This review contains spoilers for the first seven episodes of season three, but is reviewing episodes 5, 6, and 7, which aired on the second night of the binge-a-thon on Syfy.
Season 3, Episode 5 ”Causality”
Written by Kristen Reidel
Directed by David Greene
This is a fun, bouncy episode but we can’t have the good without the bad so there are a few painful moments for us.
Cassie (Amanda Schull) and Cole (Aaron Stanford) decide to keep the Witness’s identity secret. Cassie because she wants to protect him, Cole more probably because he wants to protect her. This is such a bad mistake. We have been down this road before and secrets are a bad idea. They should let everyone know and deal with the consequences, but they are afraid. I blame Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) for this, and Olivia (Alisen Down) for putting him up to hunting Cassie. It’s possible that if they hashed it out they could come up with a plan that rescued their child AND prevented the apocalypse. Instead they have chosen to sneak around and work counter to the purposes of everyone else.
In this episode, they already have to work against the others. Everyone is worried about the facility lasting less than a year, but Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) made plans to steal the word of the Witness. It was hidden in a painting that Olivia purchased in 1989. The plan is to steal and copy it before Olivia buys it so as not to upset causality. Jennifer has planned everything, even the costumes. This must be a result of her writing plays in 1921 France. Cassie and Cole are going to get the word and destroy the part that explains the Witness’s parentage before anyone sees it.
By the way, the painting was painted of a crew member whose name is, indeed, Constance.
Hilarity ensues. Alisen Down does Jennifer recounting the information she got from Olivia, and it’s hysterical. I think this is something all the actors on 12 Monkeys should get to do. Everyone gets to be Jennifer once. They will have to do a lot of body swapping.
The clothes are fun. Deacon (Todd Stashwick) looks like he stepped out of Miami Vice. It suits him. Cole looks like Marty McFly, and I know everyone might not think this, but I like it. There’s a kind of innocence involved that suits him, although Cole wouldn’t believe it.
Jennifer pretends to be her own mother. She’s only four in this timeline, before the time her mother tried to kill her. Cassie is her assistant, and she screws up immediately. She says that they are interested in the painting, Constance, so that the auction house manager puts it up for auction. Originally Olivia bought it without it going to auction. This makes it more likely they will run into Olivia. Jennifer wants to abort the mission but Cassie tells her she’s over-reacting.
Cole is a mess. Deacon needles him about Ramse and he explodes. They are about to go after each other with bottles but Cassie comes in and they take a swig and pretend nothing’s happening.
Jennifer comes up with a plan that involves auctioning off one of her father’s cars and sneaking Cassie and Cole into the auction house. We get some lovely moments between Cassie and Cole in the warehouse. He explains why he didn’t tell her when he reset their past together. I am a bit surprised that he defends his actions, since he told Jennifer he was wrong, but it’s obvious he was trying to protect her. Cole also says that if there’s something bad inside the Witness that makes him evil, it came from him. Cassie says that if he wasn’t a good man, she wouldn’t have fallen in love with him.
Deacon is so laid back in this episode. He treats the whole thing as a lark. Jennifer gets performance anxiety and buys everything that’s up for auction. Not the way to lay low. When Olivia walks in, Deacon gives the best line of the episode. “Holy s—, it’s Gozer.”Jennifer’s buying attracts the attention of her father, Leland Goines (Zeljko Ivanek), who shows up with four year old Jennifer (Rosemay Lefebvre) in tow. She’s adorable, and it gives Jennifer the chance to confront her father and me another chance to cry. Despite Cole and Cassie’s efforts, Jennifer ends up with the parchment in a room with a copy machine. She realizes what she’s looking at and covers the information about the Witness’s parentage with her hand. Oops. Olivia gets her prize without ever knowing they have the information as well.
Cassie and Cole bury the injections and paint the butterfly that brought Cassie and Deacon home. This makes it a closed circle, with no causality. Maybe they don’t have to worry as much about breaking causality. Or maybe Cassie’s longing to get back and faith that there would be something there for her is the cause. Cassie gives Cole her watch and tells him that he will always find his way back to her as long as he wears it. It’s very romantic.
