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12 Monkeys “Shonin” 

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

“Hope is the luxury of those unburdened by fate.”

So much chess setting in “Shonin.” Let’s break it down by character, because that’s about the only way I can track it.


Offscreen for most of the episode, and I hope y’all didn’t really think Ramse had killed him, because, again, shenanigans. We find out that the their blood feud spilled out all over the nightclub and wounded Cole badly enough that Ramse is sure he’s dead. He’s at least back with Cassie by episode’s end. And he realizes that Ramse is alive and has been thwarting them at every step.


Left to monitor Cole’s weakening vitals, a panicky Jones is also offscreen for most of the episode, until we catch up with her at the end when she decides to send Cole to Cassie to save his life. Whitley comes to her say goodbye and take his leave, assuming the mission has ended now that the tether is broken and Cole is effectively lost to them. He tries to convince her to leave with him, reminding her of all he gave up. She won’t come with him, so he takes his men and goes. She later tells Adler (who I mistakenly thought was shot last week) that she will die there.

She doesn’t appear until late in the episode, when we see the overlap of Aaron’s conversations with Alisen Down, and his meltdown after he loses his job and Cassie refuses to abandon ship and flee with him. She’s still on her own mission when she finds a mortally wounded Cole on her floor.

Again with overlapping timelines, we see Leland visit Jennifer in the hospital post-massacre and threaten her against telling what she knows. Later, she falls into Alisen Down’s hands, and is given safe haven and a chance to be a daughter again, in a tantalizing offer that registers amid the din in Jennifer’s mind. We also get a picture of her daddy as a coke-addled snake peddler who buys the origin remains in that bar in Tokyo.

Alisen Down and Pallid Man

Note: I’m calling her Alisen Down because she doesn’t have a formal name, and I’ve adored her since Mysterious Ways.

We haven’t gotten to the bottom of who is funding them and why, but their pockets are DEEP–and it has something to do with her father. We see that she has carefully wooed Ramse, and then Jennifer, on her quest to bring about the plague and the 12. It’s intriguing to watch her patiently move people and occurrences around the board–including meeting with Aaron’s ex-boss senator on a private sector doomsday project that Aaron wants in on when his political career evaporates. Ramse at least seems to be able to push back a bit when she wants to discuss Cole and he tells her Cole isn’t a problem because he killed him in Tokyo.

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


Oh boy. This was the kicker. He’s jailed in 1987 for the bar fight with Cole because there’s blood and no body, and then he just waits, and watches, and thanks to intervention from Alisen Down, learns. She send him books, and he teaches himself Japanese, and Thee Art of War, and then, several years later, he’s finally freed from prison.

He joins Down and Pallid Man, and by all accounts becomes their Witness, the Witness, who helps them set their path. It also appears that Ramse wrote the book with the recipe for the plague. When he first meets the Army, Alisen Down puts his pendant from Jennifer in 2043 alongside Pallid Man’s 2015 version, and when they converge, we get a sonic boom and all the landscaping turns from green to red–as Jennifer mentioned last week regarding her herb, and we saw with Cassie in the bar.

Interspersed with Ramse’s long journey, we see instances from throughout the season where he was just off stage, always present, which boggles the mind in such extreme ways. It was heartbreaking to me that he physically and emotionally bided 28 years in what was a blink of an eye for Cole and Jones.

Now he’s helping set the plague in motion, instead of preventing it, and yet somehow we know that means his son will cease to exist (I think) because he’ll never meet Elena in the future, unless he falls in line with his old path and timeline at some point.

I seriously need a Cliffs Notes.

In the two episodes to come, we turn a little bit of who we think Ramse is and has been in the present on its ear. No spoilers. On the face of it, this episode clears some things up, but it’s not the end of the story.

Either way, Ramse moving front and center was the last thing I ever expected. I love that. So pleased for Kirk Acevedo, too, that he got to do this. He’s so adept at quiet rage, and Ramse has good reason. Good job, show.

Next week is fantastic, and Cole-and-Cassie-and-Jones-heavy, and that’s all I’m saying.

12 Monkeys airs at 9/8c Fridays on Syfy.

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  1. ArmageddonKitten

    “…somehow we know that means his son will cease to exist (I think) because he’ll never meet Elena in the future, unless he falls in line with his old path and timeline at some point.”

    This is false. The way to look at it is this way: He has ALREADY met her and had a son. Ramse has been existing in a time when he wasn’t even born yet (1987), but that’s only after having been born, growing up, and having a child of his own. The timeline remains unbroken (his son lives) if he ONLY if he creates the plague. There is no future timeline that he has to join up with. It has already happened. He just has to make sure that it continues to happen.

  2. Heather M

    Thanks so much for reading and writing.

    That’s why I quantified my comment with (I think) because I genuinely do not understand every nook and cranny of time overlapping now that Ramse jumped permanently out of his own timeline.

    I do know that in 2015 there is still another Ramse in the world who is a child alongside Cole.

    I’m just enjoying the ride, and wherever we get, we get.

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