12 Monkeys: "Bodies of Water" brings Cassie and Jennifer together on the creepiest of road trips

This week on 12 Monkeys, everyone is on road trips! "Bodies of Water" (S0205) lets us in on the personal trauma that created Jennifer while also giving us insight on the goings-on in the Facility. Everything is unexpected and somehow this is both the funniest episode so far this season, and so packed full of heartbreaking moments, that it could be the saddest, too. I don't know how they do it, but there it is! Spoilers ahead, because how else can we talk about this show?

2.5

I'm 78% sure that the writers are actually using time travel to cram five wpisodes' worth of stuff in each single episode of the show. The hour goes by so fast, and these reviews are getting longer week by week!

This week, Old Jennifer tells them that she can't help because she's losing her connection to the Primaries, but back in time they happen to know where to find young and fresh her--but it has to be Cassie who goes, not Cole, because that's how she remembers it. Cassie isn't looking forward to it, because she severely dislikes Jennifer and has literally no time for crazy (though, having been thought crazy for two years straight, you'd think she'd be more compassionate about it). But since that's what has to happen, and her mantra is "do what needs to be done", she goes. She still hates time travel, and she's so stressed about the upcoming pain of it that she has no time for Cole and Deacon trying to one-up each other over who gets to say goodbye--

Cole: "See you soon."

Deacon: "Watch your back."

Cole: "Splinter safe."

And then they both miss her actually leaving because they're busy acting like ten year olds. But man, Todd Stashwick's delivery of "Hey, look, Time Jesus!" and "You're doing a bang-up job, love the red sky" will never not be perfect. Their rivalry and bad blood is something to behold--not just over Cassie, but also over, like, everything that's happened in Scav land. Over their very interpretation of what it means to survive. Before this, one of Deacon's men showed up, name dropped some of the fans (which was awesome), and got shot in the face by Deacon for his bad news that the Foreman is still looking for him. While Cassie is back in the past, that's what the boys have to deal with: people worse than Deacon, and conflicts of interpretation.

We'll get back to that, though, because this is the Cassie-Jennifer show.

Jennifer has been in therapy and on a routine long enough that she's better. Her hair is brushed, and she's wearing cute dresses. She plays a sweet punk cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song as her anthem and has inspirational post-its stuck to her mirror. She's got friends and is a regular at the Emmerson Hotel bar. She drags her friends there and asks Mur from Impractical Jokers--I mean, Don, the bellboy--if anyone has showed up in room 607, and he says someone is upstairs in the sitting room--but it's Cassie, not Cole.

Jennifer is not pleased, neither is Cassie, but before they can get into a proper fight, one of Jennifer's friends shows up and tries to ninja Cassie! Cassie, of course, takes her out with a high-kick to the face that knocks her over the railing, because she's a BAMF now, and drags Jennifer off into the streets to figure out what to do next. Jennifer had no idea that one of her friends was an Army plant, and now she's stuck with the woman she least likes, who wants info on the Primaries that she doesn't know. She can't access it when she's on her meds, and she doesn't want to. She likes being functional and normal, now that someone isn't being paid by her dad to keep her institutionalized.

Cassie decides they need a trigger to get at the information they need, and she looks at the old file she had from JD Peoples all the way back in episode 1.3 (the future version? the now version, somehow saved from her bookshop?) and finds a reference to something that happened at the summerhouse when she was a kid. Jennifer is upset about having to deal with all that--no matter how many meds she takes, no matter how well-balanced her life, she still keeps seeing this creepy The Ring looking woman, and it's because of what happened then. 

First heartbreaker of the episode: How Emily Hampshire says "you have no idea how exhausting it is being crazy", and how Cassie's whole everything softens--because she probably actually does, after those two years in the pilot. The show doesn't beat us over the head with that, though, it just leaves it up to their expressions and this feeling of slow bonding and common ground.

And then, to her credit, Jennifer sucks it up, doesn't use her tragic past as an excuse, calls out Cassie's manipulative "maybe your crazy can save the world", and decides to do it anyway, because it's the right thing to do.

People on this show are amazing to watch bouncing off each other.

