12 Monkeys: “Mother”

In case you missed it, 12 Monkeys returned last weekend, still crazy after all these years.

They released the entire season this time around; my busy schedule means I’ll be watching and reviewing it in weekly installments, sometimes combining episodes of the arc-heavy series.

Title: “Mother”

Written and directed by Terry Matalas

Aaron Stanford as James Cole
Amanda Schull as Dr. Cassandra Railly
Barbara Sukowa as Dr. Katarina Jones
Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines
Brooke Williams as Hannah Jones
Faran Tahir as Mallick
Hannah Waddingham and Elizabeth Whitmere as Magdalena
Demore Barnes as Whitley
Murray Furrow as Dr. Lasky
Andrew Gillies as Dr. Adler
Dominique Provost-Chalkley as Arianna
Tom Noonan as Pallid Man
Jonathan Eliot as Commandant Hoetler
Jean-Michel Nadeau as French Sergeant
Some Guy in a Plague Doctor Mask as the Witness


Cassandra Reilly remains captive in a time-traveling city, held until she delivers the Witness. James Cole is beside himself but, realizing that Reilly is no longer the mission, searches for a time-lost Jennifer Goines in the hope of saving the world. Katarina sends her daughter on a mission.

High Points

Jennifer Goines singing “99 Luftballoons” to a homicidal German in 1917.

Forget the revival of Twin Peaks. No one does crazy quite like the Monkeys, and Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines is in fine form.

Low Point

I have a question and quibble more than a Low Point: we’ll eventually learn why Cassandra conceals herself while Cole has it out with Cole. Where does she conceal herself? She turns up very quickly when Cole 1 disappears.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6

Effects: 6/6 The season premiere features many effects. Some are basic but effective, and the distinction between practical and CGI becomes blurred. The show does not really showcase its effects; they’re simply there in service of the story.

Acting: 5/6

Story: 5/6 It’s always difficult to assess the plot of an arc-heavy show. They lay some of the (inevitably shifting) foundation for the season effectively.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 12 Monkeys is back.

In total, “Mother” receives 36/42

3 replies on “12 Monkeys: “Mother””

  1. I also thought Emily Hampshire’s scene in the trenches was inspired – especially the juxtaposition of exploding heads/balloons – but perhaps topped by one in a later epsiode (for those that have watched the entire series, the fifth, where she’s explaining her “heist”, aided by Alisen Down’s equally manic take on Jennifer and more nods to other movies/series than I care to count). If she doesn’t get some form of recognition when award season comes around I’m going to rather surprised to say the least, although I’m hoping for some stiff competition from Orphan Black’s imminent final season too.

    On the low point, Cassandra didn’t have a time vest on, so I’m going to go with something along the lines of she arrived with future-Cole was was left outside before he jumped in to chat with present-Cole, she could then sneak in while present-Cole was preoccupied with his future self to be on hand once he left. They get pretty good with those vests later on – the fight on the train, for instance – so the precision of time and place to do that wouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Probably just a retcon for a fairly minor editing glitch, but it does more or less fit the sequence of events.

    • Thanks– I should have mentioned the absence of a time-vest. Of course, that a thing so minor even qualifies as a “Low Point” indicates how strong this episode is.

      • The whole season came across as extremely strong to me, although that’s probably at least partly down to watching it over three nights without any other shows getting in the way apart from Doctor Who. I think they probably cover more points in history and a greater span of time overall than any season so far, including several we’ve seen before, yet it all continues to hang together with very little in the way of continuity problems. Given how tough continuity can be for shows where time typically only moves forwards, to do that when your cast is also fiddling around with causality and actually trying to change things is very impressive work on behalf of the writing team.

        Enjoy the ride, and good luck trying to avoid the “just one more episode…” bug. :)

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