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12 Monkeys - Brothers - Review

12 Monkeys “Brothers” is based on a story by Travis Fickett with the teleplay by Fickett and Kristen Reidel and was directed by Joe Menendez, whose other credits include From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, East Los High, and Imagination Movers. The episode can only be about Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Ramse (Kirk Acevedo). It was shocking to lose Ramse, and especially to lose him at Cole’s hand.

The episode begins with a flashback to remind us of how long these two have been together and more importantly what they’ve been through. It was a bit jarring to realize how much older Ramse was than Cole. We see the two running through the woods, and they come upon a foodbank. Cole (Jack Fulton) is hungry and wants to check it out immediately. Ramse (Jordan James) is more cautious and wants to come back to scope it out the next day.

Naturally, the older boy is right, and Cole is captured when it’s a trap. Ultimately, he’s saved by Ramse. The incident is important to both of them. It’s the first time that Ramse called him brother, and he’s been family to him ever since.

In 2007, Cole and Ramse share a drink at the Emerson. This time it’s Cole who thinks their mission might be a trap. He doesn’t trust Olivia (Alisen Down). Ramse reassures him, telling Cole that the Witness took everything from her. She’s got nothing left to lose – much like Ramse himself. It appears that Cole misses this point – but in the end, it’s clear that he doesn’t. Cole presses Ramse. Cole points out that with all the time that Ramse spent with Olivia and the Army of the 12 Monkeys, Ramse would know if it was a set up – he’s trusting him.

Back in 2046, Jennifer (Emily Hampshire) has a vision of a dying man. I loved that she was sleeping in the machine. She’s getting quite an affinity with the time stream. Adler (Andrew Gillies) chases her off, telling her to go to her own chambers, and she rewards him by calling him 3-PO! Nice Star Wars reference show!

Instead, she invades Jones’ (Barbara Sukowa) domain, sketching out her dreams and visions furiously. She draws the dying man, but also mutter 607, and draws the snake eating its tail – the Ouroboros. Jones is not happy when she finds Jennifer, telling her that it’s an evidence board, not a portrait studio! Jones insists that she has a system. Jennifer mutters that it looks pretty random to her. Jones is particularly interested in the dying man however. Jennifer doesn’t know who he is though. We get a nice glimpse of her tortoise keeping her company on the table.

We get a nice little light-hearted moment back in 2007 as Cole and Ramse rob Otero’s gun running operation. I loved that they knew about this friend of Deacon’s (Todd Stashwick) Dad because of things Deacon had told them. It’s a nice parallel to the opening scene. I loved the word play between Cole and Ramse, and it was a nice reminder of the chemistry between these two actors – something the show has never really given us enough of.

I adored the puns: “half-baked plan;” “when you yeast expect it;” “buns (guns?) in the oven;” “That plan’s gone a-rye.” Unlike the initial scene, however, Ramse doesn’t have Cole’s back. The two split up rather than sticking together, and naturally, Cole has a harder time getting away when Ramse simply takes off.

Ramse has gone to the hospital where he thinks that Cassie (Amanda Schull) is working. He has her called down to the ER. There’s a nice re-direct as we only see “Cassie” from the back and some police show up to throw Ramse’s plan into disarray. Ramse manages to follow her out of the ER and down an empty hallway, barely hesitating before executing her – but of course, it’s not Cassie.

Ramse goes back to the Emerson, and Cole isn’t happy. Ramse has a lame excuse, but then Cole essentially helps him come up with a better alibi. Ramse lets on that he took the train to see his mother – and then didn’t. But that also opens the door for Ramse to suggest Cole go to see Cassie. Cole tells Ramse that she’s not even in New York right now – she’s in Parsippany at a Community Centre looking after an outbreak… It looks like Ramse has just gotten the information he needs, but in reality, he just tipped his hand to Cole.

The two continue their planned assault on the compound to get the Witness. Now Ramse is suspicious that it might be a trap and suggests that they split up. He’ll make sure the coast is clear and then Cole can head in.

When it comes time to split up, Cole doesn’t like that they are splitting up. Ramse tells him, “It’s the only way, brother.” And I loved how this worked on both levels – with both his deception and his real plan to kill Cassie. He goes on to tell Cole that it’s about time they set things right. They shake hands and part.

Cassie is about to leave work when she’s called back in – but that’s Cole’s plan because he’s waiting for Ramse and tells him that she’s not coming. Cole admits that he knew what Ramse was planning the moment he showed up with Olivia. He hoped that Ramse would prove him wrong. Naturally, Cole didn’t go to the hospital to stop Ramse’s first attempt because he knew that Cassie wasn’t there. Cole tells Ramse that he’s let him down again.

Cole reminds Ramse of the first time he called him brother – he’s been his family. And Ramse throws Cole’s other family in his fact – what about the house of cedar and pine? Ramse tells Cole about the baby and that the baby is the Witness. Cole doesn’t believe him because that was the one thing he was able to undo. Ramse asks Cole to think about why he’s even still alive. They could never kill Cole because he was the father of the Witness! I love how the writers so easily explain every implausible getaway!

