The third season of Syfy’s time-travelling show 12 Monkeys was without a doubt the best season yet and for those who don’t know the series, it is loosely based around the 1995 film of the same name. In every episode this season, it is packed full of surprises, fresh character arcs and twists which of course keep you guessing at every turn.
Season 2 ended in the most dramatic way possible as we finally learn the identity of The Witness, who is the show’s most anticipated antagonist and appears to be leading the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. The organisation glorifies The Witness as a prophet, who is somehow able to travel across time and space, although their true identity was hidden beneath a mask until the big reveal. Up until then, Jones’ group aimed to destroy The Witness to stop the disease that wipes out seven billion people in the future. When the season 2 finale revealed in the final moments that The Witness was in fact Cassie and Cole’s son Athan (who had been undone by time since Cole ended that cycle to save the future), the show turned everything we knew upside down and stimulated thousands of unanswered questions, particularly about causality.
The best thing about this twist is that it explores in the same depth as the film the complexity of time-travel: The Witness and the destruction of time and people is all entirely the fault of our team from the future. By trying to stop the past from happening, they have ended up confirming it. If Cole had never travelled back in time, he never would have met Cassie, and ultimately never would have created The Witness. This dilemma unfortunately meant that Ramsey had to decide which one of them to kill in order to stop The Witness, and he eventually decides on travelling back in time to kill Cassie as a doctor. This is when Cole discovers the truth about his son, and tragically murders his brother to save Cassie.
There is a split in the team as Cole and Cassie turn rogue to try to find and save their son, morally unable to murder him even if it would prevent future catastrophe. Though they witness him as a child release a poisonous gas to a room full of innocent people, they still persist in trying to find out more about him to save him, believing that he was only indoctrinated and is kind at heart. Meanwhile, Jones sends Hannah and Decan after them, and tensions increase between the group who used to view each other as friends. At the same time, Olivia is locked up by Jones with apparently the same desire to kill the Witness, despite having served him her entire life.
The season ties towards the end with a focus on finding out about Athan’s past. There is a beautiful one-off backstory episode which reveals his past, his experiences as a primary, and his relationship with his true love. When she is brutally murdered, he goes back in time to save her and when his secret is revealed, she makes him promise never to attempt it again. And yet, the next morning, she dies anyway from natural causes. Again and again he goes back in time in an attempt to stop it, hundreds of times, but all to the same end. Athan can move about in time, but he cannot stop the inevitability of death. This is a clear motive to explain his obsession with ending all of time itself. There are also brief moments where Athan visits his parents, before they ever became involved with time-travel. He interacts with Cole as a scavenger and offers him food, and then poses at the hospital to interact with Cassie as a doctor. It is incredibly satisfying to gain more of an understanding of his character as well as what he eventually became.
The Season 3 finale was equally as mystifying, packed full of suspense and excitement. As Athan betrays Olivia by revealing that her identity is also that of the Witness (because she has also travelled about in time) and that she is the one fixated upon releasing the virus and destroying time itself. Although it was not much of a twist to see Olivia betraying Jones’ group in the facility, there is a cruel irony that Olivia is destined to become the very thing she tried to destroy.
After Olivia murders Athan at the end of the gripping finale, there is a short remainder only a couple of minutes long which shows a flashback of Cole talking with his father. His father shows him his mother’s drawings, which appear to make no sense, though of course are recognisable to the viewer as they reference twelve monkeys. Perhaps then, Cole’s mother may also play a key part as a primary too. Some internet discussion suggests that his mother could indeed by Jennifer, although I think this is unlikely.
The latest season recently aired on Hulu over the weekend, and plans for the fourth season have been announced for a 2018 release, although it will be the last. While this is initially heartbreaking for fans, it is somewhat refreshing to have a shorter TV show packed full of quality episodes, rather than longer-running shows which are increasingly full of fillers. A teaser trailer for Season 4 has been released and it of course reveals very little, although I do hope that they find a way to bring back Ramsey and put Decan in a more prominent role.
12 Monkeys will be back for Season 4 next year!
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