12 Monkeys: Things get complicated in the second-to-last ep of the season, "Blood Washed Away"

I'm just. I can't. What. This week on 12 Monkeys, one episode before the finale, everything goes wrong and a few things go right, and it's frikken amazing and also pretty vaguely unsettling and frequently very sad. Stuff gets dire, guys. Spoilers ahead for 12 Monkeys (S0212), "Blood Washed Away"--and sort of the whole episode is a spoiler, so heed my warning!

Blood Washed Away

(Hey, look, it's not a blue-lit picture this week!)

Man, the beginning feels about a million years from the end of the episode! SO much happens!

In 1957, Cole and Cassie set up a nice respectable Wall of Crazy and co-habitate platonically while getting jobs in the factory where the last Paradox will happen. They have almost a year to do it...and then it's eleven months later, and they're not being nice to each other because of stress and unresolved feels since they refuse to talk things out. It's three days till the explosion, but they have no idea who the Primary is. Cassie gets groped a lot by her skeevy boss while trying to find out, and to her credit doesn't kill him for it, and Cole makes a lot of people uncomfortable with his constant personal questions and things like busting in on weirdos in the bathroom.

We don't need to see every single detail of their lives, but an eleven month jump is kind of a big deal. Cole has been sleeping on the couch, Cassie in the bed, and the way he looks at her taking down her stockings with her garter belt showing makes me think there have been close calls that would have been really awesome to see, but no such luck. Ships make voyeurs of us all, and we're thwarted. So nothing of note (so far) happened, but it's obvious something is up because everyone knows they live together, and Cole's one friend at the factory, a guy named Charlie, tells him to "put your arms around that pretty blonde and make nice". 

See, Charlie's wife is dying of cancer, and chemo isn't making it better. It's November, and her doctor says she won't live much longer than Christmas, likely, so Charlie knows what he's saying when he tells Cole that ne needs to take his chances and not waste time. 

Cole goes home sad and thoughtful, but there's no time for him to be sweet or try to get to that conversation that they really need to have; Cassie has discovered that there'll be day-laborers fixing the roof on the day of the paradox, and she bets that's where the Primary is. Neither one points out that they didn't need to get there so soon and live there so long, but I totally would have if it was me. Cole gets himself placed in charge of the work crew, finds out the name of a suitably twitchy weirdo who avoids answering his standing-too-close questions about monkeys and red trees, and gives Cassie the guy's name. She checks his hiring records, finds a monkey scribbled on the back, and they know they have their guy.

One day left.

The day of the paradox, Cole takes the guy round back to shoot him before he can be stabbed with his own creepy old bone--only to find out that this guy was a distraction: he was paid to act like this, to throw them off the trail! He's not Primary at all! At the same time, a woman in a housecoat with a gun and a box she doesn't like holding comes into the factory, and Cassie follows with her own gun. The woman is looking for her husband Charlie! He's the Messenger! He married the Primary! Which must be love because she's both crazy and black in the 1950s, where that's illegal in like half the country, AND she's the one he was literally born specifically to kill. 

These two need so much more screentime, you guys.

It gets confusing here. He says his Messenger partner is dead, and he knew the second he saw his target that he couldn't kill her. She says she's known all her life that he would, and today is the day she dies--the same words Tommy said. Why are Primaries so happy to fall on that sword? Why isn't Jennifer? What makes her different? Charlie says he can't kill her, he knows the Witness lies, he loves her too much...and then he kills her anyway, because Cole and Cassie made the classic goodguy blunder of not just shooting people they really could just shoot. Like, they could have shot both of them, or they could have shot his hand and shattered the bone knife, or something.

But they don't, and so all at once, despite not being down with the Witness, Charlie stabs his wife. She was going to die anyway, so maybe he bought into the No Death Propaganda right at the end, but he was so sure he wasn't going to, and then he did, and it was big.

But not as big as we were led to believe, time-and-reality-wise? Or not yet?

