12 Monkeys: "Immortal" adds horror to the mix of apocalyptic conspiracy adventures

Episode six of 12 Monkeys ups the ante in new and totally bonkers ways, as Cole and Ramse go back to 1975 to save a serial killer from a different sort of killer, and Cassie takes care of Jennifer in 2016! Spoilers ahead for (S0206) "Immortal", as usual!

Cassie is Immersed

The red clouds are getting worse and Jones is spending all her time glaring at them and smoking through her cigarette stash on the roof, but Elckland has brought her what they need: a police report that tells them where to find Kyle Slade and the name of his last victim! 

Cole is supposed to go alone to 1975, but Ramse, who's been hanging out with his son, has a talk about that whole "letting the world die to save me" thing. Turns out that Sam isn't comfortable with that weight of guilt. "There's more people to save than just me," he says, and next thing we know, Ramse is volunteering to go back with Cole, because he figures he'll have to go rescue him anyway. Better to just be there from the beginning.

There's no gold lame or bellbottoms, but Cole does wear some nice chunky gold man-jewelry and an awesome leather jacket, and Ramse somehow manages to rock The Ugliest Polyester Shirt In Existence (tm) with a hat and some driving gloves. I was looking forward to them at least wearing super low-cut shirts, but the cinematrography made the whole part of the show in 1975 look like an old cop drama, so I'll take it.

Jones and co have figured out how to recalibrate everything again, and that means they can land them close together this time, and it works. Cole and Ramse go and hang out in the diner where the last victim, Victoria, works. Cole discovers pancakes and Tab cola, and learns that the coffee Ramse used to make in the scav camp wasn't coffee at all, with an implication that it was something gross, but Ramse won't say what. He's too busy flirting with Victoria, which leads to Cole's best line of the episode: "I know that look. It means you're about about to father another child and change the course of history." But Victoria already has a kid, and as a man with a son he's constantly guilty over and a man very aware of his orphan-ness, they aren't pleased with what will happen to him if they let his mom get killed like Jones said they should, to avoid altering the timestream more than the Messengers already have.

So of course, Cole saves her.

They follow her, see her attacked by Kyle, almost just watch and observe...and then All Leap, No Look Cole goes up and punches their Primary in the face and alters time. Headaches and nosebleeds and all. It gives the killer a chance to escape and the Messenger a chance to follow him, and they don't know where either went.

They tell Victoria to stay in their hotel room to be safe, and to get clean (she's a total coke-head, which Ramse takes a little too personally) and take care of her kid. She's got a second chance. They also tell her that they're from the future sent to save her, and she doesn't really believe them, which is kind of awesome. The boys decide to "blend in". They tell the cops they're newspaper men about to do a big expose about the Immortal, the serial killer who happens to be Kyle Slade, but they found out his name and they're going to give the cops a chance to handle it before they have to print this article about how bad the police are at all this. The cops, of course, take the bait and lead them right to Kyle--who has taken a store clerk hostage to replace his rescued twelfth victim. He's all surrounded, Seventies Crockett and Tubbs are ready to kill him on sight...

And Cole leaps without looking again, because he has no chill this week.

He goes in and gets the clerk out, tells Kyle he knows who he is and what he is, and Kyle realizes he's James Cole, come for him. Tommy knew what they looked like as well as who they were, it seemed, but Kyle was surpised to actually see Cole. Red flag, or difference in processing the Primary-ness? But now that he knows who Cole is, he says he knows where the Witness is, and he can take Cole. So of course, that's when the cops bust in and arrest him because he's a serial killer who has killed twelve people in a very short time. Not to mention the enemies he butchered when he was in 'Nam. He's not a good guy, is what I'm saying, and he's broken--more coherent than Jennifer or Tommy were, as aware of what he is, but way more crazy in a really bad way. Unclear whether he would have been a psycho regardless of being Primary, or if that's what drove him over the edge.

