Previously on 12 Monkeys . . . Last week, Dr. Cassandra Railly (“Cassie”) and James Cole traveled back in time to 1944 to check into the Emerson Hotel, which in 2016 is a fleabag flop house. However, in 1944 it’s a swank, upscale establishment—proving that time takes its toll on everything. Of course, Cassie and Cole’s mission was o’t to check into the Emerson; it was to prevent the ritualistic murder of Thomas Crawford. Our consistently hapless heroes failed in their task, as they were unable to prevent the murders of two Thomas Crawfords—Senior and Junior—by Vivian Rutledge. You see, what happened is, The Twelve exhumed Thomas Crawford’s body in . . . (hell, I don’t recall in what year, but it doesn’t really matter). They dug up the body so they could steal the breastbone and fashion it into a knife. Rutledge was then sent back to 1944 to kill Thomas Crawford by plunging the breastbone knife into his heart. At first, they went after Thomas Crawford, Sr. because he was a biologist whose work never amounted to anything—but Cassie and Cole thought perhaps his work was connected to the pandemic virus that leads to the post-apocalyptic future of 2044. No, wait, t hat doesn’t make sense. Maybe Cassie and Cole thought perhaps the senior Crawford’s work could prevent the pandemic. Oh, hell, it doesn’t matter. Crawford’s work didn’t amount to anything, and Cassie and Cole essentially admitted they have no idea why The Twelve would want to assassinate him. However, after Rutledge plunged the breastbone blade into the senior Crawford . . . nothing happened. Well, he died, so I guess it’s not fair to say “nothing happened.” An innocent man died. Yet, the expected temporal explosion that occurs when the same object touches itself—as in the knife made from Crawford’s breastbone would be touching itself as it is plunged into Crawford’s breast. Of course, this whole notion of the same object touching itself and causing a temporal explosion due to the paradox of an object meeting itself from a different time is pure fantasy physics, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the story. However, if time travel ever becomes real, it’s doubtful that my current bottle of Mountain Dew would cause a temporal explosion if it came in contact with a future version of itself. Instead, future Thom would simply have two Mountain Dew bottles—one that is empty because I drank the contents on May 15, 2016 at 1:15 PM, and one that still has some Mountain Dew in it because I sent it forward in time by 15 minutes to offer it to myself 15 minutes from now. Fifteen-minute-future me could then finish drinking the Mountain Dew that current me started drinking so that 15-minute-future me could then have two empty Mountain Dew bottles to add to the recycling bin. Ouch, the paradox is making my head hurt! Actually, no it’s not making my head hurt at all. It’s making me realize I need to go get another bottle of Mountain Dew because I stupidly sent my current bottle 15 minutes into the future. Oh, wait, I just need to wait another 14 minutes and then I can just keep drinking the Mountain Dew I’ve already been drinking. Anyway, back to 12 Monkeys . . . so, after plunging the breastbone into Crawford senior did not cause a paradox, Rutledge tracks down Crawford junior at the mental hospital where he has been allowed to paint pictures of monkey faces on the walls of his spacious, private hospital room. Get it? The “insane” people in this series are always covering their walls with monkey faces–similar to how monkeys in the zoo cover their own walls with monkey feces. It’s a visual pun! The supposedly insane Thomas Crawford, Jr. was played by Erik Knudsen, who co-starred in another time-travel science fiction show, Continuum, that aired in the United States on “Syfy” (I hate the name of this cable network) but that was originally produced for the Canadian cable network Showcase. On Continuum, Knudsen played the young Alec Sadler who would eventually age into the old Alec Sadler played by William B. Davis (Cigarette-Smoking Man from The X-Files) who sent the series protagonist, Kiera Cameron, back in time to stop his younger self from becoming the man he turned out to be. Due to ownership and copyright issues, I realize there is no way we could have an official 12 Monkeys and Continuum crossover, but it would have been so cool if Knudsen’s character on 12 Monkeys could have had Sadler as his surname. Imagine, Rutledge killing “Thomas Sadler, Jr.” and thus preventing him from having a grandson named Alec Sadler. But once again, I digress. Time travel stories can easily become very confusing–in part, due to all the digressions that are made to the timelines caused by altering events. However, Continuum mostly made sense during its four seasons—not entirely, but mostly. Unfortunately, 12 Monkeys has stopped making sense, and we are only half way through the second season. With this episode, it seems the series is set to “jump the shark”; in fact, it could be that the shark was actually jumped in this episode. As this second season began, I noted in my review of “Year of the Monkey” (episode 2.01) that the underlying concept for the series of a global pandemic leading to a post-apocalyptic future could easily become stale: It’s a premise that would obviously make a great movie or television miniseries, but it could eventually become stale for an ongoing television series. During the first season, I speculated that the concept would constantly be altered after several episodes. Cole prevents one apocalyptic event and then suddenly shows up once again in our “present” to seek the assistance of Cassie to prevent a new apocalyptic event—with Cole never remembering the previous apocalyptic events he prevented, but with Cassie always remembering the previous versions of Cole she has aided. However, it became apparent that my speculation wasn’t the direction in which the series was going. Instead, Cole has now prevented the global pandemic twice—and the second time he was able to limit how “pan” the epidemic became. Yet, he always remembered everything from the time digressions due to the “temporal serum” (or whatever it’s called) that a time traveler must be injected with. People who have the temporal serum in their veins are able to recall the events of the divergent timelines. In my review of “Primary” (episode 2.02), I presented a new speculation: Perhaps the series will eventually get around to what must actually be occurring—freewill actions don’t alter the course of time; they create parallel universes. Instead of time shifting around the people who have been