Cole does his paradox-run like in the pilot, and gets Cassie out of the way of the blast, but it explodes the whole factory and it's bad on a totally normal level. It's the picture of the burning building from Jennifer's childhood bedroom, fire everywhere. Cole gets a busted arm and a lot of scrapes and bruises--Cassie is in a coma, with severe head trauma.

Nineteen days after she's admitted to the hospital--not even three weeks--Cole creeps in, tells her to move on and forget all about him, and kisses her head like he did when she was dead in his arms in 2017, but he can't bring himself to say goodbye. They failed in their final mission, and he just wants her to be able to live a normal life, which he interprets as "no Cole" and totally breaks my heart all over.

Side note: Did the Witness see this? Did Cassie need to be in a coma? She dreams the red-tea monologue; was she remembering or is this more programming kicking in, and did it have all that uniterupted time to work on her this time? OR, did she need to be in a coma to get her and / or Cole out of the way of something else that they don't know about yet? Do we need to worry about Cassie's mental state again? The pics for next week show her in Titan; will it trigger some programming there?

Ages later--in the summer of the next year--Cassie wakes up and wants to know where Cole is. The Doctors thought she'd never wake; Cole hasn't been back; she's the only patient left from the explosion. She goes back to the hotel and finds their room abandoned, and the crestfallen look on her face is also heatbreaking. She looked so happy--like if he'd been there then, she would have never had to be mad like she is because he's not. But she doesn't abandon their space, too. She lives there alone, for another six months. She gets a job as a nurse and trains to pass her certifications to be a doctor again--even though she knows all sorts of stuff that hasn't been invented yet and it makes her doctor-boss nervous. But she never stopped looking for Cole and one day someone delivers a message: her contact found an address listing for a Morriss Morrisson, not far away in Upstate New York, and she drops everything to stop pretending she's from the 50s and go investigate.

It's Cole. 

In the Witness House.

Because he bought it, not knowing what it was.

Cole is the owner of the Witness House in 1959. "1957-1959 THIS WAS HOME".

Oh. Em. Gee.

Whether that's a clue that he's the Witness (god, I hope not), or an exquisitely crafted red herring, we don't know yet, but we do know that Cassie has a strong reaction that goes on for the whole scene, making them talk past each other, and doesn't explain to Cole why the house he's so proud to have bought is a bad house and she doesn't like it. Is that part of her Immersion programming? That she can't tell anyone what it means? She asks how he's here--meaning the house--and he takes it as "why are you living in Upstate New York" or something like. She asks why THIS house, and he takes it to mean "how did you find it" not "specifically of all the houses, why this one?"

And then things start coming together.

Cole has cut himself being all manly and sawing wood to fix the place up, and the blood falls on the long grass in front of the house. It starts to rain. She takes him inside to make sure it's not bad and catches herself saying "most of the blood has washed away". She knows the house. Cole is the man she knows there. She's been here before. The Witness and Olivia showed her a warped image of this moment. Cole doesn't catch on to her saying "a memory of tomorrow" after getting weird, like she did in the time loop when it made her flash back.

He's so smart with time-travel weirdness, and so dumb with people sometimes.

She wants to know why they showed her this (so do we), and Cole wants to know how she could have been here before, but still she's not saying what she saw in any of her visions, and then they're both distracted by The Truth. They've been in the past for two years, and haven't addressed any of the Deep Emotional Stuff between them, and it all comes out. She's mad at him for leaving her; he says it was because he wanted her to be free and live a normal life without fear and death. She says she never wanted to be free of him, and it doesn't matter because she'll die at the CDC anyway, she can't just ignore the future. He says he did what he always said he would and found her a safe place to live a good life and shove the future; it doesn't have to be that way. She says she knows that the real reason he ran away is because he's in love with her--and she's always known--and she's not very gentle about throwing that in his face. He throws in her face that she knew all this time and deliberately pushed him away so that she'd have nothing to lose, and looks like she got what she wanted.

The face-acting in this scene is murderously good. So much hurt and anger and hope and sadness and loss of hope and undealt-with traumatic experience and love, so much love...

