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REVIEW: 12 Monkeys 1×03 “Cassandra Complex”

Written by Scott Swartz

I think I finally understand how 12 Monkeys works. They will make one part of the plot really strong, while letting other aspects of the plot struggle to stay above water. Case in point is tonight’s episode, “Cassandra Complex” which features some of the strongest actual time travel plot we have gotten all season, yet a lot of the character development was left dangling in the wind. It is really hard to root for a show when it doesn’t seem to know what part of it’s plot it wants to focus on from week to week, and it is even harder on the viewer when they can’t keep the plot straight. Things such as Cole becoming out of sync while in Haiti and trying not to interfere in Cassie’s life pre 2015 really helped to demonstrate what would happen if Cole interfered with the timeline. It’s just everything in the future is seemingly more important than the material in the past. So let’s dive in.

I will at least give credit where credit is due as the actual time travel material presented in this week’s episode was probably the strongest we have seen. Watching everyone argue over where they should send Cole next and actual talk about the ramifications of what would happen if they did do those actions finally made this entire mission real in a sense. We previously could only conceive of what the consequences might be and it turns out the council realizes that the slightest mistake in the past could rewrite history exponentially. The fact that they have seemingly put a no kill order into effect is a strong play as now they will only pull the trigger if they know what the effect would be.This does manage to handicap Cole in a lot of ways but they all provide interesting wrinkles for the series moving forward.

Unfortunately the time travel elements were seemingly the only aspect of the plot that really worked as all of the character good will we had built up was quickly thrown out the window. Let’s look at Cassie, our supposed female protagonist, who did almost nothing this week to advance the plot. I understand that her experience in Haiti is what helped her begin to believe in Cole’s fairy tale, but I don’t believe we needed to spend the entire time there. Then you have Henri whose character feels like the writers just wanted to get this pollen out of the way so that they could continue to do the interesting material in other areas. I mean what Henri told us about the Night Room could have easily been figured out as there was no way that the lab was going to be kept in one single place considering its significance. It made Henri’s entire character and escape from the initial massacre feel completely irrelevant to the overall plot. Henri’s message could have been a strange cryptic note and it would have served the same purpose as his character.

If these characters in the past are supposed to be so important we should be spending the large majority of our time with them rather than Ramse and the future citizens. Considering how much time has been spent on the events of the future I could easily be led to believe that this is a show about what happens after the apocalypse rather than trying to prevent it. I mean it felt like nearly half the episode was spent on Max and Ramse talking about surviving and getting away from their old group of scavengers.I mean I understand that we want there to be an ever present threat facing Cole on both sides of the timeline, but the biggest threat is in the past not some random scavengers who will eventually find the base. I want to better understand Cassie and her world post breakdown and this episode thought it was more important to build up Ramse than the other lead on the show.

Overall just a disappointing episode

Final Grade C-

+Time travel material finally cemented

+Cole being out of phase

-Cassie and Cole’s relationship relegated to the background

-Too much time spent on the future

-No follow up to Jennifer in the present

-Henri really useless

Extra Thoughts

-So if SyFy just wanted another post apocalypse show why did they need to take an established brand to do it? I would rather they had made their own.

-The Pallid Man showed up again and he is still creepy. Just wish we knew what he was about other than being super creepy.

About the author

Scott Swartz