injected with Katarina’s time-travel serum, they are actually passing from one universe into a parallel universe. Unfortunately, that speculation appears to have been incorrect as well. Instead, the underlying conflict in the story is no longer the global pandemic that needs to be prevented. After all, it was never clear why the mysterious manipulators were attempting to wipe out the majority of the world’s population and create an apocalyptic future. The pandemic concept only made sense when it could be attributed to human ineptitude. However, the intentional creation of an apocalyptic future by releasing a deadly virus made absolutely no sense. Still, I have been hoping that a logical explanation would eventually emerge. However, my faith in this series having some underlying logic appears to be as misplaced as Katarina’s faith in causality. In this episode, the 2044 version of Jennifer Goines (older, but still as crazy as her 2016 self) attempts to explain the nature of time to Katarina by talking about ants marching in a line and only conceiving the line as linear until one ant removes itself from the line and then looks at it from a new perspective and can finally see it for what it actually is . . . which, in Jennifer’s example is still a linear progression of ants. As far as I can tell, the ant that is no longer part of the line would see it’s still a line of ants moving along in a linear fashion. However, Jennifer’s demonstration is meant to come across as some sort of profound epiphany—one that Katarina is beginning to understand. Unfortunately, the concept Jennifer was attempting to convey was presented more effectively by Fitz in an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a few weeks ago: However, 12 Monkeys is now based on the concept that certain people known as “primaries” (Jennifer Goines, Thomas Crawford, Jr., and Jim Morrison—the lead singer for The Doors) are Time Incarnate, which is why all of these primaries appear to be insane to those of us who are merely Flesh and Bone Incarnate. They aren’t actually insane; they just end up painting pictures of monkey faces on the walls of their spacious rooms in their respective mental hospitals in which they are institutionalized because they can see time from outside time because they are time-made-flesh. Don’t worry that the concept doesn’t make sense. The writers know it doesn’t make sense, which is made evident when the characters in this episode keep telling each other that none of it makes sense—and they then tell each other that the reason none of it makes sense is because “the true nature of time is unlike anything Stephen Hawking or [other noted physicists] ever conceptualized.” Unfortunately, the concepts presented by Hawking and others (including the poet T.S. Eliot in his Four Quartets) is mind-bending enough, and if the writers of 12 Monkeys could actually wrap their minds around the legitimate conceptions of time that have been presented in scientific papers, they wouldn’t have needed to come up with the fantasy physics of Primary individuals who are Time Incarnate as well as the Pillars of Time whose deaths will cause time to be destroyed—which will then free us from the constraints of time so that we may experience eternity (or was it infinity?). Wow, man, that’s deep. Let me have another toke of that shit you’re smokin’. As Fitz so correctly states in the clip from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I posted earlier in this review, time is a dimension. It’s the fourth dimension, and it seems likely that it is only the fourth of multiple dimensions that make up our reality—the others being too enfolded for we three-dimensional creatures to perceive. To imagine this multi-dimensional reality that most contemporary physicists agree on, take one of Fitz’s two-dimensional planes of existence—the stack of pages he used in his example. Now wad up that two-dimensional world and look at it from a distance so that it looks like a three-dimensional object (a “ball of paper”). Then look at it up close, and realize that it’s still a two-dimensional plane that has been folded in on itself so that it becomes three dimensional due to its “enfolded dimensions.” Now, imagine the four-dimensional existence of height, width, depth, and time as our limited view of a more complex reality in which the “enfolded dimensions” aren’t visible to us because we are incapable of the having the proper perspective due to our four-D limitations. It’s sort of what Jennifer was attempting to convey with her ant-that-is-no-longer-part-of-the-line analogy, but it’s more mind-bendingly profound. I just wish the creators of the 12 Monkeys television series understood the theoretical physics better, and that they could see that the real theories have profound implications that could be explored in an intelligent story about the nature of time and the ability of humans to perceive it. To be fair, the creators of the other current TV series about time travel, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, don’t seem to grasp the actual theoretical physics any better than the creators of 12 Monkeys do. However, Legends of Tomorrow isn’t attempting to be much more than a free-wheeling superhero story that involves traveling in time to prevent the deaths of the lead character’s wife and son—and even then, the creators of Legends of Tomorrow seem to accidentally get the physics right (or at least in agreement with Fitz’s explanation in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). I am going to continue to watch (and review) the remaining episodes of this current season of 12 Monkeys, but the show is stretching my “willing suspension of disbelief” to its breaking point. Claims of “The Twelve are trying to destroy time” are as nonsensical as someone claiming “The Twelve are trying to destroy height.” Oh no, if they destroy height, all of us will suddenly become two-dimensional beings in which our bodies will only have width and depth! I have a feeling that when the second season is over I won’t watch the third season if it gets renewed. Instead, I’ll delve into some science fiction written by people who actually understand the concepts—such as Eliot’s Four Quartets poem. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response 12 Monkeys 2.05 “Bodies of Water” - Psycho Drive-In May 23, 2016 […] in this season of 12 Monkeys is what caused me to state in my review of the previous episode (2.04—“Emergence”) that the series had “jumped the shark.” However, while I maintain these new plot elements are […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.