The Show in General
Is the TV show 12 Monkeys based on the film with the same title?
Yes, the show is based on the 1995 feature film that starred, among others, Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.
How are the 12 Monkeys movie and TV show related?
The TV show uses many of the ideas, concepts and situations that were established in the movie, most prominently the main plot around trying to prevent a plague that would wipe out most of humankind by traveling back in time.
That said, the TV show isn’t a copy or sequel of the movie. Some of the characters are the same or very similar, but only as a starting point. If you’ve seen the film, you will soon realize that the TV show is very much its own take on the movie’s basic storyline.
Rick Mele from HuffPost TV has a few more insights, which you can read up on in the article he posted, titled ’12 Monkeys’: 10 Things To Know About The Sci-Fi Movie-Turned-TV Show. If you pay close attention, you will also see one or the other nod to the movie on the show, such as wardrobe that was used on the movie or hints and nods to other tidbits here and there.
How many seasons are there?
Three seasons have been produced so far — 13 episodes for the two first seasons, and 10 episodes for the third. Season 1 aired in early 2015, season 2 in 2016, and season 3 in 2017. The show was renewed for a fourth and last 10-episode season, which wrapped shooting in summer 2017 and will air on Syfy some time in 2018.
Is the show out on DVD or Blu-ray?
Seasons 1 and 2 were released on DVD and Blu-ray in several countries, including the US and the UK.
The UK season 1 Blu-rays are confirmed to have the following content:
- All 13 episodes
- Gag reel
- Cast auditions (A. Schull, B. Sukowa, T. Stashwick)
- Emily Hampshire improv speech
6 webisodes (those that are considered canon)
The UK season 2 Blu-rays are confirmed to have the following content:
- All 13 episodes
- Gag reel
- 13 Inside 12 Monkeys Season 2 clips (episodes 2×01 to 2×13)
- 5 webisodes (‘Pre-Apocalyptic’, ‘The Traveler’, ‘The Witness’, ‘The Witness Promo’, ‘Alone’)
- 4 podcasts (= episode commentaries) for episodes:
- 2×02 (T. Matalas, S. Tretta, A. Stanford, E. Hampshire)
- 2×05 (T. Matalas, A. Schull, E. Hampshire, T. Stashwick)
- 2×12 (T. Matalas, S. Tretta, A. Stanford, A. Schull, E. Hampshire)
- 2×13 (T. Matalas, A. Standford, A. Schull)
- Deleted scenes from episodes 2×01, 2×02, 2×03, 2×05, 2×10, 2×11 and 2×13
Why are there only 6 webisodes on the Season 1 DVDs/Blu-rays, when there’s more on the Syfy website?
Terry Matalas has explained this in a Facebook comment. Not all of the webisodes are considered canon (i.e. in line with the official storyline/universe of the show). Only those six that are canonical were and will be included in the home entertainment release of season 1.
Can you upload videos of the DVD extras for those fans who don’t have access to the DVDs or Blu-rays?
Nope, sorry, that’s illegal. If you really love the show, please consider supporting it by buying the DVDs or Blu-rays. That said, we have a PDF version of the season 1 deleted scenes that are included on the UK Blu-rays, which is still better than nothing, right? 🙂
The Show’s Universe – The Time Travel
How does the whole time traveling thing work?
Oh boy. What can we say? Cole gets injected with the time traveling serum, he sits down in the chair, they fire up the large chunk of a machine, and off he goes to wherever they send him. We know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but the sad truth is: we’re less than experts in this field.
Why does Cole keep coming back to 2043 in the first season?
When Cole gets sent back in time, he’s tethered to the time he originally came from, meaning the year 2043. He usually gets pulled back, once a particular mission in the past has been accomplished or a specific task has been completed. It is important for the tether to remain intact, because if it is broken, Cole will have to stay in the year he was last sent to. And if you’ve seen the season 1 finale by now, you will know that the tether isn’t exactly unbreakable.
