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'12 Monkeys' postmortem: Who survived season 1 -- and what's next?

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Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of 12 Monkeys. If you haven’t watched the episode, splinter to the past, watch and then read this spoiler-filled postmortem.

In its freshman season finale, 12 Monkeys definitively proved that there is hope of changing the past for the better—though it came at a steep price.

After torturing Aaron (Noah Bean) for info on Olivia’s (Alisen Down) plans, Cassie (Amanda Schull) and Cole (Aaron Stanford) leave him to die in an accidental fire that breaks out after he tries to escape. It’s a seriously cold-blooded move for Cassie not to save him, though Cole points out that Aaron made his choice in siding with the Army of the 12 Monkeys. (Remember this moment, it’ll come back later.)

After tracking down Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire), the duo learn that Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) is heading to Raritan, where the splinter project is housed—though Jennifer was always meant to point them in that direction since Olivia knew the ultimate standoff between Cole and Ramse would end in the latter’s death, as according to plan. Surprisingly, it was Railly who pulled the trigger, shooting Ramse despite Cole’s protests after saying he had made his choice. But Railly also takes a bullet in the process, so Ramse sacrifices his one chance to get back to the future by giving Railly the injection so Cole could send her to Jones (Barbara Sukowa) in a bid to save her life. But, instead of leaving Ramse for dead, as Olivia foresaw, Cole decides to save his life, proving he has changed the future.

But Railly’s trip to the future, in which those mysterious men (who really should be called the blue man group) have taken over the machine, might not be a deviation in the timeline after all. In fact, executive producer Terry Matalas reveals in our in-depth postmortem below that this may have always been her fate. Get the scoop on what’s in store for season 2, including why Jennifer Goines seems to ultimately be to blame for the spread of the virus and the surprise twist that Aaron might not actually be dead:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the blue man group were the babies bred by the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

TERRY MATALAS: They are known as The 12 or as Oliver Peters (Ramon de Ocampo) called them, The 12 Messengers.

I have so many questions! What were The 12 bred to do? Could they possibly be on our side? Why do they look like that? They said they represent the future. Go!

They are not on our side. They are part of the master plan. What we’ll discover in season 2 is that the plague was really only the first step of a much grander design. The 12 are important players in that master plan.

Will we get more of definitive sense of why the Army of the 12 Monkeys is so dead set on ending the world?

Yes, next season you will know what their master plan is and how a plague fits into it and how possessing this time machine fits into it.

It seemed like The 12 were preparing for the arrival of someone and not expecting it to be Railly.

They were not expecting Cassie to come through, no. They have plans.

Olivia says that Ramse is supposed to be found dead. So, by Cole saving him, he has actually changed time, correct?

The message of the season is that the only thing more powerful than fate is love. We did that through two love stories, in a way—through Cole and Cassie, and through this brother love story with Cole and Ramse. So, yes, something has changed. Her omniscient view of the years may not be as exact as she thought.

Because Cole saved Ramse, will he be an ally again?

Ramse still loves his brother, and Cole still loves his brother. It’s about the two of them in that they’re going to have to find another way. You can argue they’re both right and both wrong about what to do about the future. Ramse was around for 30 years thinking he killed Cole. It wasn’t like Ramse sat there, twirled his mustache and gleefully thought about killing 7 billion people as much as it was about his son. It’s going to be interesting to dive deeper into what those 30 years were for Ramse and what he is on the other side now seeing Cole again.

Cassie has now been sent to the future. Had this always happened? Because she told Cole in 2017 that so much has happened since she last saw him.

She was talking about things like this. Also, in 2017, she’s got that really cool silver streak in her hair. I wonder how that happened. It could be that more than two years have passed for her. If one were to spend some more time in another time period, then she could have aged differently.

Well, that’s a bummer. For a second, I had hope that her jumping to the future could mean that she ultimately survives the plague.

