Previously on 12 Monkeys . . . Actually, before I recap episode 2.06, I want to recap what my managing editor, Paul Brian McCoy posted on Psycho Drive-In’s social media sites about my review of that episode. In Tweeting and Facebooking my review, Paul wrote, “Is 12 Monkeys . . . just becoming more and more nonsensical? Here’s Thom’s take on last week’s ‘Immortal’!” Well, episode 2.07 has answered Paul’s question with a resounding, “Yes! Yes, it has become more and more nonsensical!” Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Previously on 12 Monkeys . . . Last week (actually two weeks ago, as I am a week behind in my review of this episode), episode 2.06 (“Immortal”) ended with Cassie’s eyeballs turning black almost immediately after her hallucinatory vision of, and conversation with, the Witness (the nefarious time traveler who, after witnessing whatever it is he or she witnessed to earn the name The Witness, is now trying to destroy the temporal dimension as part of his plan to create a static universe). The Witness has also been shown to have black eyeballs, so Cassie’s eyes going black seemed to indicate that she might actually be the Witness. However, as an alternative theory, I facetiously stated in my review of the episode, “or perhaps SyFy’s 12 Monkeys is crossing over with the CW’s Supernatural and Cassie has been possessed by a demon.” As it turns out, my facetious snark was closer to the truth than I realized. It seems the Witness may actually be some sort of “temporal demon” who possessed Cassie at the end of 2.06. “What’s a temporal demon?” you ask? “I’m glad you asked,” I state. A temporal demon is a name I made up and have decided to use as a descriptor of the Witness. “What utter nonsense!” you exclaim. “Exactly!” I exclaim right back at ya, as this series has now reached critical levels of nonsensical temporal mumbo jumbo. The writers have chosen to give most of the nonsensical dialog to Barbara Sukowa—the German actress who plays Dr. Katarina Jones. The German doctor’s married surname is Jones, so Sukowa’s natural accent is used as a way of making the nonsensical dialog sound more plausible due to the stereotype of cutting-edge German scientists—a stereotype that precedes the Nazi scientists and actually developed due to the pioneering work of the scientists and physicians of the Weimar Republic. To some extent, Sukowa’s portrayal of the stereotypical German scientist—someone who is emotionally detached from life save for her passion for science—has always bothered me. Perhaps the character has bothered me because Meine Mutter ist von Heidelberg. My German is not very good (Mein Deutch ist nicht so gut), so my grammar and syntax might be off. However, having been raised by a German mother who has her own thick German accent, I want to take this opportunity to put an end to the idea of Germans being emotionally detached from life except for their passion for science. First, of course, not all Germans are scientists or Nazis (or Nazi scientists) or techno-pop musicians/hipsters. I know I have just contradicted the way hundreds of American films and TV shows have almost always presented German characters, but it is true nonetheless. My mother is not a scientist nor a techno-pop musician/hipster, and she was just a child when the Nazi Party was defeated by the Allied Forces. Quite the contrary, throughout my life I have known my mother to be . . . uhm . . . emotionally detached from life except for her passion for cleaning, cooking, and hosting parties—all of which she has reduced down to a science. Oh . . . well . . . never mind. Anyway, I suppose it’s possible that Sukowa’s German accent might lend a tone of credibility to the otherwise incredible and nonsensical lines she had to deliver in this episode—such as when she had to explain some of the strange occurrences plaguing the facility in this episode and she informed Cole, “time is broken; causality’s in flux!” It sounds more believable if you say it with a thick German accent. Go ahead, try it. I’ll wait. See? It sounds more believable doesn’t it? Let’s restate it as a mashup of English and German, “Time ist kaput; causality ist im flux!” I won’t go on again about the ridiculous idea of breaking or destroying a dimension. I’ve already explained in previous reviews why that concept is nonsense. However, we have now been given the additional notion of causality being in flux. What exactly does that mean? Causality is in flux? Flux, which is derived from Latin, means “to flow.” Thus, Dr. Jones has stated that causality flowing . . . or, alternatively, she could mean that causality is weakening—but only if we first have an understanding of the existence of a “causality field” that can be quantifiably measured. So . . . let’s just go with the assumption that Dr. Jones meant “causality is flowing”—or “causality is in a state of change.” Well of course it is! 12 Monkeys is a television series about traveling in time to try to prevent things that have already happened from happening. The concept of cause and effect was immediately discarded due to the main premise of the show. Every time-travel story contains the cause-and-effect paradox as one of its basic conventions: The person you are now is the effect that was caused by incidents that occurred in your past. If you travel back in time to eliminate one or more of those causal incidents, you will effect (change) the person you are—and that altered person would then have no reason to travel back in time to alter the incidents that caused you to become the person you used to be before you traveled back in time. Thus, the person you became after you altered time will no longer come into existence because you won’t go back in time to alter your