This week’s episode has very little to do with the overarching goal of stopping the plague, but serves to fill in Cole’s backstory. In the first moments Cassandra mentions how little she, and consequently we, actually know about the man Cole was before this mission came about. This episode reveals the state of the world in 2043 and gives some much needed insight into the different groups of people working there whose desperation has been driving the events in 2015.
At the end of last week’s episode, we find out that Cole and Ramse used to belong to a gang of scavengers known as the West 7. Their leader, Deacon, is planning on attacking the facility where the splinter machine was located. With only 13 episodes this season, 12 Monkeys has consistently kept a very fast and tightly plotted pace and the consequence is that we see immediate payoff to threats like Deacon’s.
In flashbacks to the 2030’s we learn about Cole and Ramse’s past before the facility. Though they are scavengers, you sense their reluctance and morality. They kill, yes, but only when they have to, as shown rather sweetly in a scene where both refuse to kill a hungry dog. Instead they are feeding the dog when they are attacked by Deacon, who later recruits them into the West 7. Right off the bat we get the idea that Deacon is nuts. Todd Stashwick plays him with deftness, adopting the voice of a high school history teacher, paternal and possessing an unflinching cruelty (Deacon probably eats the dog too because he is crazy, and the adorable canine is never seen again in episode). Ramse seems to be the only one who senses the psychopathy though, with Cole enamored with the idea of being in a “tribe” as he calls it.
Is anyone else surprised by the development of Ramse as a moral compass to Cole, likened to Cassandra’s influence? Maybe it’s just me, but I haven’t trusted him since he was introduced. I was sure, once it became known that the West 7 were using a tunnel system to breach the building they never should have known about, that Ramse was working with them. And when he apologizes to Cole before his apparent death, explaining that he was in “Atari” (the eponymous word to describe when there is only one move left to make in a game) I was certain he meant that he had turned traitor to save his own skin. But, man, what a twist! Not only was Ramse not the traitor, but Cole was!
I watched this episode a couple times to appreciate the dual timelines. In the first, Deacon’s group gets very close to conquering the facility. Ramse dies trying to protect the power source the machine runs on, and Dr. Jones tries to send Cole to Cassie in 2015 permanently, so their cause won’t be destroyed. Instead, glancing bullets cause Cole to splinter only back to two days before Deacon’s siege, right into the hands of Max, a young woman he had a relationship with when he and Ramse ran with the West 7. Captured for information, Deacon draws the presence of the tunnels out of Cole with a hallucinogenic, using a powder reminiscent of what Old Dude with the Cheek Scar put in the tea he made for Jessica Goines in the last episode. Is it the same? And can we assume that the truth serum will allow the Army of the 12 Monkeys to break Jessica and find the Night Room much sooner than expected?
Throwaway scenes from the first half of the episode skillfully make a reappearance, as significant indicators of Cole 2’s involvement in trying to foil what he knows will happen. Ramse’s last words precede Cole 2 saving him, and Max turns on Deacon to save Dr. Jones securing her a place at the facility in future episodes.
Deacon, in a development that is never a good sign, disappears in the chaos once Cole saves the facility. He appears to have been zapped by the damaged splinter machine, which leads me to guess that he’s the Old Dude with the Cheek Scar sent way into the past. However, Old Dude doesn’t seem to recognize Cole in last week’s episode so I’m not sure exactly how plausible that theory is. Either way, they now have a powerful enemy in Deacon who has seen the splinter machine and at the very least knows something hanky is going on.
Something is going on with Jones as well, who looks distinctly emotional when she says her last goodbye to Cole before trying to send him to 2015 permanently. Of course, that could be because she expects to die, but with this show I usually assume everything is significant until proven otherwise. I even made note of Ramse’s shoe size being a size 11 just in case (I’m not altogether convinced that wasn’t important actually, I predict it will come up again. That’s the sort of oddball stuff that usually does).
The episode ends with almost the same scene as it starts, with Cassie using her CDC resources to try to pinpoint the location of the Night Room. Cole, still shaken from almost losing everyone he cares about, is ready to open up but Cassie has a more urgent task. She has found the location of the Night Room, and they need to get there before the Army of the 12 Monkeys.
EPISODE RATING: 8/10