Things are never easy for the cast of 12 Monkeys. It seems like every time they manage to make some kind of headway in their quest to fix the time stream, something crops up that knocks the whole crew on their collective ass. That in mind, any regular viewer of Syfy’s time-traveling drama should have seen Season 2’s seventh episode, “Meltdown,” coming a long way off. Think about it. It’s actually been a pretty upbeat season for Cole (Aaron Stanford) and the gang.
This article contains spoilers.
Besides Cassie’s (Amanda Schull) whole brainwashing deal, the team has learned an incredible amount about the time-destroying plot of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They know what the Monkeys are after, they’ve established a base of operations in Room 607, and they’ve made good headway securing the Primaries against the Monkeys’ onslaught. So, the good guys were in for a little payback.
That payback comes in “Meltdown,” as the Witness has somehow wormed his way into the facility and begun tinkering with the time machine, a nasty act of sabotage that threatens the whole of the time stream. It’s a haunted house bottle episode that has the team scrambling around the facility to undo the Witness’ dastardly deeds.
Jones and Her Boyfriend
Let’s take a moment, first, to lament the loss of Dr. David Eckland (Michael Hogan), the man who saw something sweet in the prickly Dr. Jones (Barbara Sukowa). Over the course of the season, we’ve seen these two get closer and closer as Eckland — who popped up in the season premiere as one of the side effects of the time change — has done his level best to pry open Jones’s hard outer shell.
In spite of Jones’s best efforts, she’d ultimately succumbed to Eckland’s charms and allowed herself a few brief moments of happiness. Of course, that’s understandable. Hogan’s sweet but grizzled demeanor was the perfect complement to Jones’s hard ass. The combination of writing and the actor’s innate talents made for some of this season’s most interesting scenes. Their romance is done, though, as Eckland gallantly sacrificed himself towards the end of the episode in order to keep the good doctor safe.
In his sacrifice, we may have seen a fundamental change in Sukowa’s character. Here was a man she hardly knew, who professed to have had a complete relationship with her in another timeline. And while Jones wasn’t necessarily ready to throw herself into the relationship full force, the levity of Eckland’s sacrifice is bound to stay with her.
The Trojan Horse
After the shocking end of last week’s episode, Cassie is quick to flee back to the present and tell her teammates about her conversation with the Witness. Unfortunately, the good doctor hears echoes of her Greek namesake as the rest of the team is reluctant to really believe that she’s truly seen the Witness. On hearing that she’s been in contact with the bad guy, the rest of the team recommends Cassie get some rest (so they can talk about her like she’s a crazy person).
While shes napping, Cassandra sees a vision of the Witness tampering with the time machine. Naturally, when Cassie comes to, it’s not long before the time machine begins to overload, which has the effect of sending random waves of temporal energy throughout the facility. In other words, little pockets of time are bubbling up into 2045 and making life difficult for our heroes. Including, but not limited to this Lovecraftian nightmare:
This monster, by the way, is one of a handful of previous “volunteers” who was totally mangled when he was put in the machine by Jones and her scientists. In addition to these guys, a quartet of soldiers has been splintered into the chaos from the facility circa 1959. Scared and confused, these guys are pretty much in the “shoot first, ask questions later” school of thought.
Unfortunately, monsters and displaced grunts are only distractions. As the whole team rushes around to subvert the disaster and find out how the Witness got into the base, it turns out the evildoer was standing in front of them all along…kind of.
The Real Enemy
For any viewer who found themselves jumping up and down and shouting “Quarantine her!” when Cassie splintered back to the present and started telling her sad tale, your paranoia paid off about 30 minutes into the episode — when a zombified Cassie takes Ramse’s kid hostage in order to prevent Cole and Ramse from shutting down the busted up time machine.
As it turns out, that time-travel punch she’s been forced to drink in previous episodes has opened up a kind of doorway in Cassie’s head allowing him to control her actions. In other words, while everyone was looking for the Witness, they should have just slapped some cuffs on Cassie.
Fortunately, Cole and Ramse manage to make their way into the room where Cassie is holding Ramse’s son hostage. Realizing that Cassie is still in control somewhere inside her brain, he forces Ramse to shoot him in order to elicit the stark emotional reaction she needed to snap her out of it. One flesh wound later and Cassie has come to her senses.
It’s a Pyrrhic victory, though, as Ramse’s son is hit with a bolt of temporal energy, splintering into nothingness. Okay, time for some serious speculation: Ramse’s son is the Witness. Think about it: He’s always around in the present, so he’s seen pretty much everything the adults have; he’s got a soft spot for Ramse, as evinced by the Witness’ unwillingness to kill either Ramse or Cole; more than anyone in the cast, he’s felt the result of the depths to which someone will sink to preserve time.