Moments Easily Missed: The Rewatch Edition – Cole’s Guilt
Today we’re taking a closer look at 2×03 “One Hundred Years” and Cole’s guilt over turning Cassie into a stone cold killer.
Cole and Cassie have been at odds since Cole’s return to 2044, with Cassie doubtful of his ability to do what is needed in service of their mission. She’s undergone a trial by fire, being thrust into the post-apocalyptic world which Cole called home, and she is pissed off that, despite her sacrifice, Cole appears to be siding with everyone else but her.
Cassie begrudgingly travels back to 1944 with Cole, and the tension between the pair is palpable during the entire first half of the episode. After failing to save their intended target at the swanky dinner party they’ve lied their way into, the pair return to their room at the Emerson where their frustration soon spirals into a heated discussion about Cole’s dedication and Cassie questioning him about his ability to kill if necessary. It’s like she wants to hurt him, so she throws the death of Aaron Marker back in his face.
Rather than responding with anger, Cole reacts as if she has knifed him right through the heart. It’s just his way, of course, to take all the blame. There’s a brief moment where he is unable to meet her gaze and his eyes well up as he says to her, “You think I don’t know what I cost you?”
There’s so much sadness and guilt and regret in that one line, delivered with so much emotion, watching that, it just floors you. Even if you start out seeing Cassie’s point of view, by the end of that moment, your heart is absolutely going out to Cole.
Aaron Standford owns this scene. It’s uncommon to see the hero of story get emotional, let alone be on the verge of tears. His delivery shows a real vulnerability in Cole, highlighting how much he has changed since he began interacting with Cassie and travelling through time. He’s developed a new respect for life and time and second chances, just as she has started to lose hers. While he is thankful for his new outlook, he is haunted by the price Cassie has had to pay for him to achieve it.
The entire emotional impact of the scene rests completely on Aaron communicating a depth of feeling with his eyes (I guess Jennifer doesn’t call him Otter Eyes for nothing) and he’s got it down pat. This is exactly the kind of emotional restraint which makes Cole such a compelling, multi-dimensional character and what makes this scene so singular.