And Cassie kisses him. When it comes right down to it, and she's been given the out she's acted like she wants, she takes months to find him and she kisses him instead of running away.

Holy [curse word] it's a good kiss. He kisses her back. They kiss a lot. They wind up in bed in a consummation scene right out of the best fanfic. They did such a good job, you guys. Whatever pop culture awards have a Best Kiss category, they need to just sweep them all this year.

But because this is 12 Monkeys, we're not allowed to truly be happy. All this is intercut with the end of the secondary storyline happening in Titan.

Ramse has basically become the leader of what's left of the people who set out to find the home of the Witness. There's not many of them, and we don't know really what happened to the others. The only scientist we see is Adler. There doesn't seem to be any Scavs except Ramse and Deacon. The Daughters are not down with Jennifer not knowing how to lead, and The Emissary is riling everyone up in what looks like a powerplay. Zeit is supporting Jennifer, but reluctantly, and doesn't seem up to taking command herself.

After they have a war-movie shoot out with a group of cannibals (ew), and the only girl who seems to have been nice to Jennifer dies in her arms protecting her, they find out that Titan--or at least a place with lights and sounds--is nearby. Ramse and The Emissary have a throwdown for control of the group over it, and no one is listening to Jennifer telling them to stop killing, and Deacon is not stepping in to help. His basic stance is super hands-off for someone who was the military leader not long ago. 

Deacon is so damaged-looking, you guys. His boys are gone, Cassie and Cole are gone, he's taking orders from Ramse who he hates and doesn't believe in, and he basically seems to only still be there at all because he doesn't have anywhere else to be. But he smiles everytime Jennifer does or says something cool, and he calls her ma'am, and she doesn't let Emissary kill him because he knows he killed her future self and he's trying to live with that.

And Jennifer is having a really bad time. She doesn't know how to lead, the Daughters are not good to her and not helping her figure it out much, people keep leaving and dying, and she basically is just in way over her head, and super sad about it. She's in a panic and can't have many meds or chances to calm down left, and she's let down, and she looks close to a breakdown.

Ramse wins the competition, spares the Emmissary because Jennifer begs him to, and then decides to go look for Titan himself, despite the fact that Zeit came back from scouting saying that the coordinates led to nowhere and there was nothing there.

Ramse goes. Deacon follows him because that's what he does now. Whitley follows because he's like the last of the Facility soldiers and he and Ramse seem to have foxhole-bonded over the last almost-year. And Zeit goes, because despite the Daughters abandoning the place and Jennifer deciding that she can't order them to go with and can't go with them herself, Zeit feels like it's her duty. But that leaves Jennifer either alone or with only the few Daughters who will listen to her, because they were mostly listening to Zeit and she's with the boys now. Is this what Chicken-Jen meant when she said she didn't go to Titan when she had her chance?

They get to the coordinates. There's Titan. Zeit says she looked here and it wasn't here, which is very Brigadoon-ish, and also suspicious: a place that doesn't exist until all specific people who need to see it show up? Shifty. So shifty. I'd been assuming the 1957 paradox was a trap, since it was given up so freely, but if it was, it was a subtle one; Titan is totally a trap, no doubt about it, and since Ramse is a pig-headed ass and doesn't listen to Deacon when he points out how crazy this is, they walk right into it.

The Witness (we assume) is standing on a creepy dais in the middle of all the refinery-looking stuff, with creepy light-up symbols all around him. Ramse tells him to turn around, and he does, and that's the only time he really responds to anything any of them say or do, because he doesn't remove his mask like Ramse says, and there doesn't seem to be a signal that tells the other guys in robes and masks to come out of the shadows and kill everyone.

Keep in mind that this brutal killing is happening intercut with Cassie and Cole going to bed. Like, we get wonderful beautiful kissing--brutal bloody death--up against a wall, super into each other--brutal bloody death. For the whole scene. It's emotionally rough, and it's a wildly upheaval-causing way to end an episode. There was screaming. There was ALL CAPS TYPING that quickly lost all semblance of spelling and grammar. There was wide-eyed "oh my gosh" moments with both positive and negative meanings.

