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12 Monkeys “The Red Forest” 

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy
Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

One of the basic constructs of 12 Monkeys is that Cole and Cassie will survive, so any “Mulder’s going to die”-type shenanigans can be taken with a grain of salt. The bigger question is which version of them will survive, and in what shape will we find the world around them?

In “The Red Forest,” we begin in the 2043 variant as Cole solicits help from an AlterJones, who, thanks to a trusty microscope, fact-checks and believes his story. Also in this Alter is Ramse, who has risen to be the head of West 7. He believes, Cole, too, and together with Jones, who’s mortally wounded by Whitley, he sacrifices their 2043 to send him back to 2015 on the day he and Cassie were locked in the Night Room.

Cole still needs help in the present, so he reads in a very pissed-off Aaron, who by episode’s end is where Cassie was in 2013, and more importantly, is remorseful about not believing her and fully on board with helping them. It also turns out that his work on the Hill has ties to a plague variant in Chechnya called Project Troy, which AlterJones mentions.

Cole and Aaron follow Cassie to where she’s being held (after Aaron shoots the other Cole instead of Pallid Man), but they’re not able to intervene before she’s dosed with something and coaxed (by Alisen Down!) into a vision of someone she and Pallid Man call The Witness. Cassie shakes off the hallucinogen and runs, and Cole and Aaron get her out. Aaron looks back as Cole splinters, and it all comes together for him.

Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/Syfy
Photo Credit: Ken Woroner/Syfy

Cole ends up back in his 2043 and Jones tells the team there are two tracks to their mission now–the Army of the 12 Monkeys, and Project Troy, who seem to deliver the plague to the Army despite Cole and Cassie detonating The Night Room.

He also reunites with his Ramse, hilariously telling him that he missed his loving arms. At the prompting of the AlterJones, Cole has an overdue chat with his Jones about what the splinters are doing to him. She confides in him that there aren’t as many splinters left as she’d like, but there are hopefully enough left to complete the mission. Cole accepts that he’s likely to die either way, and Jones stoically tells him that “Time takes what it is owed.”

Cassie goes home, still affected by what she saw–an old house and a shadowy man in the titular red forest. She tells Aaron there’s now a Witness in the scenario. He apologizes to her and mentions Project Troy, admitting he doesn’t know exactly what it is, but it seems to be important.

I missed Cassie and Cole being together, but my Nikita-loving heart did enjoy the hell out of Aaron Stanford and Noah Bean sniping at each other. I also like that Cassie now has an ally in her timeline, for the stretches when Cole leaves her and she’s prone to getting lost in her head until he returns. That may upend whatever was brewing between Cassie and Cole, but we’re early days yet for love geometry to muddle things.

I also like the dynamic between Jones and Cole. At the end of their debrief, she touches his back lightly, and he almost flinches because he doesn’t expect it. Human touch is all but lost to them in 2043, but they are finally humanizing each other. For Jones, it’s been a long road because she has seen so many of her test subjects die. Cole already told us he was essentially raised in the post-plague wilds. Now that she knows how far he’s willing to go, and he trusts that she is vested in his safety, there is a relationship there–he’s also seen her die, reinforcing that she is important to him.

The Witness idea is interesting–Continuum was on the same track last season. I wonder now, if maybe that’s an AlterCole. I know he can’t be everywhere, but that’s where my mind goes.

I did love Jones telling Cole he couldn’t hold two realities in his head because the human brain isn’t meant for such things. That’s how I’ve always explained my inability to read fanfic–the lines blur between what happened on a TV show and what somebody fic’d so I had to take a bye on reading it (apologies to my writer brethren out there killing it). We’ll have to see how much Cole remembers of his various jumps and alters–we learned he has a photographic memory when he recited a license plate back to Aaron.

I’m very happy Alisen Down has come to play. We last had her over on Gracepoint. Her character places great importance on Cassie, so I’m asusming we’ll see her again. The Pallid Man took a bullet but it looked like he lived.

Also in the Alter future, somebody had murdered Cassie back in 2015 after Cole splintered. If not the Army, to whom we now know she is a key to something and the Witness wants her alive, then who? Is there another threat out there for her?

Jennifer was picked up by dad’s goons. Is she back in lockup or are they mining her brain to see what else she remembers?

So many questions. Next week we’re at midseason already.

You can catch 12 Monkeys when it repeats at 11/10c tonight on Syfy, and throughout the week. New episodes air Fridays at 9/8c.

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