12 Monkeys: Introducing the alternative to the Army of the 12 Monkeys, in "Hyena"

This week, the Monkeys find out that not everyone will be their willing victims, Jennifer finds out that being a leader is harder than she thinks, Cole finds out that his team is sort of equally a mess, and Cassie and Ramse find out why they hate each other. It's a riot and a disaster on this week's 12 Monkeys (S0209) "Hyena". Spoilers ahead, because this is a recap, and that's what recaps do!

2.09

I cannot think of a single thing this show could do, that I wouldn't follow down to the very end of the story. Ramse could crack open and release a screaming ghost that then personally devours time and I'd be like “cool, how does Cole feel about this?” Cassie could get stuck on the other side of some time rift that requires Cole to be the witness to save her, and I'd be scrubbing the tears from my eyes to be sure I don't miss anything. It's scary how happily I've fallen down this rabbit hole--but they haven't let me down yet. (Knock on all the wood in the red forest)

And yet… This week left me unsettled. Not in a bad way, because it's getting ever closer to the season two finale and everything is very unsettled by definition, but still. Everything is falling apart. You can actually feel the show careening into the finale and everyone is still not talking through their issues and it's getting in the way of what they need to do. They're running out of time to handle what they need to handle so they can do what they need to do (that old line again), and it causes anxiety in the devoted viewer who just wants them all to be happy and good at their jobs and not walking disasters.

The red storms are still there, and Whitley is finally back (yay!) with photos of what happens when they hit--people from a survivor camp who were mummified hundreds of years in a few minutes, a full grown man who died a baby. Whits is getting annoyed at how little Team Splinter is getting done, and so is Cole; he knows they have one more Paradox to find, so he goes to talk to Mother Jennifer about it.

She never gives straight answers. This time, it's a magic trick to teach him to look at the hands, not at the balls in the cups--to get him to see what's behind the distractions. And she lists everything as distractions, in a tone that sounds pretty mercenary and pointed to me: Cassie, Ramse, Jones, Hannah, herself, all distractions. Basically, everything Cole cares about, and everything he's managed to accomplish so far, knocked over like a stack of toy blocks.

But she does tell him that she never knew where the last Paradox was. That info comes from the Pallid Man, who her 2016 self is chasing

So Cole goes to 2016, by himself, to get info. Cassie an Ramse, however, are out for blood and feel like he's prioritizing his own vengeance over theirs--even though he hadn't said anything about vengeance or how Pallid Man killed his father until after Cassie brought it up. Cole thinks it's dumb to go after the Witness now; they need to stop the storms and stop time from unraveling, then go and clean up by killing the Witness and all his people. He should have just had them go back with him anyway, to keep an eye on them...

Ramse tells him what Cassie said about Titan before Cole goes to Jennifer. Cole looks hurt that she talked to Ramse but wouldn't come talk to him even though he's been offering for several episodes, but he tables that because he has a job to do, and he's the only level head around right now. Someone else not talking to Cole when he offers? Ramse. All he’ll say is that he needs to get the Witness and make him pay for Sam, and he looks super glitchy when he does. He's cracking up hardcore and you can see the seams giving out. It's inspired acting--and it feels like a ramp-up to an Acevedo Special: like he's going to do something crazy and get himself spectacularly killed.

So Cole goes. And Ramse and Cassie don't wait for him because waiting means being alone with your thoughts, and we’ve seen how well that goes for both of them. At first, Ramse tries to leave without Cassie, reasonably pointing out that she's not immune and it's a long trip, but she knows that's an excuse to go get revenge on his own and won't hear it, which is both foolhardy and badass. Hannah gave them their destination: The Keeper, someone who trades in truth and has all the info of what has happened since the collapse, the stuff that Jones’s Archive doesn't have. And hopefully something on Titan, because there's not a single mention in Jones’s files, what with Jones knowing nothing of Titan and her files being specifically about the past, while Titan is, in my opinion, probably the future or the present.

Cole finds Jennifer and discovers that she's built herself a crew of crazy ladies who have been attacking Markeridge facilities and taunting Pallid Man to get him out of hiding. They've managed to track down Oliver Peters, who Cassie couldn't bring herself to kill last season; he's working as a janitor in a lab...so that he can secretly work on a vaccine for the virus Markeridge made him make! A vaccine that never existed that anyone knows about before, and that I'm going to File Away For Future Plot Use. Cole now knows about it. Peters says it's not done, it's barely a thing, but if Cole can get it to Cassie in time, maybe it’ll be the thing that gets her through the 2017 Issue? Maybe it'll be the cure that Cassie AND all those people need next time the Moment of Plague plays out?

