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Review of '12 Monkeys' 4.4-6

Warnings, Redemptions, Deft Workings of Time

12 Monkeys 4.4-6, which I saw last night, was so good on so many levels that I wanted to let it simmer, at least overnight, before posting a review. At this point, and on the basis of both these three and the first episodes of this final season, 12 Monkeys is well on the way to cementing itself as the best—most thoughtful and at the same time entertaining and exciting—time-travel series ever on television.

To start with a minor point, the dialogue is sparkling. Jennifer, interrupting Cassandra and Cole in flagrante delicto, warns them (on the dangers of having another child), "Butt stuff only!"—which draws a suitably outraged, slightly horrified mouth-open expression from Cassie. Jennifer, in general, had a great three episodes, highlighted by her serenading the Nazis in 4.6, which, by the way, was in itself one of the best standalone episodes in the entire series. Jennifer, true to her nature, can't resist killing Hitler. Good for her! Not only is changing history be damned, given that all existence and time and space themselves are now at stake, but in a nice narrative touch we see in a headline that Himmler has taken over, which shows that history was not (or would not) be all that changed, after all.

It was also great seeing Agent Gale back in action. As we saw in the first three episodes, a keynote of this concluding season is bringing deceased characters back to life, and this was possible with Gale without even any temporal manipulation. Not that there wasn't plenty of that in these episodes, as Cole, Cassie, and Jones (and Jennifer) deftly, sometimes accidentally, ply the levers of time travel to pursue their worthy goals. As a set piece, Cassie's saving of Cole from the poison in 4.5 will go down as a textbook case on how this can and should be done without running into yourself.

But, as I felt after seeing the first three of these concluding episodes last week, Jones was in many ways the most galvanizing character in this part of the narrative. Her performance with the Nazis in Paris was brilliant, and reminiscent of A French Village. Her sacrifice at the end of 4.6—getting Deacon to take her as a prisoner to the Witness—can change everything. (Barbara Sukowa, by the way, is doing a great job as Jones, as is Amanda Schull as Cassie, Emily Hampshire as Jennifer, and Aaron Stanford as Cole).

And speaking of Deacon (well played by Todd Stashwick), though I found his joining the Witness in the first three episodes a little trite, Deacon was redeemed in these second three episodes completely—he's now a more powerful character than he ever was. (And good to see Jennifer earlier signaling that Deacon was on her team with a click.)

As we move into third set of three—the final episodes in the series before the final set of two—the biggest interpersonal question is whether Cassie will work to save the world or her relationship with Cole. I'm hoping she'll manage to do both, and it will be fun to see how this happens.

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Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code (winner Locus Award, Best 1st Science Fiction Novel of 1999) & The Plot To Save Socrates. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context has been translated into 15 languages. 

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Review of '12 Monkeys' 4.4-6
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