This week’s episode of 12 Monkeys titled “Meltdown” takes place almost entirely in the time machine facility. But it is not a slow, talky episode where nothing important happens. At least one event looks to potentially have significant implications.
Before going into the bottle, we start off back in 1959 at an Army base where some soldiers disappear in a way that suggests they splintered in time.
Then it’s a jump to 2016 where Cassie as about to return to the temporal facility in 2044. Since what’s happening with her was heavily foreshadowed previously (when her eyes turned all black like the Witness’) it’s obvious she’s going back with some company.
In 2044 Doctor Jones has literally let her hair down and is playing cards with
Saul Tigh Doctor Eckland. But just when things are heating up the time machine powers up and Cassie returns from 2016. And she sees a figure in a plague doctor’s mask.
Meanwhile Ramse and his son Sam are having some quality time. Sam has built a scale model of the facility and provides some exposition that will be useful later in the episode - the time machine and the power core are at opposite ends of the facility (so an explosion at one doesn’t destroy the other) and there’s a river running under the power core area.
Cassie tells the group about her experience with the hallucinogenic red tea and meeting the Witness. She is met with some scepticism (because of the hallucinogenic tea). Later she follows some noise to the time machine and sees the plague doctor figure (presumably the Witness) doing something with the machine. She passes out and wakes up back in her room. Was it all a hallucination? Thanks to the foreshadowing I was pretty sure what was really going on. She finds Cole in the conference room where they discuss the relationships between them and between Cassie and Deacon.
Jones has her team of scientists check the time stream data for anything unusual. While Cassie keeps seeing the Witness, Jones’ team finds a temporal signature showing someone else is tethered to the present time. Then the time machine overloads. The failsafes to shut down aren’t working. They pull out the temporal lens array and evacuate the splinter chamber.
“This was no accident,” says Jones. The failsafes were intentionally disabled. The lens array was inserted backwards and is now totally fried. The release of temporal radiation (just roll with it) is causing things to splinter in from other times. If unstopped there will be a temporal meltdown (just keep rolling with it) that will destroy the facility and be catastrophic to the time stream. It must be the work of the Witness, who must be the unexplained tether.
Cassie and Cole head to the power core to shut it down manually and prevent the meltdown. Cassie disappears while Cole is dealing with an old splinter test subject.
Ramse and Sam are trying to join the others and find out what’s going on. Sam disappears while Ramse is dealing with a guard dog from 1959. (The Army base from the beginning of the episode was converted to become the temporal facility.)
Cole and Ramse run into each other and head to the core. They see Cassie and Sam together. Cassie takes Sam into the core room and seals the door. The Witness has taken control of Cassie. (Really, were you surprised?) Sam gestures to remind Ramse about the river under the core area. Cole goes down to sneak into the core room.
Deacon and Eckland head to storage for a replacement lens array. They find the array but have to fight their way through some soldiers from 1959 and Eckland is wounded in the leg. The machine has reached the point where replacing the lens will expose whoever does it to fatal levels of temporal radiation. Eckland makes the Kobayashi Maru sacrifice. He fixes the machine and disintegrates.
Deacon joins Ramse outside the core room while Cole is trying to reach Cassia through the Witness’ control. Deacon sends Ramse on the river route because he knows Ramse is able to shoot Cassie, something Cole won’t be able to bring himself to do.
Cole realizes that Cassie won’t be able to watch Cole die so he tells Ramse to shoot him instead of Cassie. Ramse shoots him in the shoulder and Cassie breaks the Witness’ control. Ramse shuts down the core. But there is one last burst of temporal radiation that strikes Sam. He disappears.
Ramse is devastated at the loss of his son and leaves the facility.
Cassie blames herself for what happened even though she was under the control of the Witness. Jones has a treatment to purge any residual red tea from her body. Jones also says it’s really her own fault, not Cassie’s, and she has a solution.
In an unspecified time we see Sam. He is in a forest calling for his father. A gloved hand reaches out to him. Sam takes the hand and walks off with the figure.
- What the hell is the significance of Titan and the logo? The show likes to drop clues (remember the mystery phone call in 1944 that we find out was Ramse in the next episode?) so I’m assuming this will mean something later.
- Was that the Witness who met Sam in the forest? Or in some timey wimey way does Sam become the Witness? Which might mean that young Sam just met old Sam (the Witness).
- Jones mentions in passing the facility was an Army base for sixty years so that suggests she took over the facility around 2020, after the pandemic struck. Syfy’s episode synopsis for next week says “Cassie is sent back to 2020 by Jones with one mission: Kill the younger Jones and prevent time travel from ever happening.” So again a clue dropped setting up something in the future.
All images via screencap.