At the end, we see the Witness as a child being presented to a tent revival meeting by Christopher Lloyd. The Witness is played by the same child who played young Cole in several episodes, so we should be sure of the Witness’s parentage.
Deacon really likes Jennifer. I think she relaxes him, which is not the effect she has on anyone else. I wonder if his mom was like her at all. Deacon seems a lot more reasonable since he was incarcerated by the Monkeys, even if he did give Cole a hard time.
Cole is still suffering from having killed Ramse. If we thought he had the world on his shoulders before, he is feeling massive guilt now. All the best things in his life have been destroyed. His closest friend is dead by his hand, and the happiest moment of his life has produced everyone’s worst nightmare. Talk about low self-esteem.
Another interesting note-child Jennifer is as afraid of Olivia as adult Jennifer is, even though they hadn’t met before. Rosemay did a great job, besides being adorable. I’m not at all surprised in the good casting choices in the children when they’ve done so well with the adults.
I don’t have much more to say about this episode. It was crazy and busy and great. I don’t know how many Back to the Future references there were, or for that matter, how many other movie references there were. And could Jennifer’s poofy sleeves be any bigger?
Season 3, Episode 6 “Nature”
Written by Ian Sobel and Matt Morgan
Directed by Kat Candler
Detective Gale (Jay Karnes) shows up again in this episode. I love this guy. The first thing he says when Cole asks for help is “Okay.” Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Cassie (Amanda Schull) are overcome with guilt because the last time they saw him they got him killed. So we not only have the question of whether you kill Hitler as a child, but whether you tell someone of their future death, especially when it might risk your own life. Whew. No wonder these two look so miserable. And that is how Gale knows that they are together and not brother and sister, as they claimed the last time he saw them, because they are sitting side by side on the couch being miserable together.
He turns out to be a big help. They are chasing a notation on the Word of the Witness that says “a time of blood and ash”. They figure out that the Monkeys are building their army. Gale says there has to be a salesman. The salesman turns out to be Christopher Lloyd, in the creepiest role I’ve ever seen him in. The Army isn’t causing disasters, they’re chasing them. There are disappearances of the disaster victim’s loved ones at every disaster.
Meanwhile, back at the facility, Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) has made a trip in the past to collect her turtle. I don’t know why she did that since the turtle is alive now. Maybe it’s to make sure the turtle survives to become the old turtle. She’s still being haunted by time, and she becomes literally haunted when a ghostly figure appears. It looks a lot like the Witness, but it’s a female figure and the mask is different and white. At one point, we see that the figure has a slit throat. Jennifer can’t figure out what it wants.
Deacon (Todd Stashwick), on the other hand, is dismayed that he is not on the map. Any mention of him is completely missing. He goes to Olivia and demands to know his place in all of this. She says some parts are interchangeable. He says, “I am not a red shirt!” That made me laugh out loud. As upset as Deacon is to find that out that he’s a non-player character, it seems to me that this could be an opportunity. If the Monkeys don’t know about him, he could be a stealth character.
Deacon is sweet to Jennifer. He promises that no one will lock her up, and he tries to help her through her primary problems.
Cassie gets an invitation to a wake thrown by the Missionary (Christopher Lloyd). She wrangles it by pretending to be a widow but she tells her own story, which Cole hears because she has a wire on her. Amanda Schull does an amazing job in this scene.
Hearing this prompts Cole to tell Cassie later on that being told he was going to be a father was the happiest moment in his life. Cassie says that she wanted to name the baby Athan.
In a private moment, Gale asks if he really had that other problem that Cassie talked about. She and Cole weren’t getting along when they first met Gale and she told the detective that Cole had a war injury in his private parts. Cole says if that were true, they wouldn’t be in the fix they were now. The delivery of that line is so nuanced that I can’t describe it all.
They finally warn Gale about what happens when they see him in 1961. He still sounds like he’s going to help them regardless of the consequences. He pushes Cole into going into the tent with Cassie.
