12 Monkeys: Fatherland Review

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

“Fatherland” was Olivia’s origin story. For two seasons, she has been a character that has been conducting The Witness’ work. Almost nothing was known about the character, but “Fatherland” was the episode that dove into Olivia’s past.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Olivia, Olivia. You just had to be a complicated character. It was so easy to only view her as a straight up villain. But the writers had to go get philosophical. Now I’m torn. In this episode, the writers brought up one of the most prevalent questions in today’s TV landscape: Is evil born? Or, is evil made? In the case of this trippy time travel show, it might actually be both.

Until this episode, Olivia was always seen as one of the series’ evil characters. Of course, The Witness is the series’ overarching Big Bad, along with the inanimate Plague, but Olivia was The Witness’ right hand. She was the one who recruited Ramse, helped birth the Messengers, and is in constant cahoots with Tall Man. After “Fatherland,” Olivia is now a sympathetic character. The audience learned that she lived in a box for the first part of her life. Also, Vivian raised Olivia to have this fascination with the Red Forest and complete a mission by The Witness. If that wasn’t enough to make you sympathize with her, she was created because the Nazis wanted to make a master race. Her past is complicated to say the least.

What’s freaky about Olivia’s whole storyline is that she is both Vivian’s mother AND daughter. Once again, the series brings up the question: which was first, the chicken or the egg? Without Olivia, Vivian and the other Messengers wouldn’t exist. And, without Vivian, Olivia wouldn’t exist. It’s all very heady. Aspects like this are the reason why I love 12 Monkeys. The writers have a way of taking something that you might be able to predict through an episode, but then put their own twist on it. When they showed the kid in the box, I knew it was Olivia, but then they added the creepy idea that Vivian is her mother and daughter and sister to the Tall Man. Brilliant.

Besides Olivia’s origin story, “Fatherland” put together some more pieces from this season’s story. Watching Ramse rip the Word of the Witness’ map was so fun. The audience first saw this map, with a ripped corner, in “Bodies of Water.” I admire how the series puts together the little things.

There is one big aspect of Cassie’s story that the writers have refused to expand on: Cassie and Deacon’s relationship. It has become the most frustrating aspect of the season. Since the time jump at the beginning of the season, there have been little references to Deacon and Cassie’s relationship. However, we were never shown the depths or seriousness of it. This is where the time jump hurt the series. “Fatherland” attempted to amend this but failed. While discussing their one-night stand, which is brand new information, it was obvious that Deacon has feelings for Cassie. The problem is that the audience was never shown how these developed. I almost wish they’d never put in this storyline. It feels to forced. Maybe they could’ve done it in a different way, in a future season. You have sympathy for Deacon because Cassie doesn’t feel the same way, and this is the first time he has opened up. It was a great character moment.

Throughout the episode there was an underlying current of hope versus revenge. I loved actually seeing Dr. Adler get in on the action. He’s a character that has been there since the beginning, but has had virtually no dialogue. I believe this is the most the character has talked in an episode. I vote more screen time for Dr. Adler.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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