The ladies want to kill Peters because he's responsible for the virus, but Cole decides that they're going to use him as bait, because Pallid Man is more important. This causes a rift--Jennifer wanted a family; she recruited women she thought were like her, people who were misunderstood and unfairly institutionalized, but she's primary and they're actually crazy. Venessa doesn't like that Cole just waltzes in and takes control and starts dictating what they do. Cole doesn't like that they're not seeing the bigger picture. Venessa wants to take back the sisterhood, to go ahead with the bluff of having Peters hold a press conference to expose the Army as if it's actually the plan, and kill Cole to stop him from interfering anymore. Jennifer just wants everyone to be together and help her change the world. The Hyenas leave Jen and Cole under guard while they drag Peters off to do his press meeting, and they get free by picking a fight to distract their captor. The girls on guard went up the stairs looking for PM when the group showed up to the press conference, so Jennifer and Cole go down, and catch the Pallid Man easily. Too easily. They take him somewhere away from the meeting to get the information they need out of him, because the Hyenas want him dead and they want him to talk.

Cole beats him up in classic Cole style--it's been a while since he's gotten all sweaty and bloody by punching someone--and PM is barely bothered. Cole brings out the hammer and starts crushing his fingers, and he's still barely bothered--they're resetting themselves between blows, and Cole isn't paying enough attention to it. But then he tells them that it's 1957 that they need, a house in upstate New York where the paradox is so big that it is enough to cause all this damage on its own--and not coincidentally, also one of the dates written on the House’s wall a few weeks ago. Is it Cole who lived there? Is that proof he's the Witness, or just that he's tangled up with the Witness? Pallid Man uses his own blood to slip free of his bonds and escapes.

Should've watched the hands, Cole.

It's all very suspicious how PM just suddenly talks. He's “the tall man who pulls the strings”; he's totally puppeteering all of this. Not just the bomb that takes out the hospital and Peters and the Hyenas, that his interrogation distracted them all from finding in time, but also where Cole goes next. Poor Peters. He just wanted to put right what he helped make wrong.

Jennifer is hit hard by this. She thought she had a handle on things, and she got everyone killed. Cole assures her that she's not a failure in the future, and gives her her own line about how the right ending is the one you choose for yourself, and rescues her tortoise, and then has to go.

Earlier in the season, Ramse calls Cassie Cas without earning it, and now Cole uses “see you soon” on someone else--can Cassie have nothing that is just her own?

But literally seconds later, he shows up at the door again, battered and looking glad to see Jennifer--is this Cole back to fix what went wrong this ep? Or is he back from a different crisis in the future, beyond this Hyena mess? OR, is this the s1 Cole side-mission that we were expecting last week and didn't get? @Sineater_Danyi from twitter (and our aftershows) pointed out that his hair looks grey when he shows up again--so is this Cole's own 2017 Issue playing out, him from the far side of all this coming back to try to put things right after they've gone way, way worse than this? Or maybe, that's him finally getting it right, after all the times they all blundered around figuring things out as they went and missing important things? That would be so epic. And this show is actual, literal epic, so it would work. We don't hear what he has to say to her then, because the show cuts to another scene before he can talk.

I just can't shake the sense that that's a stitch--one of a series of things all happening at once through the finale--or the show finale--that'll pull it all together the way it needs to be.

Meanwhile, Cassie and Ramse go to where the Keeper is, and immediately get tied up and given polygraph tests. The Keeper won't give up anything without absolute truth to trade for it, because he says it's lies that killed the world. Since Cassie and Ramse have this pile of emotional mess between them, that's what he zeroes in on to make them confess. Cassie says she hates Ramse because he's selfish, and the ‘graph says its a lie. So she tells the truth, again, way easier than talking to Cole: she hates him because “someone I cared about, who I sacrificed everything for, chose him over me”. The punchline: Ramse hates her for exactly the same reason. Cole is in the middle of this hate-pile and neither one of them has bothered to let him know about that. #Stop Excluding Cole From Your Talks 2k16.

But now that they know they have the same reason, doesn't that take some of the fuel out of the hate? And also, can't they both see that he's just doing his best and trying to save everyone, and they shouldn't be mad at him? Cole is getting so much emotional BS from everyone this season. Cassie blames him for sending her to hell and not killing Ramse, when Cole just wanted to keep her alive. Ramse blames him for choosing Cassie over his son, when Cole just wants to do what will make the most difference in the world. Cole's goals are just to make it so that none of this ever happens. Three-way tragedy. Someone get these people a bottle of whiskey and lock them in a room until they work it out.

