'12 Monkeys' recap: 'The Night Room'
Cole and Cassie discover the Night Room, but they'll have to fend off the Pallid Man first to prevent the apocalypse.
12 Monkeys has been alluding to the Night Room’s importance for a few weeks now, and in the appropriately titled “The Night Room,” Cole and Cassie finally discover the fabled location.
The Night Room is, of course, the fabled room that holds the key to preventing the apocalypse from happening. But, considering he and Cassie find it so early in the show’s run, there was always a good chance things would go awry. They certainly do, as all of the show’s major players—well, those who can exist in 2015, anyway—engage in a Night Room showdown. Secrets, blood, and viruses are spilled in the process, but before the tension-filled climax, “The Night Room” offers a little background on what’s at stake.
“The Night Room” opens in 2011, as Jennifer Goines is introduced to the room’s security systems, including the Fort Knox-style safe housing the world-ending virus. Jennifer is the only one who can open it, a skill that may come in handy in a few years (and in a few minutes on the show).
Cole, unaware of Jennifer’s power, preps with Jones in 2043 for what could be his final trip to 2015. The time machine is still damaged from Deacon’s raid on their compound, so while overnight repairs are made, Cole, Ramse, Max, and a surprise guest, Jones, drink in honor of Cole’s time jump in the morning. The scene is a nice change of pace, both as one of the few times these characters have actually smiled and as a humanizing scene for Jones. Until now, she’s mostly been just the angry, curt leader throwing Cole through time, but the way she reveals that she had a husband who died from the virus only a few days into their marriage fleshes her out into an actual human being.
The team bonding can only go on for so long, however, as Cole makes his jump to 2015 the next morning. There, he and Cassie waste no time investigating the Night Room. They infiltrate the seemingly innocent premises, disguised as a restaurant supply shop, with little in the way of a plan, which concerns Cassie. They quickly run into a doctor, the same one who introduced Jennifer to the Night Room at the episode’s start. He begins apologizing, and before Cassie and Cole can ask why, armor-clad men point a couple of guns at their heads. Bet Cole wouldn’t have minded a plan at this point.
Cole and Cassie are led through the facility, discovering the men are the Pallid Man’s army. The building security is dead, and the Pallid Man made sure no alarms alerted the headquarters of Leland Goines’ company. Cole’s only hope is the big burn, the security system Henri mentioned in Haiti. Two people need to press two big red buttons simultaneously—one from the comfort of a protected viewing room and one in the lab directly next to the virus’ safe. Unfortunately for that second person, they, along with everything else in the lab, will be burned to a crisp.
The Pallid Man cannot figure out a way in, however, so he simply drills his way through the door. While his lackeys make their way through the safe, he decides to inflict some emotional and physical trauma on Cassie and Cole. Tying them up in another room, the Pallid Man lets slip that Cole killed Henri down in Haiti—revealing the truth to a stunned Cassie—while he rips Cole’s fingernails off his hand in the series’ most cringe-inducing scene yet.
Cassie begins to doubt Cole’s “kill a few, save the rest of the world” mentality after the Pallid Man’s revelation. The two, returned to the observatory above the lab, will have to hash out their problems later, though, as Cole realizes they’re not alone in the room. Jennifer is with them, too.
But the captives are only really biding their time while the Pallid Man and his men successfully break into the safe and find a rotting skeleton with one eye encased in water or some other liquid. As one of the men tries to grab it, however, a laser burns his hand. The final failsafe is only one Jennifer knows how to open, and their attempt has now alerted Goines’ company. Help should be on the way, but the Pallid Man wastes no time in threatening Jennifer for help.
Next: (Big) burn, baby, burn
The Pallid Man brings Jennifer to the same interrogation room as he did Cole and Cassie, where he threatens her with torture-by-rat (and spider). He pulls the same trick before, revealing another of Cole’s misdeeds—he killed Jennifer’s father, sending her into maniacal laughter.
While Jennifer descends into hysteria, Cole and Cassie address the lingering question of Henri’s death. Cole doesn’t excuse what he did, instead telling her a story about an old woman he killed as he and Ramse raided a farmhouse. She had a knife and would have taken Cole’s life, but he got to her first, and when he stared into her eyes, he saw forgiveness. Forgiveness is all he’s ever really wanted, even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it from Cassie.
The scene captures Aaron Stanford and Jessica Schull’s chemistry better than anything else has thus far. For all the time they’ve spent together, Cole and Cassie feel like they have been kept at arm’s length emotionally from one another since the show began, but both actors pull off the weight and honesty of this scene.
Before long, Jennifer returns, and, surprisingly, greets Cole like a hero for murdering her father (let’s not even try to imagine what those family dinners were like). More importantly, she informs them that the Monkeys are heading out, hoping to scatter before Goines’ men can capture them. Cole uses this revelation as an opportunity to take Jennifer down to the laboratory and open the safe, which… is exactly what the Pallid Man wanted. He lied to Jennifer about leaving, and now with the safe’s security down, he believes it’s time to end the world.
Cole won’t allow it though and, through a series of looks up to the control room, coordinates with Cassie to press the buttons activating the big burn. The Pallid Man flees before being scorched, while Cole and Jennifer hide in the safe as fire rains down from the ceiling. The viral skeleton is engulfed in the flames, but as Cole and Jennifer walk out into the room, Cole doesn’t immediately disappear. Something is wrong, and to make matters worse, the Pallid Man has kidnapped Cassie.
Unfortunately, Cole splinters back to 2043 before he can do anything, and finds headquarters in a shabby state. Clothes hang from wires strewn about the time machine’s room, and as he walks into another portion of the building, he discovers it is now owned and operated by the West 7.
So it looks like his plan to prevent his future from ever happening may have worked. But it didn’t stop another, possibly worse future from occurring instead.
- The episode used Cole’s drinking as an amusing explanation for one of the show’s odd plot recurrences. It turns out the alcohol in his bloodstream has been causing the scientists’ calculations to be off, which is why he’s ended up in the wrong time period before. Jones saying “mission” is apparently Cole and Ramse’s cue to drink.
- Cassie and Cole shared some strong dramatic moments but also, finally, a funny one. Cassie asked Cole if he noticed anything weird about the Night Room’s civilian exterior, to which he replied “I’m from the apocalypse, everything looks weird to me.”
- Jennifer may win the line of the show, however, when, upon first meeting Cassie, she blurts out, “Quick question: Who’s this bitch?” before cuddling up against Cole.
- While the Pallid Man interrogates Jennifer, she steals his necklace without being noticed. Presumably, it’s more than a fashion accessory, but what exactly that will mean for either of them remains to be seen.
- The Pallid Man also dropped some hints about what is presumably to come with the show’s mythology. While interrogating Cole, he mentioned a man called the Witness, who apparently has some godlike knowledge about the current state of the natural order.
- After last week’s showcase, 2043 took another backseat in “The Night Room,” but the moments of the show in that time period were still enjoyable, largely thanks to Kirk Acevedo. Max doesn’t trust Jones, having heard rumors about a brutal German doctor, and so Ramse goes to investigate her private room for some intel.
- There, he finds files stacked on top of files from previous time travel experiments, all of which led to the deaths of their subjects. Jones discovers him, and the two argue, Ramse looking to protect his best friend from a similar fate, while Jones defends her actions for the good of mankind, and all of the art that mankind lost. She doesn’t believe society will ever rebuild itself, so she must continue Cole’s journey. Ramse eventually agrees with her, so long as Cole’s safety remains the most important factor. Jones agrees to the condition, but she more than likely will be willing to go against her word if it means saving humanity.