12 MONKEYS (2015) – S01E05: ‘The Night Room’ Review
The 5th episode of SyFy’s ’12 Monkeys’ is a back-story laden one, full of underwhelming reactions to big news and a reveal straight out of ‘T2: Judgment Day’, and a cliffhanger ending. But the show still continues to rivet and pushes the boundaries from week to week.
After a poorly done drunken montage of Jones bonding with Cole and Ramse, joining them on their pre-splinter ritual of getting tanked, Cole returns to 2015 and makes his way into the Night Room with Cassandra. He apparently has a ‘plan’, which is him going inside with a gun. So obviously he gets captured as the Pallid Man and his crew are already there before them, trying to break into the vault where the virus is housed. The man tortures Cole while revealing how he killed Henri, Cassandra’s doctor friend from last episode. Cassandra’s reaction to this is a little underwhelming. I expected some hysterical freak out speech about betrayal and trust, but her reactions triggered a speech by Cole instead.
It’s a story about how Ramse and him had to do desperate things to survive the apocalypse which included gunning down an old couple. He remembered the old lady smiling afterwards, almost forgiving him. This is why the mission to save the past is so important to him because he wants redemption. This is meant to be Cole’s backstory and motivation for his actions during the show, but it’s a little blah and way too on the nose. He basically spells out the fact that his motivation is redemption. Eh.
Back in 2043, Max, the refugee from West 7, hasn’t been there for one whole episode but is already throwing wrenches into everyone’s lives. She tells Ramse about a boogeyman German doctor that used to experiment on people, and how she suspects that Jones is that doctor. Ramse investigates to find pictures and notes of others in the time machine chair dead or dying. When confronted, Jones provides an explanation along the lines of ‘the needs of the few…’ But it still keeps things pretty ambiguous. She says that they were specimens sent through time, in order to fine-tune the machine before it was ready for Cole. What isn’t mentioned is if those men’s death occurred as a one-time thing or due to prolonged time travel exposure? The fact that Jones says she won’t let the same happen to Cole seems to imply the latter.
Also, Jones using the loss of history and music and overall human culture as a justification for killing other people seemed flimsy and made her seem more callous than an attempt at humanizing her I thought. Back in 2015, the Pallid Man ends up tricking Jennifer into opening the vault, finally having access to what kills the entire world. Apparently, it’s a skeleton submerged in a fluid, from which the virus will be created.
It feels like the introduction of a temporal paradox. Is the skeleton of someone from the future? One of the specimens that Jones refers to during her previous experiments? The Pilot episode, where Goines’ men do tests on Cole to find that his biological processes are way advanced than the normal human may contain another clue. Especially when Jennifer comments on the skeleton’s eyes, something she always says to Cole about his ‘otter eyes’. Is the skeleton Cole at a point in time in his future? It’s an interesting plot point but one that feels like it has been done before.
After Cole destroys the skeleton and all remains of the virus, the Pallid Man kidnaps Cassandra while Jennifer and Cole escape only for Cole to splinter back to his future. Something is wrong, as Cole wasn’t immediately wiped after he destroyed the skeleton, which is what should’ve happened if he successfully changed the past. Upon arrival back the compound, Cole sees that it’s completely different and has possibly been colonized by the West 7, as their marking was seen on a wall.
This episode does a lot to advance the plot, even setting up future plot points. Emily Hampshire is the star of this episode as she really gets a chance to flex those acting chops as Jennifer, and she’s awesome! I’m glad to see that ’12 Monkeys’ isn’t dragging its feet with the story but each episode progresses to newer situations and shifts in established status quo. It’s refreshing and keeps audience interest high and doesn’t slow down its own momentum.