The first thing I was ever asked to write for the ZADF was a review of the Syfy show 12 Monkeys. It took me a while, but I finally got around to writing. . .well okay, so this isn’t actually a review so much as is a list of things about the show that really piss me off. Look I want to like 12 Monkeys, I really do. And I’m not even going to get into the peculiarities and paradoxes of time travel, the whole fate vs. freewill thing, or any of that jazz. No, my issues with this show are pretty specific, and they pretty much all have to do with scenes and stories that take place after the plague. It may seem like knit-picking, but there are just some things about this show that make me want to shout obscenities at my television.
Starting with the fact that the future seems to be very cold and bleak place. And I don’t mean metaphorically, because it is apparently always winter in the future. Seriously, in all of the scenes that take place in the future—especially the ones where we see the lives of Cole and Ramsey before they joined up with the Project Splinter and Cole became the time traveling last hope of humanity—it is always winter, and there is usually snow on the ground. I don’t know maybe it’s like a crowded club, and it was actually the body heat of 6 billion people that had been staving off the next ice age or something, but for some reason the future does not seem to have shorts and t-shirt weather. There was actually a scene in a recent episode where Cole and Ramsey are in danger of freezing to death (for like the umpteenth time) and Ramsey finally suggests something that I’ve been wondering for weeks. They basically have a conversation that amounts to “hey, maybe we should go to Florida.” Well no shit. You don’t have adequate clothing or shelter to survive the winter, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that maybe you should go somewhere where it doesn’t get as cold. The series has shown us that these two guys are survivors. They’re smart, and tough, and are willing to do almost anything in order to stay alive. Anything except, of course, actually go somewhere warm. Because they joke about “relaxing” in the Florida Keys, which, we already learned in another episode, Cole has always wanted to visit.
But then they just kind of shrug it off and decide “nah, it’s more important that we keep wandering around these freezing ass woods.” (I’m paraphrasing) Luckily, before they can freeze to death, they try to rob (and possibly kill) some strangers for their food, and in the process get captured by the soldiers from Project Splinter. Which brings me to my next issue. Pretty much everyone in the future is an asshole, including Cole and Ramsey. I mentioned before that these guys are tough survivor-types, who are willing to do whatever is necessary in order to survive, and we see examples of this in almost every flashback. . .er, flashforward? (Whatever.) Every time we see what life is like in the future. We see that Cole and Ramsey actually spend pretty much all of their time either robbing and murdering people for food, or lamenting all of the terrible things they’ve had to do to survive. But is it really necessary? I mean sure by 2043 they are probably starting to run out of Ramen Noodles and Twinkies, but have they also completely forgotten how agriculture works? Maybe if they would stop mugging people for two seconds and plant a fucking rutabaga or something they wouldn’t constantly be on the verge of starving to death.
This leads directly into my next issue, and that is the whole West VII subplot. See Cole and Ramsey are such badasses that at one point they join up with the biggest bunch of badasses around, a gang called West VII. They run with these guys for a while, and murder some more people for food and backpacks and stuff, until Ramsey has a crisis of conscience and they end up falling out with the group. Of course West VII is not the kind of group you can just walk away from. “Hey I know we got this VII branded on our arms and all when we joined up, but we really feel like we just want different things now. It’s not you guys, it’s us. We just really feel like we are on a different path, so what say we just part as friends? You guys just keep on with the whole barbarians at the gate thing, and we’ll go be murdering assholes on our terms somewhere else” isn’t exactly going to fly. So, Cole and Ramsey end up going on the run from these guys. . .for years. Years? Really? I mean it’s not like West VII is some massive army. They’re like 20 people, 40 tops, and they are constantly on the heels of these two guys for years? Here’s a thought: how about leaving the area. I mean is that group really going to be able to track these two if they went clear across the country to say Florida? I doubt it. But no, once again Cole and Ramsey decide to wander around the same area, and not only freeze their asses off for no good reason, but also to stay within the reach of a pack viscous thugs who are out to murder them. They are just that good at surviving. I’ve given a lot of shit to the dynamic duo of Cole and Ramsey so far, and they deserve it. But my biggest issue with this show, the thing that has me throwing my hands up in disgust, and what ultimately lead me to finally write this piece, actually pertains to a more a recent plot development. It all starts when the computer core that controls the time machine runs out of juice. Without it Cole is stuck in the past and Project Splinter’s time machine is just a massive uncomfortable looking chair. So obviously they needs a new one. But in a world where you can’t even find people smart enough to plant crops, where the hell are you going to find a new computer core? How about the other ongoing military project to combat the plague? Which, luckily, seems to be pretty much within walking distance of Project Splinter. Turns out that while Project Splinter has been trying to go back in time and stop the plague from ever happening Project Spearhead has been trying to find a cure. Now I’m not going to get into the details, but basically Spearhead has a core, only they don’t want to give it up because they are using it as part of the efforts to cure the plague, before it can mutate again and wipe out all of humanity this time. There is much back and forth between the leaders of the two separate projects about who’s approach has a better chance of saving the human race. Dr. Jones, the head of Project Splinter, ultimately decides to take the core by force, killing a bunch of people in the process. Her reasoning for this is that while Spearhead has found a cure for the plague, their cure is for an old strain, and the plague has mutated a couple of times since then, which makes the cure ultimately useless. Damn, if only they had some way to go back to before the plague started to mutate, then they would have a viable cure for the plague. Huh, too bad they don’t have a fucking time machine sitting around in a damp basement somewhere. Then they could just take the cure back to a time when the plague firs breaks out, and stop it as soon as it starts. Then all of the apocalyptic shenanigans of The Army of The 12 Monkeys wouldn’t mean a damn thing.