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12 Monkeys - Mother - Review

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12 Monkeys returned for season three with “Mother” written and directed by showrunner extraordinaire Terry Matalas. I realize that if you were watching on Syfy, you’ve binged the entire season. However, the show is airing in the more traditional weekly format in Canada on Showcase on Wednesday nights, so I’ll be reviewing the episodes weekly – as that gives me the scope to delve into them – and the excuse to watch them all again! Because, yes. This is another brilliant season! I found it kicked off maybe a little slowly, but quickly picked up and delivered the time travelling, mind blowing writing, direction, and acting that I love about this series.

The episode begins with a stunning look at 2163 and Cole (Aaron Stanford) on the hunt for Cassie (Amanda Schull). We learn later in the episode from Hannah (Brooke Williams) that this is a dead world. I have to wonder what would happen if they ever jumped far enough into the future that the world no longer existed – or maybe that’s just not possible? Regardless, it’s a beautiful CGI’d shot of a ruined New York? Times Square? And an intense Cole, with Cassie’s voice in the voiceover wondering where he is right now – cut to Jones (Barbara Sukowa) and a fabulous re-cap of the show.

Jones reminds us that the show began as a quest to stop the plague, by killing the man responsible, how the team grew, and how the mission expanded. Not just a mission to save humankind but time itself. We ended last season with their friends lost in time – and indeed, some are in the future and some are in the past and some are just separated by distance. Time has passed and hope is running out. Jones wonders how they can defeat an enemy from their own future: “Time is no longer on our side.”

Cole is running around planting some kind of magic wands – that tell him when/where Titan is. When he arrives back at the base, the team is there ready to stage an intervention. It’s clear that having lost so many of their people has made the remaining member even more close knit. Who would have thought that Whitley (Demore Barnes) would have ever been so concerned about Cole! I’m always happy to seem more of Barnes, and this initial episode had me hoping to see him play a bigger role this season, but unfortunately I think we lost him to the American Gods filming schedule…

Jones tries to tell Cole it’s time to move on, and she’s tired of watching him killing himself. His loyalty is commendable, but Cassie, Ramsey (Kirk Acevedo), and Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) are not the mission. The mission is stopping the plague, stopping the witness and learning Titan’s true purpose. Jones reminds him that there’s another way to save their friends. I always love Jones when she goes over-the-top fierce! Sukowa is so obviously enjoying every moment of this extraordinary part! She gets right in Coles face and tells him “You’re a rabid dog! Don’t make me put you down!”

It’s only then that Cole finally mentions that he had a blip in Syracuse. Cole tells her that he’s not going to die on her, despite not sleeping and being malnourished. Jones gives in – but he’s not going alone. She’s going to send Hannah with him.

There’s a terrific fight sequence between Hannah and one of the other daughters – who happens to be almost twice Hannah’s size. Is Hannah being bullied? Challenged? Is she training them? Of course she wins – and it appears that she may be in charge of the Daughters now. There’s a beautiful shot in the blue, smokey light of the base, with Hannah standing at one end and Jones at the other – the two forces controlling the rest in the base?

At first, Hannah refuses Jones’ order to go with Cole. She has responsibilities to the security of the facility and to her sisters. Jones tells her that they are losing Cole. She just needs Hannah to run reconnaissance. When Hannah refuses again, Jones tells her, “Don’t be a little shit.” Hannah points out that she’s not one of Jones’ soldiers to be ordered – and that’s how she thinks of herself first and foremost. But Jones thinks of her as her daughter – “to be told.” Hannah backtracks and says it isn’t what she meant, but when Jones asks her to clarify, she starts to explain, “I went to Titan for mother…” Sukowa’s reaction here is perfect. That cuts deeply because Hannah still thinks of Jennifer as her mother.

Hannah tells Jones that this isn’t her mission and she doesn’t believe in it. Jones reminds her that it’s the mission that saved Hannah’s life. And it was Cole who did it. And she’s right – if they hadn’t gone back in time and saved Hannah, she’d still be dead. She only wants Hannah to go back and protect Cole from himself.

