12 Monkeys Ep301 Review: Birth of the Witness

< Episode 302 Review >

First off, let me start by saying it’s thrilling to be back in the world of 12 Monkeys with its phenomenal writing and cast. There are tons of surprises in store, folks!

“Mother” was a tough hour for poor Cassie (Amanda Schull). Fans that complained she had become too “bitchy and nasty” last season (which I disagree with) should have nothing to whine about this season. Dr. Railly gets put through the ringer, guys. Personally, I enjoyed Season 2 Cassie kickin’ ass and takin’ names. What threw me a bit, was the rivalry between the two lovers and the fact it took so late in the season to bring them together. As you will see, that’s not quite the case this year. There are other issues.

12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 1 Review
Courtesy of Syfy
We’ve been wondering for months what Cassie’s time in 2163 might be like, but first we got a chance to check in with a frustrated Cole (Aaron Stanford) who had been unable to locate the love of his life. Jones’ quick recap did a brilliant job of bringing new fans up to speed, while reminding us 12 Monkeys veterans where things left off. “Three years ago” seems like a lifetime, doesn’t it? Having recently rewatched the pilot, I can tell you it’s just as strong an episode as it was when I initially watched it. Yeah, I was instantly hooked. If you haven’t seen it, get on that STAT.

At Titan, the Witnesses acolytes had been taking good care of The Mother, though of course, once she gave birth Cassie was as dispensable as the 7 billion murdered by their master during the plaque. Would she escape with Cole’s help once he located Titan? When might our heroes see each other again? The latter was answered briefly during the hour, but they weren’t actually reunited.

What a nice surprise to see Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly on Syfy’s Wynonna Earp) have a quick 12 Monkeys cameo. Sadly, you got the sense right away that her character, Arianna, wasn’t going to be around long. She was kind and had been taken from her own mother. “All mothers are important” she told Cassie. Still, Cassie wasn’t going anywhere until she gave birth. That much was clear… Cool rewind sequence and all. The first guardian we met, Magdalena, was threatening and cruel but we knew there was no way she’d harm Cassie. At least not until the vessel had served her purpose. We had just met the woman, yet I could not wait for her eventual demise. Hopefully by Cassie’s hand, right? Her past self’s quick sacrifice was a small consolation.

12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 1 Review
Courtesy of Syfy
A thrill went up my spine when Cole met the mystery guy with the portable splinter vest. I knew straight away the writing team had introduced a new bit of tech that was going to play an important part moving forward. Seriously, zipping through time at will. Say what?!? I admit I didn’t expect it to be Cole and that he’d be fighting his future self. WTH? Ah timey wimey goodness! The Mother had to give birth to set things in motion, so future Cole splintered his doppelgänger out of there. “Greetings asshole. I’m future asshole” he told himself. It was a truly priceless 12 Monkeys moment, as was future Cole advising his younger self to formulate a plan. Yup, Cassie would be proud. I guess she rubbed off on him after all.

Meanwhile, Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) was sitting in a French trench in 1917 singing 99 Luftballons. Huh? Quirky, crazy Jenny was back and I couldn’t be happier to see her. I love the character so much. If future asshole knew Jennifer was in 1922 thanks to a newspaper, why not zip over there and pick her up? Then Cassie, complete with grey streak in her hair, walked into the room once past Cole had splintered and we learned future Cole set him on his path by giving him hope. He’s got to live out his cycle, no matter how painful it might be. Time travel is such a blast, isn’t it? I confess, I’ve felt lost on more than one occasion with 12 Monkeys, but when you go back and rewatch things seem to click much better. It’s a lot to take in.

So, Cole informed Jones he was going to locate Jennifer and that Dr. Railly wasn’t the mission. That’s got to be the first time we hear our hero say that, and it was worrisome to say the least.

12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 1 Review
Courtesy of Syfy
In the closing moments, Cassie finally gave birth at Titan. Will the Witnesses acolytes let The Mother see her son or will they whisk him away? What will happen to her now? Luckily Syfy is not making us wait a week until the next episode. It’s quite a cool gift, this little binge-watch. As Aaron and Amanda stated in their recent Q&A, consuming several episodes at a time is the way to go. When you’re reading a good book, you wouldn’t drop it for a week. Would you? Why should it be any different with television, which in reality is just visual storytelling. Personally, I tend to agree with Aaron and Amanda. Binge-watching is where it’s at. Especially with an intricate show like this one. Everything remains fresh in your mind, and you’re able to follow the events much easier. How do you feel about Syfy releasing the entire third season this weekend? Please share your thoughts below. I’m curious to know how other fans feel about this experiment.

Closing Thoughts…

“Mother” was an incredibly fast-paced hour that did a wonderful job of setting up the drama for the first half of the season. The Witness was born, but what will Cassie and Cole do to stop him from killing 7 billion people? Can they ultimately redeem him, or are they destined to kill their son? One thing’s for certain, watching the tale unfold over the next 9 episodes is escapist entertainment at its best. Over the years 12 Monkeys has been consistently well written and acted, with twists meant to blow your mind. It always bugs me a bit that genre fans seem to have turned their backs on this terrific series and not given it the chance it deserves. Terry Matalas and his team have created a remarkable television series that will withstand the test of time. When you go back to rewatch the first and second seasons, there are always new details to discover and things you might have missed the first time around. There’s nothing quite like 12 Monkeys on TV, and I hope more folks hop aboard for this wild ride.

12 Monkeys Season 3 premieres over 3 consecutive nights Friday, May 19 to Sunday, May 21 from 8-11/7-10c