And then the File That Away For Later kicks it up about seven notches. They reach the house in question, and Jennifer says that it was her mom's, and that her dad married money, he didn't make it. We see her childhood bedroom, and it's covered in drawings--of Jones, of Cole paradoxing, of monkeys, of what looks like a hyena? That's new. Of buildings. Of the next Primary they need to find, a guy named Ryan in New York in the 70s that Jennifer seems afraid of. Of the Origin, looking right at her. Of the Witness. It's a treasure trove of imagery that has and hasn't happened yet. She's been drawing them all of her life, and getting better as she grew.

But they were also the source of that trauma they're looking for: her mother was disturbed--"Not Primary, just sick"-- and her "disturbing images disturbed her already disturbed mind". 

Her mother thought she was a monster who would destory the world, and tried to drown her when she was a kid. And Jennifer doesn't blame her, because she was almost right, she almost did destroy the world.

Holy jeeze, you guys. That's some heavy stuff.

Jennifer and Cassie finally bond over missing mothers and not getting to say goodbye to them, and then the Pallid Man shows up and ruins their peaceful girl-time. He does volunteer that they're looking for 1975 specifically, and then he takes them hostage.

See, Olivia has started to crack. She's mad that the Witness didn't warn her of all these changes--nothing was supposed to be able to change--and she's been to his creepy Witness-house to basically demand clarity. The Witness communicates by writing on the wall, literally, and he's all "time evolves" and "find Cassandra and prepare her". Which begs the question, who calls her Cassandra and not Cassie, and why is he so determined not to have her killed, even though Olivia makes the point that she's a problem and needs to be out of the way? Why did he not warn Olivia that things could change?

So Olivia is all on edge, and the Pallid Man is not happy that they're being kept in the dark and that Olivia's "success to failure ratio" has been low lately. Now that they have the ladies, Olivia has Jennifer shuffled off and gets on with "the immersion" of Cassie. She makes her drink the tea. And reminds Cassie that she's important to the Witness, not to her, when she taunts her about killing all the Messenger-babies that were Olivia's special project. Then she strips Cassie down and puts her, high as a kite and hypnotized, into a fantastic vintage copper tub to...increase her exposure to the tea? The way she said "the Immersion" sounds like a ritual or a process that has a specific purpose, but we're still not sure about how all that works or what she's doing to people's heads when she does it.

She guides her to the House, and while there, she says she needs to see him and know him and let him in, and Cassie sees Aaron Marker! Scarred and dressed all in black and blurry. But can we trust that? So far, there's been no face to put with the Witness, and then when he does have one, it's exactly the one that she's carrying an open wound for? Exactly the one she's denying her own guilt over?

Look, I was super happy that it was Marker, because he needs some more punching and Cassie needs to resolve her feelings over him, but as soon as I said "I KNEW IT" on Twitter last night, I got this:

So...now I'm trying to decide if he's messing with us, if Olivia is messing with Cassie, or if Marker actually is the Witness (like I so desperately want him to be).

But mostly I'm really worried about Cassie.

Last season, they had her for hours all hopped up on that tea before Cole came back and saved her from dying and making the future worse. She had flashbacks and was obviously in shock after that, and acted weird around red leaves from then on out. I've thought since then that they were interrupted in some sort of brainwashing or hypnotic sleeper-agent-programming-implantation then, and I'm worried that they finished it now. We know that Olivia can manipulate people's minds, and we know that having a plant in the enemy camp would be an awesome advantage for the Monkeys. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Olivia made her into a weapon, with some secret mission Cassie doesn't even know is there to kill Cole, or kill Ramse, or Jones, or anyone back home. The whole rest of the episode, I was waiting for something to happen, and it hasn't yet, and instead of being relieved, I'm just more worried!

Anyway, Jennifer gets free of Stacy, and goes to save Cassie--but first, she finds a hand-drawn map of four-dimensional time set up like it's in a museum and labeled "the Word of the Witness". It looks older than Olivia--it looks like census records from the 1800s, all fancy cursive and yellowing paper. Who had Olivia's job before her? How long has the Witness been witnessing and giving people notes? It's complicated. Stuff overlaps. Lines intersect. Cole is near the center of it. And then Jennifer finds her own name:

Jennifer Goines

Including a death date that makes me wonder what month they're in already in 2044--was all of this Jennifer's last will and testament in the future, giving her a friend in the past? Cassie thinks it's specifically set up for making friends, but is it also her older self trying to put things in order before she dies? How tragic is that?

Also, Jennifer has an artist's eye--could she recreate that map from memory later? Because that would be very useful to Team Splinter...