And this is where they first see their son. He is played by the child (Jack Fulton) who played the young Cole, only with darker hair, so you know he’s the spitting image of his dad. He is on a stage with the Messenger (Scottie Thompson), the Missionary, and the child (Nicholas Fry) who will grow up to be the Pallid Man. He’s primary. He draws, the way Jennifer does, the things he sees. When he does this we see him communicating with Jennifer. He picks one person out of the crowd to join their cult. Then he puts on a gas mask, that’s long, like a plague mask, and lets loose a poisonous gas in the tent.
Pandemonium ensues. Cole and Cassie get away by holding on to a suit that one of the guardians was wearing when Cassie shot her. It takes them to the same night and they watch the missionary and his family go into a house. They now have the time and place to raid the place and kill their son. They also have a time coat, which is more like a vest.
At about this point I really want to see them quit torturing Cole. I think I may have said this last season. He is suffering so much and yet quietly going about the mission. I’m sure that he still feels it’s his duty to stop the future/past by killing his child, but he doesn’t want to any more than Cassie does.
The town, Hope Valley, is lovely. It looks like Bedford Falls at Christmas.The tent meeting and the house almost look like they’re in different climates. The graveyard scene in the snow is particularly beautiful in stark black and white,
Detective Gale is not only smart, he’s people smart. He reads Cassie and Cole very well. He’s a much better friend for Cole than Ramse was. I don’t know if he’s going to take their advice and try to save his own life. Maybe he will pull a Doc Brown and wear a bulletproof vest.
Jennifer’s visions are mystifying at the moment, unless she’s connecting to Doctor Who. Was that a weeping angel I saw?
Cassie makes a good argument for nurture in this episode. Cole doesn’t believe it, of course. I wonder why the Army leaves no witnesses behind. It seems like they would get more converts if they let their marks live and spread the tale of people appearing and disappearing and a child that could tell the future.
Season 3, Episode 7 “Nurture”
Written by Adam Sussman
Directed by Stephen A. Adelson
This entire episode addresses the old moral dilemma of whether or not to kill Hitler as a child, before he has become Hitler. It’s a particularly difficult decision when Hitler is your own child.
We see the child Witness drawing a picture of Cole (Aaron Stanford) pointing a gun at him. The young male tutor (Dylan Colton) takes the drawing and hides it. It’s obvious that he cares about the boy. I’m glad to see that someone cares about him as a person.
Dr. Jones (Barbara Sukowa) gives a speech about what they are going to do-kill a child before he destroys the world. It’s impressive. I’ve seen her as a mother. I’ve seen her as a scientist. But in this scene, she’s a general. She sounds like Churchill. She uses the word “sin” to describe what they are about to do. She says that their only hope is that the sin will never happen once they change the past. That makes for another interesting question. Can you escape responsibility by undoing the past? Cole and Cassie couldn’t. Their child was born even though the past that he was conceived in was undone.
Cole and Cassie (Amanda Schull) discuss killing the Witness privately. Cassie says she can’t: Cole says he can. There’s something honorable and yet terrible about both positions. Cole can kill his own child to save the world, even though it will break his heart. Cassie can’t kill her child, even though it causes the death of everyone else. Somewhere in her is hope that he can be saved. There is no hope in Cole.
Deacon (Todd Stashwick) is suspicious of the two, and passes that on to Jones.
They have built something that temporarily blacks out time travel, something like an EMP machine. They take a detour in time to pick up the prototype. I’m not sure why they need to do that. Maybe to,make sure that the Monkeys don’t get to it first. This results in Cole and Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) traveling to the fifties where Jennifer has the most extraordinarily awkward seduction scene ever. Awkward is what’s needed, though, and the scientist invites her back to his lab to see the prototype, which they take. During the adventure she tells him that you can always see someone’s soul in their eyes, which is why she is so afraid of Olivia’s (Alisen Down) eyes.
