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12 Monkeys showrunner Terry Matalas on twists, lessons and the end of Season 4

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Jun 14, 2018

While Athan Cole may have written the Word of the Witness on SYFY's12 Monkeys, showrunner Terry Matalas is the man with the plan — a plan that will finally be revealed in its entirety when 12 Monkeys returns for its fourth and final season on June 15.

Previously, Matalas and SYFY WIRE discussed his overall plan for the series and how he's always known where things were going. In Part 2 of our interview with him, we dive deeper into the characters and how they're dealing with the repercussions of last season along with how it's all going to end.

At the end of last season, Athan deemed Jennifer the main Primary, saying, "This is your mission now." How will that affect her going into the new season? That's a big responsibility.

Exactly. I think it's now on her shoulders to be the seer. So certainly when we pick back up with Jennifer we will see her on that quest.

Everybody's got their thing and their part to play and their perception on this whole mission. Who do you think has the best handle on everything that's going on?

I think Cole, at this point in Season 4, probably has the best perspective. I think he started the journey and has, in a weird way, a more grounded approach to what needs to be done no matter what happens. Whereas Jones and Cassie are all bound by love. He also has all that but is willing to... put the mission first. They all have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to time, but I think Cole right now is probably the one. And when he hears this story again of the serpent and demon, knowing this is something that was essentially told by a mother he never knew, there is much more of a sense of a hero's journey; this is my destiny to stop this.

For some reason, I thought it was Deacon. Maybe because he's not in the middle of running through all these time loops, he's always been the dude who's been the most present in the moment for whatever's going on.

Yeah, but he has his own approach, which is, let's not forget he's a crazy criminal. Is his approach the right way? It's a really good question.

I just realized that! He's a crazy criminal and here I was seeing him as a good guy now. I look at him where he is and I'm like, "He's changed."

He has.

It's interesting to look at that against how we met him.

Don't forget, he was willing to do some hardcore things last season, including killing a kid, so he may not be the best guy for all the decisions.

12 Monkeys, 4_1

Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg

As far as how this whole timeline works, at some point Cassie has to end up dead at the CDC for Cole to get the watch. But I have a question. Is there anything besides the watch that identifies that body as Cassie?

That body is Cassie. I've heard theories about bodies being switched. It's Cassie. Without question. That's Cassie's body. I'm sorry to say to many people who had a lot of hope.

We don't know how old she was, either.

You essentially saw her demise. But yeah, there's no wiggle room there. She will die at the CDC.

I tried. I did try.

I know.

You have a lot of twists and hidden puzzles and mystery box stuff going. The show, for me, doesn't come across as that's what it's about. How would you best describe the show for people who... might worry they'll get invested and it turns out to be "Bobby in the shower" at the end, basically?

I guess, I can't speak for others, but you have to be emotionally invested in the characters enough that you need to want what they want and don't want what they don't want, passionately. I love all the twists and I love all the puzzle pieces and they're all there, but they kind of don't mean anything if you don't love these characters. So we spend a lot of time just coming at it from these characters. From the writers' room to being on set with the actors and hearing the lines and the deliveries. They have opinions and they improvise lines too, to make it better.

We lean into our cast's strengths. If you like them, you will like the characters. I think that's kind of the most important thing. Twists are great, they're better if they're plot and emotion at the same time. There are some big ones coming at the end, the tail of this season becomes emotional terrorism. But not in a way that it's misery porn, in a way that's earned.

I think there's a lot of people who probably figured out Cassie would be pregnant with Athan at the end of Season 2. That person may very well be the Witness. I'm okay with people figuring out a big twist as long as it's really good and when you get there they are like, "I'm okay with it because that was really cool."

It earned it.

It earned it and it was really cool. It didn't come out of left field and you're like, "What? Why are Nazis taking over the temple facility?" That you don't want to do. The writers go, "I don't know, because it was cool." That's kind of where we came at it from.

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Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg

From what I'm hearing, one new baby theory for this season is that Cole is Olivia's son.

Interesting.

Anything you want to say about that?

No comment.

Finally, to wrap up, what do you most want people to take away from Season 4? Also the series as a whole?

There is a lesson at the very end of Season 4 that I think is important. I think it's a good way to look at life and how we deal with time. Yeah, I would like the audience to come away really satisfied that they got the answers they want. They got the emotional payoff they want. They got a bit of everything they were hoping for. From different perspectives.

I think our two-hour finale accomplishes that. And it's the biggest thing we've ever done. We've done some really big things, but the last two hours are a big gigantic summer blockbuster. I think. I think it's worth the journey and that they can call their friends and be like, "You have got to see this, you have got to experience this." That would be the cherry on top of all of this.

Does it close the circle from where we started?

You will have to wait and see.

Below is the first installment for Season 4 of our Talking Monkeys Podcast, featuring Terry and writers/producers detailing all things Episodes 1-3 of Season 4!