12 Monkeys imbued its first episode with a few key elements to let viewers know this would be a different animal than the film on which it’s based. The tone has shifted, Cole has a different relationship with those in the past (our present) and the present (our future), and time isn’t just something that can be altered—that’s the whole objective of Cole’s mission.
While “Mentally Divergent” still doesn’t necessarily suggest the show has as much of an interest in the emotional notions of the film just yet, the second episode further cemented the show’s mission statement as a fun time-travel saga. There are also a few suggestions that there’s more to some of the characters central to that story, though 12 Monkeys still seems hesitant to plunge fully into its characters as the show establishes the ups and downs of time travel.
From the start, “Divergent” takes a smart step into fleshing out its world by focusing on Cole’s present in 2043. His friend Ramse (Kirk Acevedo, no stranger to sci-fi after his stint on Fringe) is willing to help Cole on his search for answers after killing Leland Goines in the premiere failed to reset the timeline.
The two do battle with a few scavengers in the abandoned hospital glimpsed at the end of the pilot—a sequence that uses some nice action timing to land a comedic beat—as the show sets up their relationship. Ramse appears again only briefly, but his interplay with Cole both in the hospital and when they return to the time-travel home base creates a believable brotherly dynamic. Ramse and Cole tease each other about girls, time travel, and their shooting prowess, but it all feels natural.
Unfortunately, the two are split up as Cole is shot back to 2015… or at least, he’s supposed to be, but the show reminds us yet again that time travel is not all that precise. Cole ends up somewhere in 2006 in North Korea of all places (presumably the episode filmed before any obvious The Interview jokes could be made). The scientists in 2043 scramble to slingshot Cole to the proper time period, and successfully throw him into 2015 moments before a North Korean officer can employ some advanced interrogation techniques on the confused American.
This time jump lands Cole in 2015 and secures him a spot in the very hospital at which Jennifer Goines is a patient when policeman take him in for his wild and erratic behavior.
Cole eventually finds Jennifer, who quickly takes a liking to him and even begins flirting with him. Well, flirting in a psychotic and incoherent sort of way. She also happens to mention how much she loves numbers (how convenient!), but only primary numbers, of which 12 is not (how inconvenient!). But Cole name checks the Army of the 12 Monkeys, and Jennifer clams up, explaining that the doctors ordered her to keep quiet about them.
She calls the guards on Cole before he can learn much, but after he is hauled off, she mentions the night room, which seems to be of interest to her doctor. He makes a phone call shortly after to an unknown third party to provide an update on Jennifer.
While Cole contends with his enforced hospitalization, Cassie (I went with Cass last week, but the show’s erratic naming system has landed on Cassie) has continued to research Goines. She’s hiding out in an abandoned bookstore previously run by her grandparents. There, she works to convince her former boyfriend Aaron that she’s not crazy while hoping to stop that pesky imminent apocalypse.
Jones, the scientist who enlisted Cole’s help in 2043, is adamantly against Cassie’s involvement, but since the 2015 doctor has no idea, she continues the hunt for information. She enlists the help of her family friend Jeremy, but when she goes to meet him at his home, she finds only his dead body. Whoever killed him covered his body in jasmine and lavender flower petals, and the
likely obvious culprit appears to still be in the house. A well-dressed man (Tom Noonan) appears and explains to Cassie that he had to kill Jeremy because of all the questions he was asking.
His death is a message, the man says in a surprisingly calm tone, despite having just murdered someone, but Cassie—and everyone she loves—will be next if she doesn’t stop. He also wants to know where Cole is. At this point, she doesn’t have a clue where, or when, he is.
NEXT: Jennifer’s past may save the future.