12 Monkeys: "The Red Forest" (Season 1, Episode 6)


"You are walking through a red forest, and the grass is tall. It's just rained. Most of the blood has washed away." That's a nice little bit of poetic monotone. Too bad they don't do much with it.    

This is the week where budget issues finally hit home. Pretty much every dangerous conspiracy conducts its business in an abandoned warehouse with no security system and maybe a couple guards. You can walk right in and take whatever you like. That gives the whole thing a sad sack feel the overall concept doesn't really deserve.

You may remember Cole reappeared in a new future timeline at the end of last episode,   apparently the result of Cassie getting killed by The Pallid Man (TPM). At the start of this episode, we see someone pointing a gun at her as she's being driven off in the kidnapping van. Okay. Last week's cliffhanger promised all kinds of dire stuff with the future Splinter lab having been taken over by the nefarious West Seven. The writers don't even try to deliver on that. In this future reality, turns out the West Seven is commanded by good old Ramse, Cole's bestest buddy. He's still a sweetheart, and of course he'll have on the outs scientist Jones fire up that old time machine to send Cole back to 2015. The whole sequence is a complete waste of time.

Take that back. It does do one thing. With The Night Room having been disposed of last week, we have a new clue as to the origins of the lethal virus. Supposedly it now comes from Operation Troy in... Chechnya? Did I hear that right?

Flash back to 2015. Cassandra Railly's former fiancee--Aaron--sees something called Operation Troy on an intelligence brief for his senator boss. That's right before Cole shows up to kidnap him. Here's the deal: Cole can't rescue Cassie because he can't run into his past self back at The Night Room, so he kidnaps Aaron to do it for him. Some Washington DC staff flunkie up against an armed gang. That's pretty stupid. Of course, since no armed gang can have more than two guys for budgetary reasons, maybe it'll work out after all.

Another irritating thing is that Cole accompanies Aaron back to The Night Room and comes within easily fifty feet of his past self. So why, exactly, did he have to give the staff flunkie the gun again?

They fail to rescue Cassie. For some reason, however, their ineffective attempt makes TPM decide not to shoot Cassie and instead deliver her to a new Mystery Lady who says Cassie is "too important to lose." Wow. I guess it's a good thing for this new lady that Cole and Aaron made their ineffective rescue attempt.

Cole and Aaron spend a lot of time wandering around supposedly bonding. I won't waste your time with that.

The only interesting thing about this episode is Cassie and the Mystery Lady. She gives Cassie some psychotropic drug and starts repeating the whole "red forest" line. This is supposed to take Cassie to The Witness, who is either a hallucination or some kind of time traveler himself. It's a creepy and effective sequence.

Alas, it, too, is an anticlimax. Cassie finally does see The Witness. She then runs away into some other part of the abandoned warehouse in which this episode is being filmed. She gets away because the Army of the 12 Monkeys never have more than two guys for security. Those two guys show up afterward. Mystery Lady tells them to get Cassie back, because once again she's "too important to lose." Unfortunately for The Monkeys, by this time Cole and Aaron have arrived; they came in through  the front door because the two guys weren't available to guard it. Cole then shoots the two guys.

I guess Cassie wasn't too important to lose. Or maybe Mystery Lady and I just have a different definition of "too important." Too important is two guys. Cassie wasn't important enough to hire three.

Super secret lethal conspiracies. I guess even they get what they pay for. Hmmm. That's a good conservative thought, right?

Aaron sees Cole Splinter out at the end of the episode. I suppose that makes him an ally now.

Cole finds out from Jones that if he keeps doing these missions, his body will eventually tear itself apart. Perceptive viewers already knew that. Jones has one good line to close out the episode: "Cole, you and I are breaking the unwritten rules of the universe, but time is going to take what it's owed."

Too bad one good line can't redeem an episode too low budget to amount to much of anything.