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'12 Monkeys' Recap: 'Cassandra Complex'

Posted on

Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

12 Monkeys

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
performer:
Aaron Stanford, Amanda Schull
broadcaster:
SyFy Channel
genre:
Adventure, Drama, Mystery

As the title suggests, “Cassandra Complex” is all about the non-time-traveling half of the main duo in 12 Monkeys. The show has paid plenty of lip service to the professional and personal disarray in Cassie’s life following her first run in with Cole in 2005. “Complex” actually takes a look at that phase of her life, specifically during a trip Haiti in 2014.

As fate would have it, Haiti is also the location of the only other person other than Jennifer Goines who knows the location of the night room. So while some time is given to exploring Cassie’s state of mind, a task to which Amanda Schull more than lives up, she has to share the spotlight with the fate of mankind.

“Complex” opens with the titular character pointing a gun at her partner in time-traveling crime, Cole. The firearm is stocked with blanks, of course—this is just target practice, so Cassie can prepare herself for the duo’s next run-in with the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Training is cut short when the police call Cassie in to discuss the kidnapping of Jennifer in “Mentally Divergent.” The cops show Cassie a picture of Jennifer at work with the team in her father’s lab, which includes the one other person who escaped the 12 Monkeys. There’s a hint of recognition, so she snaps a photo and takes it to Cole.

Cassie explains that she worked with the man, a doctor named Henri Toussaint (Lyriq Bent), for a few days in Haiti during a stint assisting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, after checking in with another doctor from the CDC, Jules (Jeff Clarke), she learns Henri died there, shot on a search for extra medicine.

This trip to the CDC is the first in a series of trying moments for Cassie throughout the episode. Not only does she have to face the CDC headquarters, the building in which she knows she’ll die, but she also blames herself for the death of Henri, having sent him on the search. Schull admirably navigates Cassie and the audience through the mixture of troubling emotions, including when Cole goes against her wishes to travel back to 2014 and talk to Henri himself. 

Cole confirms his plans with the scientists in 2043, though Jones warns him that solar flares in 2014 will cause some temporal interference. What that exactly translates into… well, she’s not sure, but she wants him on alert for that and to avoid Cassie for fear of fracturing his and her timelines. “Got it. We cross paths, it could kill me,” he replies before jumping back to 2014.

But he isn’t the only one destined to have a rough 2014. Cassie argues with her on-again-off-again boyfriend Aaron about going to Haiti—if this is the virus, she’s the only one in 2014 who would know anything about it.

Upon her arrival, she fears the illness sweeping the island could well be the virus she fears. Jules informs her there are too many possible suspects to nail the virus down. She wants to lock the place down for fear of it spreading, but Jules isn’t ready to make that call. In the meantime, she meets Henri, protecting him from a gun-toting man demanding medical attention.

Their initial bond after this moment changes from professional to personal, as the two commiserate about fighting the disease later that evening in their hotel. Throw in a little alcohol, some mood lighting, and two attractive people, and by the laws of television, the two have to shack up together for the night. Cole appears in Haiti that same night to begin his reconnaissance.

Cole spends the next day keeping tabs on Henri, dealing with the occasional temporal interference. Jones’ concerns seem unnecessary, though—Cole merely glitches in and out of time for a few seconds and sports a subsequent nosebleed. He follows Henri through a few alleyways, but is distracted by a shrine with the sculpture of a screaming monkey head. Before he can investigate it, Henri attacks him, suspecting Cole actually belongs to the Army. The time-traveling hero talks him down—stealing Henri’s gun to ensure his safety—and asks for information about the night room. Henri promises he’ll tell Cole, but only after he delivers the medicine.

NEXT: Trouble’s brewing in 2043.[pagebreak]​

As the duo arrive at the home of Henri’s medical source, he explains that his and Jennifer’s team was researching viral DNA that could actually be used for medicine. But the 12 Monkeys leader (officially referred to as the Pallid Man, though he hasn’t been named yet in the actual show) interrupts the conversation to capture Henri. The Pallid Man chases Henri out of the building while Cole battles his lackeys. With a machete in hand and the temporal interference transforming him into a temporary Nightcrawler, Cole chops down his foes and follows after the Pallid Man. Cole slices his cheek, and the shock of being injured causes the Pallid Man to flee.

Cole asks Henri again for information, but he doesn’t really know where the night room is. It’s always on the move, he explains, but a piece of specialized equipment, the big burn, is kept with the room. It acts like a panic button—in case a virus gets out, this equipment will destroy the room. Find the big burn, and you find the room. And with that, Cole lets him walk away to return to the medical tent.

But wait a minute, isn’t Henri supposed to die on this mission? Cole knows that’s how history is meant to play out, and so he pulls the trigger on Henri to maintain the current timeline. Cole lies to Cassie when he returns to her in 2015, explaining that he never saw who killed Henri.

While waiting for Henri to return, Cassie watches patients die, believing this virus has to be the one Cole warned her would come. She pleads with Jules to lock down the area. She’s shaken to her core, but Jules meets her concerned demands with incredulity, thinking she’s insane. He’s later proven right in holding off, with the disease revealed as a rare strain of river fever. Though the audience knows Cassie’s concerns are warranted, it’s difficult to blame Jules for not trusting a coworker shouting about the world’s end. 

Jules shows concern for how Cassie handled herself, but that doesn’t stop him from offering her a spot back at the CDC in 2015. They need help, and Cassie sees it as an opportunity to search for the big burn. Haiti may have been a torturous experience for her, unable to save river fever victims or Henri, but Cassie won’t allow her past to prevent Cole and her from saving lives in the future.

Time Hopping

– Outside of “Complex’s” main arc, some nice groundwork was laid for 2043 to become more significant on the show. Ramse goes out to investigate the possibility of nearby scavengers with a soldier, Whitley (Demore Barnes), who, frankly, hates Ramse. He would just as quickly throw Ramse and Cole back out into the world if given the chance. 

Whitley may one day have his wish, as an old friend of Ramse’s, Max (Romina D’Ugo), attacks him and Whitley. Ramse knocks Whitley out so he and Max can talk in private. She explains that she’s left the West 7, their former scavenger group, but Ramse can tell she’s lying.

Max asks for shelter, protection from their old leader Deacon (Todd Stashwick, another great supporting actor who appears for a single shot at the end of the episode). Ramse turns her away and possibly seals his fate. Max returns to Deacon, whose group has grown from the days of Cole and Ramse, promising her leader she can bring him to a bounty of supplies and protection. It’s a small tease, but an exciting one, which will hopefully bring some much-needed conflict to 2043.

– The show again demonstrated that it can be funny even when the characters aren’t. Before sending Cole to 2014, the 2043 scientists engage in a prolonged argument about the perils of where and when to send him. It’s a nice meta-commentary on how ridiculous time travel can be—and how easily the idea can unravel the more you consider it.

– But the show is still working out the kinks of letting its characters actually be funny. Cole and Ramse work well—they joke about Whitley being the type of guy who is into water sports, and not the athletic kind. But the joking between Cole and Cassie about Chinese food takeout feels forced.

– While “Divergent” introduced some Fringe vibes to the show, “Complex” brought with it some Lost allusions. Cole sported a nosebleed after every temporal interference (a common sci-fi trope, but one that Lost used in a similar situation). Cole also tells Henri at one point that “You’ll never make it off this island,” which screams of the trials and tribulations of Jack, Sawyer, and Kate, at least to this Lost fan.

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