Cole, however, is not going to pass up the chance to off the Witness. He steals a cop car and heads off the cops, kicks them out, and then steals their car, to get Kyle away. Ramse can't be part of this, though, and leaves him to himself. Which means that it's Ramse who finds out that the Messenger knows where they're living when he gets home to find Victoria all tied up. Apparently, old killer-pants lost Kyle, too, when the cops intervened. He attacks Ramse, but Ramse fights back, and Victoria is charmingly not a total damsel, and between them, they kill Messenger #9. For people who are literally created for this job, these guys are mostly super-easy to kill.

But now Ramse has to immediately rethink leaving Cole on his own, and goes after him after all.

PS: Ramse tells Cole about five times this week not to do the thing, and Cole immediately goes to do the thing, so really, Ramse should stop fighting him and just run with it. Because if there's anything I've learned all through these two seasons, it's that if Ramse tells Cole not to do something, Cole's totally going to do it as soon as possible.

Which is how Cole wound up following a serial killer into the worst parts of town.

Kyle leads Cole to his hideous slasher-movie lair. Cole's smart enough to keep his shotgun at the ready and stay behind the guy, but it was crazy-tense the whole time anyway. Kyle has arms and legs hung from the rafters and dripping blood. There's things that look like flaps of skin. He's painted the Monkey in human blood. It's horrid, and it probably smells bad. Also, he's got trip wires all around the place. And in the middle of it all, there's a cage with a chained up person he says is the Witness.

It's hard to tell how much of what he says is actual Primary-knowledge and how much is pure old-fashioned psychosis, but he says he's been killing Primaries because he knew the Messengers were killing them to collapse time, and dead Primaries can't be paradoxed like that. Were they Primary, though, or was he just nuts? Victoria wasn't at all, but he also says she was a flare to catch their attention--that's why she's the only identified body. So they'd know where and when to find them. He says the Witness is a man just like Cole, but he's been doing the whole time travel thing longer and has developed all sorts of new abilities because of it--he can get into people's minds. That sounds plausible. But then he starts talking about how the Witness himself came to kill him with his own bone, and how it's Cole's fate to kill the Witness, and Cole gets cagey. He doesn't like fate. And Kyle is getting too worked up.

Turns out, the so-called Witness is none other than Messenger #10! He got to Kyle before #9 did, and Kyle overpowered him, locked him up, and fitted him into his half-truths / half-psychotic breaks, and decided that he's the big bad. Not a henchman. Because serial killers always think they're more important than they are. Cole is in the middle of trying to convince him he's wrong, everyone has guns on everyone, and Ramse has just tracked them down, when the cops show up and trigger the trip-wire bombs. Cole and Ramse off the Messenger and Kyle and get away.

But there's still all this stuff Kyle said. He said Cole was supposed to kill the Witness. When he didn't, he said he's "just like all the others"--but what others? If he's anything like the other Primaries we know, there's a chance that all his crazy is just out of sequence, and that he's actually speaking truth that doesn't make sense until you get to the point in your life where it applies. If that's true, yay for the Witness liking to use Marker's face, because Cole will have to kill him at some point. But are there other people who have tried? Other Coles even?

Back in 2044, the red storm has receeeded a little. By stopping the paradox of Kyle Slade, they repaired some of the damge done to time. Cole apologises to Ramse for being so impulsive--even though he was right all episode and it turned out to be for the best--and Ramse said that he used to think Cole was just crazy, but now he knows that it's something in his heart that makes him different. He's got that thing that'll save them all. It's implied that it's love, but being a bro, Ramse won't let Cole say it. They're back on the same side for real now, though, and they go in search of some whiskey to drink because that's how dudes bond with other dudes.

While all this is going on, in 2016, Cassie and Jennifer are living in the same hotel room at a different time. The only time that really is a thing is when Jennifer notes a hole in the wall and then we find out it was caused in the fight Ramse had with Number Nine, but it could have been super inter-connected and it wasn't. There was other things going on, so we'll let it slide.