While they are gone Cassie pleads with Jones to allow her to see her mother and her wish is granted. She asks her mother (Kristin Booth) for a consultation shortly before her mother’s death, when Cassie was young. She brings the photocopies of the Word of the Witness and her mom analyzes the Witness and declares him to be intelligent, creative and troubled but not evil or crazy. Cassie’s mom is warm, intelligent and intuitive. She knows she has an aneurysm that is a ticking time bomb. They have some nice bonding time together, and Cassie tells her that she should take her daughter (Cassie) to the museum whether she wants to go or not. This is because Cassie always regretted not going with her mom before she died. Cassie gets a nosebleed, indicating that she has changed things, and we see her and her mom at the museum. I assume that means that Cassie gets the new memory.
Jones uses the machine while they are all gone and sees Cole kill Ramse in the past. When Cassie comes home, Jones sics what’s left of the guard on her. Cassie runs and grabs the time vest from the lab and disappears.
The boy tells the tutor that both father and mother are coming after him. There’s a terrific battle.
Hannah (Brooke Williams) is severely injured. Cole makes his way to the Witness. Deacon shoots up a whole room of newly made converts in front of Jennifer, who is horrified. So for those who think Deacon has been too soft this season, take note. He does not care.
Cassie arrives and gets to kill the guardian (Hannah Waddingham) who took her baby. They shouldn’t have put self-destruct buttons on those suits.
The tutor tries to tell Cole that the child doesn’t want to grow up to be the Witness, but Cole just shoots him. He then turns the gun on his son. He has the worst, most painful look on his face that I’ve ever seen. It’s a look of ultimate suffering. The child looks back, and you can see that he has empathy for his father’s pain. Cole stops, and drops to his knees,and tells him his name is Athan. It’s a good name. It means immortal.
I’m thinking that maybe the guardian who loves Athan is the man that Jennifer is supposed to save. It could make a lot of difference if he lives and interferes between Athan and the monkey army.
Deacon comes in and Cole stands between him and the child and tells Deacon the child is his son. Deacon takes a moment for his mind to be blown and raises his gun again. Cassie shoots him from behind.
I realize my theory about Athan’s tutor is wrong because the tutor grabs the kid and hits the button on his time vest and they are both gone.
Cassie tells Cole that Jones knows and they can’t go back. They encounter Jennifer with the wounded Hannah and Cole gives her the injection to send her back. They then tell Jennifer to take care of Deacon, who Cassie just shot. Jennifer asks Cole how it went and he says, “I looked into his eyes.”
Cassie and Cole leave alone together, with a time vest for each of them.
Jones and Deacon are back at the facility, bitter and wounded. Jones can’t believe that it’s been about them all along. I guess she thought she was in a time travel story, with herself as the mad scientist,and is terribly surprised to find out that she is in a romance and is only a secondary character. So she and Deacon will be going after the Witness themselves and have to go through Cassie and Cole to get to him.
This is the answer about whether you kill Hitler as a youth. It is the right answer. You can’t kill someone for things they haven’t done yet. Besides, there is always the alternate theory, that is that the times make the man and not the man who makes the times. The theory is that if fate has a need for Hitler, it will produce one. Taking him out of the equation will not stop history.
The last two episodes may not have been as interesting as the first five. They do take us where we need to go.There is also an arc in these three episodes. In the beginning, Cassie and Cole are keeping secrets and the conflict is tearing them apart. By the end, the secret is out and they are united in purpose.
What I mostly feel at the end of this episode is an enormous relief that Cole did not shoot his own kid, which I am sure Cole could not have lived with, even if it worked and time was saved and the plague never happened.
Jones and Deacon are easily the two most ruthless characters now that Ramse is dead, and they are miffed and going after Cole and Cassie with only Hannah as a moderating influence. But what of Jennifer? She helped get both Deacon and Hannah back, but she knew that the Witness was Cole and Cassie’s child and didn’t tell Jones either. It won’t be long before they figure that out. I think it’s a little ironic that she found out in a mundane way, by seeing the word of the Witness, and not by some premonition.
Jones is making plans in the eventuality of the facility’s destruction, but we don’t know what they are. I hope it doesn’t bring about the result she’s trying to avoid.
How cool that Cassie and Cole are now free-traveling without the machine. It was a great moment when they said that they were going to do this on their own and synchronized their time vests. They looked heroic and bigger than life, but really, they are just parents and for the first time acting like parents together.