Alright, this show just gets better every week and I can safely say I am excited about what is coming next. After a rocky start 12 Monkeys has really come into it’s own as a fun sci-fi series and has managed to develop some really fun ramifications and scenarios for time travel. As I said in one of my first reviews of the series it is hard to create a strong time travel series as you are largely making up the rules as you go for the most part. You pick and choose your type of time travel and then commit to the base rules of genre after that the rules are meant to be messed with. Case in point the last few episodes have all dealt with the ramification of certain staples of the time travel genre: short jumps, messing with history, and now overlapping timelines. Of all of them “The Keys” may indeed be the most successful as it gave us something more than the effects of time travel, a real human component.
The reason “The Keys” really managed to work so well was that we finally got to see Cole and Cassie bond over the situation and just connect as people. Out of all the scenes this season Cole at the Gala is easily my favorite as that is a side of our hero we have not gotten to really see. Watching him dance with Cassie, look at art, and just enjoy the moment was just such a gratifying moment in retrospect as we did not realize the gravity of the situation. I really enjoy those small moments of Cole enjoying the past since we rarely get to see him as a happy person in the future and especially given how little focus we have had on Cassie this was truly a week for her to shine. Once we found out what was really happening that helped to put all of this material into the right perspective.
Speaking of the actual plot, I loved the way in which the time travel was integrated this week as it revolved around Cassie and Aaron thinking on the fly. A lot of the time the team is operating without all of the necessary information in order to complete their mission, with this week however the writers brought an interesting wrinkle to the plot. By having Cole know significantly more than Cassie and Aaron our heroes were forced to maneuver around an ever changing timeline without making any major changes. This was super difficult as we literally had no real understanding of what was supposed to happen after Cole got captured and we had to trust that Aaron and Cassie would find a way to save the day. Watching as Aaron and Cassie actually figured out what was going on and what was important to Cole on his mission was just suspenseful enough to work although I did find it weird that they could just walk into the CIA, talk about a super secret plan and everyone just kind of gave them free rein. I understand it was needed to serve the plot but that was a tiny bit of a stretch.
The other big element that played really well this week was Cole’s sacrifice and the final scene with Cassie. 12 Monkeys has been lacking on the bigger emotional material despite the fact that the backbone of the story deal with a post apocalyptic world. This week however, once all of the cards were revealed to the viewer we got excellent emotional material from both Cole and Cassie, as Cole resigned himself to seemingly paying the ultimate price for the greater good. Watching him finally put all the pieces together and realize that he was always doomed to die there and that if Cassie had choose to warn him it would have possibly jeopardized everything was a very powerful moment for two reasons. One he knew that it was not Cassie’s fault and that she did the right thing by withholding certain details, and two that he did, if only for the briefest of moments get to be happy and live out a real life at the gala. Cassie afforded Cole a life he never once even thought about being possible so if this truly was his end then it was the right way for him to go out.
Overall this was definitely the strongest episode of the season in my opinion.
Final Grade A-
+Best time travel plot to date
+Great emotional content
+Cole enjoying the gala
-CIA being super cool with the state secret assassination plot.
-No mention of the future
-Cole saying it’s “bullshit” you can’t touch the art was almost as good as him taking all the appetizers
-Cole’s story about the Keys was beautiful in perspective.
-I thought the future could sense when Cole was in danger? Did they yank him too late or not at all.