New ’12 Monkeys’ Is ‘Primary’ Reason To Watch Syfy Show


After opening strong with last week’s ‘Year of the Monkey’, ’12 Monkeys’ being to find it second season stride in ‘Primary’.

No spoilers here….this review isn’t three month old eggs!!

Now in the second episode of its sophomore season, 12 Monkeys takes the momentum earned at the tail end of last week’s Year of the Monkey and turns it up to eleven (for all those Spinal Tap fans out there).

Picking up immediately where the season opener left off, Primary, directed by Magnus Martens, is another great example of why you should be watching Syfy’s 12 Monkeys.

Why should you be watching the show based on the 1995 film of the same name starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt? I thought you’d never ask.

First, the 12 Monkey’s narrative momentum is seemingly 85 percent breakneck. It moves at the speed of a finely tuned locomotive. The core group is together, and then like a mad David Copperfield trick, boom they are split and gone from one another.

Even if you don’t love the tone of the show-which is refreshing to me-it moves so fast you never simmer with the parts you fine unsavory. Also, to keep the story moving, the show is often happening at different points in time involving different core characters simultaneously.

Sometime you have to accept, not every Caterpillar becomes a butterfly.-Dr. Cassandra Railly

And speaking of tone, while the opener was a little more on the side of humor and character chemistry, Primary wants to hammer out a path for the rest of the season; for the rest of the series. 12 Monkeys seemingly, and intelligently so, feels figuring out the narrative early is a necessity, and that’s something any series (especially one involving time travel) should make a point to do.

Without ruining 12 Monkeys-if you keep current with my episodic-television reviews you’ll no doubt know I believe spoilers to be a hell worthy trespass- something happens in Primary that massively changes the future of the series.

If you’re a lover of time-travel stories, such as I with Robert Zemekis’ Back to the Future being one of my all-time favorites, you’ll love where Primary takes 12 Monkeys. Let’s just say things have changed exponential for the virus outbreak, and that change is both bad and good for the key players of the series. Are they going to have to bounce around through time? You beat your Monkey’s ass they will.

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While the direction is fairly standard-I’m starting to realize this is Syfy’s MO- Primary’s script is damn solid.

Sure, it may not be as good as Year of the Monkey, which featured great dialogue and intensely satisfying character interactions, but Primary’s script is all about the human’s struggle and less about the Army of the Monkeys.

Written by Sean Tretta, the second episode of 12 Monkeys’ newest season pays off an amazing character moment towards the end of the episode’s 42 minute running time, one that was set up in the middle of Primary, and is extremely pertinent in the shows’ strengthening of its protagonist, Mr.James Cole.

Cole’s speech before the final credits roll is also very well written and will resonate with views well after the show as left your TV set (or the device of your choosing, for that matter)

Speaking of Cole, the acting in Primary is pretty stellar across the board. While some players are better than others- the speaker for ‘The Daughters’ is pretty wooden- most give fine performances.

Aaron Stanford stars as James Cole, the man stricken with the plight of being the one who will stop the plague that will eventually kill billions. Co-star of 2003’s X2: X-Men United, Stanford really has a knack for not over playing situations, but having massive empathy in other scenes. The actor is really great in a scene at the hotel. Look out for it.

Courtesy of Syfy

The rest of the actors are decent in Primary, including best friend of Cole, and former “ally” of the Army of the 12 Monkeys, Jose Ramse, played by Kirk Acevedo. Ramse has been through a lot in the series, playing both friend and foe to the greater good, and in Primary, he’s tested even more.

The actor is great in these scenes and one can’t help but wish they could help the guy. Sorry Mr. Ramse, you’re on your own….but we will apologetically watch.

So, will Cole stop Cassandra from killing Jennifer, as she believes this will end the seemingly inevitable plague? Will the gang come to trust Ramse? Does Katarina Jones do her part to save humanity from the virus in both points in time? Stop swinging from that branch you crazy monkey and check out Primary to find out.


Marten’s Primary is a solid entry in the second season of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys. It’s an episode more focused on world building than was last week’s Year of the Monkey, which was more about character than story. Regardless, Primary is an extremely necessary episode and one I think you’ll love. Now grab that controller and go bananas!


Enjoying Syfy’s 12 Monkeys? Did or didn’t like what Primary had to offer? Sound off with your comments below and let’s get as many monkeys as we can to get the conversation going. Don’t forget to tune into 12 Monkeys Mondays at 9/8c, only on Syfy.