Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of 12 Monkeys. Read at your own risk!
It’s the moment 12 Monkeys fans have been waiting for: The Witness has been revealed!
In the wake of the final paradox, Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Railly (Amanda Schull) settled into domesticity in the ’50s. Living in the home that viewers know eventually belongs to the Witness, the duo got some joyous news that Railly was pregnant — though joyous is relative once viewers discover their child is actually the Witness!
After Lillian (Madeleine Stowe) shows Cole the truth that the Red Forest has arrived in their time, he’s given the option to go back to prevent the paradox, which would mean undoing their present in which Cassie is pregnant. Cole drinks the Red Forest tea, and prevents the paradox.
In the future, the Red Forest recedes, and Jones (Barbara Sukowa) protects the facility until their return. Though Lillian told Cole not to go to Titan, the trio all jump there to prevent their friends’ deaths. With the help of Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) and the Daughters, they storm Titan and kill most of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, but learn too late that Titan is the Witness’ time machine. In the ensuing chaos, Cassie gets taken, landing in 2163, where she discovers she’s pregnant with the Witness.
What does this all mean? EW turned to executive producer Terry Matalas to get scoop on season 3. (Read our postmortem with Amanda Schull here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Witness is Cole and Railly’s child! What came with that decision?
TERRY MATALAS: The reason is that we knew the Witness had to have tremendous impact dramatically and emotionally for our main characters. That was something that was really important. It wasn’t just that it would be shocking, it needed to be heartbreaking too and also really ask some serious questions of Cassie and Cole in season 3 — emotional, devastating questions about what to do next. It was something we knew for a long time.
You’ve dropped hints throughout the series that really pointed to this happening.
We were really banging the drum on it from all the way back in season 1 from the house to the man in the house. The fact that the Witness always makes sure that Cole and Cassie survive before his own conception. Thematically, right from episode 201, Brendan Coyle’s character is talking about mothers and mother nature and then even in the second episode, Jennifer Goines plainly says, “Being single is not the end of the world, but you and Cassie together is.” The fact that we teased the house, we teased the writing on the wall, the fact that Olivia can’t understand why Cassie is so important. We were worried that we were almost a little too obvious in telling that story.
What role will the Witness play next season and will we get to meet him or her?
The Witness is a major focus point obviously of season 3 and yes, you will meet the Witness.
Why does the Witness and the Army of the 12 Monkeys wear those masks in the future?
Well, they wear it ceremonially to honor the Witness, the person who brought them all together and promised this sort of quasi-religious ideal of a paradise, this Red Forest where all time has collapsed and there is no beginning and no end. So that’s why they wear that mask and it looks really cool.
As we saw in the finale, Cole was able to jump around through time via the Red Forest tea. Is that how the Witness travels through time as well?
It does seem like he’s in that out-of-time state when Cole sees the Witness in there, sort of like when Frodo puts on the ring, Sauron can see him. It seems like in this red world, this in-between-time place he travels, the Witness is there in some capacity, so we’ll learn more about that in the next season.
Because the Witness was born of out time, does he or she have powers when it comes to time?
The Witness was not born in a normal way. That the Witness is born of two travelers who had these injections, that in itself is a gin, a casualty loop. That is not a normal way to be conceived, because it was basically undone, but it still happened. That is going to play a major part of the Witness’ physiology, if you will.
What is the struggle for Cassie like in the decision between ferociously protecting the child or maybe considering aborting it?
Things are definitely going to get a lot worse before they get better for Cassie. She will be deeply, deeply conflicted by the fact that the Witness, the bringer of the apocalypse, is their love child. What does that say about their love in general? Was it meant not to be? These are things, really rich emotional territory, that Cassie and Cole are going to have to navigate next season.
Can you talk about how Cassie is able to remember the alternate timeline? And do the feelings between Cole and Cassie from the other timeline still exist?
