'12 Monkeys' recap: 'Tomorrow'
Cole makes the best of his time stuck in 2017 while Jones makes a troubling choice.
While “Yesterday” took the time to offer some much-needed character development, it was still all very much setup for the thrilling events of “Tomorrow”—which is unsurprising given the two episode titles.
Cole is still stuck in 2017. Jones still needs a power core for the time machine. And Foster still promises that time travel isn’t the answer to humanity’s decline. “Tomorrow” addresses all of this and more, but it once again has Cole and Cassie take a backseat to the supporting cast. This time around, though, it’s Jones who receives her time in the spotlight.
And it’s a good thing she does. Though Jones has enjoyed relatively small screen time, she is arguably one of the most important characters on the show. She’s the reason all of this time-travel insanity is happening, but the convictions behind her plan drive her into dangerous territory in “Tomorrow.”
Before addressing the unhinged madness of Jones, let’s rewind to where “Tomorrow” first picks things up after last week’s slow but important episode. Cole, stuck in 2017, is left to wander through the streets of Chechnya, unsure of his next move. He sees a familiar face, though. Cassie is on TV, warning viewers about the plague and asking for survivors to come to Baltimore’s CDC location.
Baltimore is a distant dream for Cole at the moment, but at least it gives him some sense of purpose as he tries to escape the quarantined town. Thankfully, Cole is recognized by the soldiers at a sectioned-off town exit and brought to a U.S. army member who informs him that a chopper is waiting to bring him to Baltimore. Well, isn’t that convenient!
While things are looking up for Cole, the battle between Jones and Foster for a power core wages on in 2043. She reassures her team that Foster’s promise of a cure is not only false but impossible. Their mission is the one true mission, and either willingly or by force, they will take Spearhead’s core.
The inevitable war concerns at least one of Jones’ soldiers—Ramse. He sneaks off to Spearhead to warn Elena and his newly discovered son Sam that their home is no longer safe. She refuses, but Ramse won’t stand idly by while his ex-lover and son are thrown into the middle of a firefight. He eventually convinces her to come with him, but she doubles back to Spearhead’s lab to grab something before they leave. Foster catches them in the act, locking them in as the Spearhead leader is called away to welcome a new guest.
Jones appears and makes a power play, sitting relaxed in Foster’s own study to throw him off guard. The two argue, rehashing their arguments to little avail. But Jones has changed this time around. She promises him that she’s not here to ask for the core. She will have it no matter what, but he can decide how this transaction goes down.
Here again, 12 Monkeys chips away at who Jones really is, revealing perhaps as much about what’s driving her in one episode as has been uncovered since the show began. She recounts a story about her daughter, another casualty of the virus, but one that is clearly at the forefront of her mind, the impetus for this whole ordeal. And suddenly it becomes all the more clear as to her true intentions. Sure, Jones would love to restore humanity’s culture. She really would. Even more so, she’d love to hold her daughter one last time, to tell her one more story about the stars. And her time-travel schemes may allow her to do what so many could not, see a lost loved one.
She’s willing to do just about anything to make that a reality, and proves so when she shoots Foster point blank in the chest and allows him to bleed out. It’s a rash move, but it’s only the beginning of the slaughter Jones will leave in her wake.
NEXT: Jones learns the true cost of killing Foster.
Whitley is in on the plans, and he convinces his father, Foster’s head of security, to help stage their coup. Once Jones fires the shot heard round Spearheads, Whitley, his father, and their combined forces enact a systematic takeover of the compound with surgical precision. They clear out room after room, gunning down soldiers who still support Foster while Jones joins them to survey the damage. She isn’t taking this mass onslaught lightly, but she’s doing what she believes must be done. As the death toll rises, she’s able to secure the core, but both sides suffer casualties, including Whitley’s father and Jones’ right-hand scientist.
But the real tragedy is revealed once Jones and her team return the core to their base. There, Jones studies a file—and then promptly burns it—revealing that Foster’s talk of a cure was legitimate. He had found a cure for the original strain and may very well have been making progress on a cure for the new strain (something Elena believes to be true), but all of that work is lost now. All that’s left is Jones’ plan, or humanity is doomed to perish.
That plan rests on Cole’s shoulders, of course, and he receives his own source of inspiration that will continue him down this path. When he reaches Baltimore, he reunites with Cassie, who has already fallen ill with the virus. She dies in Cole’s arms, leaving him with an address on a sheet of paper, a mention of a red forest to find, and an imperative to stop the virus—so that he can see her alive again.
He eventually returns to 2043, with a renewed ambition to achieve his goal, but he has a newfound obstacle in his path—Ramse. The man who’s been like a brother to him has come to realize Jones is just as crazy as they thought Foster was for believing in his cure. This mission will kill Cole, and Ramse believes he’s too blinded by his love for Cassie to see the big picture and can’t see how what they’re doing affects people like Ramse and his son.
To Cole, that doesn’t matter, Ramse’s son is already dead in his mind, but that response earns him a punch from his closest friend and leaves him more alone in the cause than Cole’s ever been before.
Back in 2041…
And that splintering between Ramse and Cole becomes all the more pronounced because of the episode’s flashbacks to 2041. This period isn’t tied into the plot by any loopy time-travel conceit, but instead exists solely to fill out the duo’s backstory. It begins with the two being captured by Whitley and the rest of Jones’ soldiers as Cole and Ramse attempt to kill and steal from a group of them. The two are then tortured until Jones comes to collect Cole and present an opportunity to him—save humanity by jumping through time and preventing the virus.
Cole considers her crazy, telling her to go to hell for even asking him to risk his life like that, and as it turns out, the reason they stick around is Ramse. He thinks Jones should be locked up in an insane asylum too, but that doesn’t mean he wants to pass up shelter and food. If the two of them stick around, they can ensure they’ll survive through the winter. For Ramse, that’s paramount, and he prevents Cole from escaping so that they can stick around, at least for a little while.
This realization makes their confrontation at the end of the episode all the more surprising. Ramse has never fully supported Jones’ cause, but he and Cole might very well have never had that fight had he allowed Cole to run away in the first place. Granted, they also might have ended up dead as a result of that, but still, 12 Monkeys has done an impressive job of twisting character behavior just enough, while still making it believable, to pull off weekly narrative and emotional surprises.
- First of all—renewal news! Yes, Cole, Cassie, and Ramse will all (hopefully) be around for another season, which will air sometime in 2016.
- Cole is recognized by his West VII tattoo, so presumably that group (and the great Todd Stashwick), will make a return soon, right?
- Jennifer Goines did return this week, apparently gathering 12 Monkeys supporters outside in the riots surrounding the CDC. In a show full of wildcards, Goines may just be the biggest question mark as her past is revealed and there seems to be much more to the seemingly innocent-yet-crazy daughter of Leland Goines. I have no doubt that whatever she mentioned in her speech will have major implications down the road. Emily Hampshire always brings a sense of gleeful insanity to the character, so it’s great to see she’ll be with us in an expanded capacity next year.
- Jones may be okay with all this killing because, if her plan succeeds, none of these deaths will actually have happened. But that doesn’t make them any less brutal or atrocious on her part. Sooner or later, Jones will have to face all of the decisions, she’s made, and I don’t see it going well for her.
- Cassie and Cole’s reunion in 2017 is an emotional one for Cassie. She talks about how so much has happened between her and Cole, but this version of him simply hasn’t experienced those moments yet. A lot happens in those two years, but I wouldn’t expect to find out everything about their relationship before the season concludes.