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12 Monkeys

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  • 12 Monkeys

    This pic clicks out to the article it came from.

    I was obsessed with the original film for years, so of course I'm digging the series. I'm putting this thread here for random thoughts about this show, other thoughts welcome.

    Today's bit is pulled out from a post I wrote elsewhere today.

    Yesterday was like being energy bombed, I barely even got on moc for 30 minutes, so instead of just laying in bed staring at the ceiling, I pulled out my stash of 12 Monkeys eps I've been hoarding away and started over. By ep 5 both Cole and Goines had been forced to drink some of that weird tea, which back then we didn't have a clue about and was a year and a half ago (I never saw reruns after first airing), and I also paused a bit in the first ep, I guess Cassie already had an artist's depiction of the Witness in history.

    So now I'm getting into the time wiki. All these time travel shows I watch, all these different tenets set for how time 'works' when you mess with it. Continuum was the most intriguing because it allowed for loop backs and line splits at the same time, like a macrame weaving in and out and prime actually getting lost in the shuffle, but a really good show would be able to keep everything prime and incorporate allthethings, because that necessarily demands practically flawless writing and an amazing amount of story board planning. You can't just throw new shows in to fill space, or toss theories around like plot devices.

    The real challenge is internal locality- blindly solving the puzzle when the pieces keep leading everyone in self-fulfilling circles. I love both the film and series equally, and I think they've done a great job migrating the characters into a more updated version. I think my fave part is getting to see the development of the 'board room' disagreements, the rogue scientists shouting different theoretical strategies at each other. That is more 'real life' than so many of the time travel shows I've watched. Jones breathes depth into this show like no other character, and to me has become iconic for setting precedents now.

    790: You're wasting your energy attempting to force my cooperation.
    I have no sense of self-preservation and I can always be reassembled.

  • #2

    I may have finally found a logic flaw in 12 Monkeys. In episode 2.8 "Lullaby" they could have stopped at any point before they even killed Jones and drastically changed the future. They took out the leader of Spearhead, for one, and corrupting Spearhead's future might have meant Jose never found out he had a son there, so that whole conundrum could have simply vanished. Time kept resetting, though, even when they didn't kill Jones, until they finally figured out they had to save Jones' daughter without her knowing she'd been saved, because Time needed her to be exactly like she was to keep the direction she'd gone intact. And then she meets Hannah all grown up, actually got a little tear in my eye.

    BUT. If they never, ever use Hannah again as a key player in the 12 Monkeys story, that was an extreme logic error, because otherwise, all they had to do in principle to escape the loop was not kill Jones. Well, they kept looping anyway, even when Jones didn't die, so obviously they weren't spit out of the loop over AAAALLLL that other stuff. So saying it all boiled down to Hannah can't be entirely correct. It meant that not just Jones, but everyone else in Jones' history HAD to be kept in place, including the leader of Spearhead. So I feel the snippet of explanatory dialogue at the end of the episode was begging the question a bit. Either Jones is slipping or the writers are, and I tend to lean on writers. Also, they jumped right over springing Jennifer out and how that was done without destroying Spearhead, as well, so all this focus on Hannah is really bothering me. This episode would have been done more justice if it had been a two-parter or even a cliffhanger into a 3rd season.
    790: You're wasting your energy attempting to force my cooperation.
    I have no sense of self-preservation and I can always be reassembled.


    • #3
      If you follow me on twitter, you may have picked up that I'm lately soaking my brain in a 12 Monkeys brine. This is a continuation of a thought I've been working on for years, but what the heck, let's splat it out there and see what happens.

      I've been thinking about the problem of causality and infinite loops. The 12 Monkeys viewer's perspective can only happen if we keep Cole's continuity intact. Real time travel wouldn't happen like that, but we have to be able to tell stories about it, so we usually pick a few 'prime' characters so we can distinguish them from themselves changed or in alt timelines. The injections given to Cole that let time flow around him are never explained, but I'm betting it would have to involve nanite technology, and right now, those shots are the only way that allows his story to be told, so that's a convenient plot device that can go into more depth later if they wish.

