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REVIEW: 12 Monkeys 1×02 “Mentally Divergent”

That was a bit more interesting than I expected, and we are definitely moving towards something. I don’t quite know what we are heading to, but it at least has a compelling antagonist now, sort of, you know what time travel is just really confusing. Take for example “Mentally Divergent” and episode thoroughly centered on two characters who are on seemingly opposite sides of the larger conflict and yet you can easily see how their roles could be reversed. That is what make me continue wanting to watch this show, the characters are just compelling enough that I want to see where their journey is going. There are still a lot of the same problems that existed in the pilot, but it happens that the center story is much more tightly packed than last week so certain detail can be forgiven in some regards. So, let’s dive in.

First things first, damn if Jennifer Goines is not a fantastically fun character to watch on screen. Her debut in the pilot was obviously a small teaser for the sheer amount of crazy that she displays through the episode. Every little neurotic tic or crazy rhyme could have come off as a giant joke very easily, but Emily Hampshire manages to nail the eccentricities of what is apparently a very complex character. She has managed to work the system around her and despite being thoroughly broken by watching her friends and co workers be murdered, she seems to be fighting the Monkeys’ on some level. Considering she was not entirely committed to following the “Pallid Man” it stands to reason that the side she ends up on is still very much up in the air. My favorite scene of the entire episode was easily the one where Jen was treating Cole after he had been tied to the bed and we slowly began to understand what made both characters tick. It was stronger acting than I ever expected to get from this show.

Speaking of strong characters the “Pallid Man” managed to give us our first real, large scale antagonist of the series and did in such an understated way. By understated I mean he is apparently a cold blooded murderer who bathes his victims in flower petals and is completely chill about it. That is kind of screwed up in so many ways but the scene between him and Cassie said all we need to know about his character, as he suggest she stop looking into the Monkeys’ or she may suffer the same fate as her friend. What made his threat so powerful was the fact that there was absolutely no need for him to make it or even leave Cassie alive, but she doesn’t even register as a threat to him so he has chosen to let her slide. That is a powerful villain that knows murdering everyone is not always the way to succeed. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how this character evolves since he has somehow met Cole in the past.

One area of the plot that continues to annoy me though is that our rules for time travel as well as all of the consequences have not been clearly laid out for us. Take for example that we are not seeing all of the events in a clear linear fashion, but rather as Cole is experiencing them. For not only our hero, but those who are supposedly trying to save the future to know so little about the real ramifications they are having is simply mind boggling and frustrating. I mean they are constantly preaching to Cole about paradoxes and how he should not interfere too much in the past, but by all indications it seems Cole has played a major role in the virus becoming released. Shouldn’t all these people be able to track or just spiderweb when and where Cole is supposed to go rather than sending him to random points in time and hoping they don’t screw up. Sooner or later these are going to need to be clearly defined or else the threat of destroying the timeline will become entirely meaningless.

As for the other side characters they are beginning to develop nicely although I can’t really say I care about any of them outside of Cassie yet. This is especially true of all of the future people, who outside of Ramsey just feel like a rampant group of self absorbed assholes. I mean I understand they are trying to save seven billion people but there is only so much self sacrifice bull I can take. Luckily, they seem to have accepted that Cassie is necessary to their missions success, so we should actually make some progress or developing a team.

Overall and improvement of an episode, but the show is still missing some key parts.

Final Grade B

+Jennifer was amazing

+The Pallid Man was super creepy

+Cassie now on team future

-A lot of the future people are A-holes

-No clear defined ramifications for Cole’s actions

Extra Thoughts

-Jennifer totally gave me echoes of Lex Luthor on Smallville in the insane asylum. Food for thought.

-Both Cole and the Pallid Man’s threats sounded similarly eerie as they “don’t want to hurt people, but will do it if they must.”

-They really need to explain the cause and effect of Cole time traveling because as of now nothing at all seems to have changed in the future.

About the author

Scott Swartz