It’s all come down to this. Syfy’s 12 Monkeys ends Season 2 an excellent ride that feels like an episode of television and more like a feature film. Welcome to ‘Memory of Tomorrow’.
The following review of Memory of Tomorrow contains a few spoilers. I’d pocket this banana and watch the episode before ingesting the review. Enjoy Monkeys
So this is it Sci-fi Sorcerers . We’ve come to the Second Season end of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys and what a journey it’s been. We’ve seen pasts altered, futures changed, and lives lost. It’s been one hell of a ride that every TV fan should experience; especially the sci-Fi nuts.
You’re not connected to time. You’re just sick-James Cole
After the amazing two-punch combo of Resurrection and the penultimate Blood Washed Away, 12 Monkeys gives fans a huge, narrative heavy last episode to chew on for the year (12 Monkeys was renewed by Syfy on June 29th) in Memory of Tomorrow.
What’s makes Memory of Tomorrow such a great ending to a roller coaster Season 2? I’m glad you Monkeys asked.
For starters, Memory of Tomorrow leans the entire narrative on the shoulders of its protagonist: Mr. James Cole. Memory of Tomorrow, an episode written by show co-creator and producer Terry Matalas, is all about Cole and the prophecy of the time-traveler’s destiny. While the underrated show features many characters – ones well written, highly likable, and full of life – stories (mostly) are tied to a single character ultimately. Matalas knows this all too well and everything about Memory of Tomorrow is about a troubled hero.
Then there’s the pacing. Memory of Tomorrow, an episode that moves as fast as The Flash at a relay race, knows that it must pay off the time spent before it and set up the remainder of the story going forward. After opening with Cole and Cassie in 1959, Tomorrow sees Cole jump to many of the past times he’s been before (many moments from Seasons 1 and 2) after meeting a strange lady whom he believes is Primary (more on this in a bit).
Memory of Tomorrow opens up, sees many moments of huge story progression such as the red forest regressing, and never quits till its jaw-dropping final moments. Cole and Cassie’s relationship is taken to new heights in the final moments and will shock you to your core.
Aaron Stanford as James Cole ’12 Monkeys’- Courtesy of Syfy
Memory of Tomorrow also features great dialog. While every episode of 12 Monkeys’ Second Season features it’s character moments through plot, some of the spoken word isn’t always razor sharp; Not Memory of Tomorrow. Back is that great writing that we saw in episodes such as Hyena. Lines don’t leave your brain and you feel every key stroke. Jennifer’s speech is hilarious as well and just another reason to watch this fantastic show.
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Conversely, if I had to complain about Memory of Tomorrow, there’re two things that bother: the inclusion of the primary in 1959 (wasn’t the last one supposed to be in 1957? But time did stop so it’ll probably be explained) and the reveal of who The Witness actually is, while enticing, again over-thickens 12 Monkeys’ mythology to a point where the audience may ask too many question. I know it’s about time-travel but convolution is never warranted.
As for the acting, all the praise must again go to star Aaron Stanford . Playing James Cole, Memory of Tomorrow is plotted around Cole’s journey, and mostly relegates everyone else to basically guest-star status. Stanford’s understated, highly subtle, approach to Cole is great to watch. Moments some actors would over play (actors sometime fail to fully digest a character’s exposition to inform their performances), Stanford handles with ease. Emily Hampshire also stands out.
Moreover, the direction is a monkey machine all its own. Directed by David Grossman, Memory of Tomorrow, though the camerawork is decent, really picks it’s bananas on the composition market.
The great composition of Memory of Tomorrow includes, but certainly isn’t limited to: a far away shot when Cole and Cassandra are in bed, great foreground/background shot in the hospital with Cole and Primary, a quarter revolution shot starting on Cassie and ending on Cole (when Cassie is asleep), the amazing pull back after Cassie, Cole, and Katarina use the machine, and a fast push-in realization shot of Jennifer in the middle of the speech. The composition is better than its been for a few episodes and was welcomed by this film fanatic.
So, will Cole and Cassandra live happily ever after in 1959? Did Ramse survive his encounter with the guardians of The Witness? Will time eventually collapse on itself? You’ll have to swing on over to Syfy to find out you Crazy Monkeys.
David Grossman‘s Memory of Tomorrow is one hell of a finale that does just what a Season Finale should do: leave you clawing like an animal for more (a monkey perhaps?). Memory intelligently resets some of the situations, and while the episode arguably bite off more than it can chew, the finale amazingly sets up Season 3 to be a can’t miss television event. Next year can’t come fast enough. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must climb back to my tree-top dwelling and await the premiere.
THE GRADE: A
Enjoying Syfy’s 12 Monkeys? Did or didn’t like what Memory of Tomorrow had to offer? Sound off with your comments below and let’s get as many monkeys as we can to get this conversation going.