RogerBW's Blog

12 Monkeys season 2 12 March 2017

2016 SF, 13 episodes. The plague that wiped out human civilisation is still a problem for the post-apocalyptic time travellers to solve, but other time travellers are a greater threat.

There's been an interesting shift in emphasis with this season, spending rather more time in the future with Dr Jones and the time machine. Cole and Railly are still the field agents, of course, and their ongoing personal plot is most often that one of them wants to carry on with the mission at any cost, while the other looks at the damage they've already done and wonders whether it wouldn't be better to give up. By the final episode they're more or less synchronised: and indeed there's a point about half-way through that final episode which could easily have led into an ending for the whole series, if the show hadn't been renewed again.

The supporting cast from season 1 is moved mostly to the background (particularly Kirk Acevedo as José Ramse, who has much less to do this time), and rather more time is given to Dr Jones (still Barbara Sukowa, and still the best thing in the show). One could make a good case that she's the real protagonist of this series: it's essentially because of her actions that everything else happens. The really surprisingly good actor here, though, is Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines: in season 1 she was mostly a generic loony opposed to the good guys, but here she brings remarkable depth to what has become a very complex character.

Time travel is a big part of this, and while it's not a complete free-for-all it's definitely become rather looser than season 1 allowed. While it's never exactly light-hearted, the show allows itself to have fun with paradoxes. There's rather more historical material than before, with extended sequences in the 1940s and 1950s.

This isn't lightweight viewing, but it repays attention, and there's a sense of engagement and progress that's rare in modern television. The show has been renewed for a ten-episode third season.

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