Get ready for a new timey-whimey adventure when 12 Monkeys returns for its (readily binge-able) third season on Syfy.
In the wake of the discovery that Cassie (Amanda Schull) is the mother of the Witness, thus making Cole (Aaron Stanford) the father, Team Splinter will do whatever it takes to track Cassie down, sending them far into the future — and actually further back in the past then they’ve ever been. Can they prevent the Witness’ ascension and stop the Army of the 12 Monkeys from destroying the world? EW turned to executive producer Terry Matalas to get the scoop.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Talk about where season 3 is picking up.
TERRY MATALAS: Season 3 takes place months after the big bombshell of season 2. It’s where we’re going to catch up with Cole’s search for Cassie and what life has been like in Titan in the future for her, and there are quite a few surprises for both those characters pretty early on.
How do you feel about the show being binged?
I’m really excited about the binge because this is absolutely the ultimate binge show, but this season in particular and the way that the nights work out, like each night is going to feel like a summer blockbuster. It just sort of happened in the way that we wrote it.
What does the year 2163 look like?
Well, you’ve got to tune in to see, but it’s pretty lifeless. It’s not like 2043 or 2046 where there’s still camps of survivors. At this point, the virus has probably mutated for its last time and killed every last person. Pretty much the only human beings on the planet, if you can call them that, are the Army of the 12 Monkeys.
If the first season was about fathers and the second season was about mothers, what is this season about?
It’s about the children. It’s about the sons, if you will. It’s very much the life of one child as the show, you know, really explores what it means for these characters to have any kind of notion of family.
Speaking of family, how desperate is Cole to find Cassie? How far will he go?
You’ll see from the beginning of the very first episode that he’ll kill himself if he has to, to find her. He’s pretty much at a breaking point when we catch up with him and this is a big concern for Jones at this point, that she feels like he’s become too emotionally compromised to be a part of the mission.
Is there anything you can tease about how time travel may be changing this season?
There will be new methods of time travel, let’s say more aggressive and portable tech, than we’ve ever seen before.
Are we seeing how the rest of the world was affected by the plague?
You won’t want to. Yes, we continue to see parts of it. There are some surprises in store in their future for sure, but you’ll see by the end of the second episode that the answers they’re looking for will once again lead them further back in time than they’ve ever gone before.
Cassie’s pregnant with The Witness. Can you talk about her mindset?
Well, you’ll learn a lot about that actually throughout the whole season. She is a mother and is having a connection with her unborn child, but is really struggling with fate and the nature versus nurture of who The Witness is going to become. So she will struggle with that in a completely different way than Cole will.
She went through a big transformation in the hiatus between seasons 1 and 2, having gone into the future. What does going to the really far off future do to Cassie now?
She’s been in isolation with these bazaar people, with their bazaar religion, so I think she’s still the Cassie from season 2 who wants to get out of there and is willing to do anything it takes to do that, but she’s smart and will bide her time to make the right move. But the main difference is, in season 2, she was a lot more cynical about the world. In a strange way, being pregnant with The Witness has its own hope and might soften and reveal parts of her she never knew she had, so we’ll be exploring a lot of that as well.
The Witness could never kill Cole or Cassie before, but now that they’ve fulfilled their destiny of creating The Witness…
There is nothing stopping them from killing. Yes, they’re very vulnerable at this point.
Why is The Witness so determined to destroy the world? Are you going to get into his own mindset?
Yes, you will have every question answered and there are many twists yet to come about The Witness. Oh boy. You absolutely will know their son’s motivations and you will truly understand what it means to be The Witness by the end of the season.
What can you tell us about The Witness and who he is as a person?
Because so much of the season is that question for Cole and Cassie, I’m going to hold off on saying anything, because the audience will be discovering that as Cole and Cassie do.
But will you get into the psyche of the members of the Army of the 12 Monkeys?
In our sixth episode of the season, which has the return of Agent Gale from last year, Jay Karnes, we get to see the birth of the Army of the 12 Monkeys and how the cult came together. The episode guest stars Christopher Lloyd, who plays the recruiter for them. The episode really dives into religious beliefs and cults and what kind of person would be drawn to this particular philosophy of time. So you’ll understand the Army of the 12 Monkeys’ religious motivations and you might even sympathize by the end.
Christopher Lloyd plays the Pallid Man’s father. Can you tease of how maybe similar they may be?
I would actually say that they are both very devout in their beliefs in terrifying ways. They’re willing to do horrible things with the kindest of smiles. I think very much Pallid Man, who you’ll see as Pallid Boy, got that from his father and also his mother, who is Scottie Thompson, who we met last season as well, who also returns in that episode. So you really get to see the Pallid family, if you will, and see there was no way that guy was going to grow up right. So we really get into that and we’ll be digging into the dynamic between Olivia and Pallid Man as well in future seasons.
Can you talk a little bit about some of the other new faces we’ll meet this season?
We’ll meet Hannah Waddingham ,who plays Magdalena, who is the caretaker of The Witness as a child. She is tasked with raising this child throughout time; think of her as the evilest of Mary Poppins. Then there’s a character named Mallick, who is played by Faran Tahir, who is right-hand man to Pallid Man and Titan. He’s the head of the Army there but has motivations of his own.
How is Deacon still alive after seemingly being overtaken by the Army of the 12 Monkeys?
One thing we do know, which was established very well in season 2, is he is very hard to kill. Second of all, if he were to survive, and I’m not saying he does, but if he were to survive, he would need a friendly or at least someone willing to keep him alive right there in Titan, but for what purpose?
We saw in the finale that Olivia basically reunited Ramse with his son. To what end? What does she want from him?
She is no longer an accolade of The Witness. She feels as though she was misled. She was made promises that have not come through. She’s angry. She is someone who is devout and has given herself to this religion and to this prophet and now has a real bone to pick with The Witness. So you’re going to learn more. Olivia’s a huge, absolutely huge character this season. We will learn a lot more about her. We’ll see her interact with characters we’ve never seen before, and it’s a performance by Alisen Down that will blow your socks off. It’s outstanding.
What about for Ramse, because his loyalties have flip-flopped throughout the series?
At the end of last season, he was out for blood and he was led to Titan by Cassie. If he were to find out that she was the mother of The Witness, he would definitely have an opinion about that. However, it’s really about when he meets his son and what his son’s perspective on this is going to be, and that’s something that’s going to be a game changer for everyone.
What’s next for Katarina, and therefore Hannah, this season?
This season is everybody’s darkest hour. Jones is more driven than ever to get to the end of this thing and it’s very much focused on finding The Witness, so if and when she finds out who that is, that may turn everything upside down.
The question from season 1 has been whether Cassie is really still fated to die in the future. Is there any stopping that?
Unless they can reset this, she dies at the CDC. Yes, that is set. They would have to untangle the knots and loops and threads in a pretty profound way to stop that from happening. That is not a question that we will ignore, that the longer this goes on and the more causality loops that exist, how does one stop something that never began? We definitely have an answer.
What can you tease for what Jennifer is dealing with this season?
We’re going to see a lot more of what it’s like to be primary and to be connected to time in the way that she is. We will actually get a glimpse of what it’s like to be in her head, but she is a seer and will become part of the team in a way that we have never seen before. She’s got a great arc. I’m pretty excited for people to see.
Get an exclusive sneak peek at what that looks like in this clip below:
The third season will debut on Friday at 8 p.m. ET, with the network airing the entire 10-episode third season over three consecutive nights — the first four episodes will premiere on Friday, with three episodes airing each night on both Saturday and Sunday from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. ET.