12 Monkeys: "Primary" Review



It seems we stood and talked like this before.

Note: Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

There are a lot of things I don’t know about where 12 Monkeys is headed, but a happy ending doesn’t seem to be in the cards for any of our heroes. Cassie has drawn the especially bad hand of now having to betray her morals and character before she inevitably (at least, so far) dies of the plague she couldn’t stop and leaves her message.

In the opening we got to see a brief montage of 2044 through her eyes and how she’s had to hurt and kill people to get what’s necessary to repair the machine and erase all of it. It was pretty bad, but it didn’t quite give me everything I needed to believe that Cassie is as hard as she comes off in this episode. I bought her lobbying to kill Ramse and Jennifer (though not actually doing it) because Ramse was an architect of the plague (a tool, but still) and Jennifer is such a wild card it’s hard to trust that she won’t ruin everything, even if she doesn’t mean to. But later, I didn’t find it convincing when she threatened Ramse’s son.

One of the highlights of “Primary” was the sequence in which the timeline shifted around our heroes in 2016 and around Dr. Jones in 2044, once the virus was destroyed. Reminiscent of the time-turner scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkahban, we could see shadowy figures around Katerina as the timeline was altered around her, and the dates and headlines on the newspapers changing was way cool. I am a little confused though because I don’t remember her taking injections, and when Cole altered the timeline (for the worse) in “The Red Forest” episode, he had to explain to her who he was. Am I just not remembering when she started taking them, or did it happen in the writers’ past but my future?

So, the future has changed for the better, because the spread of the plague was slowed, not stopped. Though Jones not realizing she now had a lover (Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan) makes me wonder what else may have been affected that they don’t yet realize.

Jones speculated here that they’re all still around because they need to stop the release of the plague, but that kind of sounds like time has a stake in all this, and I don’t think it does. Could Jones be wrong about the whole erasing concept? Could the Army of the 12 Monkeys be correct in saying that the plague is destined to happen no matter what? At any rate, when Cassie said she was emotionally compromised and couldn’t time travel anymore, it definitely seemed like Jones knew more than she was telling her – which will be true at any point of any timeline, let’s be honest.

The weakest part of the episode (even though Kirk Acevedo was fantastic as always in it) was the whole torture plot. I’ve seen so many “Ve Have vays of making you talk” scenes in my many moons of being a TV viewer and movie goer and I’m over it. Also, growing up a child in a brutal, plague-ravaged landscape was reason enough for Deacon to have become a psychotic bastard and it was hard to care that he had a tragic home life beforehand that Ramse pushed his way into in 2013 for reasons.

It was interesting that Jennifer didn’t know until now that Cole, Cassie and Ramse were time travelers yet she recognized immediately that the timeline was changed. It’s another sign that her supposed insanity is actually some kind of unique connection to time. Jennifer said she wanted room 607 at the Emerson because it was primary, but it was clear that some part of her (or at least something around her) knew that was Cole’s room from 1944. I don’t think Ramse recognized Goines from 2043 (was she wearing a veil?) but either way I do think he’s Jones-like in that he hasn’t revealed everything he knows about what has happened or what he knows will happen.

I loved how Doc Brown Katerina got with Cole when he contacted her in 2016, arguing against knowing anything that will alter the decisions she makes until that time. Of course, all she ever DOES is take what she knows about the past and future in order to alter the past and future, so, in the grand scheme of things, Cole doesn’t think this is a big deal.

This was a strong episode for Emily Hampshire, as Jen went from being bemused at the discovery of time travelers to being crushed at being robbed of what Olivia has programmed her to believe was her life’s purpose. She also seems to want Cole to be her fella, which would explain her contempt for Cassie from moment one. Jen tells Cole that he may want Cassie to love him, but she won’t. As much as I do kind of ship them, this rings true to me. I think Cassie sees Cole as more of a stray dog she took in from the rain.

The scenes between Aaron Stanford and Hampshire were genuinely moving as he talked her out of hurting herself and gave her the encouragement she needed to become the powerful woman we see in 2043. It was a nice to touch to have Jennifer be the one who convinces Jones (via Ninja Monkey Daughters abduction) to send Cassie back to the Emerson in 2016 to fetch Cole. Anyone else get a Miss Havisham vibe from Jennifer’s 2044 get-up?

The Verdict

The picture of Cole and Cassie in 1944 seemed to hurt Jen and Cassie equally. Jen because they look like a happy couple maybe, and Cassie because she can’t connect to smile she sees on her own face? I wonder if Cassie wanted to leave Cole behind because she remembers what he used to see in her, and she knows how much of that has died. Cole can’t quite convince her that she was right before when she tried to show him that killing people wasn’t the way to alter the timeline. Based on the oh-so 70s Tab can Cole found in the apartment he bought in 1944, it seems like he will have many decades in which to change her mind, as well as the future.

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