DISCLAIMER: FULL SPOILERS FOR 12 MONKEYS SEASON 1 EPISODE 04 BELOW!
Okay, I'm going to be honest: I haven't seen the movie version of the show. Also, I don't fully comprehend the extent of the show, and where it's going to go, and I love it!
Usually around episode four you can really see where the show is going to go, but because this episode doesn't really deal with the bigger story arc, and instead focusses more on what happens in the future, it's still tough to say exactly which direction it's going to go. The choice of this kind of story telling is brave and risky, but it worked out well. The risk is that the audience loses track of the story by focussing on something seemingly unimportant, but even if Atari only dealt with the 12 Monkeys story for about 5-10 minutes in the beginning and end, it still feels like it was an important episode. Cole went through some big character development, we deal with some time travel issues, and Cassandra found the Night Room. We also finally met The West Seven, and even though it ended well for the people at the facility, I don't think we've seen the last of Deacon.
A big reveal, maybe not of much importance to the overall story, but a big development for Cole is that we finally learnt his first name: James. People who've seen the movie obviously already knew this, it finally brings some color to the previously blank canvas that was James Cole. Aaron Stanford, who portrays Cole, impresses me more every episode. Although I wasn't sure I was going to like his acting when I saw the pilot, Stanford really turned it around over the following episodes to a point where I'd say he's holding his ground in a role previously portrayed by Bruce Willis, which isn't a simple task. And although Cassandra didn't show her face much this episode, Amanda Schull brought the perfect mix of confidence and a little emotional instability to the character.
Two big influences on how this episode turned out were Max and Jones. Max seems to be a bit all over the place. It sort of makes sense, but just not really. She was Coles lover and hated him for leaving, later found out about the facility, went back to The West Seven to warn them, hit Cole and participated in torturing him for information, then went on to help Cole save everyone she just endangered, and ended up on the verge of shooting the leader she was standing by and protecting all this time. Obviously it all comes down to her feelings for Cole, but I think she's overreacting a bit both in trying to kill him, and then suddenly do everything he says.
Jones on the other hand keeps getting more interesting. She's clearly a genius, but she handles these unfathomable situations like it's just another Tuesday. Sending Cole back to right before the attack to try and save everyone is pretty damn smart, and a situation I've been waiting on since this show started.
Which brings me to what exited me the most this episode. As I said, Cole being sent back in time only a few hours was something I've been waiting for, since that pushes the show to deal with how two Coles coexist, how the time travel can influence their day-to-day life (without, you know, saving the entire world and thus changing everything), and how Cole even reacts to it. He was clearly completely unaware of where and when he was when he went back, until Deacon started talking to him about the entrance. This shows that there are definitely limits to the extent of the 'power' of the time traveling. Which was also shown when Cole looked at himself and he got headaches. These are issues theoretical scientist argue over on a daily basis, because we simply don't know what happens in these situations if/when time travel is possible.
In conclusion, even with the movie as an example, the creators of this show do a good job in making this story engaging, incomprehensible, and extremely interesting at the same time, for which I commend them.
Now let's see where The Night Room leads us, and whether or not we'll get to deal with more paradoxes next week!