The Keeper gives them the information they need and warns them that it's not hate that divides people, it's the lies they tell to cover it up that does. Portentous. But now they have a CIA redacted report, the only file mentioning Titan, that's basically just a date, a place, and a name: 1961, East Germany, Dr Kirchner. Ramse says that's enough, but who wants to bet it won't be.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, Hannah has been having trouble accepting that she's Jones’s daughter. Jennifer told her she was found on the back of a golden swan in the river, a fairytale that she likes better than the truth of science--that her parents were the ones who broke time and doomed them all. But she's curious about where she comes from, and Jones is patient and not-jealous, and when she finds out that Jennifer named Hannah “time” in German and tells her about her father, she's won over a little.

Also, Olivia is back. She talks about a Mother, and Pallid Man calls her “dear” again and mentions how her Father gave his life for the cause, making me really wonder what the social structure of those born to the Monkeys is like. Are the two of them an arranged marriage with not enough love? Are they assigned leaders who can't see eye to eye? Is Olivia's father not THE Father that the Messengers talked about? Or is he just not Pallid Man's father, because he's a side-project of the Army? All that's clear is that a) the Word of the Witness is missing a corner, b) Pallid Man wants to use tech to help the mission because Olivia was too past-oriented and look what that got her, and c) he will not listen to even Olivia doubting the Witness. When she gets angry and accuses the Witness of lying, Pallid Man calmly puts his giant hand over her face and proves that he could smother her in a second, and she's so freaked out by it that she doesn't even roll over his feet with her shiny new wheelchair. Pallid Man is in charge now; is she a figurehead or a captive or otherwise just still knocking around without power, or does she have some other job to do now? PM does say that "mothering is more Olivia's job" when he's being interrogated...

And in the very last moments, ELLIOT JONES! Pallid Man has dug him out of whatever hole he crawled into since his project was shut down when they found that henchman’s body in his Splinter Chamber and shut down his project and all his funding, and he wants him to build something. A thing Elliot says is impssible because the tech will take decades to figure out. Something to use for insurance. Something so big it's called Titan!

You guys, our heroes are in so far over their heads, they don't even know they're drowning.

In the scope of the season, this will probably turn out to be a set up episode, giving everyone the push they need to fall nicely into the finale episodes, but dang did a lot happen! The emotional conflicts are getting out of hand and Cole is the only one keeping his head--sort of. Jennifer went full Emma Frost, losing her first round of XMen so she can learn to be less reckless with the next ones. Pallid Man is far more tricksy than Olivia was as leader, and more anarchic--he bombed a hospital full of people to stop one man and make a point. But Peters got some of his accusations out and they were broadcast on the news. Ramse and Cassie are on a suicide mission, one way or the other, instead of dealing with their trauma and their hurt--Ramse feels like he's going to do something dangerous and crazy, Cassie feels like her lack of mask-wearing is going to get her sick, and either of their loss could be the thing that finally breaks through Cole’s resolve. He's already lost them both, and has tried so hard to not lose them again. If Ramse finds out that Sam is the Witness or otherwise involved in all this, he's going to go right off the deep end. If Cassie gets sick, she's going to walk into her death full of regret and sadness instead of fighting against it. I'm so worried about everyone's mental health again.

And Elliot--what is Elliot working on? Another time machine? A different, more radical application of his same technology? Some crazy further extent of it that will finally work right around about the 2040s, after having been worked on all through the plague and the apocalypse? Was that why he never went back to Jones before the world ended--a bender followed by a decades-long secret project in seclusion? Is he secretly still alive in the future, and firmly on the wrong side, so that we'll have a Jones vs Jones showdown for the fate of time??

Was the Keeper’s comment about how no one cares about the books a callback to Deacon’s comment on how books didn't die in the apocalypse--and if it is, does that mean Deacon is associated with this guy and both are more dangerous than we thought? And where is Deacon, anyway, while Cassie is running around risking her life? What's the fallout of all those emotional moments last week that he was looking so shocked about in the background?

Will Olivia switch sides and bring them vital insider knowledge because her abusive boyfriend wants her dead for heresy?

Will Cole’s upstate New York mission converge with Ramse and Cassie’s Germany mission and get the team back together? Will anything get the team back together at this point??

