When 12 Monkeys returns for its fourth and final season on June 15, fans all over the world will be tuning in to discover the fate of their favorite characters and the world itself — a fate that showrunner Terry Matalas has known since the very beginning.
In an interview with SYFY WIRE, Matalas explained that the opening of Season 4 directly follows the events of the Season 3 finale by "mere seconds." He also offered some hints for what's to come but proved he's got one hell of a poker face when people try to dive too deep.
You're going to see some fun in the 1960s. You're going to see some new places in the apocalypse, places you have never seen before.
Because you and I have talked about this briefly, how much of a plan do you have for the whole show? How much of that did you start with? How do you keep track of all the different storylines and permutations?
I just like to.
When I watch a show I kind of am always hoping I'm in the hands of somebody who has a whole plan. You can have a plan and little things can change along the way, but as long as I know where I'm going [and] I'm not making it up as I go along, that's an important thing to me.
So in Season 1, there was a plan for the first season. We knew that the show, by the back half, would actually kick off the series in the respect that the first few [episodes] start with the notions of the movie. We dove into time travel a lot more than the movie did.
But we knew ultimately Ramse was gonna find out he had a son and wouldn't be on board with the project and that all these characters would all have different motivations. We knew the journey we wanted to take. By the end of Season 1, we wanted to make [Cassie] much more like Cole started, and make Cole much more like her. It's almost like Season 1 is the pilot of the series.
Season 2, same thing. We knew it would be the search for Titan. We knew it would be the reveal of the Witness. I always knew what I wanted the last scene to be, in the series. So [we were] just kind of leading up to there. After Season 2, I came in with a plan for Seasons 3 and 4. I said, "Here's where we're going." We had a room that was wall-to-wall giant white erase boards. We know we've gotta get here, we know we want to do this, that, and the other thing, so let's plan for this. Let's do this right.
So really Seasons 3 and 4 are one giant movie, in the respect that you can watch Season 3 and be like, "Wow, they really were telling us giant things about Season 4 along the way." There are scenes you have forgotten. Even our season opener — Jones and Project Charon — that started in Episode 6 of Season 3.
We will see scenes of future Cole again from the other perspective, so we needed to know exactly where Cole was in his life and what he was saying. When you go back and see it from this perspective you're like, wow, they knew it all along. So that was the goal. That's what we wanted to do. It's up to the audience if we were successful or not. I think we were.
Is Season 4 the kind of thing where, if you go back to Season 1 and start over, you'll see it from a completely different perspective?
Yes. You could go back to the beginning knowing what you know and be even more satisfied by the end. That was the deal with our writing staff. We wanted to make sure this was as tight as possible.
What's kind of great about that is, even if you go into some of these Facebook pages like Addicts of the 12 Monkeys, they will ask really intricate tough questions about the plot. We'll have that answer for them. We can say, "Here's what happened, here's why." We had to go through every aspect of the loops and tangles of time travel and make sure it all added up. We didn't want to whiff it.
The Ouroboros story was a big reveal at the end of the season, and it's a clue going forward. Athan says Olivia's going to end up being a sad, lonely demon at the end of time. The story talks about the snake running into a demon. If the snake is time, and she's the demon, we keep thinking of it as a loop. Is that end of time thing a clue?
There are clues in that story, but I think the problem our heroes face is that they're tied in with the villains. They are all part of the same loop, the same cycle. So you can't just say, "Let's go kill the Witness because time travel!" The loops and tangles make that impossible. It's a war of time travelers — they're going to have to do something different [and] to do something different they need a little help. So they get some help from the ancient past and from primaries, which we have set up in our mythology as being people who are connected and can see the moves and will of time.
Athan says to Cassie, "I'll see you soon." I'm just curious, was that literally just to get her out? Or is that a hint for Season 4?
That's a question we'll have to discuss after Season 4.
Listen to Terry in the Talking Monkeys podcast below (spoilers for the first three episodes of Season 4!)