Spoilers ahead for “One Hundred Years,” the latest episode of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys!
The short version: Cassie is still upset with Cole, as the two are forced (fate!) to head back to 1944 together in an effort to stop the messengers from killing someone. It doesn’t go well. Cole and Cassie fail (twice) to save their charge, resulting in some major WTF-ery to the time stream.
What is up with Primaries and the Red Forest?
These two mysteries have been hanging over the show since its inception, and we might finally be on the verge of getting a few answers. We’ve always known Jennifer Goines had some weird connection to the time stream, with the ability to see and connect things a regular person cannot. Why is that? Apparently, because she’s a “Primary” — and she’s not the only one.
As they head back to 1944, Cole and Cassie meet a young man named Tommy who is also a Primary (played by Continuum alum Erik Knudsen), who has been painting his walls with red monkeys and his ceiling with the infamous Red Forest. Yeah, this kid is definitely plugged in. He at least seems to have a better grasp of his role in the time stream than Jennifer, and tells Cole and Cassie that Primaries are tasked with keeping time rolling as it should, kinda like the synapses for reality? Or something? Okay, it was a bit confusing. But still, we know more than we did.
This young man Tommy also knows he’s going to die that day, and exactly how it’s going to happen. Cassie tries to save him, but he stops her — it seems he doesn’t want to mess with the proper flow of “fate.” So the witness sent back from the future murders him with his own bone (which they dug up in the future and brought back), creating a massive time paradoxical explosion. This event seems to be what’s been causing all kinds of wacky readings for Jones and the gang, and it leads to a forest bursting with time anomalies (or something) that turn it red. Perhaps this is a physical manifestation of what happens when you screw with the time stream a bit too much? Killing a Primary with a paradox is apparently the straw to break the camel’s back?
Circling back: Since she is also a Primary, perhaps Jennifer’s decision not to release the virus earlier this season will hold even more weight moving forward. We’ve now seen one Primary sacrifice his own life because that’s what “fate” demanded — where Jennifer made a choice to go against what she was “supposed” to do, leading to a full-on change to the future and the details of the virus’ release. That’s certainly no coincidence, whatever it may mean.
Cassie and Cole are still having some issues
After attempting to strand Cole in 2016 earlier this season, Cassie is still having some trouble warming up to her old partner. But she sucks it up for the mission and heads back to 1944 to help Cole epically fail to save the aforementioned Primary. Considering that the chemistry between these two was a big part of what made Season 1 so much fun, it’s a shame to see them at odds here. Yes, it’s ripe storytelling territory — but still a shame.
After spending two months waiting for Cassie in 1944, Cole has almost gone native in a sense (I mean, who doesn’t love a good whiskey sour?). But Cassie is still all business and seems to resent his cavalier attitude to try and at least enjoy his time there. They’re at a gala! In the 1940s! At least take in the moment. Again, it’s a stark reversal of roles compared to last season. Her snarky asides (especially the gory details of Cole’s fake war injury) were great, though, and you know she really does still care about him. Even if her time in the future has put a very rough exterior around her. Case in point: When Cole is being held at gunpoint by the witness, she hesitates. Even with Cole telling her to take the shot. This season, we’ve seen Cassie kill without remorse more than once. But, with Cole in the crossfires, she hesitates. It was subtle, but a nice moment.
What are the messengers doing?
This season has established the blue-painted, time-traveling messengers as the main adversaries and biggest mystery for year two. What is their goal? It’s hinted that it goes far beyond just releasing a virus, and taking things all the way back to 1944 seems like a pretty big clue that this isn’t just about releasing a virus in the 2010s. Are they out to kill all the Primaries? Is that the endgame? So many questions, so few answers. But it’s shaping up to be a thrill ride.
Random notes and observations:
Why is Cole important? The messenger tells Cole he is extremely important, but is pretty light on the actual details. She also didn’t seem too keen to kill him (though some light torture wasn’t a problem). Considering we’re dealing with time travel, it stands to reason Cole goes on to do something that plays a key role in how the world turns out (heck, maybe his future-self is the one pulling all the strings?). That’s really the fun thing about this series: With just one time machine, it creates a largely closed circle in regards to who can be messing around in the time stream. Cole is important … but why?
Ramse and Deacon still aren’t getting along: Deacon is a key part of Jones’ team now, and she’s content to let him kill Ramse if that’s what it takes to maintain the security of her base. Cold, but calculated. So, Deacon hauls Ramse out to the woods to put a bullet in his head … just as the Red Forest insanity breaks loose. Ramse gets the drop on Deacon, and could’ve killed him. But instead, he seems to be helping him escape (darn cliffhanger ending!). Could this be the beginning of a begrudging respect between these two?