      This is a writing perspective that has been used for a very long time. For instance, the Sliders gang called their own earth 'Earth Prime' and desperately looked to get back to it from numerous uncatalogued and sometimes wildly variant 'copies'. When Star Trek fans discuss new Trek, the original canon timeline is 'prime', so prime Khan and Spock and can be distinguished from alt Khan and Spock after Nero changed the timeline and created alt Trek, which I just simply call new Trek because it also means new generation reboot. (I handle the alt Trek stuff at Things To Do On Your Phone When You Can't Sleep.)

      So Cole and Cassie in episode 1 "Splinter" are prime. After that, everything starts changing. By the time we get to season 2's version of Jose and Sam, which simply looks like a single alt change, there have been numerous other changes way too lengthy to even list, if you get onto every little bitty detail like some fans have been doing. Compared to Continuum, which basically involved one metro area, 12 Monkeys is worldwide, and even though Continuum's time travel changes affect the entire world because of policy and political changes, 12 Monkeys directly affects billions of lives every single time they loop de loop, as it were.

      By the time Cole holds dying Cassie, I noticed her watch was unscratched again. What's up with that? I wasn't live watching, don't know if the fans noticed on twitter, haven't checked the wikis and forums very deeply yet (but here's one questioning what happened), and it's never been mentioned in the show as far as I know, BUT, that must mean something. Cole apparently didn't notice. That watch had just about come full circle, and it's the same watch he'll be taking off her skeleton arm in the future, but because of the paradox he created, unless there's a specific time it unscratched, shouldn't it now be scratched when he first finds it in the future? If the writers are indicating that at Cassie's death there is a reset, Cole never looped back the same way the reset happened over Jones. We might possibly be looking at more than just a paradox and a time loop.

      Cube 2: Hypercube also focused on a watch, but there the time was always frozen. Lots of things happened in many alternate dimensions, but time didn't actually pass. I have a fascination for watches in scifi shows.

      I want to propose a different way of looking at time travel. I've been thinking about this for a long time, have probably mentioned it in passing elsewhere because I blurb sometimes about time thoughts (this section -Waking Up- is a first draft for a book I'm writing- I was doing the untimed house visual in 2007, so it was cool seeing that kind of visual filmed out in 12 Monkeys), so here goes, and I think it will help a bit with how we view the 12 Monkeys thing.

      Time travel is currently still more a philosophical subject than a scientific one, and thinking through and mapping all the 'loops' in all the shows (Doctor Who sites really go wild with it) is difficult for some of us to keep track of. I visualize time very differently than one line sprouting into many, and I personally think Douglas Adams is right, time kinda smooths itself out no matter how much you mess with it. Everything Cole and the rest do is set in motion by what they themselves have already done, so everything they're doing is just role playing into all the preset loops. It's like exponential self fulfilling prophecy creating more and more loops (preset changes) until there is such a tangle of possible outcomes that the loops start dangerously tipping off the outer edges of the light cone of events, sort of like the High Roller in Las Vegas.

      So here's the deal. Most of us have seen macrame. It's a particular kind of weaving that depends on 'interlocking', which you could metaphorically call 'fixed points' or 'primaries'. The Fates of old were more powerful than the gods, and they wove single threads into the destinies of men. Instead of seeing Time itself as one thread to map loops with, we should be seeing all the threads of all the characters weaving in and out of each other, but still part of a bigger whole, like a rope. All the loops and mini ropes that split off from the main whole can still come back together and remain intact on their own, like a macrame plant holder. I think threads of time going off in rogue directions is only a micro view, and if we pan out, we can see that every move Cole makes is necessary to the entire woven structure of his time traveling. Things may look like they've changed, but he's simply looping through parts of the weaving.

      It looks like all that can be lost to the Red Forest. Logically, if the Red Forest is an immutable thing, all the rest should already have collapsed and there is no story to tell, so the Red Forest is a rogue fixed point that all the threads might appear to have to pass through or go around, if we look too closely at it. I'm not sure time can be unmade like that. It is only the human perspective that becomes corrupted. However, their situation is admittedly dire, and yes, they must do something about it.

      If this were Minecraft, the Red Forest would already have a big section to play around in, like the Nether...
      790: You're wasting your energy attempting to force my cooperation.
      I have no sense of self-preservation and I can always be reassembled.