Here's the most intense moment in last night's 12 Monkeys — it's a moment that turns some crucial stuff from the Terry Gilliam movie on its head, while also playing with time travel in a pretty uniquely cool way. And it reminds us just why we got sucked into obsessing about this show in the first place. Spoilers...
So the moment above is something the whole season feels like it has been building towards. In a nutshell, James Cole cures his time-travel sickness by injecting himself with the blood of his younger self, from 2015. But the "paradox" of two versions of Cole interacting, inside his body, causes another huge explosion, which knocks out (and maybe kills?) the Pallid Man and another goon from the Army of the Twelve Monkeys.
Unfortunately, the Pallid Man has just killed Cole's father, in a memory that's been tormenting Cole like a kind of dream as it's gotten closer and closer. Cole basically causes his own father's death, because his time-traveling craziness makes him so sick that Cassandra Railly and the younger Dr. Jones have to hunt down his younger son to save him. (And they don't just find a way to MacGyver some blood from the younger James Cole, without dragging the Coles to New York.)
So the above moment is both cool, in the sense of a really awesome visual and a great comeuppance, and horribly sad. Cole's now closed the circle of his ruined life, by creating his own orphan status. He loses the ability to travel through time, just at the moment that his final loose end is tied up. (And the Pallid Man stepping on toy soldiers to get to Cole is a neat extra visual.)
And in the end, the young James Cole gets dropped off at an orphanage where he meets his new best friend... Jose Ramse.
A lot of the episode is taken up with Jones and Railly teaming up, which is as awesome as you might have hoped. The young Jones is already rejecting medicine (trying to save individual people's fragile lives) in favor of playing God with time travel, and at first she has to be convinced at (toy) gunpoint to help Railly save James. But soon she's convinced that her work does actually succeed in the future, and Cole is a time-traveler. And sadly, the adventure with Cassandra convinces her to keep her baby — the one she'll lose in the plague, which will turn her into a monster.
Meanwhile, Aaron makes one last ditch effort to convince Cassandra to abandon James and the campaign to prevent the plague. And instead, he's ready to make a deal with the Army of the Twelve Monkeys to ensure his safety and Cassandra's, after the plague happens. That's going to end well.
And in the future, the much older and more bitter Dr. Jones is making a token effort to restart the research into the beginnings of the plague — even though she's lost her time traveler, and all their information got burned up, and Whitley and his soldiers abandoned them. She refuses to give up. But then, some weird red vines appear on the time machine, from the past — similar to the way all the vegetation turned red after the medallions met last week, and the fern turned red in the bar after James "splintered" through time before that. Something about all this time travel is causing red vegetation to appear.
And finally, Deacon, the ex-leader of West 7, is back... and he's slaughtered Whitley's men. Whitley returns with the severed head of one of his soldiers. And Deacon has teamed up with a group of weird guys with alien-looking blue-ish skin. In fact, unless I miscounted, there are... twelve of them.
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