And it's killing me that we have to wait a week before the conclusion. This sort of thing needs to be seen back to back with it's finale, because dang.

Any other show, this would be the end of the season, no problem. Any other show, three episodes ago could have been the finale. But this is 12 Monkeys where there's always more story to come, and it looks like next episode is going to turn everything sideways and will hopefully fix some of the badness that happened this week--but hopefully won't undo the goodness that also happened!

Analysis is hard on this one. It's so emotional, and there's that how-do-I-feel-about-this ending, and as always, a lot of story. It feels like there was A LOT skipped over and implied, which hopefully will get addressed at some point (preferably in the finale, because I'm still rooting for a desperate Cole bumping back through time to fix the wrongs of the season, and there's a lot of them). If the finale doesn't do something with those gaps, it will feel like those things were skipped for time rather than story, and it would be disappointing; this show is so tight and so well-balanced, that it would feel like a wobble. IF that's the case (I haven't seen the finale yet, so I really don't know, this is just a fear), it would have been better, maybe, to have basically a bottle episode: Cole and Cassie alone, no secondary story, living in the past and running out of time, with some of those skipped months filled in so the gaps aren't so big. Leave Titan for the finale. But if the finale DOES do something with them, it'll be amazing--I can't think of a show that does that, immediately adressing the issues had with the previous episode. Typical serialized TV will sometimes take on some of the fallout, but rarely tackles all of it and almost never actually fixes it--partly because typical TV doesn't have time travel, but also just because that much thought isn't put into most shows. I trust that something will be done, and the preview for next week makes little to no sense, so I trust that it'll be big. It's just anxious-making, sitting here with a half-told story and knowing that the last part of it is a full week away.

We're so close to the end of the season that everything is just a constant loop of "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE" all the time. Emotions are running so high, it's amazing we all haven't burst into flames yet, sustaining it for twelve weeks (thirteen, really, since we skipped last week because of some random national holiday, I mean, what gives, Fourth of July?).

The love scene was so beautifully done. All that longing and need, and then how they just blur into deep, deep connection. OMG, every other ship on TV had betters study that.

Ramse is still being a bum hair around a drain, and since he basically avoided every opportunity to not be a suicidal moron for the last four or so episodes, it's basically his fault. But it's not Deacon's or Whitley's or Zeit's fault; Deacon is aimless and lost and more tragic than ever, Whitley has hardly had any lines at all this season, and Zeit is young and hurting and unhappy and just doing what she thinks is right, without any experience with how stupid Ramse can be when he does stuff like this. If this can be fixed, I'm betting Zeit will be saved, but it's a tossup between whether they'll save Ramse or Deacon; I'm so rooting for Deacon--Ramse has been out of the Cycle for a whole season and has used up my patience, while Deacon feels like he's only started his arc. I fear Whitley is the one who will stay dead if anyone needs to, because he's the one who has barely been there and I know the actor just got cast on American Gods. It'll be even sadder, though, because he would have never had the chance everyone else keeps almost getting, to live a normal life and find love.

I really don't want any of them to die.

And we still don't know who the Witness is, or whether that dude on the dais was even really him; he looked the same as all the other dudes with their creepy big knives and their masked faces and their gloved hands. There's the theory going around Twitter last night that they're all the Witness--either literally all the same person, or all of them together serves as the Witness. There's the theory that they're people taken by paradoxes, living forever in Titan, or people who were lost to the mission, or future versions of the people that were killed making Tommy's "everyone dies, everyone lives" pretty darn literal. But right now, all we have are theories! We're supposed to know by the end of the last episode who the Witness actually is, and I have a feeling we're going to wish that Ramse had also not made the goodguy blunder and had just shot the dude on sight like he should have, but I am no more sure of any of the theories than I was before. Personally, I'm rooting for either Ramse or Sam, so that everything is Ramse's fault and he accomplished suicide in a really weird way where he doesn't actually die, or Elliot Jones so that it'll be a Jones-vs-Jones showdown for the soul of the world, time, and time travel. I'm anti-rooting for it to be Cole.

