Tonight is the season finale of SyFy's 12 Monkeys (Season 2), leaving a giant splinter machine-sized hole in my life. Now normally, I’m not a fan of time travel sci-fi. I find that the logic is often unsound, the reasons for travelling often flaky, and that it is always full of too many awkward “I can’t let myself/my loved one/etc. see me” moments. I am also not usually a fan of apocalypse sci-fi either, primarily because it’s been so overdone these days. But 12 Monkeys is so much more than time travel and apocalypse; it’s a story of love, sacrifice, and self-preservation. It's about the human condition.
In case you haven’t been watching, 12 Monkeys is based off of the 1995 movie of the same name and is set 30(ish) years in the future. A biological apocalypse has struck the planet, and only those immune to the virus have survived; but the virus is constantly mutating, and soon even the immune won't be safe. Bitter and anguished over the loss of loved ones (and culture) and fighting for the few resources that remain, the survivors band together into clans/colonies. One such group includes those under the direction of the brilliant scientist Katarina Jones (played by Barbara Sukowa), who succeeded in her life’s ambition of creating time travel, but at much cost. In a quest to undo the plague and the loss of her daughter, Jones follows clues from the past to devise the present mission. One of those clues involves James Cole (played by Aaron Stanford), who must be the one to travel through time and stop the plague, and Dr. Cassandra “Cassie” Railly (played by Amanda Schull), a CDC employee who left a cryptic message for them before her death in 2017. Cole’s first mission begins by travelling to 2015 to find Dr. Railly before the plague hits, forever changing both their lives, but not in the tired butterfly effect way normally associated with time travel stories. The fully loaded Season 1 ends with Cole sending a badly wounded Cassie to 2043 so Jones can save her life.
|Jones and her machine
|Hello chicken, I'm egg.
|Cole and Cassie
Whatever the outcome, 12 Monkeys is by far one of the best televisions shows on air, which is saying a lot considering the plethora of great shows in this Golden Age of TV. Hopefully, if you aren’t watching it now you will be soon.
Baseline Assessment: 7/10
Bonuses: +1 for 'strong' female characters who are more than honorary men, +1 for taking 2 seasons to fully develop Cole and Cassie's relationship, and +1 for presenting Jones as a scientist and a mother, both through her own choosing.
Penalties: -1 for Ramse because I find the both the character and his portrayal irritating
Nerd Coefficient: 9/10 - effing awesome, go binge watch it right now
POSTED BY: Tia, aspiring couch potato and Nerds of a Feather contributor since 2014
Reference: Creators, Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett. 12 Monkeys [SyFy, 2015, 2016]