The loop starts with the alternate reality - a different 2043 - we saw a glimpse of at the end of last week's episode, in which our team in the future under Jones is in pretty bad shape, including Jones no longer really being in charge. Ramse's on hand with a missing eye, and his presence in this shaky future gives Cole a chance to tell Ramse he's a good man in any reality, which was probably the best line of the night.
The source of the alternate altered future is Cassandra's death in 2015, during or after her kidnapping that we also saw at the end of last week, and Cole's job as he goes back to the past from the alternate future is to stop Cassandra's death at all costs. He has a pretty strong motive - he not only cares deeply for Cassandra but needs to prevent the degraded future that her murder will for some reason bring into being.
Ironically, in a nice touch, though Cole (of course) saves Cassandra, her saving brings her closer to her former guy, Aaron, who as a result of what he sees in this episode finally realizes what Cassandra has been contending with these past two years. His apology to Cassandra is a good moment, but, sentimentalist that I am, I'm still hoping she somehow ends up in Cole's arms - in at least in some reality that we get a look at.
Her rescue involves Cole almost running into himself - always a good moment in a time travel story that takes its paradoxes seriously, as 12 Monkeys most enjoyably (for us if not the characters) does. When Aaron, not the best with a gun, shoots the first Cole - something that didn't happen last week - our current Cole feels the pain in the place from which the bullet was removed in future. Here's a quick flow chart if that seems unclear: Cole 1 (last week's Cole) is not shot as he's yanked back to the different 2043, from which he's sent back to 2015 to save Cassandra. During this rescue mission, Cole 2 (this week's Cole, from a future in which Cassandra is dead) accompanies Aaron, who shoots Cole 1. Since Cassandra's not yet saved, Cole is still sent back from the future to save her, but this Cole 2 suddenly feels the bullet wound.
See, this is why a witness is important - these time loops can get complicated. And, although the mission ends on a successful note tonight, with Cassandra saved, we learn that these jaunts through time are taking their toll on Cole, who needs not only a witness but a plan to stop the virus before he runs out of time. Because, even with time travel, time is not infinite - especially if the time travel leeches the time traveler's existence.
See you next time with a review of the next episode of this series that does time travel the way it should be done.
See also 12 Monkeys series on SyFy: Paradox Prominent and Excellent ...12 Monkeys 1.2: Your Future, His Past ... 12 Monkeys 1.3: Paradoxes, Lies, and Near Intersections ... 12 Monkeys 1.4: "Uneasy Math" ... 12 Monkeys 1.5: The Heart of the Matter
podcast review of Predestination and 12 Monkeys
three time travel novels: the Sierra Waters trilogy
What if the Soviet Union survived into the 21st century,
and Eddie and the Cruisers were a real band?
The Chronology Protection Case movie
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