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Home TV REVIEW: 12 Monkeys “Mentally Divergent” Lays Series Groundwork

TV REVIEW: 12 Monkeys “Mentally Divergent” Lays Series Groundwork

BY Abbey White

Published 9 years ago

TV REVIEW: 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys offered a strong follow up performance to last week’s premiere with “Mentally Divergent.”

Laying a large chunk of the groundwork for the “army of the 12 monkeys” mythology, the episode began with Cole having returned to 2043. Working alongside the scientists for a new approach to their viral problem, he learns that he will be going back in time again.

Though Cole suggests going back earlier, Jones (Barbara Sukowa) redirects the focus of his next time jump towards a different target. Instead of playing with Leland’s timeline, they decide to explore the role of patient 248. As we see, 248 is none other than Jennifer Goines.

After splintering back to 2015, Cole’s mission is to identify Jennifer and suss out what she knows about the army of the twelve monkeys. While the episode could have taken its good old time with physically introducing us to both Jennifer and the twelve monkeys, by the end of the episode we have a large chunk of her backstory and have met the notorious twelve. Well, only one for sure but what they lacked in numbers he made up for in creepy.

Railly, meanwhile, is dealing with the fall out of the pilot’s events in real time. Bent on doing her own detective work about the monkeys, she is seemingly alone until she reaches out to one friend… who shows up dead at the hands of a strange man. Aaron Marker (Noah Bean) also checks up on her party arrest whereabouts, per her vehement suggestion.

The former oddly links her to Jennifer Goines and the latter is less impressive. Though Marker senses something big is happening, he still isn’t ready to deal with Railly’s new reality. He does, however, bring her a clue to Cole’s location. Going there she tries to aid in freeing Cole, but instead seals her fate as a key player in the 12 Monkeys timeline.

Again, the series did a fine job of walking the likeness line. It’s clear now, however, that the shell is the only thing that’s staying the same. The show plans to diverge a bit from its cinematic predecessor in order to elongate and expand possible narrative timelines. It managed to keep on par with the quality of effects seen in the pilot in addition to be legitimately suspenseful.

Pictured: (l-r) Rick Acevedo as Ramse, Aaron Stanford as Cole -- © 2015 Syfy Network

Pictured: (l-r) Rick Acevedo as Ramse, Aaron Stanford as Cole — © 2015 Syfy Network


While we didn’t get much more than a continue of Marker’s misguided concern and judgement, Railly and Cole’s relationship certainly developed. There are hints of a romance building, but more importantly the two forged a bond of trust that was lacking up until this point. Railly decided to fully believe Cole and Cole decided that going at his missions alone wasn’t working (and it wasn’t). As a result, Cole has a real tie to the future which should make getting a sense of what’s happened and where he’s at a lot easier and faster going forward.

One of the most interesting things about Railly has become how her relationship with Cole has left her straddling the past and future along with him. Because she is aware of what happens, her understanding of her present is altered, making it hard to connect with other people of her time. Either they think she’s crazy or they end up dead.

So she’s not mentally a woman of the present anymore, but she’s not physically in the future either. She can’t be. At least for now. It will be exciting to watch how Amanda Schull and the writers develop this aspect of Railly’s character. Either things could start to feel very repetitive or viewers could be on the receiving end up prime character development.

Pictured: Emily Hampshire as Jennifer -- Photo by: Ken Woroner/Syfy

Pictured: Emily Hampshire as Jennifer — Photo by: Ken Woroner/Syfy

The show wasted no time introducing us to one of the pilot’s most memorable faces: Jennifer Goines. As of now she appears to be a victim, a witness to (and blamed for) the deaths of her co-workers at her father’s lab. The event seemingly disturbed her, but it’s hard to know how much of the Jennifer we’ve seen is a result of that or her own mental health battle.

What we do know for sure is that both her’s and the world’s fate are now in the monkeys’ hands. And despite appearing to be in harm’s way, it is her symbol on the wall in the news clipping. We also now know that she is only one of two alive that knows the apocalyptic pandemic’s location.

In addition to getting more on last week’s mystery woman, the narrative explored the act and rules of time travel from several different angles. We witness the splintering process, from start to finish, and were privy to some of the inaccuracies of time travel. The episode also dishes out the obligatory “Changing the past will change the future!” tension between two major characters.

Ironically, Jones chides Cole for going back and teaming up with Railly as his interference may have stopped her from sending them the most crucial clue they have in 2043. Ironically because, while Cole has not yet been to 1987, he has been to 1987; he has not yet cut the lead henchman of the army of the 12 monkeys on the cheek, he totally has. In English: Everything he is doing has already been done before and nothing about their world has really changed. This leaves one to assume that Cole buddying up with Railly is probably why she ended up sending the message.

The future being someone else’s past is the constant paradox of time travel. This isn’t a particularly clever device. Space and time mythology in science fiction has often alluded to the concept that time is just an infinity fate loop. What will be interesting to see is how long it takes the characters to figure this out and adapt for it, if they even do at all. This is the determinate for consistant and good character development. It also plays a crucial role in understanding how a show like this can continue past a season.

If the choice is to follow the road most traveled, the timing of the reveal is perhaps the most important point of the story as of now. For this universe to remain believable your characters must be smart and aware. The writers must be prepared enough to know how their story will keep going after a reveal as pivotal as this one drops.


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