It’s 2015 and the monologue we remember from the opening of the pilot plays over a series of images. As season one of 12 Monkeys comes to a close, we find Cassie and Cole lying next to each other (their clothes are on, RELAX!), Jones remembering her little girl and quietly smoking a cigarette as she spies red foliage growing over the splinter machine. Ramse thinks about the things that he’s done and Jennifer Goines draws the symbol of The Army of the 12 Monkeys on the Markridge conference room wall.
Now, Aaron is tied to a chair inside what appears to be a warehouse as Cole hits his face repeatedly until it bleeds but Aaron isn’t succumbing to Cole’s force. Cole is furious with him for costing his father his life and Aaron hates Cole for ruining the life that he assembled for himself. Aaron pleads with Cassie to come with him and turn her back on Cole but she won’t do it. As Cole continues to torture Aaron, Cassie asks him who the people are that he’s agreed to help. He doesn’t reveal much but does say something about “The coming of The 12” and a facility to hide out in Colorado. Cole asks about Ramse but Aaron doesn’t recognize the name. He tells them, as he wears down the zip tie that binds his wrists behind his back, that there is a major investment connection to Markridge. Before he says anything else, he breaks free and attacks Cole. Cole chases Aaron who is wielding some sort of fire weapon. The two scuffle and a fire breaks out. Aaron gets pinned under some shelves and Cole makes Cassie leave him behind so they aren’t in danger. Uh-oh. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Aaron will be back in season two. Yikes.
Cole and Cassie sit down across from each other at a bar. Cole tries to comfort Cassie but she doesn’t need it. It would appear that she has hardened to anything outside of her cause. They figure out that the investor that Aaron told them about is probably connected to Jennifer Goines, the new CEO of Markridge. Cole and Cassie attend Jennifer’s keynote speech which starts out on track but quickly goes off the rails in true Jennifer Goines fashion. As the attendees leave the presentation, Cole and Cassie find Jennifer and ask her questions about this “investor.” She reveals that it’s a man named “Ethan Secky” and Cassie looks him up on her phone to find that Ethan is Ramse and that he’s interested in a government program that Cole recognizes to be Project Splinter. As soon as Cassie and Cole leave, Jennifer answers her phone and tells whomever is on the other line that she’s told them where to find Ramse.
Meanwhile, Ramse and The Striking Woman discuss their plans. Their mission is complete but Ramse needs to get to the machine. At the warehouse the man who developed the technology is testing the splinter machine. He mentions “Kat” and does an impression of a German accent warning him about science; holy cow, this is Jones’ husband! In any case, he tells his associates their funding has come through and clears the room. Ramse and his folks enter the room as Cassie and Cole scope out the location to figure out how to get into the building. As man-Jones confirms that the machine works Ramse dismisses him.
Cole and Cassie get inside the warehouse where the splinter machine is. They split up and Cassie finds herself inside a lab where she spies red foliage growing everywhere. It’s the place from her hallucination a few episodes back — The Red Forest. Cole finds Ramse and pulls a gun on him and Ramse is confused, believing that he had killed Cole in Tokyo. Ramse does explain that “it took time travel to create time travel” and that there are “no straight lines.” Ramse also explains that if Foster found a cure and they’ll find another; his future is in 2043.
They talk and, in so many words, come to an understanding. “Atari.” As Cole begins to lower his gun, Cassie enters and pulls hers. She’s officially been hardened by the events of the last season and is not afraid to kill one to save seven billion. As they stand in a dangerous configuration, Cole, Cassie and Ramse’s security all with weapons drawn, Cassie proclaims Ramse as “The Witness,” something we, the audience, have been led to believe recently. Not so, says Ramse. Well, snap — who the heck is the witness then?!
In 2043, Whitley and Jones examine the machine. They try to figure out what’s next and Whitley offers to try and go back to 2015 but Jones tells him no. The mission is over. Deacon and the Blue Man Group stand outside the compound plotting their siege on the compound. Deacon working with a former employee of Spearhead who has an axe to grind with Jones unleashes a fury of bats who clog the grid of the compound and shut down the core allowing Deacon and company to enter the facility. Jones and Whitely know they are under attack and Jones produces a bomb.
As Deacon and his team make their way through the facility just as the core reboots to find Whitley and Jones standing by the Splinter machine and Jones is about to blow up the facility. She offers them the machine if they let the people go. Jones also admits now that the past can’t be changed and that the present is all that matters. Whitley surrenders his weapons and Deacon and The Blue Man Group let him and the scientists go and Jones is the only one of her team left.
Meanwhile, in 2015, Cassie doesn’t listen to Cole’s request to put the gun down, which Cassie begins to do, she changes her mind and shoots Ramse as security shoots her and Cole shoots the security guard. Cole rushes to Cassie and she knows that she is dying. Ramse pushes the injections to them as he is bleeding out as well so that Cassie can splinter forward to 2043 and Jones can save her. Cassie says goodbye and he sends her forward then rushes to Ramse who tells him to find his son in the future and let him know he tried to protect him.
The Striking Woman is in her estate and told “the 12 are ready.” There are twelve newborn babies who will be ready in 28 years to begin the next cycle. They will become The Blue Man Group who has taken the facility and is now in possession of the splinter machine; their cycle is complete. The Striking Woman, still in 2015, is sure that the babies will grow up, Cole will fade into obscurity and Ramse will die just as planned because, as she explains, it’s fate. Except it isn’t. Cole wouldn’t and couldn’t leave Ramse there to die and goes back for him determined to save his brother’s life.
In the final moments, we flash forward to 2043. The leader of The Blue Man Group decides to keep Jones alive and Deacon inquires about Cole as he begins to escort her out of the splinter room to be locked up. Jones informs him that he’s gone and will never come back just as Cassie splinters into 2043 bewildering everyone. We travel back to 2015 inside a private plane with Markridge branded cargo being loaded onboard. A flight attendant pours a glass of champagne and asks the passenger about their “12 city” world tour. She hands the drink to Jennifer Goines to explains that “she has work to finish.”
Thus concludes season one of 12 Monkeys. No matter what the future holds (har har har) for the series in season two and beyond, as far as I’m concerned, the show knocked it straight out of the park. I’d argue that 12 Monkeys fought an uphill battle from the start–another movie-to-TV adaptation on a network that hasn’t been known for quality programing in a long time–and yet the series proved to be smart, compelling, emotional, shocking and a hell of a lot of fun. With many cable networks attempting to dip their toes in genre waters to less-than-impressive results, here’s hoping the industry takes note of 12 Monkeys which in its first season ultimately proved to be a thoughtful and provocative genre series that made a name for themselves and provided highbrow entertainment for fans in the most unlikely of places.