[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
It’s a tricky thing to preview a whole season and not give anything away, but I’m game if you are. We’re a week out from the 12 Monkeys third season binge weekend–which is a fantastically mind-numbing, mind-blowing 10 hours of TV–and if you haven’t seen seasons one and/or two, get on that.
As we closed the second season, the big reveal was that the Big Bad was the progeny of Cassie & Cole’s time-locked tryst, as somewhat dictated/pre-ordained by the Army, which kept hammering the “House of Cedar and Pine” mantra to get the happy couple on the road to a baby. In the terrorizing last moments, Cassie was trapped on Titan as she realizes to her horror that she’d been a pawn in all of it, and Cole ended up back at the lab, committed to finding her.
When we pick up in the third season, our intrepid time jumpers are scattered around the world and across time, but over the course of the season, they find their way to where they need to be to stay on task before betrayal and conflicting missions break them apart and reunite them again and again (vague enough for you?).
Cassie is on her own as the vessel for The Witness. Confined within the walls of the batshit crazy folks inhabiting Titan, she does find some allies there, but the full weight of who, and what, she’s carrying isn’t lost on her.
Cole is traipsing across time trying to locate Titan while Jones and Hannah plead for him to be reasonable, to no avail. Stranded on her own, Jennifer figures out what to do in a foreign land at the beginning of the 20th century. And I think that’s all you need to know going in.
The third season runs the gamut of emotion as our core crew make choices, wise and unwise, driven by their hearts more than their minds and returning to “family first” over and over, whether they intend to or not.
We’re also introduced–in a GENIUS way–to new technology that answers a lot of open questions from the first two seasons about the fluidity of time and the seeming multiplicity of The Witness. And we do meet and spend time with him to understand the how of his evolution.
There are lighter moments, too, particularly in episode 5, set in 1989, complete with oversized blazers and glasses, high-waisted jeans, and Miami Vice attire, and elsewhere over the season, as Jennifer manipulates the machine to run personal errands between centuries.
The heaviest moments resonate around love and loss and family, as characters face their fears, seek lost opportunities, and confront old demons while resisting the pull to change forgone outcomes. We also learn some important things about where our characters will draw lines or blow right past them when tested. In short, do not eff with Jones, y’all.
The cast kills it, per usual. If we don’t buy Cassie and Cole’s commitment to each other, it all falls apart, and Aaron Stanford and Amanda Schull esnure that we do. Jones finally gets out of the lab, and Barbara Sukowa has a couple of scenes this season that rival her throwdown with Xander Berkeley in last year’s “Lullaby.”
Emily Hampshire admirably does A LOT of heavy lifting with the plotting as Jennifer works very hard to filter the cacophony in her head into tangible, usable intel. Todd Stashwick, Brooke Williams, and Alisen Down get more to do this season, which I love. Showrunner Terry Matalas makes his directorial debut on the first episode, and co-creator Travis Fickett returns to write an episode.
Guest stars this season include an assortment of dead characters (no spoilers), familiar faces, and fan favorites, including Christopher Lloyd, Wynonna Earp‘s Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Game of Thrones‘ Hannah Waddingham, BSG‘s James Callis, Snatch’s Claire Cooper, American Crime‘s Faran Tahir, and Signed, Sealed, and Delivered‘s Kristin Booth–who’s going to break you in Episode 7. Also, Episodes 8 and 9 were gorgeously lensed in Prague–we saw some of those stills on Twitter via Matalas, but they’re just stunning on film.
Although it wasn’t intentional when they were written and filmed, the three-night format works and it’s really impressive to see the breadth of the story that Season 3 tells, in three fewer episodes than the 13 that the first and second seasons had.
The first night is about getting everyone on the same page. The second night is about family, then, now, and future, and the big questions of nature and nurture. The third night is about extraordinary love, The Witness, destiny, fate, and the factions who would change everything and change nothing.
And yes, there’s a tantalizing, “Who? What? Wait? What?” to lead us into Season 4, which we thankfully already know we’re getting. I loved opening the door on this cast and these characters again and I’m really not ready to let them go yet.
12 Monkeys Season 3 will air as follows. Note that the first night has limited commercial interruptions, so the start times vary. Set those DVRs accordingly! See you on Twitter!
Friday, May 19th
- “Mother” 8 pm/7c
- “Guardians” 8:45 pm/7:45c
- “Enemy” 9:30 pm/8:30c
- “Brothers” 10:15 pm/9:15c
Saturday, May 20th
- “Causality” 8 pm/7c
- “Nature” 9 pm/8c
- “Nurture” 10 pm/9c
Sunday, May 21st
- “Masks” 8 pm/7c
- “Thief” 9 pm/8c
- “Witness” 10 pm/9c
Here are a couple of sneak peeks. Seasons 1 and 2 are available now on Hulu, Amazon, the Syfy Now app, iTunes, and more. Click here for the full list.
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