Things evolve a little over the course of the next two seasons, and it seems that time travel becomes a little more flexible, where Cole can go back to other years than 2043. With the introduction of the time travel vests in season 3, things are suddenly a lot more fluid, and people can jump from one time to another without having to make stopovers at the Temporal Facility.
Why does Cole or any other human being who wants to time travel need the injections?
This hasn’t been explained in great detail, but it’s been alluded to that they keep the molecular structure of the human body stable to withstand the stress of time travel. And even then, every trip to the past takes a toll on the physical wellbeing. There’s a finite amount of time travel trips Cole can take before his body will give out completely. The dizzy spells and nosebleeds we start seeing later in season 1 are a first indication of that. It’s also been suggest that if you splinter without being injected with the serum first, you will not survive it.
Is it even possible to prevent the virus from spreading? What if it’s meant to be, no matter what Cole and Cassie do?
Well… your guess is as good as ours, and we soon learn that the virus is perhaps not even the greatest threat to humanity.
What is a Time Travel Paradox?
If two of the same objects or people from different timelines are brought in close proximity or contact with each other, this creates a paradox because they cannot exist in the same space at the same time. This usually makes things go haywire in one way or the other. Cole demonstrates this with the two watches towards the end of the pilot episode.
If Cole changes something in the past, do we see an effect on the future?
That depends on what he changes, but if you pay attention to episode 1×06, the events that were set in motion in 2015 change the future in 2043 insofar that the reality Cole returns to is significantly different from the one he left.
All this time travel is making me dizzy, how can I keep track of the time jumps and timelines?
The Syfy website has a master timeline that covers all three seasons. Better yet, fans of the show on Reddit have created a comprehensive spreadsheet on Google Docs that outlines every jump ever made with the corresponding year and other useful information.
If you want something more interactive, the Syfy website also has a pretty cool interactive time map that outlines all the time jumps per episode (Season 1 only). If you prefer to look at all the information in one document, TeeJay has put together a compilation of the Time Map in PDF format. The 12 Monkeys Wikia has more information as well.
Reddit user msett18 has put together a great visual timeline of all the events on Tiki-Toki, and Reddit users taltos19 and calme_rut created a whole LiveJournal blog dedicated to tracking events on the show.
The Show’s Universe – Project Splinter
What is Project Splinter?
The show’s co-creator Terry Matalas explained this in an interview as follows:
“This was a government project that started probably in the 1960s called Project Splinter that was never really fully completed until one of our main characters, Jones, played by Barbara Sukowa, came and finished it in a last-ditch effort to save mankind,” said Matalas. “Our scientists have only recently completed it and jury-rigged it with what’s remaining in 2043 technology.”
Jury-rigged or not, the resulting machine is an impressive bit of set design — a massive behemoth of wiring, exposed circuit boards, blue lights, and something they call the “splinter chair.”
“‘Splintering'” is how we travel through time, and when it’s activated, we have some pretty incredible lighting effects that come through,” explained Matalas. “It’s sort of like the Hadron Collider meets a wormhole emitter.” (And if you can picture that, chances are you’re in the show’s target market.)
The Project Splinter team and the time traveling machine reside in what is referred to as the Temporal Facility, formerly known as the Raritan National Laboratory.
Who is Dr. Katarina Jones and what part does she have in Project Splinter?
Katarina is a quantum physicist and the heart and soul (and head) of Project Splinter. She ran across the abandoned time travel technology and gathered a team of scientists to finish the mission and accomplish what the original inventors had not. If we extrapolate from what we’ve been shown on the show so far, we can only assume it took her many years, and many failed attempts to actually send someone back and forth in time and actually survive the journey.
Jones has a personal stake in the mission, as her daughter Hannah fell victim to the plague, and she has become obsessed with resetting history so that her family doesn’t suffer the fate that it did.
Her maiden name is Werner. She was married to Dr. Elliot Jones, a scientist also working on Project Splinter in 2015, for six days before he left her. Katarina was pregnant with his child in 2015, their daughter Hannah, who succumbed to the plague some time in or after 2017.
