Sunday, March 1, 2015

12 Monkeys, Season 1, Episode 7: The Keys

Surreal and spooky beginning, flash images, darkness and Cole talking to someone about keys and he seems to be saying goodbye.


CIA headquarters and a speaker discusses a viral strain being extracted from the body that was in the Night room, (which is probably Cole’s. And was destroyed by fire, or will be destroyed by fire). The body was found in the Himalayas, the virus extracted and then the CIA scientists messed with it. This virus is what they want to unleash in Chechnya in Operation Troy. And that the virus is “safe” because it kills so quickly so that it can be used in isolated areas the infected won’t be able to reach new targets to infect

Why are the CIA doing this foolish thing? Well, Wexler, the computer hacker/wikileaks person keeps revealing America’s big bad secrets and at least one of those secrets involving this area of Chechnya is big enough to bring down the CIA and see them all imprisoned. They, unsurprisingly, want Wexler dead

Over to Cassie with the news reporting on Wexler. She’s still having Red Forest hallucinations. She’s so lost in it she doesn’t even realise she’s pouring hot water from the kettle over her hand until Cole stops her. They didn’t get much from last week, but they did find a picture of a possible monkey which they connect to an Edward Garret – a professor of Middle Eastern antiquity (yes this connection seems awfully tenuous)

And how do they meet him? By going to a fancy party in a museum that, somehow, Cassie has managed to score. Cole is rather delightfully out of his element but is happy to eat all the things. He’s also awed by the art – since the museums were quickly raided or destroyed during the outbreak. Cole also wants to slow down and relax a little, enjoy the moment while Cassie wants him to focus on the mission and is bewildered by his distraction, especially when he pulls her to dance (he can’t dance but she shows him). It’s actually really sweetly awkward but, much to Cole’s sad eyes, Cassie gets back on the mission

She talks to Prof. Garret and he reveals the symbol is Druze, in particular an offshoot of the Druze faith that moved to Chechnya. It references a pact to be the guardians of time. He can’t tell her more because the Druze are super-duper secretive. She asks about the army of the 12 monkeys and his face falls – and he says “you’re a beautiful woman, you should have stuck with that.” Ok, let us hope something stabs him

Cassie passes on to Cole who is still have strange milk-glass-smashing visions. So Cole kidnaps him. He also ends up with a bloody nose – which he passes off as Garrett grazing him to Cassie, but is probably down to lethal time travel. All he reveals though is that the 12 monkeys have been asking about his time in Chechnya. Aaron joins them for this little get together with a lot of closeness with Cassie (which she doesn’t seem that comfortable with) and noticing Cole in his tux (which Aaron certainly isn’t happy about).

Aaron reveals that Wexler the hacker may be hiding in Chechnya, that he’s a former CIA analyst who is leaking all the dark secrets and the gang realises the CIA is planning on using the virus to murder him. Everything starts shaking a Cole begins to splinter (to a week ahead) so he gives some hurried instruction to them to gather info before he disappears. Cassie’s quite blasé about it, Aaron not so much because Cole took his tux with him. Aaron is still worried about the laws they’re breaking investigating covert affairs, Cassie points out that prison kind of pales next to the destruction of the world

Aaron does some nifty pickpocketing and computer hacking for more info on Wexler. And Cassie gets a call from Cole – he’s in Chechnya and he has the virus, but he is being shot at. It seems Operation Troy is already happening.

Two Hours Earlier

I suppose I can let the time shifting go on a time travel programme. Cole arrives in Chechnya and struggles around being unable to speak Russian. Despite that he follows the suspicious guy with the virus briefcase in a  taxi. Cole ends up following the guy on foot through a wood until a sniper from the 12 Monkeys kills the briefcase guy (how the virus left CIA hands and entered 12 Monkey Hands, we assume). At which point Cole snatches the briefcase and calls Cassie.

He explains the whole time loop – in a week Cassie and Aaron will have finished their research and told Cole to go to Chechnya here and now. After which he sets up a cunning booby trap to kill the sniper after him

Cassie calls Aaron who is nearly getting caught and definitely being suspected by his boss. She fills him in and adds since Operation Troy is happening now they need to try and get some of the powers that be involved. They also talk to Cole again who explains the whole time travel thing, Cassie being super dense so he can explain it in clear terms because the writers think their audience may not have caught on. Cassie does tell him how to destroy the virus – with fire – but balaclava clad men with guns find and kidnap him before he can burn anything

They take him to see Wexler – who was actually expecting a pay off (so much for crusading for the truth) and thinks the briefcase is full of money. He has his men open it despite Cole’s protests, and they’re all sprayed with nasty virus-stuff. The virus is out.

Everyone gets sick and they decide to beat on Cole for some answers which doesn’t achieve much. Cole tries to convince them to burn everything down

Aaron and Cassie talk their way through the CIA to Michael Pratt, a guy with authority which gets them both put in a quiet room and an angry senator called to see his aide, Aaron. But Aaron isn’t a fool – he points out that the contents of those files are pretty damning as well. Cassie tries to convince Michael how vital it is for them to stop the virus he tries to be inscrutable but she points out that he hasn’t heard from the courier or he wouldn’t be speaking to her (uh… he wouldn’t speak to someone who knows highly classified information she shouldn’t? I think he would. Yes yes he would).

