Spoilers ahead for “Emergence,” the latest episode of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys!
The short version: With Cole and Cassie stranded in the 1940s, Jones decides to send their only other traveler back to save the day. Welcome to the team, Ramse! The three manage to escape, but not before blowing the mind of a federal agent in the 1940s (that guy has to come back into play, right?). Back in the 2040s, Jones goes on an acid trip with Future-Jennifer and finally figures out how time works. Yeah, it’s heavy.
12 Monkeys went down the mythological rabbit hole, and it totally worked
Sure, it might’ve been the B-story on paper, but Jones’ acid trip with Future-Jennifer was easily the biggest thing that happened this week. Let’s unpack it: We learned last week that Jennifer is “Primary,” meaning she is somehow connected to the fabric of time itself. But, instead of leaving it at that, 12 Monkeys pulled back the curtain and finally explained what the heck that means this week. It also did it in the coolest way possible: By drinking tea made from the leaves of the Red Forest, which is basically the manifestation of time unraveling upon itself.
Once they’re on this shared trip, so to speak, Jennifer explains that people who are “Primary” are basically the “living, breathing gears in time’s wristwatch,” part of some type of symbiotic relationship with the time stream itself. It’s weird, sure, but it really does seem to work within the construct of the show’s universe. They help time “think,” whatever that means. It’s also an organic way to explain why Jennifer has always seemed to know more than she should, and why killing Tommy with a paradox back in the 1940s caused time to rupture (it wasn’t just a paradox, it was a paradox on a “Primary”). It also reveals the Monkeys’ plan: to destroy time itself.
Heavy stuff, for sure. But, this really felt like an earned reveal that blows the mythology of the entire series wide open. What started as a quest to stop a virus is now something so much bigger than that. It also, arguably, creates more questions than it answers. Which, yeah, is a good thing for a TV series.
Ramse goes back and saves the day, and was apparently there all along
When the emissaries of the Monkeys go back and kill young Tommy via paradox, it ruptures the time stream so much that Cole and Cassie are disconnected from their tethers to the future. Put simply: They’re trapped. So, Jones bets heavy on Ramse’s commitment to Cole and decides to send him back to save them, by hopefully stopping Tommy’s murder and leaving a message for Jones in a newspaper (exactly where and when to find them in the past, so she can get a lock). It’s a clever move, but it’s the execution that really puts this over the top.
Ramse is sent back two days before the mission, and is immediately hit by a car. Oops. So, he spends most of his time trying to escape from the hospital, and the director does an excellent job of keeping up with where Ramse’s story is, in parallel to Cole and Cassie’s mission from the prior episode. That random hang-up call Cole received last week? It was Ramse, meaning he was there all along, even though he hadn’t been sent back yet. Which, yeah, time travel is confusing.
The narrative strands finally come together after the events of last week’s explosion, which ended with Cassie and Cole unconscious and under arrest. Ramse tracks them down and gets them loose, earning a good bit of trust (but not too much, since Cassie’ heart is pretty much made of adamantium at this point) within the group.
For those keeping count: This episode featured five total time travelers, which is just crazy fun. Here’s hoping Ramse remains a part of the team, because the chemistry there is just too good to break up.
Random awesome things
It’s great to see more of Future-Jennifer, considering she pretty much knows more about what’s going on than anything. Her gang of Daughters are also like something straight out of Fury Road, which is just perfect.
So, apparently Jim Morrison was a “Primary”? Thank you, Jennifer, for the intel. Heehee.
The addition of Battlestar Galactica alum Michael Hogan as Jones’ (forgotten, thanks to the timeline change) love interest in the future has been an excellent addition. Jones always needed a good foil to play off of last season, and Hogan’s character looks to be the perfect solution to that problem in Year Two.
Cole’s interactions with the federal agent in the past was excellent, and The Shield alum Jay Karnes did a great job with the role. Sure, his mind is blown by all the time travel craziness, but the guy still wants to do the right thing. Here’s hoping he comes back in to play down the line. He also provided a nice narrative bookend to the 1940s arc, by returning the photo Cole will eventually find back to his room at the Emerson Hotel. Man, these guys think of everything.
When the Monkeys’ emissary gets the drop on Cole, she says the Witness told them they’re not allowed to kill James Cole. Hmm, yeah. That’ll certainly come into play down the line. Heck, could far-future Cole actually be the one behind all these machinations in the first place?
The Pallid Man’s origin revealed! So, it turns out the creepy, mysterious Pallid Man from Season 1 (played by Tom Noonan) is actually the child of the female operative sent back in time by the Monkeys. Making him, pretty much, a paradox in himself. We still don’t really know his motivations in all this, but this was an excellent away to tie in his origin story.