How did Cole become involved in the whole thing?
In episode 1×09 we get a glimpse into how Cole ended up working together with Katarina. In 2041 he and Ramse were captured by the soldiers when they were looking for food and shelter. Resisting at first, both Cole and Ramse were held captive in the Temporal Facility. When Katarina learns that one of their prisoners’ names is Cole, she asks him to join her project because someone named Cole was destined to help her save the world. Cole is skeptical at first, but can be persuaded to join Project Splinter. In episode 1×12 we learn why it is that Katarina recognized Cole’s name in 2043.
Where is the show set?
According to the 12 Monkeys Wikia, “the Temporal Facility is housed in a windowless area of the ruined Raritan National Laboratory, a fictional facility, located within probable walking distance of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
The show jumps in between various locations in the different timelines, mostly on the American continent, with exceptions such as Chechnya and Japan. The show is actually being shot in the wider Toronto area in Canada. According to IMDb, the pilot was shot in Detroit, MI.
Is there more background information on Project Splinter that I can look up?
Yes, the official Syfy website has an interactive subsection called “The Wall” where you can click your way through little tidbits of information about the virus, the Army of the 12 Monkeys and more of the players involved in the outbreak.
If you’re looking for more general information on the show and its characters, the 12 Monkeys Wikia is a good place to start.
The Show’s Universe – The Different Groups
What is the Army of the 12 Monkeys
The Army of the 12 Monkeys is a mystery that is only slowly being revealed over the course of the show’s different seasons. They are said to be responsible for unleashing the plague that kills most of mankind. One of their main goals is to make sure that the Witness is born and is protected at all times. The Twelve are also called the Messengers, who harness the power of the time machine to help the Witness achieve his ultimate end game. The Messengers were born in 2015, genetically modified and modeled from the DNA of Olivia. They are sent to different times in the past to murder certain individuals, which will cause the collapse of time by creating paradoxes, using stabbing weapons made of bones collected in the future.
What is the Markridge Group?
According to the 12 Monkeys Wikia, “the Markridge Group was a large and prominent biotechnology company, headed by Leland Goines. It produced many legitimate biological and medical products, but it also secretly created bioweaponry, including the M5-10 virus. Upon Goines’ death, the company was inherited by his daughter, Jennifer.”
Towards the end of the first season, Jennifer becomes the companies CEO in a hostile takeover. She is seen boarding a plane in the season finale that carries twelve containers which may or may not contain the M5-10 virus.
What is the Night Room?
The Markridge Group had a secret laboratory facility called the Night Room where they were doing research on a number of very virulent strains of different viruses. It was suspected that they were working on producing the M5-10 virus there that eventually kills 98% of the earth’s population. Jennifer Goines knew the location of the Night Room, and Cole and Cassie eventually find it and venture there in hopes to eliminate the virus before it can be unleashed.
What is the West VII?
The West VII is a group that was formed in the post-plague timeline. It consists of a number of scavengers who are lead by someone named Deacon, a cruel and merciless character who has a habit of killing off his competition. While the group offers shelter and loyalty towards its members, it is also a totalitarian system that doesn’t allow for personal freedom or individuality.
What is Project Spearhead?
In 2015, after the plague, the remaining US political leaders founded Project Spearhead with the intention to help the plague’s survivors. In the 2030’s, leadership went over to Jonathan Foster. Katarina Jones used to be a member of Project Spearhead, but left when she felt that Spearhead could not offer what she was looking for.
Who are the Daughters?
The Daughters are a small group of (female) nomadic traders, solely comprised of women. The group is led by an older version of Jennifer Goines. It is not fully clear what role the Daughters play in the Witness’ game plan.
How did Cole and Cassie meet? Why is Cassie helping Cole?
