After last week’s self contained adventure episode focused on our apocalyptic friends, this week got back on track after Cassie’s discovery of the location of the Night Room. This show moves fast. In the first episode, I was shocked that they so quickly introduced and removed Leland Goines as the origin of the virus. And yet, the build up to finding the virus in the Night Room has been such that I thought, until the end of last week’s episode, it would be the season ender. However, as soon as the episode started, and knowing we still have half a season left, I knew this episode would be a game changer. And so it was. The ghost of Leland Goines is resurrected as Cassie recognizes the desperation on Cole’s face as the same before he killed Leland, foreshadowing the ultimate failure of this as the deciding moment in averting his timeline. Yet he disregards Cassie’s call for a plan in favor of sheer determination to get into the Night Room and finally complete his mission.
Their mission probably would have been more of a success had Cole listened to Cassie, however, because as soon as they enter the Night Room they find that the Army of the 12 Monkey’s has beaten them by only a couple hours. Swiftly putting Cassie and Cole into the custody of my favorite, whistling, cheek scarred Creepy Dude.
In 2043, Dr. Jones has become a more welcome member of the team after the events of the last episode, even joining in on a pre-splinter drink tradition with Ramse, Cole and Max before the mood sours when she mentions her short lived marriage (Who wants to bet that knowing Jones’ maiden name is going to come in handy?). Max is quick to point out that none of them really know much about the fierce woman spearheading this mission, and furthermore, there are urban legends circulating of a German doctor who performs terrible experiments on people. That can’t be our resident German scientist, can it? Ramse brushes off Max’s insinuations at first but later sneaks into Jones’ room, finding gruesome pictures of previous failed splinter subjects.
In the previous episode, Cole parallels Ramse as his moral compass to Cassie’s role. In this episode, that parallel is taken further as Dr. Jones and Cole try to justify the means they utilize to complete their mission to Ramse and Cassie respectively. While Jones tries to justify her experiments to Ramse in the name of saving all of human history, Cassie finds herself uncomfortable with the lengths Cole’s desperation drives him to. Even going so far as to suggest he find a new partner once she learns about Henri’s murder. Ultimately, however, she conspires with him to burn down the Night Room, not able to see an alternative to Cole’s extreme measures. Ramse too, understand Jones’ position, but his anguish is palpable when he tries to make her understand that who they are, in this timeline they are trying to erase, still matters.
Each week the writer’s push the story into new and unexpected directions and this week, true to form, reaches impressive heights. It is, by far, my favorite episode yet–the juxtaposition of the past and future timelines was handled deftly, utilizing transitions between them to color information we discover in each. As the action takes center stage in the Night Room in 2015, the moral complexity of the show is explored in a tense and delicate scene between Jones and Ramse in 2043. When Jones admits to previous splinter subjects, the host of the virus is revealed in the Night Room to be a decaying body, perhaps one of those very subjects?
Jones has rocketed up to my favorite character and we learn a lot about our favorite, potentially ruthless, German doctor in this episode. Ramse’s exploration of her room unearths what looks like a baby blanket with the name Hannah embroidered on it and a strange musical device with what seems to be a time line drawn on it, lines spinning out from a prominent “1987.” All of this points to there being far more about our Doctor than we know yet and I look forward to unearthing exactly who she is. Her confrontation with Ramse is played with a glimpse of desperate zealot by Barbara Sukowa, who knows exactly how to balance a tight wire act of grandmotherly nostalgia and Machiavellian genius.
Emily Hampshire also delivers a standout performance as Jennifer Goines, who is kidnapped and forced to the Night Room by the Army of the 12 Monkeys. The Army, however doesn’t seem to grasp that behind her, frankly insane, exterior, Jennifer’s mind is busy ticking away. Simultaneously nutty and brilliant, she outmaneuvers the Army’s machinations and traps them into activating the Night Room’s failsafe measures until Creepy Dude figures out her soft spot for Cole. Seemingly, Cole is the only one who can break through Jennifer’s crazy, leading me to think Jennifer is far more entangled in the story than merely her father’s messenger. Then again, this show gives me conspiracy nut brain and Ramse’s shoe size has not been significant (Yet). What will be significant moving forward is the Army’s abduction of Cassie, though why they need a virologist when the host of the virus has been destroyed beats me. Jennifer Goines is also a free agent for the first time in the series, once Cole blinks out and Cassie is taken, and I’m looking forward to the havoc she will wreak.
The success of the mission has always been judged in-series according to whether the apocalyptic future has disappeared or not, and smaller changes have thus far been negligible or uncommented on. Similarly to killing Goines, the destruction of the Night Room doesn’t lead to Cole’s disappearance, but it does affect the future he comes from. When Cole returns to the future facility, the place looks more like a shelter than the tightly run compound Jones has it as, and the West 7 are now in control.
EPISODE RATING: 9/10