12 Monkeys: Splinter Review


By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

Time travel. Anyone who reads my reviews of Continuum, which you totally should, knows how obsessed I am with the concept of time travel. 12 Monkeys is another dive into the world, but this time based off of its cinematic relative with actors Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Before I begin, I want to say I have indeed seen the movie 12 Monkeys and I really enjoy it, so I was skeptical when I heard Syfy was doing a remake of the Terry Gilliam film. After watching the pilot, “Splinter,” almost all of my doubts disappeared. They kept it fresh, engaging, and paced well. Let’s just say I’ll be back for more.

Just from the first episode alone, it seems as if the series isn’t trying to remake or reboot the original source material, it’s trying to reimagine it. For example, from the very first act of the show, they tell the audience that time travel is real, unlike for much of the movie where the viewer isn’t sure if James Cole, Bruce Willis’ character, is crazy or if he really is a time traveler.

So far, it looks like the series is going trail off a bit from the movie, so if someone hasn’t seen the cinematic version of 12 Monkeys, it wouldn’t be difficult to just jump right in along with the show.

The two leads, Aaron Stanford (Nikita and X-Men) and Amanda Schull (Suits), are strong in both of their performances and have great chemistry together.

I’m excited to see that Dr. Cassandra Railly, who was Kathryn Railly in the movie, is much more fleshed out in this version and that Brad Pitt’s character, Jeffrey Goines, is instead a woman, Jennifer Goines. I can’t wait to see how Emily Hampshire plays Goines. From the brief look at her at the end, it looks like she’s going to be lots of fun to watch.

Instead of focusing solely on Cole’s point of view of the events, they diverge and also have periods with Cassie’s point of view, so essentially it feels as if they have two leads one in the not too distant future, 2017, and one in 2043. So far, there is little character and more plot moments, but it’s only the first episode. Hopefully the series can find a balance between character-building moments and some cool science fiction plot twists.

Here’s a really quick general premise of the pilot: Cole is from 2043 where humanity has been decimated by a plague started in 2017. The virus evolved, but some were immune. He is sent back in time to seek out Dr. Railly who will help him stop doctors from creating the plague.

Post-apocalyptic fare seems to be a hot item these days on the big and little screen, so to see the group of scientists and soldiers trying to fix a problem instead of a group just trying to survive, ala The Walking Dead, is a nice change of pace, especially now, since the plot has thickened and they have to find and stop the Army of the 12 Monkeys.

Probably the most interesting thing about the episode was that Leland Goines said he had seen Cole before. At some point I would love to see that play out considering that Cole said he has yet to travel back to 1985.

“Splinter” was a solid first entry into a world with time travel and plagues that successfully reimagined its 1995 movie relative.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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