 12 Monkeys over and proceeds to punch her lights out. It’s Jones who breaks this spell of vengeance by crying out through the walkie that they are running out of time. The virologist leaves the unconscious Olivia to head to the controls. Meanwhile the West VII boys did accomplish their directive in destroying the power core.
At the controls Olivia throws in one more scare as she comes up from behind and has Cassie in a neck lock, saying that they are too late. Cassie manages to break free but the Witness merely changes their position and taunts that she and Cole will soon be in the house of cedar and pine forever. But what she doesn’t notice is one of the splinter towers still dangerously active and swinging uncontrollably. As Olivia tells the doctor that she knows the other woman’s perfect moment Cassie says no this is and I am in 100% agreement with her. The other woman is able to push the Witness into the path of the splinter ray and the upper half of her body vanishes. Just then Cole speaks through the walkie and asks Cassie to shut the machine down. Unfortunately she’s been struggling with the anger and desolation of losing him and now at the most critical moment Cassie finds that she wants the red forest. She apologizes to him and Cole knows that he’s got to go to her. As runs faster than he’s ever run before and makes it to the top of the tower, debris blocks his way from reaching her at the controls. She tells him that they can have forever and he says sure they can have it all until it means nothing because it never ends. He adds that they can be together forever until they can’t even remember what it feels like to find each other again. He’ll go with her or they can have now with an ending that makes it real. Dang Cole is spouting such deep truths! He begs her to give them an ending and that seems to do the trick as she finally shuts down the machine. All the destruction is then reversed in an instant.
What Comes Around Goes Around
But wait where did Olivia’s upper half get sent too? THIS IS MY FAVORITE MOMENT OF THE ENTIRE SERIES. We arrive in the year 894 amidst snowy capped mountains where the Witness’s is dying and then we get the voice over of Jennifer saying there’s something about its eyes and another person stating that the body contained a dormant form of the Kalavirus. Time speeds up and the remains become skeletal and we get Olivia’s own voice saying I was a thing in a box and now she’s become just that again. Ladies in gentlemen, the Witness was the Annapurna Remains that we first saw in the Night Room back in season one. HOLY CRAP thank you 12 Monkeys for answering this mystery that has plagued me since the very beginning. Karma is not to be toyed with Olivia.
The Last Splinter
Now Team Splinter needs to protect the beginning by preserving what’s left of causality to ensure that Cole arrives at this final moment. That means everyone must return to their original timeline and continue on. Before that though Cassie catches Deacon and Old Jennifer before they depart and she hugs the ScavKing, telling him that he is a good man. The two then go off to have many more adventures.
First Ramse returns to the forest where past Cole will shoot him. He tells future Cole that he’ll save his goodbye for the him that really needs it. James tells Jose that in the end they did the right thing and the two brothers hug for the last time. Next up is Jennifer and Jones tells her that Hannah will become an amazing woman because of her. The primary tries to say goodbye to Casserole but gets choked up, instead she steps up to the splinter seat and declares that an actor doesn’t say goodbye to her audience only good night and wakes up and does it all over again. She lastly bids adieu to the machine and is sent back with her stuffed unicorn.
Finally it’s Cassie’s turn and Cole gives her back her watch that she’ll need since he will find it with her remains. He tells her that he remembers the first time they met while he was waiting in the backseat of her car. James was watching her walk in the parking lot and that he was already in love with her. He recalls thinking that night that he was about to ruin her life but now he gets to give it back. They didn’t have a lot of time but they lived a lifetime together. And cue tears. As she says I love you and gets on the splinter seat, we finally hear the full recording of the message she meant for Cole and Jones to find back in season one.
“My name is Dr. Cassandra Railly of the Maryland CDC. We’re working on containment of the Kalavirus at the CDC station in Baltimore. Jones if you can hear me the plague starts with Leland Goines security designation Frost. But we are the true architects of the plague. The Army of the 12 Monkeys, they’re watching me, I’m running out of time. The answer is among you. Please Cole remember death can be undone, love cannot.”