Hannah mistrusts Cole and insists on following him so that she can see him. Apparently, he’s been drinking the red tea at night, trying desperately to get a lock on the Witness. Hannah warns him that it could kill him.

When they find the beacon, it’s not working because it has no power. Hannah insists that they are going back and Cole will do as she says – and then it starts working. Hannah still wants to go back to get help because the last time they lost with an army. Cole declares that she’s just like her mother. Cole insists this could be their only chance. The two fight when Hannah attempts to inject Cole with the homing signal Jones gave her. But Cole manages to stick Hannah, and she’s the one to get sucked back to the facility.

Inside Titan, Cassie is very much a prisoner and very pregnant. I found her red robes very reminiscent of one of the other shows that I review – The Handmaid’s Tale. And of course, Cassie is being treated as a Handmaiden. They are caring for her only as the vessel of the Witness. Cassie has one friendly face with Ariana (Dominique Provost-Chalkley). However, she also has someone to give Olivia (Alisen Down) a run for her money as a creepy-bitch in Magdalena (Hannah Waddingham).

Magdalena apologizes to Cassie for not believing she could change. We learn that Cassie did resist – and tried to kill everyone around her when she was first captured. Clearly, she’s had to give in to protect the child.

Magdalena tells Cassie that she’s waited for decades: “it is a remarkable thing to be raised to raise child; shaped in order to shape; taught to teach.” Cassie insists that she is the child’s mother, and Magdalena has nothing but scorn for her: “the mother is not the belly that bears the child, but the hands that cradle, the voice that soothes the crying, the face it sees and thinks to itself, love.” And these are all the things that Magdalena is planning on taking from Cassie. As she tells her these things, she feeds her like she is a child and tells her to “mind yourself” like she is a naughty child.

Jones is shocked when Hannah comes back through. Hannah tells Jones that Cole is moving against Titan on his own. The machine thinks that they’ve already activated Cole’s tether because of the injection that brought Hannah back, so it has to be re-booted.

Cassie is to present the Witness to his followers, and Ariana prepares her. Cassie tells Ariana she’s always been kind to her and thanks her. Ariana asks why she shouldn’t be. Cassie makes the point that Ariana is a follower of the Witness, and Cassie is just the vessel. Ariana tells Cassie that she believes in the Witness because it’s all she’s ever known. She was taken from her parents to serve many many years ago. Ariana gives Cassie a piece of cloth – the only thing she has from her own mother. Rubbing it between her fingers gives her comfort. She tells Cassie that “all mothers are important.”

Ariana asks about the father – Cassie doesn’t speak of him. Cassie tells her his name was James Cole, and he doesn’t even know she’s pregnant. She tells Ariana he was kind – and that she wants to go home.

Meanwhile, Cole is stopped from getting to Titan by a mysterious figure in a light-up vest. It’s our first glimpse of time traveling vests. I really wasn’t sold on these early in the season. The two fight, and apparently the vest allows for very short time hops.

Back in Titan, Faran Tahir joins the cast as Mallick. He warns the Tall man (Tom Noonan) that there is another traveler close to Titan. The Tall man is sure it’s Cole. The unveiling will have to wait – it’s more important that they splinter.

Cassie removes the hairpin shaped like the Witness symbol and stabs her guards. Cassie promises to get Ariana back to her family if she helps Cassie get to hers. She also tells her that they need to save the Witness from the true believers.

There’s a heartbreaking moment when Cassie must consider sacrificing Ariana and then Cole is there on the other side of Mallick. And then the figure in the vest is there, bamfing Cole away. Jones and company can’t even find his tether. Cole ends up in the Emerson in the future. As it turns out, he’s been saved by “Future Asshole.”

Cole trades some amusing insults with himself. It turns out that the fancy vest is machine and it helps to prevent a paradox from happening when he’s too close to himself. Future Cole agrees with Jones. This Cole is a rabid dog! Cole wants to know what he’s missing. Cole wants to know what he’s missing and asks future-Cole who tells him it’s Jennifer – turns out the key to the universe is chock full of nuts. Future-Cole tells his present self to formulate a plan for once. Jennifer is the key to everything, but she’s lost in time. And we also get the first mention of Athan.