She also gets a chance to confront some guy I should remember but I don’t about the virus he’s been playing with. He’s Dr. Peters and she has fund calling him out and making him admit that it is the most lethal virus ever created. They agree to call Cole

Who is busy listening to Wexler ramble on and no longer has his mobile phone. All the soldiers are dying and one of them decides to contact the Russian authorities to give up Wexler in exchange for medical help. Wexler has reached new levels of nihilism, actually considering deliberately destroying the world since it’s so cruel and evil and bad. When Cole hears about the Russia medical personnel coming he tries to shame them into dying – that they will kill the whole world if they try to get medical help. The disposable Russian extras don’t agree but Cole manages to get through to Wexler and he has a little gun fight with dying Russians to protect Cole from being shot.

Cole gets shot anyway, albeit non-lethally so half points there Wexler. Everyone ends up dead or dying except Cole.

Cole manages to call Cassie - just as the big military men around her hear about the Russians dispatching helicopters to the scene. He and Wexler are too injured to burn the place to the ground so he tells Cassie to get the CIA to destroy the site before the Russians get there (wouldn’t that rely on the US having powerful military forces closer to this region of Russia than the Russians do?). Cassie agrees it will work (looking all poignant because Cole will be bombed too) and Michael oks it, despite it mean bombing Russian territory.

Cole and Wexler have an I’m-dying conversation – and it turns out Wexler has heard of the 12 Monkeys. Wexler heard about them when he was in the CIA and something they were involved in in Tokyo in 1987 (a date Leland Goins mentioned way back in the beginning of the season). Sadly because this could be a revelation, necessary crypticness takes over “time, death rebirth, monkeys like hours on a clock” before he dies. Useful.

Now his phone miraculously works again so we can have a poignant scene where Cole stays on the phone so the signal can guide the missile. Cole takes the chance to tell her when she sees him in a week (past version of him) and she mustn’t do anything to change it, to save him. The future will be safe that’s what matters. They make a tearful goodbye

And the missile hits.

This is all sad and meaningful but I’m kind of focused on the fact Michael and everyone else is listening in on the time travel call and realising they’ve just ordered a bombing run on Russia because these 2 people believe in time travel.

Afterwards, of course, Cassie is still in trouble and being interrogated by CIA bigwigs while still in shock over Cole’s death. But Michael and the Senator have decided to let Aaron and Cassie go because of the big shady secrets that they have because Aaron has very wisely arranged for some back up and left an envelope to be collected by the press should he disappear.

Back at Cassie’s Aaron hurriedly tries to remove all evidence of Cole and insists that they stay on script when Cole arrives, though Cassie is still torn over warning him

In a week when Cole arrives, they’ve all cleaned up and Cassie has got the best junk food for Cole (I never thought I’d say this but they are beautifully tragic together) and Aaron tells him about Operation Troy already happening – a week ago. Aaron gives all the information to Cole about how to stop it while Cassie looks tortured in a corner. Cole prepares while Cassie’s face reaches new depths of despair and horror. It’s a continuation of their goodbye scene as Cassie asks Cole a question – what better place does Cole imagine himself being in if the world is fixed – which he already answered before the missile hit.

Cassie says goodbye and Cole splinters

I like that this episode answered a lot of questions for me that were rumbling from last episode about the use of a virus as a weapon – like why would the CIA care enough about Chechnya to unleash a virus there? I can see Russia doing it – not because of moral equivalencies, but because Russia actually is trying to suppress the Chechens, why would the CIA? And how can the CIA would not realise the problem of unleashing a virus that no-one alive today has any immunity to? No matter how “isolated” the area is, anyone could see the risk inherent. How long can the virus exist outside the body? Or in a corpse? Or water? Can it be carried by animals? Can you stop it mutating? Can you guarantee no-one infected won’t be resistant?

But by introducing both the covert nature of what they’re doing (preventing conventional bombing) and the sheer selfish desperation of the men behind it (they’re not trying any higher purposes here, they’re trying to save their own skin – and if a virus risks killing a few hundred thousand a continent away, then so be it)

The investigation, however, is lacking. They find a pot which leads to a specific professor who is holding a swanky party that’s invitation only – that Cassie can get in? Who sends CDC doctors invites to talks by famed archaelogists?

I’m leery about the use of the Druze – because the Druze ARE a minority religious group. And the Pact of the Time Custodian is an actual thing – but I doubt it has anything to do with time travel

I find Cole’s wanting to slow down and enjoy time with Cassie interesting though. It shows both his growing relationship with her but also his realisation, from last week, that travelling through time is killing him. Sure, he always knew that, in theory, when they succeeded he would be erased, but that’s different from knowing that he is actively dying. He’s now taking the time to enjoy Cassie’s company and the luxuries of the 21st century

Of course that becomes all the more meaningful when Cole actually dies. It was a pretty epic, emotional death scene and the actors really sold it, 12 Monkeys I never knew you had it in you

I’d ask where it comes from here, but different past Coles can still show up and run around so this doesn’t, necessarily, remove him as protagonist

And that’s assuming he didn’t splinter juuuuust as the missile hit (I actually hope he didn’t because that would be a cheap way to treat this excellent scene)