Jennifer was still dealing with her concussion, and Cassie drugs her to make her sleep because she won't sit still--and Jennifer points out that that's a bad idea with a concussion, too, so is she thinking as clearly as she thinks she is? Almost definitely not, because even as Jennifer is saying interesting things about how hauntings are actually traumatic events imprinted on time, Cassie is having almost constant flashbacks to her immersion last week. 

And then Aaron shows up with all the flickering lights of a time travel event. He's wearing a nice cozy-looking sweater and covered in burn scars, and he tells her everything she wants to hear--that he was rescued, that he thought he'd never get to see her again and apologise for what he did to them, that she was what got him through the ordeal. And then he starts trying to sell her on the idea of killing time as the only way to kill death--and that's when she stops listening and starts asserting her own (much less insane) point of view. Aaron does something to her hand when he's trying to convince her--it's unclear whether he's just squeezing her too tight, or if it's like a fresh dose of the crazy-juice or something, but right after that, he stops being Aaron. 

His eyes go black, and his voice gets weirdly modulated, and she knows that he's the Witness. He says that maybe Aaron was a bad choice of looks, and switches to Cole, saying that "this is the face you prefer"--it's canon now that Cassie likes Cole more than Aaron! Even the Witness knows it. But his eyes are still all blacked out, and Cole with the creepy detatchment of the Witness is even worse than Aaron with it, and Cassie is terrified. Because she's savvy enough to know that she's in a posession story now, I guess.

When the Witness snaps out of existence--in sort of a flickery blur, not all at once like Team Splinter do when they time travel--Cassie finds herself in the lobby, even though she thought she was in their sitting room. Jennifer leads her back to the room, and Cassie is scared and disoriented, and says they need to split up. Jennifer needs to go somewhere Cassie doesn't know about so the Witness can't use her to find Jennifer, but Jennifer is thrilled. If she's not just having flashbacks and mental issues--which Jennifer is the best person to get her through, to be honest--then it means that this is real. And that means that they're doing something right because the Witness would only come himself, in person, trying to sway them, if he was afraid of them! She says they need to be hyenas, the natural predators of monkeys. 

It was so nice seeing Cassie both work through her idolization of Aaron now that he's dead, and seeing her talking to someone and opening up about what happened to her. It would be nice if she'd talk to Cole so they can be the unified heart of the fight again, but Jennifer is probably the one most likely to understand what she's going through and able to help her do something about it. Maybe admitting that she was not well was the first step, and it'll give her that edge she needs to maintain herself when everything that's lurking in her head comes out!

Later, when Cassie comes back to the room, she finds Jennifer gone after all, with a note that tells her to go back to the future to take the fight there, while she goes to the streets. And that's when Cassie's flashbacks get really strange. She sees the Witness again--and then she  gets the black eyes. The upside of her impending tragedy is that Cole loves her and happens to be really good with crazy people, so if this influence from the Witness makes her nuts, there's at least a chance he can talk her down or keep her from getting killed.

Is she posessed? Blacked out eyes are usually TV Code for posession, but how would the Witness posess her? Is he not a person after all--or is he so changed that he's no longer a person? Why would he do it? Is this what was intended when he told Olivia to "prepare her" or was the thing interrupted and this is only part of it? What if they WANT her to go to the future and take whatever is inside her with her? Next week, the ad shows a problem with the time machine--what if that's because of Cassie? What if she's sleepwalking again and does things without realizing it, while thinking she's doing something else? What if she's a sleeper agent meant to kill someone???

My worry for Cassie's mental health jumped up about four thousand points this episode.

We're starting the tip into the second half of the season here, and various interviews and tweets have said this is the last calm episode before it all goes to hell. But if this counts as calm, how will we survive the rest of the season? More importantly, how completely out of left field will everything be when it's no longer "calm"? Because already, everything that happens is somehow not even on the weekly theory radar. We'd sort of come around to the idea that Aaron wasn't really the Witness, but who thought he'd actually be some sort of time-traveling, shape-shifting time-demon able to posess people?? It's insane--but it's insane in the best possible way, the way where it makes sense and has been seeded for a while in ways we didn't understand were seeds until they happened to be there in front of us.