Well, it’s stuff we’ve seen before. When time has shifted before, those with the injections, their memories still exist. It was a bit of a surprise to Cole; he didn’t think that would happen with her, but yes, even though it was undone, Lillian says, “Death can be undone, but love cannot.” So the essence, it’s recorded in their memories. She’s also going to have an interesting point of view on that, because Cole made some decisions on his own, so that’s a discussion that they’re going to have.
Cole was given the option to choose between going back and changing time or keeping the child and living in the Red Forest. What was that thought process like for him?
The choice was sort of made for him by the fact that time was going to collapse. It would have been selfish for him to not do anything and bring a child to term just to watch his family die. He’s got a chance to save the world, so the equation works. The math works that he’s going to do what Ramse couldn’t and sacrifice his family to save the world, but unfortunately that sacrifice had different results.
Having Cole jump through all these old memories in the finale, was that your love letter to the fans in case the show wasn’t renewed?
No, we never wrote anything in that way and I never write out of, “Just in case we don’t get renewed.” It just felt organic that if he was going to quantum leap back, how great would it be to see all these moments and visit these characters that he loves, especially characters that are dead seemingly. It just felt like, to me, a bit of nostalgia perhaps within myself, because those are all moments I loved in season 1 that I thought it would be powerful for Cole to be back at again.
Cole is heading to the future to get Cassie. What can you tease?
Like all things on 12 Monkeys, it will not be easy for him, it will not be easy for Cassie. He’s going to have to go deeper down the rabbit hole in order to climb out.
Cole doesn’t know that the Witness is his child at this point. When and if he finds out, do you think the debate of their child causing the end of the world will put Cole and Cassie at odds?
Um, yes, he says cryptically. [Laughs]
Ramse and Railly had plans to kill the Witness. How do you think he will feel when he learns that the Witness is Cole and Railly’s child? Will that put her in Ramse’s crosshairs?
I would say that’s definitely a possibility. It depends what happens with Ramse and Sam, but it would be hard to believe that there is a happy reunion waiting for Sam and Ramse.
Why did Olivia bring Ramse to his son? What is she after?
It’s an excellent question that you should be asking throughout season 3. Clearly she’s not on Team Witness, but does that mean that she’s exactly on Team Splinter, we’ll have to see.
Can the Witness be killed?
Is Deacon really dead? What role might he play next season?
I would say we have not seem the last of Theodore William Deacon.
And Jennifer is in France in 1917. How is she going to fare in that era? And is this the first step in the journey of having her return to the past to grow old?
It does seem that her and Cassie will have to go back to the present to continue their timelines, but she’s definitely going to need to get out of 1917. Let’s hope history stays intact by her being there.
How do you think that Jones has been changed after being alone at Project Splinter for a year?
How she changes is that in some ways she’s come to appreciate the people in her life a bit more in her solitude. Certainly her feelings for her daughter haven’t changed, but Cole and Cassie, maybe even Jennifer and Deacon, there’s a deeper connection being away from all that. She’s probably also spent quite a bit of time doing some work, trying to decipher this timeline so she may have some ideas about some things that are about to happen.
Jones’ ex-husband is back into the picture because he is the one who helped build Titan. Will we see more of him next season? What does that reunion look like between Jones and her ex?
Yes, we definitely are planning to see more of Elliott Jones and I can’t say if there will be a reunion or not yet depending on who survives.
Did you always know that Cole and Cassie would live in the past considering that we saw that silver streak in her hair?
Yes. Well, the streak will play in later. She doesn’t have the streak yet from [episode] 109. But yes, we did always know that the only way those two would really fully address their feelings for each other would be if they had time, that there was nothing but time facing them. We knew from the get-go that that’s what we wanted to do.
Is there absolutely no preventing Cassie’s death in the CDC?
Unless they can untie the Gordian knot that is the timeline right now.
12 Monkeys will return for season 3 in 2017. Check out the first promo below.