12 Monkeys: Memory of Tomorrow – Season Finale (Review)

12 Monkeys - Season 2

The second season finale of 12 Monkeys “Memory of Tomorrow” was nigh on perfect as finales go.  For a start it had the original Katherine Railly aka Madeleine Stowe as Lillian in a guest cameo. SecondlyTom Noonan makes a surprise  re-appearance  later in the episode.  And thirdly another  familiar face returns to greet Ramses; Olivia played by  Alisen Down

Story-wise the last episode is pretty satisfying although we are not sure whether we would drink the red leaf tea even if Madeleine Stowe told us to.  Among the other things that have transpired in the two year time period Dr. Katarina Jones (Barbara Sukowa) teaches herself to be a “Dirty Harriet.”  She also finds a friend in the time it takes Cole (Aaron Stanford) and Cassie (Amanda Schull) to return.  

The time is 1959. Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) and Hannah (Brooke Williams) have been dead for two years. Cassie and Cole are celebrating their second Christmas together and he has just learned that he will be a father.  Cole receives a razor for his present and he gives Cassie a butterfly broach.

Later when Cole  is in town, time freezes.  He leaves the shop and notices the only thing moving;  a woman whose  skirt is  billowing in a nonexistent breeze and who has blood dripping down her left hand.  She tells Cole, “It’s not over James,”  and time un-freezes.

Time freezes again while Cole is in a traffic jam. He finds the woman with the bloody hand in a church-run asylum.  It is a woman named Lillian (Stowe) and she tells him he can stop the end. Cole realizes that Lillian is a prime.

She sends him to the Pine Barrens.  He returns with some leaves from a red tree and Lillian explains he can use them to time travel without a machine. She puts the leaves in Cole’s hand and squeezes it shut.

Lillian: “James Cole does not need a machine. Go down the rabbit hole. Drink me.”

At home, Cole adds hot water to the leaves and drinks the stuff. He is able to travel and he must find his 1957 self to stop the paradox. After a short montage of  Cole jumping to different times and versions of himself he ends up back in 1957 on the day of the paradox.  This time he and Cassie stop the event and return to Jones via the machine.

After some catching up, the three head off to save Ramse and Hannah from dying at Titan.  They arrive and are greeted by the daughters of Jennifer (Emily Hampshire). Cole explains that an army awaits Ramse and that the daughters are needed to save him.  Young Jennifer explains that the women will not listen to her and Cole tells her to try. 

Goines gives an impassioned speech using old cliches and almost convinces the young women to join her. When they  do not, Jennifer says to the unresponsive group, “Oh screw you.”  She tells “otter eyes” that she will go with him and before leaving tells the her girls to remember the most important rule that old Jennifer must have forgotten.

“Be excellent to each other.”

(It was so fitting that Jennifer would use a “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” line to motivate her daughters to help.  It was also amusing that it worked,  but it does make sense, after all,  the saying comes from that verse’s future.)

The group all head to Titan and arrive in time to stop the wholesale slaughter that occurred before. They all decide to search Titan which turns out to be another machine like the one Jones has. As the group  split-up more  of those robe wearing masked guys turn up and a very loud alarm begins to sound.

Just prior to the alarm Cassie remembers the butterfly and Cole is amazed as technically,  since they stopped the paradox, it never happened. The alarm continues to blare and everyone starts leaving Titan.

Deacon (Todd Stashwick) – who killed old Jennifer – does a solo “Charge of the Brigade”  at a group of robed men who suddenly show up. He does this so young Jennifer can escape.

“I’m sorry I killed you. Go!”

Jennifer starts off and shoots a couple of robed men. Her bullets also strike a control box and she is zapped by two openings with a blue light. She vanishes.

Ramses is rescued by another masked man and just as Cole and Cassie make it to an exit, they are surrounded by robed men. Cole makes it out but Cassie does not. Jones and he watch as Titan disappears.

Jones and Cole learn that Cassie has been taken to the future; 2163. Ramse meets with Olivia who tells him she is taking him to his son. Cassie learns that “The Witness” is  her unborn child. The baby that she and Cole were having before the paradox was fixed has somehow still made it through time.

Cole forces Jones to send him forward to save Cassie who stands in a room full of mask wearing robed people chanting “Mother.”  Jones’ voice can be heard over the final scene saying:

“I told you, this is a story about how the world ends. One that begins at the end and ends… At the beginning.”