Jennifer distracts Olivia and saves Cassie, which is great to see. Jennifer taking care of herself and having the wherewithall to take care of someone else! But how long has Cassie been with the Witness? What has he said to her? It was hard snapping her out of the hypnosis, and that's worrying.

On the way out, Jennifer faces off with Olivia, who pulls the whole "You're like a daughter to me" that sounds like a trigger phrase--only it doesn't work. Jennifer shanks her and dumps her into an empty pool, and leaves her there. Later, the Pallid Man shows up, and he's mad. He says she failed and he's disappointed in her, and now that she's paralyzed at best and about to die at worst, he's taking over. He leaves her in the pool, too, and goes to talk to the Witness himself--without Olivia's speech to guide him. Does that mean that her "You're walking through a red forest and the grass is tall" speech isn't even really needed? Or just that the Pallid Man is strong enough of will that he doesn't need it himself?

The Witness gives him control of the Cycle and says it's his birthright--but, again, is that just the Witness telling people what they want to hear to get stuff done? Is there even a Witness back there, or is it always just what people want to hear? Either way, it's creepy, and the Pallid Man is much more of a wild card than Olivia ever was, and therefore is more chilling and more dangerous! And Team Splinter don't even know he's the boss now!

Cole comes to pick Cassie up, but she says she's staying. Jennifer gave herself a concussion, and she wants to make sure she's okay. But this show has made me paranoid about everyone's motives. While she's ordering Cole his favorite drink and he's being flattered about it and worried that she's not talking to him when she always can, I'm worried that she's not saying what the Witness told her. She doesn't tell Cole that she's seen him, she just says she's staying, and gives him the details on their next target--though she does squeeze his hand and warn him that this one is dangerous. She's warming up, finally, maybe even forgiving him and remembering how to work with him. He's handing out olive branches like they're going out of style. And I'm worried she's going to stab him unexpectedly at exactly the most tragic moment, like right when he says "let's get married" or something.

Death by ship, on my fav show in years.

Whew! That was a lot of eventfulness just in the one time-frame, and we've still got the B-plot back home.

In 2044, Cole and Ramse decide that someone who has terrible enemies and shoots people in the face without warning inside the walls puts the Facility more at risk than just existing in the same world with everyone outside the walls. Jones tells them to suck it up and figure it out, but Ramse convinces Cole that they need to do something about him. And does it, conveniently, when Cassie isn't there to change Cole's mind. They trick Deacon into going with them to "check out an anomaly" in an abandoned factory some ways away, and effectively hand him over to this Foreman. Appease the next big bad at the same time as you get rid of the current one. Cold, Beanie Boys, cold.

They're still explaining to Jones what's going on with that and why they did it, when Deacon walks in covered in blood and drops the trophy from killing Foreman on the table. Apparently, the man would take and keep the knife of whoever he killed, and one of them was Deacon's brother's--the look on Ramse's face when he hears who's it was makes it about seventy times more emotionally impactful, too. It's a breadcrumb of detail on Deacon's past, but man is it a painful one--his kid brother from Ramse's pre-apocalyptic story, killed by The Foreman while Deacon escaped and survived and built his own army of survivors...but the knife he took was a really disturbing torture-device of a knife, so maybe that brother he loved and avenged was even worse than Deacon is himself?

That could be the most horrifying thing that's happened in the future on this show, and it's barely implied.

Cole and Ramse look like deer in the headlights through all this, but Deacon isn't even mad, and it's glorious. He respects them for trying to kill him and finally learning the lesson he's been trying to teach them for years, that you need to be decicive about your enemies. He gives Ramse all the knives, and says it's a good look on him. He tells Cole to bring back whiskey next time he goes to the past--and he does. Trust Deacon to be won over by attempted murder, but hopefully that means they'll all be more on the same page about everything now, because Jones was right about how they have bigger issues to deal with.

The road trip the boys took to the factory was so great. Deacon going on about how everyone gives him a bad time, but he hasn't killed nearly as many people as Ramse. Ramse saying how it wasn't him, it was just history. Deacon saying he's right, "you're Lady MacBeth at best". Arguing about whether not not they believe that Deacon reads even though "books didn't die in the apocalypse". Cole threatening to drive straight into an anomaly just to not have to hear them anymore. Every second of that scene is golden. Somehow, the writers and directors of this show know how to make something fiercely funny and incredibly character-revealing at the same time. Deacon reads the classics. Cole is getting more and more annoyed with all the infighting. Ramse doesn't feel responsible for all the deaths he caused and Deacon thinks he is. All while they're arguing like well-educated children.

