Full disclosure: I’m 44, so my point of reference for Otis Redding’s “These Arms of Mine” is Dirty Dancing. When that music kicked in at the beginning of the 12 Monkeys first season finale, with Cassie and Cole lying face to face on her bed as Cole VO’d “Are you warm, safe, next to someone you love?” I was ALL IN.
“Arms of Mine” is a fully loaded season finale. We hit everybody. Let’s run down the highlights.
Cole beats the sh-t out of him for setting his dad’s death in motion, and Aaron really doesn’t care–he’s still all about saving Cassie. Until he realizes Cassie’s been standing there the whole time, watching. She asks him to tell them what he knows. He tells them about Olivia and “the 12” and her interest in Markridge, and a plan to escape to Colorado. Then he breaks free, fighting back and starting a fire. He and Cole fight and when Cole throws him off, he slams into a shelving unit that crashes onto him. The fire spreads and he screams for Cassie and Cole pulls her out.
Now in formal control of Markridge and under Olivia’s thumb, Jennifer begins the episode giving her dad and his legacy the finger in front of her shareholders, and ending it by potentially giving 7 billion the finger, if I followed correctly. In the middle, she’s visited by Cole–her “otter eyes” and touchstone for reality–who asks her about her investors. Cassie’s over her bullshit so she slaps her to get the answer they want–that Ramse is Olivia’s prescient investor, now called Ethan, and they’re focused on Raritan Valley National Laboratory, where the machine was built, and where it still is in 2043. Satisfied, they leave her, and Cole stops to say thank you. Then Jennifer calls Olivia to relay that “he knows.”
She’s still puzzled by the red ivy traveling to her machine, unaware that Deacon and his Strain-like friends are outside plotting their entrance. Whitley asks her to send him back to 2015 when he’s recovered and she says no. He asks her to abandon the machine if all is truly lost. Then they’re invaded by bats, and Deacon and his friends, and Jones rigs her machine to blow.
When the hooded blueish leader tells Jones he is from the future (and addresses her as Madam), she says he can have the machine, as long as everyone is allowed to leave peacefully. He accedes to her wishes.
Ramse is closing in on the purpose of his 28-year journey, as Olivia talks to him about the technology for the machine finally coming to fruition because of what he knew, and because they waited it out. Ramse goes to see the shiny new machine and meets another Dr. Jones (Peter Outerbridge), who’s happily accepted his donations and is now vacating to leave Ramse with the machine.
She’s told the 12 are ready and then she’s brought to a room of a dozen bassinets–healthy babies for whatever her purpose is. They’ll be ready in 28 years. She tells her lieutenant that the records will show Ethan died that day, and that there was no more record of Cole.
Cassie and Cole
This is the episode where they sort of swap roles. When Aaron dies, she flips a switch to the point that she’s all business that he betrayed them, and her, even when Cole tries to console her. When they make their way inside Raritan, she’s now carrying a gun alongside Cole. He goes one way and she goes another, and when she winds up in a room of the red ivy, her PTSD kicks in and she recalls her Red Forest vision.
By the time she’s face to face with Ramse, she’s enraged that he’s about to use the machine and leave the plague in his wake.
Before she comes in, Cole and Ramse face off for the first time, and Ramse tells him he thought he’d killed him. He says he has to use the machine now to go home to his son. He tells him it took time travel to create time travel, that none of this would have been possible if he hadn’t jumped to 1987. “There are no straight lines,” he says.
He says they’ll find another cure. That 2043Â is their world, not this one. “Our only future is the future.”
Cole says he can’t choose one over seven billion. Ramse says Cole has done just that, again and again, risking his life for Cassie because he loves her, and he’s doing this now because he loves his son. He tells Cole to pull the trigger. He says he felt guilty for Tokyo. “Killing you again can’t be the last thing I do here,” he says echoing the sentiment from a few episodes back. They agree they’re at “Atari,” out of moves, when Cassie comes in with her gun drawn. She calls Ramse the Witness and tells Cole to shoot, and Ramse says he’s not the Witness.
Cole tries to talk her down, and after a moment’s hesitation, she levels her gun at Ramse and fires as his security guard’s bullet hits her. She drops and feels around her back that the bullet didn’t travel through her, so she’s doomed. Ramse’s also wounded, but he comes through on Jennifer’s words that he’s a god friend, and he slides the injection case to Cole and tells him to send her to Jones. “She’ll save her. She won’t save me.”
Cole injects her and carries her to the chair. He lays her down and leans close to her, asking if she’s OK. She tells him goodbye. He says he’ll see her soon. She says she doesn’t think so. He strokes her face and then goes to the controls and activates the machine and they lock on each other as she blinks out.
He goes to Ramse, who asks him to find his son, if he ever gets back, and tell him that he tried to protect him. Cole says he will, leaves him, and runs down the hall, when it hits him that he can’t leave his brother. As Olivia VOs to her lieutenant that fate wins, Cole calls shenanigans, proving it’s love and family, and goes back for Ramse. He helps him to his feet and they walk out together. “No one has to die. We’ll find another way,” he says.
Back in 2043, Jones has surrendered her machine and she and Deacon are walking away from it. He asks about Cole and she says he’ll never come back. Then the machine fires up and in blinks Cassie. And Jones says her name with a familiarity that’s awesome after last week’s episode.
We end with Jennifer on her private plane as stainless steel drums with the virus are loaded and her flight attendant comments on the global itinerary. Jennifer says, “I have work to finish.”
Now we wait 9 months. Gah!!
What a fantastic season. I just marvel at the casting across the board, and I’m so glad Aaron Stanford was given the shot to lead a series. He’s so good, and he and Amanda Schull are a great pair. Kirk Acevedo is great playing a character who sort of snuck up on us. Y’all already know what a badass I think Barbara Sukowa is, and I love that she finally crossed to American TV audiences who can spend the hiatus consuming all of her films.
I love that I never quite knew where we were going, or how we were going to get there, and that as Cole mentions in the beginning of the episode, there is a reset switch that all of our characters have had an opportunity to hit. I’m intrigued that Jennifer may have set the whole thing in motion after trying to avert exactly that when she defied her father. The future Jennifer that Ramse meets is still a wanderer, so are we to assume Olivia cut her loose after her purpose was served?
And the blue men are the now-grown babies, 28 years later, even though they look much older than 28… Were they engineered to survive? I think of The Outer Limits episode, “Music of the Spheres,” where the teenagers heard music that physically evolved them so they could survive a shift in the sun. And what do they want with the machine?
I think we can assume Outerbridge’s Jones was Kat’s bastard fleeing ex-husband. I so want those flashbacks. And I love that Cassie and Jones will initially be paired next season. While they’re doing that, Cole and Ramse have hit their own reset on a relationship that’s had a days-long estrangement for Cole and decades-long for Ramse. Olivia’s statement that Ramse would be found beside the machine indicates she duped him and he was never supposed to go home.
I’ll let these sit for a while and then I think I’ll watch the season again. Thanks so much for reading all of our coverage. I think I logged somewhere around 20,000 words about the first season, and I so appreciate you coming along!
In case you missed it, check out our exclusive interview with Aaron Stanford and co-creators and season two showrunners Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas.
12 Monkeys returns to Syfy in 2016. Here’s a teaser that was released after the finale aired.
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