That's because a "primary" is not an election to choose a candidate, but a person with special powers, who can see into the future, and trace its connections to the past. Jennifer is such a person, and tonight we meet Thomas Crawford, who has similar powers.
Now in the movie, there were nut cases on street corners, like the guy who warned Cole about the "science bozos," but these were presumably time travelers who got stranded, not people whose minds were somehow able to see the interconnections between the future and the past. Jeffrey Goines (Jennifer in the TV series) may have had some kind of insight into what was going on, or may have just been crazy and astute with his insights. Jennifer has far more power, and is far more important in the long run to the narrative in the TV series.
Since Crawford has the same power, he could be just as important, which is why the bad guys aka the Messengers want to kill him. And here's where the paradox sets in: despite Cole and Railly's best efforts, Crawford is killed - stabbed to death - with a bone from his corpse from the future. That's certainly ironic and bizarre, but I'm not clear why it triggers such a profound paradox.
From its inception last year, 12 Monkeys has insisted that two objects in the exact same time and place have literally explosive effects on at least part of the space-time continuum, I've never understood exactly why this would or should be. If you meet yourself in a trip to the past, that can indeed create an insurmountable paradox of memory in your head, as you suddenly remember remember remember meeting yourself, for the first time. And that could drive you crazy - hey, that could be a source of why Goines and Crawford are the way they are - but not necessarily blow up a part of the world.
Of course, 12 Monkeys is entitled to just say that in this, their universe, an object and itself in the same time and place can rip a part of the universe apart. Since no one has time traveled in reality, as far as we know, we have no idea what putting objects and themselves in physical proximity will do to the world. So, yeah, I can accept this as a dramatic conceit, without fathoming the necessary logic.
In any case, the disruption in time causes good narrative effects in the future, and leaves Cole and Cassandra untethered in the past, so there's lots of good story all set to go.
See also 12 Monkeys 2.1: Whatever Will Be, Will Be ... 12 Monkeys 2.2: The Serum
And see also this Italian review, w/reference to Hawking and my story, "The Chronology Protection Case"
And 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 ... 12 Monkeys 1.6: Can I Get a Witness? ... 12 Monkeys 1.7: Snowden, the Virus, and the Irresistible ... 12 Monkeys 1.8: Intelligent Vaccine vs. Time Travel ... 12 Monkeys 1.9: Shelley, Keats, and Time Travel ... 12 Monkey 1.10: The Last Jump ... 12 Monkeys 1.11: What-Ifs ... 12 Monkeys 1.2: The Plunge ... 12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale: "Time Travel to Create Time Travel"
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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