Like I said, unsettled.

Another strong and complex episode--because this show is structured like a fantastical machine, dozens of moving pieces, but all of them working together and becoming something bigger and brighter. It's still doing amazing things each week, and setting the bar crazy-high for these baby time travel shows coming up next season. But right now, it's an edge-of-the-seat wait for that moment when we roll down the other side of the roller-coaster hill, and it's killing me!

Notes:

  • Jennifer bites him! It feels like a clue to me--something he needs to remember, or a mark he needs to have later, but is it really just crazy? Is she also a distraction to us? Have we put too much faith in what Mother Jen says, and have we been manipulated the way Cole has and his team have been so manipulated all through this season?
  • Is her not knowing about the last paradox also a lie? Because she's standing right there when PM gives it up… So either a lie, or they already changed something, though there was no nosebleed there to indicate that this hadn't already happened... **continue to reason in circles for years**
  • It was good seeing Cole get annoyed at people not telling him things--and good that he didn't get crazy-mad about it. He's been doing his best to hold this place together as everyone breaks down under the pressure, to be open and calm and available, and he's being thanked for it by being left out of the loop. He's justified. And the fact that he's not picking fights and throwing punches just now proves how much of a leader he's become. Now he just needs to step up and get them all in line to Fix Shit.
  • I'm going to keep calling it The 2017 Issue even though it now takes place in some other time, because that's when we saw That Scene that still hurts my heart, and it's still the same problem even in another time: Cassie dies, and that means the world dies, because she's not there to fix it. Cassie is still the key. And maybe the actual hero of the story, depending on how things go?
  • Also, yay, the mannequin factory from the behind the scenes pics! There was also a thing in the ads where the Witness was ghosting around there, that wasn't in this ep; does that mean we'll get to go back to that place where broken women gather with literal broken women-shapes?
  • Did anyone ever actually test to see if Cassie is immune or not? She's been telling people she is, Ramse has been saying she's not. Is her constantly taking off the mask part of a death wish or because it's really not needed? Ramse thinks it's a deathwish; I'm sort of on his side with that one.
  • Ramse says that Kyle claimed the witness was from their time...which isn't what I heard, but if it's true, that rules out Elliot… Unless it's old 2044 Elliot who becomes the Witness because of this finale stuff, and we’re going to witness the Witness being born?
  • Maybe WE'RE the Witness, since we're the only ones who had seen everything happening...
  • The Keeper would be a great replacement for the info they get from Mother Jen if she really does die--and his forcing-of-truth habit could be the therapy they all need…
  • The Keeper zaps Ramse quite easily with his cattle prod, but doesn't zap Cassie at all. Because she's already more forthcoming, or because he's got manners and doesn't hurt ladies? Or is there more, since he knows all that secret info--does he know who Cassie is and what she means? Does he know about time travel and their missions? 
  • Really, can we, at this point, expect any and everyone to have had time-travel meddling in their past that still hasn't happened yet in Team Splinter's future? We were talking on twitter the other day about the possibility that Cassie's grandparents may have been visited to be sure she'd have a nice under-the-radar hidey-hole when she needs it in season one...
  • In the end, the Keeper didn't seem to bad, after they stopped being dishonest with him. He's played by Christopher Hyerdahl, who is really good at complex villainy and evil-with-feels, but also really good at not-evil-with-feels, so he could go either way if we see him again.
  • I guess Jones never got any transcriptions of the ramblings of the Primaries, because they've all mentioned Titan now. Someone should get on that for her. I'd be leaving stacks of notes in safe places all over the timeline; 2044 would be PACKED with files I left behind all through history.
  • Also of note: 1959, the end date on the Witness’s wall-rambling, is when those soldiers were snatched from their mysterious guard duty in “Meltdown”. Is whatever they were guarding the reason that time period ended?
  • The news report of Peters' press conference and subsequent terrorist attack included a ticker along the bottom talking about pilots reporting strange red clouds--the red clouds that Cole says are moving backwards through time...
  • Jones says that she and Adler were originally united by the loss of a child, and he's not handling her getting hers back so nicely while his is still gone. That's about the saddest thing that has happened to Adler, and his whole story this season since the shift is that he was watching the lady he liked being with someone else, and then watching her trying to kill herself by time travel. Poor Adler! I hope he steps up before the world collapses around them, and shows all these young'uns how to do 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! AND! Several of us are now doing a semi-official aftershow, that you can see here!

    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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