Well, she’s not immune. It’s very dangerous for her to be in the post-apocalypse. But teasing a little bit of what season 2 is, it should be interesting to see her dynamic in the apocalypse now that she’s gone a bit darker. This season we took her from a do-no-harm doctor to someone willing to shoot Ramse to save the world. Now that she’s in the apocalypse and she sees more and she’s going to be around guys like Deacon (Todd Stashwick), it should be interesting to see where Cassie comes out next season.

In a prior episode, Jones says that his paradox with his younger self means Cole can never jump back in time. Does this mean we’ll see a role reversal where Railly is the one jumping back and forth through time?

I would say you are asking all the right questions.

Is it actually true that he can never really go back?

He’s no long synced up and he no longer has those injections in his blood, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be in 2015 forever and age naturally.

Are we going to find out who Cole’s mother is or learn more about her?

Yes.

Ramse says he isn’t the Witness. Will we find out who is in season 2? And have we already met the Witness?

You may or may not have already met the Witness. We do know the answer to that question. This is a tough one. My mom is driving me crazy. She won’t stop. She’s like, “Who is the Witness?!” The Witness is our big bad and will play a major part in season 2.

How did Olivia find Ramse in the first place? Was he foretold by the real Witness?

Yes. The 12 Monkeys are clearly connected to time travel, especially now that in 2043 they possess a fully operational time machine that is now capable of long range splinters.

Is there a chance that Cole is the specimen found in the Himalayas that is the precursor to the virus?

It’s a theory we’ve heard a lot of. Only time will tell.

Jennifer Goines is ultimately to blame for the spread of the virus, correct?

She is getting on a plane with the virus and does seem to be turned or somewhat brainwashed by Olivia. It’ll be interesting to see the next time Cole crosses with her where she’s going to fall out. But Jennifer’s story is just starting. I can tell you this: Jennifer plays a major part of our mythology next season.

Why is she the one to spread the virus? And because it’s her, is that ultimately why she created the Daughters?

Clearly something has happened in between releasing the virus in 2016 to her rants in the streets about fallen men in 2017. Like Cassie, who said in 2017 that a lot has happened, I think Jennifer would probably say the same thing to Cole, especially by the time we meet 2043 Jennifer, who seems to really know a lot.

Will we get more insight into Jennifer’s history next season and who her mother is?

Yes. Jennifer, next season, is going to be really, really interesting. This season, we learned she wasn’t just a nut, that there was a real woman there inside. In the next season, we’re going to see how she ties into not only this conspiracy, but this time travel mythology that we have going on.

It seems like this mythology goes deeper than we even thought. Is it fair to say there are players we haven’t even met yet?

Yeah. In episode 11, when you meet Jennifer in the mental institution and her father is flipping through the drawing that she’s made, someone freezing the frame might see a picture of a Red Forest. There are webisodes in which the doctors are interviewing her and they keep asking her why she’s drawing Red Forests.

The Pallid Man did not die from the paradox explosion, right?

That’s an excellent question. We’ll have to wait and see if the old Pallid Man is coming back. I don’t think he’s going to be in a particularly good mood if he does.

Whether he’s alive or dead next season, will we find out who he really is and what his motivations are?

Yes, that’s part and parcel with learning more about the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

You burned Aaron alive! Just to confirm, he is really dead, right?     

I cannot confirm that.

He was burned alive!

I know. If he were to survive, and I’m not saying he did, I think he’d have a very strong point of view on the world and Cole. I think he’d be a really interesting character. There are lots of theories. Does he need a mask, maybe? Who wears a mask? There are all sorts of places you could go with him.

Every time the Pallid Man stands next to someone, I check to see if they’re the same height.

[Laughs] Pallid Man is his own guy, but I love these theories. It’s stuff you don’t think about in the writers’ room.

But as far as Cassie knows, Aaron is dead. Does that haunt her at all?

Yes. Cassie is in a very dark place now. Next season will be about returning to the light, if she can. In a lot of ways, she gave Cole his humanity that he has at the end of the season. Now she’s made Cole the guy who is willing to go back and not let Ramse die. Now she’s also the person who will shoot Ramse in cold blood. She’s a different Cassie.

12 Monkeys is expected to return for its second season in 2016.

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