Jones finishes loading the Titan processed primary code into her machine. Cole suggests the scientist have one more smoke before they perform this final splinter. He tells his grandmother that he had always meant to ask her where she got the cigarettes and she responds that she grew her own tobacco next to the cucumbers outside Raritan. Katarina thanks her grandson for keeping his promise to see this to the end with her. Cole says that he’s never told her what she’s meant to him and says that he had two mothers. He’s glad that she’s here with him now. When he turns around, Jones has her eyes closed and has peacefully passed on, cigarette still in hand. He handles the final task on his own, preparing the splinter sequence and sitting on that chair one final time.
The Aftermath – A World Changed
As Cole is erased from multiple moments, time is able to correct itself. We go back to 2013 where in season one Cassie was giving a lecture on epidemics, but now Cole is not in the backseat of her car waiting. However this Dr. Railly gets a flash of herself at the machine controls at Titan. She looks at her watch and then goes to the Emerson hotel looking for a James Cole. Cassie has the strongest sense of déjà vu because she had been there before in a different timeline. When she asks the front desk manager about suite 607 he says that they stop selling those permanent residences in the 1940s. She seems to have remembered the life she had once lived.
But what of the others? Jennifer had successfully bioengineered a unicorn and seems to be looking right at Cassie through the TV screen during a press conference. Lasky and Adler ended up meeting each other and are seen playing chess at the park. Meanwhile Ramse still had Sam for a son despite it all. Deacon and his brother opened up a bar with Old Jennifer being a patron! The Jones’ stayed as a family with Katarina giving birth to Hannah and Elliot never having left. Cassie then finds a listing for the house of cedar and pine and decides to purchase it. Every night she is still hopeful and says see you soon.
As for Cole, well he ends up being sent to the beach that he had seen in a vision as well as where he took Cassie when he proposed. Who’s there waiting for him with a tropical drink? Jennifer! She tells him that this isn’t heaven, just the Keys (they’re in Florida). He asks if this is real and Ms. Goines responds that she’s the wrong person to ask that. The primary reminds him that the right ending is the one you choose, but she then adds that sometimes it’s the one someone else choses for you. In this case brilliant Jones tinkered with the primary code! Athan’s words from the beginning of episode 10 then makes sense as he tells his great-grandmother that no matter what save the one, his father. Jones did scrub James out of the timeline but she made sure he got spit out somewhere. Hey what use is knowing the unwritten laws of the universe if you can’t break at least one? He asks what about the risks and Jennifer says that time knows that but also understands that it owes Cole a big one. Finally accepting that he really is alive, he hugs her saying that she was never crazy and that she was the best out of all of them. He travels from the beaches of Florida to the autumn colored trees of upstate New York to find Cassie. The two are reunited outside their house and it’s happily ever now.
Well that’s how to you end things, with a bang and then some! While I am among the scores of fans who aren’t ready to say goodbye, we’ve got to remember Cole’s words that what makes anything worthwhile is that it has an ending. The road to get from season one to now was a maze filled with many interesting corridors, intersections, and crossroads. We got to see so many different periods and places throughout history as well as meet interesting characters with their own backstory. One such unforgettable individual was the primary Lillian played by none other than Madeleine Stowe during season two. Stowe starred in the original 1995 12 Monkeys film as psychiatrist Dr. Kathryn Railly. But wait the TV adaptation even incorporates this as Cassie’s mother was psychologist Kathryn Railly whom we met in season three. This is thoughtful and detailed attention the show gives to the story and there are so many more examples like that.
While we don’t know how Jones was able to manipulate the primary code so that Cole survived the last splinter without time still being messed up, I’m going to take this happily ever now because he has gotten the short end of the stick throughout the entire show and frankly he and Cassie deserve good things.
Since the show’s debut in January 2015, it’s been one hell of a ride through time with a bold, complicated, and cohesive narrative, complex characters, unexpected whimsical humor, compelling villains, gorgeous sets and visual effects, solid musical accompaniment, amazing throwbacks to its source material, and last but not least the stunning cinematography. 12 Monkeys was gripping from the very beginning and joins the ranks of great science fiction television such as Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Fringe, The X-Files, and Firefly.
To the entire cast, crew, writers, producers, directors, composers, editors, basically everyone involved in this production, thank you for giving us four outstanding seasons of 12 Monkeys. While the series comes to a close, we’ll always have the red forest.
Also I’ll be listening to this for a good while.
To read all our reviews on 12 Monkeys click HERE.