Wednesday, June 22, 2016

12 Monkeys, Season Two, Episode 10: Fatherland

The paradox is making the red forest grow and now there may be only days left until it over takes the facility.  Jones sends out Deacon and Whitley to get more information.  Whitley uses the time to taunt Deacon about the fact that he hasn't left already like so many others and suggests that it's because of his feelings for Cassie. Yes, big bad Deacon has a crush.  They run into none other than Sam but don't take him back to the facility because Sam runs into the red storm. It looks like Sam has a role to play in upcoming events.  Could Sam actually be the Witness?

Back at the facility, Ramse and Cassie want to head to 1961 to hunt down information on Titan but Jones and Cole want to head to 1957 to stop the paradox which is destroying the forest.  Jones seeks confirmation of her decision from Adler but he's not feeling it, and points out that Jones has done nothing about the virus which killed his son.  Strangely, Cassie and Ramse quickly agree to Cole and Katrina's plan.  When they leave the splitter room, Ramse catches up with Adler and invokes Sam pointing out how difficult it is to go on without bringing an end to the person who took Sam away. Adler of course can sympathise because he is forced to see Ramse everyday and as we know, Ramse was instrumental in advancing the release of the virus which killed Adler's son.

Later, Dea,con approaches Cassie and he talks about seeing her on television every night as a child. Apparently, Cassie appearing nightly talking about the plague how it brought him comfort.  When he brings up the night they shared (yep, looks like those two got it on), Cassie makes it clear that it was just a one time thing and that that part of her has died. Yep, Deacon gets shot down.

So it's off to the splitter machine to travel back in time. Cole, Cassie and Ramse end up at a bar and share a drink together.  It's not long before Cole starts to feel hot and dizzy and then passes out. Yep, Cassie and Ramse got Adler to send them back to 1961 instead of 1957.  They deposit Cole in the hotel room, steal whatever isn't nailed down and take off.  When Cole awakes, he calls Agent Robert Gale, whom he met when he went back to the forties.  Together they travel to Germany, where the wall is in the process of being built to divide East Germany from West Germany.

Cassie and Ramse manage to track down Dr. Lasky but it seems that he is wanted by Mossad for the crimes he committed during the holocaust.  Cassie and Ramse manage to get to Dr. Lasky before Mossad but are captured in their escape.  Luckily for them, Cole and Agent Gale are on the case. They manage to track down Dr. Lasky using the same classified document Cassie and Ramse saw last week.  Cole believes that the document only mentions the Witness and Titan because Ramse and Cole told the Mossad that is what they were tracking down.

After some discussion about Dr. Lasky's relationship to the Witness and his life's work, they all head back to Dr. Lasky's lab to see the results of his experimentation. This unfortunately means crossing the border between east and west Germany.  The construction on the wall is moving rapidly and so by the Cassie, Ramse, Gale and Lasky get to the crossing point, they find it swarmed with guards. They decide to make a run for it but when Lasky trips, he alerts the East German soldiers of their presence. Seeing no way out, Agent Gale decides to sacrifice himself so that Cole can continue on.  Since learning about the plague, Gale has lost everything from an inability to cope and sees sacrificing himself for Cole as a way to end his pain.

When they reach Lasky's lab they learn that his experiment is a little girl. That's right, it's Olivia as a little girl and she was created in Lasky's lab.  On the wall, Lasky has a map of sorts which shows everything he knows about the witness.  Lasky doesn't have time to give them very much information because Olivia's very disappointed mummy shows up and she's pissed that Lasky has been talking out of turn.

Back in 2044, with the forest only a few hours away, a frantic Jones works to bring the crew back. Cassie is the first to disappear and just before Ramse does, he grabs a piece of the chart on the wall. Cole is last to splitter back and when he does, he immediately orders Whitley to put Jones and Ramse in handcuffs.  Ramse tries to explain that with what they learned, they now have enough to find the Witness but Cole isn't even close to having it.  At this point, Cole feels betrayed by the two he trusts the most. Cole isn't the only one on 12 Monkeys who feels betrayed however.

We then shift to Olivia, who seems to have healed from her injuries as a legacy of being created with strong healing abilities and extended life.  Olivia is absolutely disillusioned with the Witness and is done being is pawn.  To signify that, Olivia plays a visit to her mother's final resting place to say goodbye.  Imagine if Olivia uses her powers for good.

This week, 12 Monkeys is guilty of appropriating an atrocity - the holocaust.  In the universe of the 12 Monkeys, a major impulse behind the medical experimentation of people in concentration camps was to build a genetically superior human who would be more resistant to illness, have increased longevity and increased ability to heal.  For the 12 Monkeys, the inhuman medical experimentation and death camps were just a writing device the writers could invoke to explain the existence of Olivia. It's beyond gross to use the death and torture of millions as some plot point.

We are almost through season two and though I wouldn't call it a complete retcon at this point, it's pretty damn close.  What happened to all the concern about the virus and the destruction of humanity? The only one to really show us that the virus still matters is Adler and that had to wait until this episode.  All of season two has been about tracking down the Messengers and the Witness. When added to the fact that the 12 Monkeys is a time travelling show, it is so confusing.

The only stand out of this episode as far as I am concerned was Agent Gale.  I thought that he would simply be a throw character when we were first introduced to him; however, given that not only did he appear in this episode, he heavily implies that he has seen Cole repeatedly in his personal past. This means that there's going to be a lot more time travelling.  At any rate, it's easy to forget what the impending doom of a deadly virus can do because:

  1. The  12 Monkeys has stopped discussing the virus in any real and meaningful ways
  2. The characters don't reflect often on how many people died during the virus and continue to die because of a lack of immunity to a mutating virus.
  3. The virus is now treated as a side effect of The Witness being alive and not a problem in and of itself.
When Gale starts to talk about looking at his granddaughter and only seeing ashes it is heartbreaking. In this moment the weight of foreknowledge is a heavy burden and we can see just how much it has cost him throughout the years.  It also serves to give us a real idea of just how isolating this knowledge is for Gale and forces the viewer the put themselves in his situation.  This is 12 Monkeys at its best and unfortunately, scenes like this are few and far between.

At this point, I don't really care what happens next. I know I was supposed to get excited about Cassie and Ramse working together to outsmart Cole and the concern they showed for each other during interrogation but it just didn't happen for me.  I don't really care about the interpersonal relationships of the characters.  I don't know what 12 Monkeys could do at this point to scare up any kind of interest from me, but invoking the holocaust in the fashion they did certainly didn't accomplish it.