12 Monkeys : T.V. Review
airing on: SyFy, Fridays @ 9/8c
Boy oh boy, the future is bleak. By 2043, Earth’s population has been nearly wiped out by a pandemic. People have resorted to cannibalism, the sky’s always overcast, and…there’s time travel? The show 12 Monkeys follows the same premise as the 1995 Terry Gilliam sci-fi movie, which followed time traveler Bruce Willis as he went back in time (to then present-day 1995) to find and kill the originator of the plague. The show is more of a thriller, with hints of conspiracy theories, than the film. Thankfully, it keeps the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey nonsense mostly nonsense.
In 2013, Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) warns her fellow doctors how unprepared we are to face the next big pandemic. Remember Ebola? As she heads home, she is kidnapped by a crazy homeless. Actually it’s time-traveling homeless Cole (Aaron Stanford). He’s received the message she sent in 2015 that blamed Leland Frost (Zeljko Ivanek) for the deadly plague. She has to take him to Leland Frost immediately. One problem though, she doesn’t know who he is. And Cole’s time in the past is very limited. He quickly disappears before anyone else sees him.
The film and the show handle time travel and paradoxes in a unique way. Cole has an imprecise knowledge of the future. He’s figuring out the story along with us. Due to our fuzzy knowledge of the future dystopia, we don’t know what is or isn’t affected by past shenanigans. The potential for flexibility with past and future events keeps me hooked. Spoiler: The killing of Leland Frost, and Cole not disappearing, mean that Frost is not the central figure of the mystery. The show opens it up to a larger mystery and keeps me intrigued.
It’s hard to tell how long the conspiracy of the 12 Monkeys will be drawn out? The leads are a little bland, but as their characters evolve, hopefully signs of life will appear. In addition to solving the central mystery of the disease’s origins, the 2043 future has a mysterious scientist (Barbara Sukowa) who talks about “fate” and “destiny”. Post-Lost I’m wary of serialized sci-fi. However, the future that invented time travel before a cure to the deadly disease keeps me interested. The garbled message and mysterious scientist give me hope that the series will be full of fun twists.
By the end of the second episode, a new character has been introduced and the mystery of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. Hopefully the characters will be fleshed out and not subsumed by the conspiracy.