12 Monkeys: "Tomorrow" (Season 1, Episode 9)


Hooray for 12 Monkeys. In quite the shock, this show has been renewed for a 2nd season, something it has certainly earned in the creative sense. Cue the violins, however, for Syfy. It just renewed a show with an average Live + Same-Day viewership south of 900,000, which speaks volumes about the network's place in TV Land.  

This episode was actually excellent. It again weaves together a protracted story in three separate times (2017, 2041 and 2043) into one nicely integrated whole. We open in 2017 with Cole wandering through a disintegrating Chechnya while TV reports toll doom worldwide from the nascent plague. There are already 31 million dead in the United States.

Quick flash to 2043 where the head of Project Splinter, scientist lady Jones, is on the warpath. She needs the power core at Operation Spearhead to restore her time machine and get Cole back. She tells everyone with her that Colonel Foster and Spearhead are a dead end--they've cured nothing but an obsolete of the virus left behind by mutation a decade ago.

Quick flash to 2041 where lone scavengers Cole and Ramse are about to run headlong into Operation Splinter for the first time. They're drawn by hunger in a hopeless world.

Hope, faith, belief... Call it whatever you want. It's the thing that sustains us through the impossible, but it can also blind us, dress up selfish need as something noble. That's what "Tomorrow" is about. Cole and Cassie are pawns believing they can make a difference in 2017. Colonel Foster believes he can save the future. Jones believes she can save the past.

They may all be wrong after this episode.

In 2017, Cole finds the US Army looking for him. They've been sent by Cassie at the CDC. His journey begins with a helpless Chechen woman shot down in cold blood as she ran with hope toward Cole's rescuers. It ends with an Army officer telling him "They'll find a cure-they have to." All the while he walks through desperate masses pleading for salvation. In the last such group, the mysterious Jennifer Goines is working her mad magic on a crowd, asking if they can hear the thunder of falling men, of their fathers forfeiting this world.

Cole arrives at the CDC to find Cassie infected. She's dying exactly where history says she died, exactly where her remains will be found after Jones investigates fragments of her final message to the world. Where she'll always die speaking of a man named Cole.

In 2041, Cole and Ramse are tortured by Army Officer Whitley who wants to know how they learned of this place, the special cave called Operation Splinter. He won't accept that they just stumbled upon him. Jones interrupts the dirty work to tell a man named Cole that she's been waiting for him. She seems a tad insane.

In 2043, Jones uses Whitley to turn his father, the head of security at Operation Spearhead, by showing him that Colonel Foster is deluded. Foster is lying about a cure. Jones speaks with Foster one last time to try and win him over. It's obvious they were good friends once. Foster renews his offer from last week--he'll assist Jones in operating her machine to bring Cole back if she will then work with him for one year to prove a cure is within reach. Jones shoots him dead: "Goodbye, Jonathon, for now."

The sequence that follows is dark and beautiful. The narration is Jones in 2041, making her pitch to Cole, telling him about all the wonders of a lost world they can regain. It's a story about hope and meaning and finding the courage to do what you have to. As we hear it, we watch Jones and her forces in 2043 systematically gun down the resistance at Spearhead. There's blood everywhere. It flows beneath gorgeously muted light like the lies we too often tell ourselves.

The absolute kicker? That comes back at Operation Splinter when we learn Foster wasn't deluded. He wasn't lying about the possibility of a cure. And Jones knew it. She lost a daughter she wants back in a world where the plague never happened. They'll all get back what they lost when the world resets. Every dark thing she does will be justified when that happens, all that flowing blood wiped away, gone with a future that never happened.

Hope. Faith. Belief.

The dying Cassie gives Cole an address. She says "See you soon." Then she dies in his arms.

Hope. Faith. Belief.

Cole is splintered back to 2043. He has to save Cassie and all those people pleading for help in 2017. To do that he has to trust Jones. To do that, all of them must have the courage to do what they have to do.

Hope. Faith. Belief. They've never felt crueler, will always save you in a tomorrow that never comes.  

That's some truly excellent drama from a show on a walking dead network.