12 Monkeys: The Red Forest Review


By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

So far, 12 Monkeys has tightly woven plots together while leaving out the fun a science fiction series should have. As a result, the episodes have been solidly good, with nothing really distinguishing itself as a standout episode. “The Red Forest” tried its best to break that mold.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

I hate to say this, but I think the series missed the mark by having Cole and Cassandra as the main duo. Keeping somewhat in line with the movie, they had to pair the time traveler and the virologist together. The Cole and Aaron team-up featured in this episode was the most fun the series has felt so far.

Watching the two run around as an almost comedic duo was great. It’s as if they functioned as a buddy cop pair: Aaron the inexperienced newbie and Cole the cantankerous old-timer showing the new guy the ropes. Just watching Aaron try and wave a gun around and actually shooting the “other” Cole was hilarious. And Aaron making all of these references that Cole wouldn’t understand made the time traveler feel more grounded. He’s a man out of time and he rarely has confused moments.

Cole coming back to 2015 and kidnapping Aaron was a nice little full circle moment for him. He kidnapped Cassandra to ask for her help in the pilot and he did the same with the politician.

Keeping Cole and Cassandra apart for the majority of the episode was a risky move, but it paid off with huge reward. The distance allowed for more mysteries to be revealed, more characters to be introduced, and a more dynamic cast interaction.

The alternate timeline was such a fun idea. Watching Cole navigate a world where he was long dead, Ramse was the head of West VII, and Jones was utterly defeated. What bothered me was that long after it was established he was in a different timeline, he continued to act as if these people were the same ones he just left. Um, hello? Get a clue.

Aaron apologizing to Cassandra was something I never thought we would see. I thought he was forever going to be the naysayer, the guy who would never believe that all of this was actually happening. Fully bringing him into the loop is a great development for the character and will add more of a complex group interaction in 2015.  

Cole and Jones’ discussion about the effects he feels when he splinters was a somber note to end on. This allows the idea to be planted that he might have to make the ultimate sacrifice for the good of the human race. It would be interesting to watch the show go through different time travelers. Hypothetically, Cole could die in season three because of the effects time traveling has on his body and they introduce a new time traveler for the series to follow. It wouldn’t happen, but it would be an interesting device.  

The action scene at the end of the episode was a misfire. Letting her escape in the first place – who was wearing a light color with blonde hair – was a little unbelievable. And only having one guy run after them was ridiculous. Usually I can forgive their lack of action prowess, but this was a mess.

There was a cute Back to the Future reference. Between 12 Monkeys and The Flash, that makes two references in a week. Good job, nerdy TV.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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