“You can’t change the past,” Jones says as she stands, facing the futuristic blue man group, with the trigger to a bomb in hand. “No one can. All that matters is what happens here.”
This line is ultimately the backbone of 12 Monkeys season finale, “Arms of Mine,” and it’s the last thing anyone expected to hear.
Over the course of the last twelve episodes, viewers have been bombarded with the idea that through traveling back in time only Cole could save the world. So everyone from every timeline put all their eggs in one basket without thinking too much more about it. Cole was always point A and everything else? Point B.
What this week’s finale clarified is that time will always be non-linear no matter what. And because there will never be one direction things can go, anyone can change anything right from the very time and place they stand. The only way fate can control you is if you believe it has more power than you. It is after all only a series of choices. Yes, fate is one big atari and the game of “Go” has just begun.
This realization isn’t just one for the audience, however. The characters, too, in their very own ways come to this understanding. We see it when Deacon teams up with the set of blue men who claim to be from the future’s future, in his attempt to take back the compound. We see it with Aaron, tied up, bloody and still so desperate to save Cassie in his own twisted way. Jones shows us when she makes her “I will go down with this ship” declaration and Cassie — yes, even “innocent” Cassie — proves this as she, against orders, shoots Ramse in order to save the world.
This shift in perception — a moment of clarity if you will — during “Arms of Mine” solidifies the strength of this show’s past, present and future. It makes it possible for Cassie to go back in time, for Aaron to burn alive, for the real Army of the 12 Monkeys to reveal themselves, for Jones to complete the circle, and for Ramse and Cole to come to a mutual understanding.
Despite this flawless execution of message, “Arms of Mine” didn’t offer any big bombshells in terms of character development. Cole and Ramse acted out in ways pretty typical of past behavior — and wonderfully for us — their past friendship. The very same could be said of Cassie and Cole’s romance, of Jones sacrifice, Jennifer moving forward with her plans for the virus, and Aaron getting burned (literally). Even Cassie’s decision to shoot Ramse shouldn’t have come as a shock. Despite her sometimes wavering dedication to a constantly changing threat, she’s stuck by Cole and the idea of saving the world throughout the entire series. This time it went farther than we may have imagined, but it wasn’t uncharacteristic. It was development.
As for the plot twists, they weren’t entirely heart-stopping either. We watched Ramse travel through time once, so Cassie’s arrival in the future could have been predicted. The baby army reveal, while certainly an exciting turn, didn’t have as much of a punch as expected considering we still largely have no idea what their role is. Jennifer lacking the wisdom of her future self and falling prey to her whimsical (sometimes insane) desires was a nice cliffhanger, but again not jaw dropping.
And yet, the finale was the perfect culmination of the entire season. Characters landed solidly after taking giant development leaps all season while the audience was challenged time and time again. The pacing remained consistent, storylines were well-balanced and twists were effective plot shifts. Fate was changed, we cheered, we cried and on more than one occasion we held our breath, aware that something was going to happen. Neither sure what was going to happen and not quite believing it until we saw it.
12 Monkeys “Army of Mine” may not have been the most action packed or dramatic episode of the series, but it was certainly the strongest. Combined, the writing, acting, action, and effects illustrated that the show has a clear understanding of itself, and those behind it have a great command of the complicated story. The series came out just as it came in — with a bang — and we can’t wait to see how this ending will serve as a brand new beginning.