12 Monkeys: The Keys Review

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

Up until this point the series has had solid episodes. “The Red Forrest” was a great example of what the show could be if it hits all of the right beats. “The Keys” was another episode that felt more daring than many of the previous episodes.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.


Over the past two episodes the series has transformed itself. Before “The Red Forest” it was essentially a sci-fi procedural with every episode focusing on a new “mission.” After “The Red Forest” it seems like the series has found fun and fast-paced storytelling.

There have been so many “Which came first the chicken or the egg?” paradoxes in the series so far, but none bigger than the one posed in this episode. Which came first, Cole destroying the virus or Cassandra telling Cole how to destroy it? Really it depends on the perspective you’re watching from. From Cassandra’s point of view Cole’s death can be prevented, which is why she is so uncertain about keeping his demise from him. On the other hand, from Cole’s perspective Cassandra telling him about Operation Troy comes first. It’s one big circle.

For anyone who watches Orphan Black it was a treat to see the actor who plays, (Warning, spoiler for Orphan Black!) the male clone, Ari Millen, as the Edward Snowden-like character.

Amanda Schull, who plays Cassandra, had an outstanding performance in “The Keys.” She played the concern, when Cole was about to get hit with the missile, and doubt, in her mind about keeping his death from him, perfectly. She’s able to demonstrate her range when the series allows her to go there and she went there in this episode.

It was also a good episode for Cole. For one of the first times he was finally able loosen up and have some fun exploring the past. The party they go to is a fantastic example. At the first gala Cassandra took Cole to he could only focus on the mission and had zero fun. This time was different. He’s never danced before, looked at a piece of art on a wall, or eaten appetizers, so for him to be able to do these things brought him immense amounts of joy. He’s able to loosen up because he only has a limited number of jumps left. It was such a relief to see him act more lighthearted and like a person instead of a character.

Even though it would be a bold and shocking twist, I’m not naive enough to believe for one second Cole won’t be on the series anymore. I’m convinced that Cole splintered before the compound he was in exploded. It’s too early in the series to kill off a main character. Like I wrote in my “The Red Forest” review, it would be an interesting twist to have him die as a side effect of the machine and then follow a different time traveler as they try to stop the virus.

I loved that “These Arms of Mine” played during Cole and Cassandra’s dance at the party. It was a nice little callback to the pilot’s very first scene where this song played in the background as Cole narrated.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


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