Cassie and Cole first met in 2013 when Cole smuggles himself into Cassie’s car. This comes about after Katarina Jones and her team find an audio message in 2043 that was recorded by Dr. Cassandra Railly before her death, which implicates someone called Leland Goines as the origin of the plague. Cole is then sent back in time to 2013 to find Cassie, in hopes she can tell him the whereabouts of Leland Goines. Cole’s plan is to kill Goines to prevent the plague and “correct” the future.
Cassie first takes Cole for a lunatic with a mental health problem, but when Cole splinters back to 2043 in front of her eyes, she starts to believe him. Cole tells Cassie to meet him at a specific time in 2015, and she spends the next two years chasing what she hopes isn’t a ghost, sacrificing her career and relationship with her fiancé Aaron in the process.
And lo and behold, in 2015 Cole resurfaces as predicted. His story sounds less and less crazy, and it doesn’t take long for Cassie to realize that the imminent plague he foretells presents what seems like the most dangerous threat that mankind has ever been faced with. It is then that she knows she will have to do everything in her power to help Cole complete his mission.
What part does Cassie’s boyfriend Aaron Marker play in the hunt for the virus?
When Cassie first meets Cole, she and Aaron are engaged. Cassie’s obsessive research into Leland Goines after meeting Cole drives them apart, the details of which we can only guess. Aaron has never believed Cole’s time travel story, but is pulled back into it when Cassie helps Cole find Goines in 2015.
Aaron’s connections to Senator Royce come in handy, but it is only when he sees Cole splinter with his own eyes that he starts taking the threat by the plague seriously. Still reluctant, he supports Cassie and Cole as much as he can, but residual skepticism and suspicion towards Cole keeps him from diving in head-first the way Cassie does. His love for Cassie eventually becomes his downfall when he tries everything in his power to save her from her fate.
Who is José Ramse and how come he and Cole are friends?
José, who is usually referred to by his last name Ramse (pronounced “Ramsey”) is Cole’s best friend in the 2043 timeline. Ramse is originally from Philadelphia, PA. Like Cole, he is immune to the virus.
Cole and Ramse met in 2015 when they were both kids. After the death of six-year-old Cole’s father, he is handed over to a Child Protective Services home where he meets Ramse, who is a few years older than Cole.
After the plague, Cole and Ramse try to fend for themselves for a while, until they join the West VII in 2032 in an effort to survive the harsh post-apocalyptic world. They stay with the West VII for three years and then escape its totalitarian system, only to be captured by Project Splinter soldiers.
Is Ramse really The Witness?
That’s what is suggested to us in episode 1×11, but we find out later that he’s not. The identity of the Witness is revealed in season 3.
Is there a name for the 12 Monkeys fans, like Trekkies for Star Trek?
The 12 Monkeys fans like to refer to themselves as the Army of the 12 Monkeys, as per the mysterious group that is suspected to be responsible for unleashing the plague that kills a large portion of the world’s population. While this may not put a particularly positive spin on the fandom, the fans see it less as a name for a group of evildoers, but more as a supportive group of like-minded people to fight for the acceptance, publicity and ultimately survival of the show.
Where do fans “meet”? Are there any forums or message boards related to the show?
Do the stars and creative team talk with the fans online? How do I join in?
Many of the cast and crew have official Twitter accounts and are happy to engage with the fans. Showrunners Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett sometimes retweet 12 Monkeys related tweets or respond to questions, as do some of the cast.
While the show airs, a lot fans love to live-tweet along with the cast and crew, using the #12monkeys hashtag. Are you welcome to join? Yes, of course, any time. The more, the merrier. We hope that this is common sense, but we ask that you are considerate in the way you interact with the cast and crew and treat them with the appropriate respect.
Can I repost or retweet the creative work of other 12 Monkeys fans I find online?
Most fanart/fanvid/fan fiction creators are elated when their work is recognized and shared. We daresay none of them would complain if you wish to spread their work, but please make sure to credit the artist/creator, and please don’t share anything against the artist/creator’s wishes.