And the whole episode was like that. These funny moments juxtaposed with the saddest points in people's lives. Frustration and vengance clashing with whether or not people know what they're doing. Bonding over the worst stuff and in unexpected ways. Making sense of the chaos by understanding other people's points of view. It's so well handled, it practically sparkles, and it makes other shows watched after it look sort of dull and slow and non-risky in comparison. It's emotionally compromising while being about people who are emotionally compromised on all sides of the conflict, and it's somehow managing to maintain this high level of both craft and art every week.

And this season has opened up the world and upped the game, giving us different pairups and re-pairups of changed old characters, and it's so interesting. It's addicting, and fascinating, and encourages obsession the way Lost did when it was good, the way Fringe did. It makes you feel smarter for watching it. And even with all the anxiety it causes, it's so, so rewarding. Every episode is like a season finale. Other shows should be studying this one to see how it's done!

More notes on 12 Monkeys 2.5 "Bodies of Water":

  • You know it's going to be a packed episode when the sneak peek from last week is literally the first scene this week!
  • Old Jennifer's giggle-snort when Cole's first words to her in ages, her time, are "You don't call, you don't write..." is probably the most adorable thing I've seen on this show.
  • Her tortoise's name is Terry! This ep was full of references--Stacy-the-ninja-friend was referred to in the tweets as "fake @F_U_ng", and two scavs were named Rankin and Otero, after the guy who founded the show's biggest FB group and one of the earliest reviewers. Terry Matalas's brother Gregg was an extra. SO MUCH FUN. This show loves us!
  • Do Primaries really lose their abilities as they get old, or is it a side effect of something else? Meddling with time, maybe? Or did she lie just to get Cassie to go? Like, they'd have nothing but her word and Cole's innate trust of it to go on, so...
  • Jennifer says that even one more paradoxed Primary will undo time. That's a lot of pressure on everyone, but if two out of all of them will break time, no wonder the Primaries are all crazy.
  • Jennifer also says her army is better than the army of the twelve monkeys's and she's safer where she is than inside the Facility where Cole wants to protect her. 
  • The bartender at Emmerson probably thinks this crew are flat out nuts, and have been for years.
  • Jennifer says her mother wasn't Primary, but she sounds like she knew about what Jennifer's so-called purpose was. Can we read into that, or is that just how Jennifer remembers it? Was her mom connected to the Army or was it a tragic random match-up of neroses?
  • And speaking of testaments, that bit below her name--who is the Chosen? What is the first testament (if that's actually what that says)? 2026 is only ten-ish years into the apocalypse; Cole and Ramse were just kids still, barely scavs, if they'd even gotten that far since we don't know how long civilization held on before scav land, and that's almost 20 years before time travel. So who was that? What were the Army up to in those gap years?
  • Eckland's best moment this episode: Jones is going on about playing god and not knowing her lines, and he tells her it's all horseshit and to get in there and do her job. I love how little of her broody BS he puts up with! And how she has no idea what to do with someone who doesn't buy it!
  • You can watch 12 Monkeys live on Monday nights at 9pm Eastern on Syfy, and join us for livetweeting with the cast and crew! You can also watch it on Syfy.com, iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play, and catch the first season exclusively on Hulu!

    By Samantha Holloway

    About the author

    Samantha is a freelance writer, editor and book and TV reviewer. She's currently in gradschool and working on her first novel, and one day she'll rule to world. Or marry her TV. Whichever comes first. Follow! twitter.com/pirategirljack.

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    2 Comments
    On: Tuesday, May 17, 2016
    AL said:
    Also during the trip important is Deacon telling about his hope in better future and how all of a sudden genuine it sounds, not the first time though, and that Cole's moment of "hell are we doing". After all the only bad thing Deacon did was shooting the murderous traitor in the corridor instead of... killing in more civilized way.
    On: Wednesday, May 18, 2016
    Samantha Holloway said:
    That's true! There was so much in that scene, just three dudes with issues in a car, hashing them out. I think they're still seeing Deacon as the a-hole who hunted them for years after they left, and only at the end of the ep are they seeing more from him. It's a nice idea that Deacon, king of the terrible people left after the apocalypse, is aware enough to know that if things could be better, they should be.
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