12 MONKEYS (2015) – S01E03: ‘Cassandra Complex’ Review
In what is probably the weakest episode of the series so far, episode 3 of ’12 Monkeys’ continues the story of time travelling James Cole, with the help of Cassandra Railly attempting to stop a plague from destroying mankind’s future. Last episode saw a crucial piece of the puzzle, Jennifer Goines, who may know the location of the virus, get kidnapped by the organization responsible, The Army of The 12 Monkeys. However, there is another man who knows with the location of the plague that may cause the desolate future that Cole comes from. Titled ‘Cassandra Complex’, this episodes deals with how the duo find this man, while giving a bit of insight into the character of Cassandra Railly, but not really.
The episode begins with an incredibly convenient scene that gives the lead characters exactly what they needed. Cassandra receives a call from the authorities regarding her involvement in the kidnapping at the mental institution from last week. During her questioning, Cassandra finds out the name of the surviving scientist played by Lyriq Bent, who worked with Jennifer, the same man they are looking for. The odd thing is that there is no mention of Cassandra’s involvement with the very public attack on Leland Goines, Jennifer’s father by Cole whom they knew she was signing out of the same institution. So apparently, Cassandra has no more need to be hiding out anymore, given that she’s completely scot-free. Apparently.
So the scientist Henri, ends up being someone Cassandra actually worked with, as well as shared a night of reckless abandon.(see: had sex with) The catch is that Henri has since died. So naturally Cole decides to go back in time to a year ago and find out the location of The Night Room from him. Cassandra warns him to stay away from her, as it was apparently a dark time in her past, what with the one night stand and all. Also involved her basically going off the deep end, wanting to shoot patients after she thought an outbreak was the plague that Cole warned her about. This was during the time in between the Pilot and Episode 2, so was freaking out waiting for the world to end after Cole’s initial warning. She also blames herself for Henri’s death, even though someone else entirely is responsible. Schull has difficulty doing the range of emotion involved for what supposed to be a breakdown but came off as her desperately trying to convince us of it.
Back in the future, Jones and the other scientists debate the validity of this mission. What’s pretty amazing here is that the writers use the scientists to lay out the complete clusterfuck that time travel stories are with everyone shouting various suggestions and others countering them with complicated time paradoxical situations that may end up happening. It’s a brief scene, but very effective in conveying how erratic and complex this plot device may be, without actually structuring a plot around the complexity to mess with the audience’s mind.
Another cool thing in the future is the introduction of elements from Cole and Ramse’s past. During a patrol Kirk Acevado’s Ramse encounters a former scavenger friend Max, looking for refuge. He warns Cole that her appearance may be a sign that their former friends, the marauding group known as West 7 may be trying to infiltrate the compound with intentions of taking it over. There are references of an evil leader named Deacon, who doesn’t seem like a guy they wanna mess with. Like most things in this show, these new ideas aren’t shoehorned in, but occur quiet naturally. This new angle of the story may provide more background info into this future and its residents.
Upon arriving in Haiti, Cole tracks down the doctor, while suffering from temporal Solar Flares that interfere with the time travel. It’s a concept that’s been used fairly often, and it’s also the cause of a fight scene that is more funny than dramatic, but not in a bad way. During his attempt though, we meet the Flower man who kidnapped Jennifer, aka Pallid Man, who is also looking for Henri. Henri informs Cole that The Night Room is always moving, but provides the information he needs to track it down.
What happens right after that between Henri & Cole is a poignant moment in Cole’s development as the previous implication of his troubles past show up. He’s shown as having no remorse and hesitation to do things that he considers necessary. In the entire series thus far, Cole operates under the logic that everyone he meets in the past, is already dead due to the plague, so any attempts at trying to save their life is pointless, especially not at the expense of his mission. It’s not until now that we realize how dangerous that kind of a mentality may be, which is sure to be a source of major conflict between Cassandra and him as the series progresses.
’12 Monkeys’ really separates itself from other shows with similar concepts, as they don’t seem to be holding back on the Time Travel complexities that come with a plot like this. This episode alone saw one of the main leads not being able to interact with the other given that the version of Cassandra in Haiti was a year younger than the one that is now helping Cole. It’s an innovative way of providing back-story and character background without the use of flashbacks or narration. It’s also concerning to see if this concept will cause the show to get too convoluted or confusing.