The penultimate night of 12 Monkeys brought with it answers that have been lingering for the length of the series, as everything from Cole’s role in the story to his birth itself is finally made clear. Well, at least clearer. Here’s Night 3.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers below for “Daughters,” “Demons,” and “One More Minute,” the latest episodes of SYFY’s 12 Monkeys, which aired Friday, July 29, 2018.**
The Season 3 finale set up the mystery of the nursery rhyme left for Cole by his mother, and we’ve known there was something important about Cole ever since Season 1. Now it all makes sense, and like most things 12 Monkeys, it gets a bit complicated — but it all becomes clear in the end. Cole’s mother is Jones’ daughter Hannah (meaning Cole has actually been Jones’ grandson all this time, and more than that, he saved his own mother upon her birth a few seasons ago, in case your head hasn’t already exploded). So Cole is the “problem” with time, because without time travel, he would never exist.
He is a living anomaly in the timeline, a walking paradox. Going back to that nursery rhyme, it seems Cole — not The Witness — might actually be the “demon” in that story. His own existence seems to be driving time itself mad. The Primaries recognized this, and as we learn, the device they built was seemingly designed to erase him from the timeline itself, or at least correct all the twists and knots he’s created in the fabric of reality. It’s amazing to see this story come full circle as we see the bigger picture of how all these puzzle pieces fit together.
This show has never gotten the killer ratings or mainstream buzz, but if Season 4 has made anything abundantly clear, this is easily one of the smartest and most ambitious sci-fi shows ever attempted. It’s a masterpiece, and almost certainly destined to become a cult classic for years to come once the entire saga is out to stream. For now, let's dig into the penultimate episodes ahead of the end.
“If we go, we go together.” -Cassie
The title is no accident. This episode kicks off an arc that follows Jones’ daughter, Hannah, and Olivia’s daughter, Emma, on a crash course that we come to find out literally defines the series itself. That story picks up with Jones having sent Hannah to 2007 to live a regular life, to get a taste of the world they’ve been fighting to save. She also sent Hannah a mission in the form of a post-dated letter, if she would choose to accept it.
On a separate track, after realizing her mother only sees her as a tool to complete Titan, Emma goes on the run to the early-to-mid 2000s to hide out. Hannah finally opens Jones’ letter and accepts her mission to find Cole’s mother, “Marion Woods.” When they finally come face to face, we realize Emma and “Marion” are one at the same; at least they seem to be at this point in the journey.
Getting back to the main mission, Jones is still in Olivia’s custody, and she’s tapping into her expanded power set to try and dig into her mind. Olivia apparently has the ability to project a fake reality, and trips Jones up into revealing Deacon is working with them before she realizes it's all a ruse. Olivia’s psychological torture of Jones is chilling — and she uses the situation to send Titan back to 1493, so Team Splinter can use her and Titan as a tether to make the jump all those centuries back to the past.
Tether or not, the jump is still far longer than anything ever attempted. So Jennifer volunteers to go first, so that in case it goes sideways, she’s the guinea pig. She vanishes in a flash of pain and light, just as Old Jennifer (who is still alive! Remember, the team was dropped back at the start of the series after jumping the Splinter complex away) walks in to let them know her younger self made it to the 1490s. But if they don’t act fast in fixing the time vest, they’re all doomed.
We pick up in 1491, with Jennifer tricked by locals into revealing herself as a witch. A rogue Primary knight, who has aligned himself with the 12 Monkeys, is also roaming the countryside. Just when it looks like Jennifer is headed to the stake, Robin Hood Cole and Cassie roll in with guns (literally) a-blazing to rescue her. They meet a young Primary there who takes them to her father’s castle, where they catch up with Deacon. The Deacon we meet here seems to finally be comfortable in his skin. He’s rough around the edges, sure, but he’s a good guy underneath. He understands the mission and understands the stakes. He even gives his knife to young Jennifer (a move longtime fans should recognize).
The team finds the mysterious device built for Cole by the Primaries, hidden in an abandoned church in the 1490s. The symbolism there isn’t lost, as Cole looks to have the potential to save reality itself. Before Cole can use the machine, though, Olivia’s forces attack and destroy it — capturing the team in the process. With a sword to Cole’s head, Deacon knows the only play left is to buy time. So he lets loose on Olivia to piss her off enough to move himself up the kill list. He gives his life to buy Cole just a few more minutes, and thankfully it pays off, as the time vest splinters in at Cole’s feet and he uses it to rescue the rest of the team. Olivia paradoxes the site to prevent anyone from ever returning, though, meaning the weapon is forever gone and Deacon is forever dead. R.I.P., West VII 4EVA.
We end with Titan fully operational as Jennifer heads to her room to start scrawling on the walls once again. But now it finally all makes sense.
“One More Minute”
“There’s still time.” -Cole
The Monkeys may have destroyed the Primary weapon for Cole, but those all-seeing folks are all about the contingencies. With the device obliterated, Jennifer starts drawing out the plans to the device on her floor, the walls, and anything else she can get her hands on. Cole gave her yellow, and she really did draw him the world. After Jones & Co. unravel the code hidden in Jennifer’s scribbles, they punch it into the time stream and figure out it essentially unravels all the knots they’ve been putting into it by jumping around the past four years. The problem with time was seemingly never about splintering itself, but instead about the effect Cole has had on the timeline.
The reason he’s so important? We get to see the meeting of his parents play out, but instead of his mother being Emma, we learn it's actually Hannah. Emma is shot while fleeing the Monkeys, and dies the night they met Cole’s father — but Hannah falls in love and stays. It might seem like she’s fulfilling a prophecy, but it really plays as destiny. She’s where she was meant to be, even though (ahem) she was actually never meant to be there since, ya know, it’s all time travel.
The story also goes full circle back to the virus that started it all, because the time stream is certainly a major problem, but the virus that kills most of the population is also an issue. By analyzing the Primary device data, they determine the virus was released April 3, 2018, at JFK Airport. Cole and Cassie go to stop it, but realize that stopping the virus would alter time so much they couldn’t use it to stop the Primary. So, to keep at least that part of the timeline on track, Cole and Cassie release the virus themselves after stealing it.
Yes, all this time, it’s been Cole and Cassie who released the virus — the event that set off the entirety of the series itself. Hannah also dies protecting Cole after the release, when Olivia possesses a police officer to try and shoot them. She dies saving her son’s life. Hannah takes the journey full circle with a letter left behind for Cole in his room at the Emerson in the early 2000s, though it stays there until Cole discovers it in the 2040s. She finally lays bare the story of his birth, so that’s one major mystery solved ahead of next week’s finale. Cole and Jones bounce back to 2017 to say goodbye to Hannah before her death (time travel, right?), where the family can spend just a few final moments together.
We close with the skies over NYC turning red as Titan’s endgame comes into focus.
How will it end?