Episode 7, “The Keys,” could be a pivotal entry in the 12 Monkeys storyline. It was gripping to watch and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I just hope the writers can maintain that momentum throughout the rest of the season. It ended on a cliffhanger that I hope is not explained away in the next episode. I cannot sugar coat it.
Cole dies in this episode.
If he did survive, we need to see it. We do not need him to just appear in the next episode and say, “Jones injected with blah-blah-blah which saved my life.”
Maybe I should have saved that until the end of this article, but it did get your attention!
At the beginning of this episode, the CIA just happens to be in the middle of a briefing detailing Operation Troy. Adam Wexler has been leaking CIA information and the smoothest way the CIA can silence him is by exposing him to a virus. The virus will kill him, patch their leak, and could not be linked back to the CIA. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and pride myself in my belief in multiple conspiracy theories (in 1998 I came up with a doozy explaining Princess Di’s death!), the idea that an uncontrollable pandemic that threatens the safety of the entire world is used to snuff out one guy boggles my mind. I am not saying it could not happen or that it has not happened, but it is hard to swallow. The virus is sent to a remote location in Chechnya to kill Wexler; perhaps it does seem a little more plausible than I originally thought.
Since Aaron has joined the Team Cole, he continues to prove his value by using his access to Senator Royce to swipe a key fob that contains a thumb drive full of information on Operation Troy. After this episode, I am still on the fence about Aaron. In a badass move, he sacrifices his position, career, and life by stealing the key fob right out of the senator’s pocket. Later on in the episode, he seems wishy washy about involving himself with Cole’s mission. If the CIA is willing to kill a man that has leaked information with a deadly super-virus and cover it up, I am sure an Aide that steals classified information would easily be killed.
Meanwhile, Cole and Cassandra are at a swanky museum gala to find out more information. We see another hint at romance between Cole and Cassandra as they dance momentarily. We are also reminded of the bleak future that Cole hails from when he sees a painting displayed. In his present, the museums were looted. People took what they wanted and destroyed the rest. This also reinforces Jones’s desire to preserve humanity for its cultural achievements and works.
I love time travel movies and television shows, but there is a loop concept that has always bothered me, originating (for me) in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It is the idea that something happens and you think the character is stuck, but then the character says that they will go back in time, do something that provides a way out of the sticky situation, and then it appears magically. For example, Bill tells Ted that after everything is over, they will travel back before that moment, and hide a tape recorder. BOOM! The tape recorder appears.
In Cole’s case, right after he, Aaron, and Cassandra review the printed contents of the key fob, he splinters. Moments after has splintered, he calls Cassandra and tells her that Operation Troy is actually happening at this very moment! Instead of needing a tape recorder to appear, Cole needs Cassandra to tell him a week from now (a week from Cassandra’s present time) how to destroy the virus. Cole has splintered from 2015 (moments after talking to Aaron and Cole) to 2043 and then back to 2015 — only in Chechnya, where the Army of the 12 Monkeys are attempting to intercept a briefcase containing the virus during Operation Troy. Cole manages to intercept it instead, but is forced into a fortress instead, where he just so happens to meet Adam Wexler. Wexler and his gang tie up Cole and ignore his rants that they must not open the briefcase because it will infect the entire world (who would?). Of course, they and a troop of Russian soldiers are exposed to the virus.
Senator Royce questions Aaron and Cassandra about the key fob and their knowledge of Operation Troy which has now been compromised but succeeded in infecting Wexler. Unfortunately, it has also infected Russian Troops, which will lead to the ultimate spread of the virus. The CIA’s only recourse is an airstrike which would burn the virus and the surrounding infected area, but it would also kill Cole. In order to correctly pinpoint his location, Cole must stay on the phone with Cassandra and serve as a human target. Cole tells Cassandra that she cannot warn the version of him that she meets later in the week that he will die. He also ominously tells her that his answer to a question she will ask him is “The Florida Keys.”
The next scene is the Cole that splinters to 2015 a week after Aaron steals the key fob. Knowing he will die and expanding on her need/desire to know him better in a previous episode, she tries to get him to share more about himself. The entire time, Cassandra’s eyes fill with tears. Aaron pointedly stays the course and briefs Cole on what they have found out and Cassandra tells him to drown the virus with bleach. Cole tells Cassandra that while growing up, all of the kids in an orphanage would imagine faraway, beautiful lands to mentally escape to. Cassandra asks Cole where he would escape to, but he does not answer. As Cole Splinters, Cassandra says, “Goodbye.”
She does not say anything per se, I am sure Cole knows something is up since Cassandra is crying and tells him goodbye. Does mean that Cole and Jones put in place some type of safety net that keeps him from actually dying in Chechnya? Remember, it was not long ago that we were shocked when Cassandra was killed. In 12 Monkeys, death does not necessarily mean the end of a character, just a change to the ever-confusing timeline.