That's how this show works. It's bonkers--but it's bonkers with a very tightly plotted and carefully planned out story that makes the show both a joy to watch and a joy to rewatch. Everyone on this show gives everything they have, and you can see it in how polished and rewatchable it is. They thought of everything, and the things it seems like they didn't think of wind up actually just being later reveals. 

The implications of this week are huge. Cassie is carrying something inside her, that may be something meant to mess up everything. And Cassie is vitally important to both plans, so which side will win? Will she get to choose which side she's on? Can anyone get through to her if she blacks out again? Cole is meant to kill the Witness--or something related to that--but we all know how he feels about being predestined. Ramse wasn't in the visions Kyle was having, so is it because his cycle is supposed to have ended months ago, or is it because Kyle is narcisistic and psychotic and thought he'd be the one by Cole's side--and does it imply that the Primaries don't really see all time, just the time they want to see? The time that exists at their particular moment before Team Splinter changes things again? Avoiding a Primary Paradox can reverse some of the damage to time, but not all of it. Maybe Jennifer's army actually is better than the Monkeys' because hers are hyenas? What does it mean that Victoria is still alive and her son isn't orphaned? 

"Immortal" is another one of those episodes where you have to watch it twice to be sure you got it, because the first one is just sheer emotional reaction--a wide-eyed OMG that lasts the whole hour. That's what this show has: emotional force with incredible story to back it up! It incorporated horror into the already complex genre-stance of the show so cleanly that I think they could take almost any genre and make it work. They've already merged, some miraculous way, almost all of the speculative genres there are, and they're running with it, and it's consistent. People could write dissertations on this show's use of genre tropes and storytelling!

Bring on the second half of the season!

More notes on 12 Monkeys 2.6 "Immortal"

  • Terry Matalas said during the tweet that Jones grows her own tobacco and hand rolls her cigs. I really want to see her gardening the fickle plants and fussing over the bugs and things they get super easily.
  • Sam is an uncannily good shot with those rubberbands, and it seems too symbolic that he shot Cole and Ramse both in the back of their heads when they thought they were working together and weren't. One of my fav theories is that Sam is the Witness, driven by guilt or anger or hubris over being the thing the whole world was sacrificed for, and his "there's more people than me" speech sort of fits into that. And this show has trained me to think long-term and symbolicly about everything that happens.
  • I would watch the hell out of a web mini series that was literally just everyone picking out their clothes as soon as they land in the past. I wanna see how Cole decided on that particular bracelet and ring combo. (even tho they look a lot like the ones Birkhoff was fond of on Nikita, so they either have the same costume / props people, or Aaron Stanford has retro tastes)
  • Terry Matalas pointed out that Stanford says Kyle the way Cartman does on South Park and it is literally all I hear now whenever he says the guy's name.
  • The last two messengers, Jones doesn't have pictures of, and I'm 100% sure that's going to be a problem soon.
  • Why don't people have the paradox-reaction to being near their own sternums? Is it because Primaries are different? Is it just hand-waving? Is it only Cole who has paradox-allergies?
  • @SinEater_Danyi on Twitter is convinced Cole (or some future or alternate version of him) is the Witness, under all these illusions, and the "man like you" comment could support that theory, if it turns out that Kyle isn't just making stuff up as he goes.
  • Cassie needs so many hugs, you guys.
  • Cassie also looks super pretty in that last scene where she's being posessed, and it makes it creepier--her looking so soft and pretty and then the snap into the black eyes. But what does that mean???
  • The tweets from Terry and the writers saying that Cole and Cassie will be reunited next episode do not look like it's going to be a nice one, now that she's haunted...
  • 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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