TV Review: 12 Monkeys (1×11) “Shonin”


This week’s 12 Monkeys pit brother against brother as Cole and Ramse go head to head in 1987 Tokyo. The episode picks up exactly where we left it last, with Ramse having hijacked the splinter to intercept Leland Goines at the White Dragon and Cole right at his heels.

At the end of last week’s episode Cole tells Jones he is willing to kill Ramse to secure the safety of the future, and I wondered if Cole would really be able to do such a thing. Never did it cross my mind to worry about Ramse, who has been the emotional center and moral compass of the show thus far. Yet, when caught brawling at the White Dragon and forced to fight each other, Ramse doesn’t hesitate to stab Cole in what is assumed a fatal blow. It is a great emotional beat to glimpse Ramse’s shaking bloody hands along with his hard expression. A man whose mind is so caught up in his goal but whose heart can’t forget the brother he once loved. If Elena had been a better character maybe I would have felt more torn between the two, but as it is I merely mourned the loss of what was arguably the most important relationship on the show outside Cole and Cassie’s.


Of course, in classic time travel style we learn that Leland Goines wasn’t interested in the Annapurna remains when he thought it was a dilapidated relic, but as soon as Cole confronts him about it, he learns that it carries a virus, and suddenly wants in. This is only a start to the havoc we see played across the timeline, and how the events of the past season have been manipulated. Cole is saved but slingshot him across to 2015 and Cassie’s care. Yet the cost of this is the loss of the tether to Jones’ team. Without this, and with the losses incurred in the last few episodes, they lose hope in Cole’s survival and the success of the mission. Even Whitley, the steadfast soldier breaks for a moment as he loses hope in Jones, and all abandon her to die amongst the ruins of her life’s work.


Ramse however, is stuck in 1987 and incarcerated. Kirk Acevedo does some of his best work as Ramse slowly realizes just how far he is from his son. His slow losing of hope mixed with the brutal bullying he encounters in prison leaves him vulnerable to the letters offering a path that come to him in prison. I believe this is the moment I realized Ramse was The Witness that had been guiding the 12 Monkeys. They have seemed to be ahead of our heroes the entire season and now we know how. Directed by an increasingly bitter and cold Ramse, who knows all the information necessary, the Army manipulates the events that Cole initiates in order to have them follow the exact same time stream that brings Ramse to the present. There is a sense of biding their time, playing within the lines in order to ensure Rams becomes The Witness, yet now that Cole is dead to them and the “period of interference” he ran is over, the Army’s shackles are off and we can see just exactly what they are capable of. Yet even with The Witness reveal, there are more players we learn about. Olivia’s father, who seems instrumental in Ramse’s rescue, remains a mysterious omniscient figure and with a second season, I don’t think we cane expect the answers to all our questions just yet.


I will end on the note that it is interesting to me, that beyond the time travel and the science. Beyond the mysticism and the brainwashing, it is the brutality Ramse faces in prison that leaves him vulnerable to the Army. It isn’t motivated by some ulterior motive, merely the viciousness of humanity and the need of some to exert their will on others. In a show that focuses so much on the right of our future to be saved and the high cost of it, it is poignant to get a beat to recognize the depravity of what humans can be, and question whether our time has come.


Diya Mishra is a 20-something graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She graduated with a degree in Business Marketing and a minor in Media Arts. She can be found nowadays wandering in and out of bookstores, taking a nap, or quoting Lord of the Rings to innocent bystanders. Reading and television are the two most important things in her life other than her dog and she is usually talking about one or the other on Twitter @thedimishra or via email at