Ramse tells Cole, “One life for 7 billion!” And suddenly the shoe is on the other foot – Cole tells Ramse he – of all people! – doesn’t get to say that to him. Ramse shoots Cole and the two chase each other through the dark woods. This is a beautifully shot sequence. We have both younger and older versions running through the woods. The younger are in daylight, Ramse having saved Cole, only for the older versions to be running through the dark and for Cole to be the one to kill Ramse…

I hated the way that Ramse died – and losing Acevedo. But the shots of them running through the night forest with snow falling all around them was strangely beautiful and peaceful. Cole shoots Ramse who won’t stay down, forcing Cole to finish it. And of course, the fact that Ramse let Cole shoot him in the back – is both symbolic of being betrayed, but is also Ramse making it easier for Cole. It’s much easier to shoot someone if you don’t have to look them in the face – or eye – to do it. Cole asks why Ramse couldn’t trust him – he’d always trusted Ramse. Ramse points out that they always try to do the right thing and end up doing it the wrong way. Be begs Cole not to undo his death and his finally words are “Brother, you’re on your own.” But of course, he’s not now.

Acevedo deserves an entire review of his own for the wonderful performances he’s delivered on this show. Each performance has been beautifully nuanced and even his death is subtle and moving. I loved what he did throughout this episode as you could see each doubt flit across his face through a subtle tightening of the eyes or clenching of the jaw. It was easy to see and feel how conflicted Ramse was – and how hurt he was to have been his brother’s second choice. I’m still hoping that while Cole may honor the promise not to “undo” the death, that some action in the future won’t lead to this conclusion and we’ll have Acevedo back.

Cole does go to Cassie in 2007 as she’s leaving work and he tells her that he can’t do this alone. He begs her to come back to him, right before he splinters. And the change in the timeline causes a nosebleed for Cassie in the future.

Meanwhile, Cassie in 2047 is being rescued by Deacon (Todd Stashwick). She hugs Deacon, but the first words out of her mouth are to ask if Cole is with him. Deacon is clearly not over her and looks hurt – because d’uh! The two follow Mallick’s (Faran Tahir) directions to find their way out.

There is an awesome fight scene as the two have to battle Guardians to get to the gate. Cassie – Schull (or a terrific stunt double) is particularly impressive. Suddenly, Mallick appears with two guards and seems about to capture them, when he unexpectedly stabs both his guards! Mallick tells Cassie to find her son! The two just make it out before Titan splinters.

When the Tall man (Tom Noonan) finds Cassie gone, he’s sure that she’s had help. He’s most concerned, however, that this was not “foretold.” It makes one wonder who was keeping this information secret. Does Mallick have this much power or was it the Witness himself? Regardless, the Tall man is ready to splinter immediately and Mallick stops him – he needs the time to get them out.

The Tall man wants to use the vests to go after Deacon and Cassie, but Mallick points out that they are only to be used in extreme circumstances. He tells the Tall man not to tell the faithful – nicely dovetailing back into why it wasn’t foretold. To further the cover up, the Tall man says that everyone involved with Cassie’s imprisonment will have to be killed. And all of the dovetailing in this episode, all of the circular structures, Cole and Ramse running through the woods then and now, all of it is a reflection of the Ouroboros that Jennifer has drawn.

Cassie and Deacon find themselves in 2047 and make their way to the facility – which has been utterly destroyed! The two see a butterfly drawn on the wall, and sure enough when they dig in front of it, they find two splinter shots.

Back in 2046, Jennifer is dreaming of the dying man who flits between being Cole and being Cassie. When she wakes up, she goes to Olivia. I loved her telling Olivia to stop talking like a super-villain! She’s not buying Olivia’s act. She knows that Olivia is unbreakable – and Olivia’s demeanor is completely different with Jennifer – no cowed and pliable prisoner here! Down really is fantastic this season!

Jennifer insists that Olivia has never spent a day anywhere that she didn’t want to be – except maybe as a child – let’s not forget that! Jennifer tells Olivia that she’s having trouble sleeping and she wants Olivia to tell her a story to make the dreams go away.

Olivia tells Jennifer that she has no answers to who the dying man is. She points out that she isn’t the one who can see the future. Jennifer is convinced that Olivia is setting a trap, and Olivia insists that “we decide moment to moment what determines our survival.” She insists that there is no plan. But Jennifer is adamant that there is a map – and she’s seen it! Olivia seems to be concerned.

Cole splinters home, and Jones is concerned that he’s hurt. He brushes her aside, telling her that Ramse didn’t make it but not that he killed him. Jennifer stops him on his way to Olivia and tells him that she’s glad he’s not dead – but don’t kill Olivia. He goes to Olivia and shoots the lock to her prison, and is about to shoot her. She knows that Ramse has told him, and that Cole chose Cassie over Ramse. She stops him from shooting her by telling him that he needs her to find his son – and she promises that his secret is safe with her. Does anybody believe that?!?!

The machine then brings back Deacon followed by Cassie. Cassie and Cole share a moment – Deacon looks disappointed and so does Jennifer at their clear love for each other. Jones looks pleased. But the two share a long look as well, when it’s clear that much has been shared between them. Cassie nods, confirming that the Witness is their son – and that she remembers.

This was another wonderfully written and acted episode. In praising Acevedo, I was re-miss in not also praising Stanford for the heartbreak and powerful scene over Ramse’s death. The “problem” with this show is that the actors deliver great performances each week so that it’s hard to single out one without singling out the others and suddenly simply gushing about all of them! The same could be said about the writing on this show. It’s a wonderfully thought out puzzle – and the catch 22 of having an end date. They can carefully write to that to tie up the loose ends – but then the writing is so tight and satisfying that I just want more! And there are 6 more episodes to go in this season – what did you think of the episode? If you haven’t seen the entire season yet, can Olivia be trusted? Will you miss Ramse? Did Cole do the right thing? And anyone can answer those last two! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!