12 Monkeys Review: Nature vs Nuture

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Within three hours, the focal point of 12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 5, 12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 6 and 12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 7 came full circle.

At the very beginning of "Causality," Jones pointedly asked Cassie if, in all the time she was at Titan, she had the opportunity to discover the identity of the Witness. Cassie, of course, said no.

Looking back at the full three hours, lying was probably the wrong approach.

The 1980s - 12 Monkeys

This group of people has been through so much, and each has carried extra burdens of secrets along the way. While the one Cole and Cassie currently have is a whopper, they haven't been carrying it very long.

They also aren't the first two people to suddenly discover they have an adult child who was caught up in the whole 12 Monkeys mess.

The problem is Cassie and Cole had no time together to discuss fully the ramifications of their secret, let alone sharing it. Cassie lived with for a long time. Cole had mere moments in comparison.

It's a shame, really, because something tells me Jones might have understood what they were feeling based on her experience with Hannah. They've been far too secretive about each other all along, and it's generally been good for no one but themselves.

If Jennifer, who had a huge crush on Cole for the longest time, was capable of understanding their desires to keep their personal issues a secret and to protect their privacy, why not guess everyone might behave just as decently?

God. Don't you love Jennifer? "Causality" was another Jennifer-centric hour in which she was the brightest star, even when coming face to face with her father, Leland. The whole plan to steal the painting to get their hands on the Witness' map was her idea, and she orchestrated it perfectly.

The outfits were so much fun and the light attitude was welcome in the middle of the darker installments. Everyone looked great except for Cole, who apparently dressed himself as a walking pun.

Nineteen eighty-nine. What a trip. Do you know they're playing Genesis in the lobby? You really should let Jennifer dress you. I will have a scotch, neat, with a beer back.


Jennifer and Cassie had time to bond while they were waiting outside the auction house, and Jennifer was not a bit crazy as she talked about being formed by what happened in her childhood. 

It was an essential conversation when it stood up against what was to come in the following two hours.

Cassie: We could change that for you. It's 1989, your mother tries to drown you in 1991. We could warn someone, maybe get you some help.
Jennifer: I don't know who I'd be if I wasn't the kid whose mother tried to kill her. It's kind of a defining moment in one's life, you know.

Jennifer isn't the exception, as it turns out. She and Athan (I hope that's right) are very much alike. In fact, he thinks she will one day be far more than he has ever been, going back to the earlier episodes when Future Cole tried to get Cole on board with why Jennifer is so important.

Aethan: The symbols. You see them too?
Jennifer: What do they mean?
Aethan: I don't know. You're like me.
Jennifer: I don't think I've ever been like anybody. I don't think I'm like you at all. I think you're better.
Aethan: But one day, I think you will be the best of us all.

Jennifer was defined by what happened with her mother and nurtured partly by her father and the nuthouses in which she was raised.

There is so much about Jennifer that is like the little boy who wrote out his life story on that map. They are both intelligent beyond anyone's imagination and wish to be people they are not. They were in situations they couldn't control, doing what was expected.

The more we learned about Athan along the way, the more I started to like the little guy. 

Even so, isn't it ironic how even Athan's parents don't quite understand him? Cole couldn't mourn the loss of someone he never knew, even while Cassie couldn't let go of a child she carried and to whom she gave birth.

Cassie: James?
Cole: There's nothing to say.
Cassie: They made him. That's nurture, not nature.
Cole: That's not what I saw, neither did you.
Cassie: I know what we're supposed to do, but I can't.
Cole: I can.

While Cassie struggled with what her child became because of how he was raised, Cole believed he was so broken and damaged because of all the evil things he did that he was at fault for producing a child capable of killing a tent full of people.

The Army of the 12 Monkeys

But we were seeing a child struggling against what he was being forced to do. He didn't like it, but Magdalena kept forcing the issue. What a terrible spot that would be in for a child that age. To know what you're doing isn't right but feeling those who care for you pushing you into a direction you can't control.

