Review: 12 Monkeys – The Red Forest


In the odd future where West 7 is in control, Cole learns that he hadn’t returned further in the future where the militia had taken over the facility but it was an entirely new timeline where he had died and Ramse had taken control of their group to take control form Jones. After learning that his horrific future—more so than it was already—was made possible due to the death of Railly after the events of the Night Room. And Cole is pushed back to 2015, a day before they tracked down Goines and the Pale Man, and he recruits Aaron Mark, Railly’s ex-boyfriend, to track her down after they miss their attempt to deter her kidnapping.

The Pale Man forces Railly to drink the same hallucinogenic tea he’d given Goines after kidnapping her while being ordered around by a taciturn woman in the room. Under the effects of the drugs, she tells Railly to “imagine walking through a red forest with tall grass.” This mantra induces a glitchy drug trip where she walks through the imagined forest to a dilapidated house in the center of a red field. Cutting through this hallucination is The Witness, a mysterious figure dressed as a Medico della Peste (plague doctor).

Battling headaches and symptoms of paradox, Cole and Aaron find where Railly’s being kept. He manages to shoot down the Pale Man in a gun fight before being pulled back to the future, making Aaron a true believer of Raily’s claims over the years.

In 2043, Cole explains to Jones the divergent timeline he’d experienced and worries over the chronic headaches and accompanying visions he’s experiencing. She suggests that he might not survive his next trip to the past.

12monkeys_aaron_160012 Monkeys has become a frustratingly force-fed exercise in patience that fails to teach me much of anything. For the past four episodes we’ve been given new characters and events and no real information about the plot or its driving actors. The Pale man, who’s been featured in every episode besides the pilot, still has no information explaining him nor his motives. And now there are two accomplices there to aid him in bringing about the virus that’ll end life. In place of information that drove the plot well in the first two episodes we’re given glitches and repeats of plot points already well exercised.

Entering a new timeline opened the door for exploring the true complexity of time travel as a concept. What we got was Ramse with an eye patch. This did highlight Railly’s importance to the overall plot, however, and gave Cole a reason to head back to Maryland. In recruiting Aaron and the mention of a CIA operation may push us forward, but in every episode there has been some lure to make it to the net. However, these advancements have only led to a change of scenery and no true advancement of the plot. From the end of the pilot we’ve learned that the Goines family has some connection to the Army of the 12 Monkeys who’ll release a plague that kills a large chunk of the human population. At the end of the sixth episode that premise is not elaborated in anyway for the viewer. All we have are more characters in a space that could barely support two.

That being said, visually the show manages to keep up. Cinematographers and VFX designers of television, take notice.

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Written by Daniel Rodriguez
Daniel Rodriguez is a freelance writer and author from New York City.

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