12 MONKEYS (2015) – S01E02: ‘Mentally Divergent’ Review
Episode 2 of the new movie based TV show ’12 Monkeys’ really cements the initial premise of the show while advancing the plot of the story that much more. After the revelation of an organization known as the Army Of 12 Monkeys being responsible for the plague in the past, Cole has to go back in time again to get more clues and information on the group, continuing what was meant to be a one time mission.
This episode is really successful at not taking the initial premise established in episode 1 for granted. Very often we’ll see the story lines of a new show stride along in episode 2 without allowing the characters, and by consequence, the audience to fully settle into the ramifications of everyones new found role within the world. Similarly, in ‘Mentally Divergent’, the main character Cole struggles with his realization that his ‘mission’ wasn’t a one time event as initially promised. This causes major conflict between him and Jones, who seems to be in charge in the future. Their interactions fleshes out the background of the future further as we discover Cole’s self loathing and anger at not having been ‘erased’, which is what will happen if he succeeds in changing the past. Obviously Cole’s past will be further expanded upon as the series progresses, but Aaron Stanford convincingly portrays a man who seems to hate still existing for some reason. While Jones’ confesses to having been a witness to the world dying and how that fuels her motivation in changing it. These bits of backstory happen naturally and don’t feel crammed in for the sake of exposition.
Another constant argument between Cole and Jones is the involvement of Amanda Schull’s Cassandra in his missions. While Cole relies on (and possibly likes) her, Jones is insistent that it could affect her natural course in history. What was kind of irksome is the back and forth between Cole and his friend in the future playd by Kirk Acevedo, who teased him for liking Cassandra. It felt out of place and very grade school-ish in an otherwise dark show. This is all moot as Cassandra’s life is shown as being turned upside down since her acquaintance with Cole and she’s resolved to finding out about the secrets of this plague her own damn self. After the murder of a source, Cassandra is visited by a man who smells like Lavenders & Jasmine flowers, threatening her to stop this investigation of her.
After a speed bump, Cole returns to 2015 to visit Emily Hampshire’s Jennifer Goines, which is a gender bent version of Brad Pitt’s character from the movie. The daughter of the man killed last episode, Jennifer provides the most exposition of this already exposition heavy episode. While working in her dad’s lab, Jennifer was witness to a massacre of her colleagues by the same man who threatened Cassandra, who wanted a specific virus, which may be the plague that destroys the world in the future. Jennifer is the only person remaining who knows the location of a secret lab known as ‘The Night Room’, which houses this possible virus. However, the trauma of the massacre causes her to snap and be institutionalized, preventing the Lavender man from finding out the location, that is until the end of this episode.
Cassandra finds and helps Cole all on her own while Lavender man kidnaps Jennifer. Putting aside all apprehension of screwing with the timeline, the duo finally decide to work together, planning out their next move. This episode really serves to further establish the show. The characters take a whole 2 episodes to accept the new upheavals in their lives and follow it rather than doing so because they’re supposed to. The writing is pretty good as the Time Travel plot device is used many times to set up possibly future story lines, without intentionally being too vague or confusing to follow. Despite being only 2 episodes old, the show hasn’t had many ‘wtf’ moments, and has been pretty upfront about introducing story elements and adequately explaining them within the episode, while still leaving more to be explored in the future. (no pun intended)
It’s still hard to determine whether ’12 Monkeys’ is a good or bad show. For now it’s just interesting enough to warrant following, especially if the progression of story continues to happen as much as it did this episode alone.