(Another nod to the film has Jennifer arriving in a trench in World War I.  At first she thinks she is in a German trench and then she realizes she is on the French side. Speaking to the soldier in front of her she asks for a telephone and the toilet.)

12 Monkeys ended brilliantly with “Memory of Tomorrow.” It had a cliff-hanger and a happy ending, for Ramse, and Jones gets her daughter back again.  The best bit of this season finale  however was Madeleine Stowe in her cameo as Lillian.  The actress looked no different and proved that she still “has it.”

Kudos to the entire cast of this excellent series.  It will be interesting to see if SyFy bring this one back. Hopefully they will as this time travel stuff just never gets old.

Twelve Monkeys Versus 12 Monkeys

Twelve Monkeys Versus 12 Monkeys

It seems like the successful small screen adaptation of the Coen Brothers film Fargo has left the door wide open for other big screen classics to be remade on a smaller scale, the latest is Terry Gilliam’s time travel tale Twelve Monkeys and it will be Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt versus 12 Monkeys, SyFy and Noah Bean. This move could be just as well received as FX’s Fargo although to be honest, the cast list was pretty impressive in version of the Coen Brothers downsized film.

Twelve Monkeys (1995): It’s Just a Matter of Time

Based on the 1962 short French film La jetée  that was written and directed by Chris MarkerTwelve Monkeys was adapted   by David Webb Peoples and Janet Peoples as a feature length film.

Directed by Terry Gilliam Twelve Monkeys is the second film that Gilliam  did not write or co-write the screenplay for. The first film was The Fisher King (1991). An interesting thing to note about both films is the fact that they were both well received by critics and the public.

The film is set in the future. The earth’s population has been decimated by a manufactured virus that was released in 1996. The virus was so contagious that the survivors moved underground and can only go outside wearing protected clothing.

Bruce Willis is a convicted criminal who volunteers to go out and collect samples from the contaminated remains of the outside world. He is working towards a pardon and his freedom.

Scientists have discovered through intelligence that a group called The Army of the Twelve Monkeys were active in 1996 and 1997 and believe that this group is responsible for releasing the virus. James Cole (Willis)  is recruited to go back in time and get a ‘pure’ sample of the virus so scientists can develop a cure.

Unfortunately the time travel ‘machine’ developed by the scientists is not exact and James is sent back to 1990. He ends up getting arrested and placed in a mental hospital for observation. When he is brought back, the scientists quiz him about a phone message from a female.

James convinces the scientists to send him back and after a bit of another ‘false’ start he ends up in the right year.

Twelve Monkeys has always felt like a curious blend of Time Bandits and Fifth Element to me. Despite this blend, the film is too non-linear to be likened to any other film too much. The film does have Gilliam’s stamp all over it.

The scene where Cole is being interrogated by the panel of scientists and he tells them that they are not real, they do not exist. The scientist’s react badly to this, with one female scientist sounding very hurt when she remonstrates Cole for his remark.

In another scene, Cole has been badly injured and is in a hospital bed in his own time. The scientists have surrounded his bed and are singing to him. Gilliam is a master of surrealism and Twelve Monkeys is about as surreal as  you can get.

In terms of cast, Monkeys hits the jackpot. Brad PittMadeleine Stowe, Christopher Plummer, David Morse and of course Willis.

Willis breathes defeated life into James Cole and before the film is halfway through we recognise that this is a doomed individual, but we’re behind him every step of he way.

Brad Pitt’s character Jeffrey Goines is a complete fruit loop and his love/hate relationship with his father Dr Goines (Christopher Plummer) is what has made him rebel against the animal testing in daddy’s labs.  Madeleine Stowe is Cole’s therapist who eventually believes his outlandish story of time travel and tries to help him find the virus.

In Twelve Monkeys the future is depicted as filthy, grimy and cold. Human life, especially in the prison, has little to no value. Animals have taken over the planet and man can only take very limited trips to the surface. Of course the 1996 and 1997 that Cole visits is also not very clean.

Graffiti is on practically every city wall and rubbish lines the streets. The authorities are cynical and bored. And towards the end of the film, we begin to wonder if all this time travel isn’t just some sort of nightmarish dream of Cole’s.

Having a limited amount of special effects has meant that the film has aged pretty well. It is still a compelling film to watch and I consider Twelve Monkeys  Terry Gilliam’s jewel in his crown. Although The Fisher King could be considered a close tie.

My final rating of the film is ‘a two bagger’ for the constant to-ing and fro-ing that the film does between time. And a large coke to help wash down that bitter ending.

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