We flash to Jennifer who is in the French trenches in WWI, as the Germans infiltrate her trench and start shooting the French soldiers – and then Jennifer goes to her happy place – which, it turns out is my happy place too! How can you not love a music video suddenly popping up? It’s beautifully shot and stunning – I loved the violence of the head shots being transformed to balloons. Emily Hampshire is fabulous – and is obviously having a total blast!

Luckily for Jennifer, the German officer, Commandant Hoetler (Jonathan Eliot) is amused by her, and lets her live. I loved him offering her a cigarette and her remarking on Germans smoking a lot – a clear reference to Jones’ bad habit! Jennifer tells them she got there via time machine, and he simply thinks she’s crazy. But Jennifer has a vision of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse – the Guardians. Jennifer freaks out that she has to get a message back to her friends. It all starts in the past…

Cole notices that future-Cole is wearing Cassie’s watch, and he’s sure that it means something bad. And we cut to Cassie watching the Tall man preach to the followers of the Witness. She’s determined to stop everything from happening and the only way to stop it is to kill herself. Mallick and Magdalena try to stop her. It’s a bit of a cheap sequence as future-Cole refuses to tell Cole what happens to Cassie and looks sad about it.

Magdalena tries to explain to Cassie that they don’t make the Witness, he makes them. It’s a mind-bending chicken and egg scenario. Future-Cole tells Cole that they don’t save her. All their sins are written. Whether Cassie dies is up to her. And then we see Cassie let herself fall from roof, but Magdalena is there with her vest and suddenly Cassie is back having dinner exactly as she was at the beginning of the episode – except that she has a nosebleed.

Magdalena comes in and kills Ariana, telling Cassie that Cassie hasn’t changed. Magdalena went back in time and warned them. Because there can’t be two in the same time line, that Magdalena kills herself. The Tall man tells Cassie that because she can’t be trusted, her remaining time with them will be less comfortable. Magdalena echoes her words from the first scene and tells Cassie to mind herself.

Jones and the team locate Cole in New York at the Emerson and lock in on him. Future-Cole tells Cole to give up on Cassie. Cole muses that they aren’t supposed to still be there. Nothing they do changes it. Future-Cole tells Cole that he didn’t come today to save Cassie – he came to save himself. He tells him that he’s “only ½ way there” – which is hilarious because we know that there will be one more season after this one, making this episode, literally the half way mark in the series!

Future-Cole risks the causality bullshit in order to tell Cole that he’s going to have to forgive himself for what he’s going to have to do. There’s a beginning and an end – and all he’s every going to have is what’s in between. Wearing the watch is a symbol that whatever happens, Cole will always find a way to find his way back to her. Cole flashes out, and then Cassie is there. He tells her it was harder than he thought, but he had to get there somehow. She tells him there’s another way, and he says there isn’t. I loved that Cassie had pretty serious grey streaks in her hair. But, of course, we know that the future isn’t really set.

I loved Hannah punching Cole as soon as he got out of the machine. Cole has the clipping of Jennifer from the past that Future-Cole gave him. He stuns Jones by telling her that Cassie isn’t the mission now, Jennifer is.

Cassie gives birth in a pretty horrible way in a bathtub with no comfort and pretty much everyone watching. It reminded me of Olivia giving her the red tea when she was in the bath and we even get the same sort of hallucinatory camera effects. The final scene fades to black as we hear a baby crying.

This was a terrific start to the season with especially good performances from Hampshire – why can’t that rendition of “99 Red Balloons” be a full length music video?!?!? – and Schull. Waddingham and Tahir are great additions to the cast. Waddingham is definitely going to be someone we love to hate! So many questions are asked in this episode – and I won’t speculate because that would be cheating as I’ve seen the entire series. Have you seen the whole series? Just watching now? Watching again? Regardless, let me know what you thought of this episode in the comments below!

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