It was very cool seeing Agent Gale again. He's such a good guy, and Cole was right. He'll probably help them in 1961 even knowing he's going to die. I wondered, though, if Athan drew him his fate as a way to tell him it wasn't written in stone.

It was very strange that the boy would choose him, of all people, to connect with at that tent rally. Of course, he was probably the sole survivor. Yet, it felt different than that. With so many people looking out for Agent Gale, it would be nice to know there is a way to change fate.

I had no idea what it was Cassie was begging to see when she asked Jones to splinter, but visiting her mom to ask her about the map and what it meant about her son was pretty cool. 

Her mom was just as intelligent as Cassie, and she had insights that led Cassie to believe by intervening as his mother, she could possibly change who the Witness becomes.

There is a time loop, of course, and they may all be stuck in it, but if the Witness and what he started is as important as we've been led to believe, could it be possible changing his life might change the course of history going forward?

Friend Against Friend - 12 Monkeys

The third hour suggested killing him would be the ultimate fix. 

The boy is the man. The totality of the life.


Jones reminded everyone there would be no reward for doing it, and if there was a God, they'd likely be punished for even considering it. Unless, of course, they were forgiven by time itself.

Because if they were successful, they would never have reason to even think about doing such a thing.

Cassie and Cole would be born decades apart. Deacon would be singing his song to people years in the future. Jennifer might rot in an insane asylum forever, or her mother may never try to drown her. Who knows?

At this point, could anyone pinpoint the exact moment in time where the effects of the Witness would stop and history wouldn't be affected?

I sure couldn't. Now that I think of it, I don't think killing the boy would do the trick. For the boy to come into existence, there had to be a Cassie and a Cole. For there to be a Cassie and a Cole, there had to be a Witness. There is some circular logic missing that won't make the death change what needs changing, but I don't know what it is.

And call me crazy...but when I saw the boy in the tent, young Athan looked so much like Cole, and the age wasn't so far off, that it hit me Cole's dad could be his son. Or his grandfather. Unless he's going to be flitting around time too much to be in any one place to knock someone up.

What I didn't understand (other than what I just wrote) was whether or not Jones fully understood Cole to be the father of the Witness. 

She didn't come right out and say it to Cassie when they argued but rather allowed Cassie to take the blame for ripping apart the world as she knew it, and Cole and Ramse. Sure, Cassie came first, but Cole went back in time to tell Cassie about their future. She was originally an innocent.

I'm getting myself very confused! Haha

Everything's coming full circle. Only Jennifer understood Athan and suggested they stop the killing already and start making different choices. Cassie ran into the room and shot Deacon. Even the deepest crush would have had a hard time accepting that.

Hannah was gravely wounded for a mission Jones thought had been ALL ALONG about Cassie and Cole and their child. 

Jones: This whole time. This entire mission. All of it. It's been about them.
Deacon: You do know what we have to do, right?
Jones: Yes.
Deacon: May God have mercy.

The secret threatens to tear everyone apart because nobody understands it. If Cassie and Cole had shared the truth with them in the first place, they would have surely been on the same side. It's the silence and being forced to piece together odds and ends that led to the wrong conclusion.

I don't think they'll be torn apart for long. 

Someone will find a way to share the truth of what's going on. Maybe it will be Athan himself. When he sees what his parents are doing in their quest to reach him, he could begin to change. He's not a bad person. The map proved his confusion and wishes that he was someone different. 

If the opportunity arises, he could take it, starting a different world. Who knows? It's 12 Monkeys. The whole thing could already be tied back to the very beginning, and we just don't see it yet.

What do you think? When you watch 12 Monkeys online look for clues and bring them back to the conversation! 

Nuture Review

Editor Rating: 4.75 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (12 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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12 Monkeys Season 3 Episode 7 Quotes

The boy is the man. The totality of the life.


You want to pull people together, you put them through hell. You want to pull them apart, you give them a secret.