There are usually two broad types of season finales—those that wrap everything up like the satisfying end of a book, providing closure while hinting at more. And then there are others that leave viewers on major cliffhangers, changing the show’s dynamic and hooking them with plenty of reasons to return for the next season.
Unsurprisingly, 12 Monkeys, which has treated almost every episode like some sort of finale, goes with the latter for its last season 1 episode, “Arms of Mine.”
As the battle over whether the past can really be changed rages on, “Arms of Mine” includes, in no particular order, the death of a seemingly decent guy, a showdown between best friends, a new wrinkle to the Army of the 12 Monkeys, and a brand new time traveler.
And in true 12 Monkeys fashion, the battle for the future is waged in both 2015 and 2043, with each time period integral to what happens in the other. So where does that battle leave Cole’s mission? Well, let’s start in…
Cole and Cassie have shacked up together, and, with the latter stuck indefinitely in 2015, they are in desperate need of a plan. So they chain up and interrogate Aaron for information, learning about Olivia’s plans with Markridge before Cassie’s ex escapes. Aaron even uses a makeshift flamethrower to fend off Cole, but the two brawl and set fire to the abandoned parking lot. Cole and Cassie escape, but Aaron is left to his doom, pinned down under fallen furniture.
With that unfortunate incident behind them, Cole and Cassie investigate Markridge’s new investor, who also happens to be their new CEO—Jennifer Goines.
The daughter of the late Leland is giving a press conference for Markridge’s investors, and boy does she give them something to talk about. She talks about giving the world back to the animals, which, for some reason, includes reviving the extinct dodo bird.
She wasn’t lying about that, but she has other plans for her company she tells Cassie and Cole after the meeting. Jennifer is still obsessed with Cole, but Cassie can’t stand Jennifer’s eclectic behavior. She convinces Jennifer to give them the information they’re looking for—by slapping her, of course—and from it they discover Ramse’s involvement with the company. He’s looking for Raritan, a national laboratory where Jones’ time machine happens to be held.
But it sounds like Jennifer was meant to tell them the details, as she takes a call after their meeting, simply saying “It’s done. He knows.”
What does Cole know, though? That if Ramse can destroy the time machine, he’ll keep the future he knows, and his son, alive, dooming mankind to die out yet again.
Ramse has actually made a deal to secure the lab, where he arrives to greet a Dr. Jones, but not the Jones we know. This man is her ex-husband, and as he tests plants in the time machine (which are still turning red), Ramse enters. He’s given control of the time machine and a locked box, but unbeknownst to him, in the tunnels below the machine, Cassie and Cole have infiltrated the facilities.
Splitting up, Cassie runs into a room full of red plants, which causes her to flashback to the night she was kidnapped and forced to see visions of the Red Forest. Cole, meanwhile, makes his way to confront Ramse, and there the two argue about the fate of their future versus a new, theoretical one where the virus never existed.
But speaking of their future, what’s been happening there? “Paradox” left Jones’ lab facing a new imminent threat—Deacon and a group of cloaked, gray people. They infiltrate the facility the same way Cole and Cassie do in 2015—through the lab’s underground tunnels. Little do they know Jones is inside, who, cornered in Atari, concocts one last option to save herself, Whitley, and her staff. A bomb.
The strange group is after Jones, while Deacon wants to take the facility for the sake of the West VII. The seemingly superpowered figures make their way into the lab, only to find Jones holding a bomb ready to blow. She promises to hand over the machine if they allow everyone else in the facility to live.
And as one showdown takes place, so does another, in the same exact room in 2015. Cole and Ramse debate the merits of letting their future exist. Ramse believes they can find a cure if Foster found a cure. “Our only future is the future,” Ramse argues, and Cole can’t believe Ramse would risk seven billion people to save one, his son. But Ramse knows Cole would do exactly the same thing to save Cassie, as much as he may try to deny it.
NEXT: Cassie comes to the rescue. [pagebreak]
Speaking of Cassie, she appears, gun in hand, absolutely ready to kill Ramse, believing him to be the Witness. Despite Cole’s protests, she shoots Ramse, whose bodyguard fires back and shoots her in the stomach.
She’s bleeding internally, and he knows there’s only one person to call—Dr. Jones. Ramse, in what appears to be a dying act, knows it too, so he hands over his box of vials full of what Jones would inject into Cole before each splinter.
Cole sets her up on the time machine, hopes for the best, and sends her through to 2043 where Jones and the group are still discussing terms. Just as they agree to keep Jones’ people safe, they tell Deacon to lock her up. The good doctor feels defeated, believing Cole will never return, but she sure is surprised to see that someone has come through the machine—Cassie. And it’s something that these strange people definitely did not expect.
The Wrinkle in the Plan
And why wouldn’t they expect it? Well, it seems these figures were raised by Olivia. (Can we call them the Army of the 12 Monkeys? Presumably, but you never know with a show that changes the status quo as often as 12 Monkeys.)
Olivia believes a cycle must be completed, these babies growing in the perfect time to enact their plan in 2043. She expects that time will go on exactly as planned. Ramse will be shown to die in the laboratory in 2015, and Cole will “flee into obscurity,” and all of this is scripted by time and fate.
Unfortunately for her, Cole no longer thinks fate is the one in charge. As he’s fleeing the lab in 2015, he returns to retrieve the bleeding Ramse, extending his former best friend-turned worst enemy-turned friend again a hand to save his life.
Olivia, the Witness, and the 12 Monkeys expect nothing to go wrong. And while they may think they have the upper hand for now (and the future), Cassie and Cole are doing all they can to throw every conceivable monkey wrench into their plans.
- Jennifer’s speech to the Markridge investor is another great example of how unhinged and fun Emily Hampshire’s performance can be. Could not be happier that she’ll be a regular in season two.
- And how exactly she factors into next year is at least hinted at with the end of “Arms of Mine.” Boarding a Markridge plane as Olivia’s voiceover narrates, it appears the virus is in her safe, if unpredictable hands.
- It is always great to see Todd Stashwick as Deacon, which hopefully indicates he’ll be around next year as well. But he provides an excellent foil to the 12 Monkeys in 2043. Every surprised and amused comment from him about their formal speech pattern and stilted behavior is gold.
So, now that season one has come to an end, what can we take away from the season?
12 Monkeys tried to do and be a lot of things. There were definitely some initial speedbumps on the journey—Cassie and Cole’s relationship needed some work, and the show moved at such a pace that it was difficult to actually care about the core cast of characters. But the kernel of Cole and Ramse’s bromance grew into an endearing emotional center for the show, and the rest of the characters seemed to improve as the show explored their relationship more.
Sure, I’d love if the show was willing to slow down a little more and provide great moments like it did in “Shonin” and “Paradox,” but 12 Monkeys continued to grow in confidence and form as the year ended.
And now that we care, that cliffhanger ending works, not just because it’s interesting to see Cassie time travel, but because what that means for her, Cole, Ramse, and the rest. It’ll be a long year to wait for season two, but if it returns in as fine form as it’s leaving us, 12 Monkeys will undoubtedly find a way to make the wait worth it.