I loved “Shonin.” And I hated “Shonin.”
Since the pilot, Ramse has been one of, if not the, funniest, most emotionally resonant, and enjoyable-to-watch characters on the show. So it was great to see Kirk Acevedo in a frequently surprising and thrilling showcase episode for everything he brings to the role.
But it’s tough to watch a beloved character transform into the character who may very well be the season’s Big Bad, even in one of the season’s best episodes.
So how did 12 Monkeys and Ramse reach that point? Well, that’s what “Shonin” lays out. Ramse jumped to 1987 at the end of “Divine Move” in what Jones called a one-way trip. She wasn’t wrong, as Ramse lives out an entire life from 1987 onward. Stumbling into a club brawl with Cole at the White Dragon, where the two cross paths with Leland Goines (in a terrible wig), Ramse is quickly thrown in prison for stabbing Cole. He leaves Cole, his former best friend, for dead in the hands of Japanese gangsters.
Without a social security number or another form of identification, he indefinitely remains incarcerated and time rolls on. For over a year Ramse keeps to himself in prison, becoming an easy target for a particular bully in the prison yard. Injured after a brutal fight, Ramse returns to his prison cell and receives some mail. He refuses it at first—who could be sending a man 55 years out of time a letter?
Eventually he takes it and finds out it is for him. A woman named Olivia has written to him, calling Ramse “The Traveler” and promising she can help keep his son alive. There’s a better way than fighting back to come out on top, she writes.
So Ramse remains a pacifist despite the constant beatings he endures in jail. Olivia continues to send him care packages through the years with books like The Art of War (naturally). He eventually makes a stand for himself in the yard in 1992. He reveals his perpetual tormenter as an informant for the guards, killing the man without ever laying a finger on him as the other inmates close in to attack. Acevedo delivers this final piece of information with surprising menace.
Eventually, Ramse is released in 1995 with fresh clothes, a passport, and transportation to a mansion in Virginia. There, he meets Olivia, the woman who has worked alongside the Pallid Man. He’s there too, and they meet in the mansion’s courtyard where Olivia initiates a time paradox between Pallid’s pendant and the exact same pendant which Ramse received from Jennifer in “Divine Move.” The surrounding shrubbery is transformed a rust red color (a sign of the Red Forest?), and it’s enough to persuade Ramse to spend 16 years working with the two of them.
“Shonin” catches up with everyone in 2011, where Ramse looks like he hasn’t aged a day. In a beautiful montage pulling the curtain back, “Shonin” reveals how there’s been another level to everything that’s happened on the show. From the pursuit of Henri, to the framing of Jennifer in the lab killings, Ramse has been there to witness each step in Cole and Cassie’s story. By 2014, Olivia suggests they intervene, but Ramse refuses.
And so things continue along the path 12 Monkeys has followed. Leland dies, Jennifer leads them to the Night Room, Cassie is kidnapped. The Pallid Man wants to alter events, but he must play by the rules. The period of interference, as they call it, has begun, and if anything deviates from how Cassie and Cole experienced it, Ramse may never travel back in the first place.
Ramse expects everything to go as planned—so long as they have a workable version of the virus, it doesn’t matter what Cassie and Cole do. He remains certain he killed Cole in 1987, but Ramse’s certainty in their plan is shaken when he realizes some secrets are being kept from him.
NEXT: Did Ramse really kill Cole!?