This week was tense, gorgeous, alarming, upsetting, elating, crushing, very sad, and very exciting, all at once, and some of these scenes are going to be long-term favorites. We've come so very, very far from last season--from even the beginning of this season--and we have at least one more season to go! The exciting part of that is that if three seasons is all we get, we're about to go into the third act where everything comes together and the heroes can actually make real and awesome change. They said they were tweeting from the writer's room during this episode. It's going to be so good.

More notes on 12 Monkeys 2.12 "Blood Washed Away":

  • Literally unsettling. I was up until 6am after watching, deep in my feels, and woke up after only four hours with no idea how this review was going to come out. So I apologise if it's more hysterical than usual!
  • Cassie asks Cole once if he's sober; does that imply that he's spent a chunk of time NOT sober in this year? Also, pot-kettle-black, since she was drunk when we re-met her at the hotel in the pilot, and again after he came back from Chechnya, so.
  • Watch out for guys named Charlie in scifi shows. This time, it isn't Kirk Acevedo playing him, but the association is close enough that my brain went "Fringe! Watch out!"
  • Re: close calls: this ep is going to generate so much fanfic, I'm telling you.
  • Cassie wrote the "where are you right now?" monologue in her journal. There's literally almost no other proof, but it's Cole's version of it that she writes, and she wouldn't have heard that, so a) it makes the prologue look even more like it's actually an epilogue where a much older post-world-saving-adventure Cole goes to set up another loop, which means b) that she's the one who wrote the monologue he recites as he's going to find her bones and I'm in my feels again, and c) that if Cole is actually setting it up like that and it IS the epilogue, this is a closed loop that contains enough good that he thinks it's worth restarting.
  • WAIT! In some interview at the beginning of the season, Terry Matalas says that if we watch the pilot and the finale of this season back to back our heads will explode: what if NOW is when that happens? What if this is an inter-logue, and when Cole needs to do whatever he's doing next episode, he goes ALL THE WAY BACK TO THE BEGINNING??? I think I would die. I think this show would never be dethroned as my favorite show ever.
  • I wonder if they missed an opportunity to stop the Messengers earlier because they didn't know where to look? Like, maybe the partner is dead because later C&C get him but miss Charlie; or maybe hearing about that will give them the clue to go back and kill them both, and undo the last paradox that way. Maybe THAT's why they needed to be there so early, when the actual paradox event couldn't have ever been figured out until literally days before?
  • "They've never heard of Lime Disease. Not Watermelon Disease or Potato Disease, either!"
  • Cassie spends a lot of time pretending--pretending she's a native in whatever time they're in, even the future, pretending she isn't totally in love with Cole, pretending she is hard and cold, pretending that the mission is all that matters, pretending she's not the most traumatized character on TV. I hope she gets a little time to not pretend.
  • Why I hope Cole isn't the Witness: it comes down to one simple reason: The Witness did terrible things to Cassie, and I don't want them both to find out that those things were done by Cole. Even an alternate Cole. Cole wouldn't do that. Any Cole who really loves Cassie wouldn't. I mean, I understand that it would be crazy-good drama, but it would also be Trauma, and she's had enough of that.
  • Cassie low-key has abandonment issues.
  • Deacon looks dashing with his new facial scar. And his only amusement coming from Jennifer, who is the only one who is nice to him, is giving me so many feels. 
  • I desperately want to see flashbacks or webisodes or re-visits of Jennifer trying to bond with the Daughters, and falling in with Deacon because he's nice to her when no one else is. I want to see her trying!
  • What's the deal with the 1920s music? It feels like a clue, because why would the Witness be listening to it otherwise? Is Titan simultaneously in 2044 and the 1920s and it's like time-bleedthrough? Is it a time that's important to the Witness? How did the place not exist when Zeit checked and did exist when Ramse did--was it waiting on them, or waiting on that last paradox?
  • Seriously, though, why do so many Primaries WANT to be paradoxed?
  • Cassie and Cole have now been working on the mission for...close to five years, experienced time. That's basically five seasons' worth of show in two short seasons of actual television. Amazing.