own history—i.e., you won’t create the cause that leads to the effect of the “altered you”—which means the original causes will once again occur and will once again create the effect of the old you who decides to travel back in time to eliminate those causes . . . and so on and so on and so on in an endless time loop. So, yes, Katarina, when you mess around with time and the sequential chronology of events, causality is going to be in a constant state of change (or “in flux”)—which has nothing to do with one of the dimensions in the universe being “broken.” Instead, the cause-and-effect paradox has led to the theory of parallel universes that arise from divergent time lines—which is a theory that some physicists are actually exploring. I thought 12 Monkeys might eventually take us into the idea of parallel universes that are created due to the actions of Dr. Jones and her temporal agents. However, that doesn’t seem to be the direction the story is taking. Instead, the nonsense just keeps building up, and Dr. Jones just spouts additional lines of mumbo jumbo—such as when the Witness (possessing Cassie’s body) sabotages the “array” and causes the “core” of the facility to overheat—which, in turn, causes the time machine to blast big, blue beams of light throughout the facility. Regarding this effect of the core overheating and blue light beams blasting through the facility, Dr. Jones refers to the possibility of “a temporal meltdown . . . that would create a chain reaction that would be catastrophic to the time stream.” A temporal meltdown? So, time not only can “break,” it can also be melted down? What exactly does melted time look like? Well . . . Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” (La persistència de la memòria) aside, what the hell does it mean for time to have a meltdown? Nevertheless, as the core continues to overheat (and I could accept the idea of the facility being powered by a nuclear reactor in which the nuclear rods are going into a meltdown), something suddenly blows up inside the room where the array was sabotaged. Once Dr. Jones sees what it was that blew up she exclaims (in a thick German accent), “No, the hydronic chamber has broken open.” Her colleague and fellow physicist Dr. Eckland intelligently asks, “What does that mean?” “There’s no way for anyone to replace the array . . . not without being exposed to temporal radiation.” Temporal radiation? Dr. Eckland then distracts her so he can grab the replacement array and go into the adjoining room to replace the array that was sabotaged. It’s Dr. Eckland’s Spock moment from The Wrath of Khan. It’s his chance to save the life of the woman he loves by sacrificing himself. And so Dr. Eckland is burnt to a crisp and turns to ash (or is that “temporal ash”?) due to his body being flooded with “temporal radiation.” However, temporal radiation isn’t the worst of it, as Dr. Jones then gets on the walkie talkie to tell Cole, Cassie, Ramse, and Sam, “Get out of the core room now! There’s going to be a feedback of splinter radiation.” Splinter radiation? Is that different from temporal radiation? Why, yes it is! Temporal radiation can turn a man into temporal magma and temporal ash. However, splinter radiation is a bolt of blue lightning that can send through time whatever it hits. In this case, it hit Ramse’s young son, Sam, and sent him into the Forests of Time. Okay, I have accepted this show’s notion of “splinter rays” or “splinter radiation” that are used to transport Cole and his colleagues throughout history. I’ll give them that one, but they can’t just keep throwing feces at the wall to see what sticks and hope that their audience doesn’t care whether it makes sense. I understand 12 Monkeys is a science fiction series with science fiction elements. However, nonsensical science does not make for good fiction. This is not a series aimed at a target audience of 10-year-old boys who simply want to be thrilled by the adventures of stalwart heroes defending time in the name of safeguarding universal peace. I can enjoy an episode of Tom Corbett, Space Cadet from 1950 for what it was in its attempt to interest the audience for which it was intended. Yes, there was nonsensical science in that Golden Age television space opera, but that is actually part of the charm of television science fiction from the 1950s and early 1960s. However, from 1987 to 1994, the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation managed to base many of their stories for that space opera series on actual theoretical science—and I expect nothing less from 12 Monkeys and other contemporary science fiction TV shows. In fact, the first season (1974) of the Saturday Morning children’s show Land of the Lost had time-traveling science that made more sense than 12 Monkeys makes at times. Actual temporal theories can be more bizarre than the nonsensical science this series has devolved into during its current season—and the plots that could be developed from those actual temporal theories could give more credibility to the Witness as a villain who would have plans that go beyond “destroying time” in order to bring about a Utopian static universe. I’m going to continue to watch the remainder of this season, but I’m also going to continue to hope the nonsensical science is eventually replaced with actual mind-expanding scientific theories. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response 12 Monkeys 2.08 “Lullaby” - Psycho Drive-In June 20, 2016 […] this episode was going to be nearly identical to my reactions of episode 2.06 (“Immortal”) and episode 2.07 (“Meltdown”), so I was trying to get a jump on writing my comments because I had fallen behind by one […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.