Can you trust that happy ending?
This interview contains spoilers for series finale of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys.
Syfy’s 12 Monkeys has finished its loop. The finale saw Team Splinter gather its forces — including a few familiar (and recently dead) faces — to stop The Witness and Titan from destroying time.
And, spoiler alert, they did. The Witness was killed, our heroes re-wrote the timeline, and surprisingly, everyone got a happy ending. But just because all of time and reality was saved, doesn’t mean there aren’t still questions to be answered.
IGN spoke to showrunner Terry Matalas to talk about the mind-bending twists in the series finale, including whether Cole truly made it to the new timeline, how long Deacon knew about his fate, and more. Read on for all the answers.
IGN: You’ve said in the past that you always had the ending in your head. Was it just that final scene or was it multiple parts of the finale?
Matalas: From the very beginning there were certain things, like Cole’s mom; him being at the center of all these loops in time; and that he would have to be erased. And then, after we had a coda of what happened to everybody in the new timeline, that he would find his way back to Cassie in the very last moment of the series.
The inverse of that I suppose would be, was there anything that you thought would end up happening in the finale that didn’t? Whether it be an event or a character doing something you later realized they wouldn’t do?
There weren’t any big moments like “Darth Vader is Luke’s brother. No, wait, he’s his father!” But certainly these brilliant actors and their performances dictate a lot of who these characters become. I think Alisen Down’s Olivia being the evil queen of time was something that definitely evolved organically as we were telling her story.
I’m sure there will be tons of speculation about the final shot of the red leaf on the tree outside Cole and Cassie’s reunion. Did Cole make it to the new timeline, or is he in his own personal Red Forest?
Well, what do you think?
I’d like to hope he made it back to the real timeline.
The right ending is the one you choose. There’s two ways of looking at it. One is that they save the world, Jones saved Cole and he was able to reunite with Cassie. The other way of looking at it — I suppose, even though I personally don’t look at it this way — would be that we never really saw Cassie turn off the console on Titan. So is this happy ending someone’s personal Red Forest? That could be up to you, and you could make a solid argument for it.
The other big mind-bender for me was a very early version of Deacon showing up to help fight in the finale. Is he the best actor of all-time, and just pretended he didn’t know how everything would shake out, or is it one of those things where he didn’t know until he knew?
So, if you go back and watch the series, you’re watching a Deacon who did not know until about episode 7 [of Season 4] when he gets a bloody nose looking at a West 7 symbol in Titan. He comes up with this plan where someday, we’re going to have to take this place by force. From that moment on you’re watching a Deacon who knows what happens. In episode 8, when he says to Cole, “Things are coming to a head,” he is referencing his own head coming off in the next few scenes. It’s a guy who knows everything now.
It was great seeing James Callis pop up at the beginning of the finale. Did Jones not recognize Athan when they ran into each other years later in the House of Cedar and Pine, after having that conversation with him in the lab?
I think she just didn’t remember the exact face among all the other bearded, long-haired scavs she saw that day. When she comes rushing into the house to shoot him in Season 3, that’s the first time she’s really seeing him. I don’t know how many people remember who they saw four years ago at a convenience store.
We got Ramse and Deacon back for the finale along with Max, but were there considerations for bringing in more people who helped the crew — like Agent Gale or Aaron — to come back and form a Team Splinter Avengers of sorts?
Aaron’s story never really felt tied into the adventure in that way. It would have felt like a distraction. With Gale we thought about it, but we weren’t sure he fit into that last battle. There is a deleted scene, that will be on the Blu-ray, where we see Cassie in the new timeline where she looks him up and sees he lived a long, healthy life and became the director of the FBI.
Speaking of that montage of Cassie looking up where everyone ended up in the new timeline, which one were you most excited for?
They all have different emotional payoffs to me. I think the shot of Jones, Elliott, and Hannah is it. It was hard-fought but they did get a happy ending and I thought that was a nice surprise.
The show does a great job of seeding hints from the future very early in the show. Are there any from the last episodes you’re excited for people to realize?
One of the big ones was Hannah being Cole’s mom. Behavior-wise we really started hitting it hard in the Season 3 premiere, called “Mother,” which was a team-up between Hannah and Cole. At one point, Jones calls Hannah a little s**t, and then Hannah calls Cole a little s**t, and later in the season he calls his own son a little s**t.
Getting to end a show on your terms must be a great feeling, but knowing an episode will be the series’ last still has to be bittersweet. Was there a moment writing or directing the finale where it set in that everything was just about finished?
There was a lot of tears writing the scripts, but there was a very long mourning process. We shot the series finale in Toronto and then went to Prague to shoot previous episodes. We had a very long post process, so getting each one of those sequences right, I was emotionally responding to every one of them. The big one was, once the score was finished, we watched the coda with Cassie looking everyone up in the new timeline in totality. Those were gut punches.
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