  • I keep being haunted by Jennifer's "you and her together would" be the end of the world. The literal meaning would be tragic--and upsetting. But if it's misdirection, it means they need to be together TO SAVE the world, and probably in a working-as-a-team way since I doubt them having sex could save it alone. But it could also mean that they create a child who destroys it, or because they're together, they do things that not-doing would have avoided it, and that'll be so much more upsetting.
  • We've got one week left to flail all together, so make sure you come to twitter for the livetweet next week!
  • 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 see our aftershow 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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    6 Comments
    On: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
    Darrell said:
    The witness--of course-- is the child of Cassie and Cole. We couldn’t have known until now. Too many people that had seen the Witness had met Cassie and Cole and they didn’t recognize them. That leaves a child who we haven’t seen. Yet. We saw him/her being made tonight. Titan didn't exist when Hannah looked the first time because Cassie and Cole had not gotten "busy," as you kids say. Now think of all the implications. The Love Child of Cassie and Cole is obsessed with keeping love alive forever. The only way for Earth to continue past 2044 and get back all the characters that we have grown to know and love (not to mention the 7 billion people that previously died) is for Cassie and Cole to figure out the identity of the Witness and kill their own child. How absolutely tragic! We now know why Olivia was so keen to dose Cassie with red tonic and plant the seeds of the idea to consummate her love of Cole, when her instincts had been telling her to stay away. Now if Jennifer rides in with the rest of the Daughters and kills all the Monkeys and the Witness, Cole and Cassie will be spared the tough choices.
    On: Tuesday, July 12, 2016
    Samantha Holloway said:
    That seems to be the running theory after this ep! I can see it happening, but I feel like it steals from the reveal: like, sooner or later, someone's gonna take off the mask, and if they don't recognize who's under it, the reveal doesn't mean anything. THAT is why I most want it to be Sam, Mr Dr Jones or Ramse himself. Because that moment when Ramse knows it's all his fault, even if it's just as his lights go out in this ep. Dang this show is making me mean!
    On: Wednesday, July 13, 2016
    Darrell said:
    Well, as YOU said, Jennifer did give us advance warning "If you two ever got together it would destroy time." And that Witness medallion is sort of a stylized "W" forming a human figure split into two halves--as if composed of two significant time players (Cassie and Cole). It had never occurred to me that Cassie and Cole would start a family--and in 1959, no less. So it all came together when I saw the scene. A reveal of adult Sam wouldn't mean anything to us. Ramse had been seen by other Monkeys and they only knew him as their agent. He already carries the guilt of screwing up all Team Splinter's plans in Season 1, with him telling the Monkeys what he knew. Dr. Hubby Jones would be a cop out because we practically know nothing about him, and have only seen him once or so. Now we may have met C&C's son before--and that might be the surprise, and the reason for the mask. C&C wouldn't have known him, since their timeline is hardly linear.
    On: Thursday, July 14, 2016
    Samantha Holloway said:
    I'm sort of rooting, days later, for Elliot to turn out to be their son--so I can have my cake and eat it too, basically. I don't like the idea of their kid being their greatest enemy, but an associate of his, I could handle: associates can turn on the big bad and switch sides! Which, incidentally, is also what I'm hoping Olivia does!
    On: Friday, July 15, 2016
    Darrell said:
    But that would mean that Eliot Jones just had his own daughter (Hannah) killed at Titan. I'm hoping for a quick reset by having Jennifer and the remaining Daughters kill everyone at Titan. Who knows what will happen then? Time travel always gives you surprises.
    On: Saturday, July 16, 2016
    Samantha Holloway said:
    Surprising is definitely a good word for this show! As far as we know, Elliot doesn't know that he's got a daughter--unless the Army knows and told him?--so he wouldn't know he was killing his daughter. But maybe finding out is what will trigger the reset? BUT, Titan is supposed to be about resurrection, so maybe that's what the killings were about to begin with?
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