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Headscratchers / 12 Monkeys

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1995 Film

  • I do understand the Stable Time Loop premise of the movie and all the things related to it, even the "insurance" woman at the end. But I just don't understand the meaning of the "Bob" guy and the prison guard who shows up on the escalator near the end. Were they time travelers too? And, if they were, how's the story of their travels? Or where they only fragments of Cole's imagination?
    • My brother had this idea that the Bob guy started out as a time traveller, but ended up going back so many times that he became a "part of time" and could speak to Cole in any time or place, his memories were fragmented as a result.
      • Your brother's watched too much Doctor Who.
      • Actually, the 2015 series introduces the concept of "primaries," who are people fundamentally connected to time - like Jennifer, who replaces Jeffrey in the series. Perhaps the Bob guy is one of them?
    • My assumption has always been that the "insurance" scientist and accompanying guard are there to prevent wayward "volunteers" from bucking the system, as Bob apparently has. (And I don't mean the penal system, but the linear-time system.)
    • I got the impression that Bob was sent to the wrong time and ended up going insane and becoming homeless. His scenes in the "present" were from after he eventually got rescued (or between trips), and he really was just in the next cell.


    The guy in the next cell 
  • The guy in the next cell. Well, maybe he's in the next cell. Maybe he's in the Central Office. Or maybe he's just in Cole's head. Well, which is it? And if he were just another "volunteer", why would he be fucking with Cole like that? Why for that matter if he's a spy?
    • He's totally the spider, you guys. He got into his mind that way when he ate it.

    Coda on the plane 
  • When I first saw the coda on the plane with the virus-terrorist guy, I actually had the opposite impression from "Everything's going to be alright"; I actually thought that the woman in the plane wasn't the female scientist flung back in time to get a sample of the pure virus. She was, in fact, that female scientist in the year 1990. As she then says she's in "the Insurance business", I then got the depressing idea that none of the council of scientists were actual scientists - just people with an air of authority who thought that messing with a time machine could solve what had happened. She's only on the council because she's driven by the guilt of having met the man who wiped out 90% of humanity and failing to stop him back in 1990.
    • In the future, they had no idea who the real culprit was until James left his last phone message, so if that was the original non-time-traveling scientist on the plane, she wouldn't have come to the conclusion that she met the guy responsible for the virus and decided to join the scientist council.
    • I took "insurance" to be a euphemism, as in, she's ensuring the future of the human race. Given that the woman appeared to be the same age as the scientist in the future, I think it's much more likely that she got sent into the past, too (another of Cole's fellow time travellers was in the airport as well, IIRC, and had orders to kill him if he didn't cooperate). Considering they all knew who the real culprit was, I'd think it would be likely they'd sent a bunch more people back to make sure they got what they needed.
      • An additional detail is the female scientist ("Jones") takes her seat beside a (quite reasonably) wary Dr. Peters, appears distracted, and makes casual (if caustic and morbid) seatmate conversation while getting settled: "It's obscene, all the violence, all the lunacy. Shootings even at airports now. You might say that we're the next endangered species. Human beings." Dr. Peters seems perplexed for a moment, and she completely freezes, eyes straight ahead, not moving a muscle, until Dr. Peters replies in friendly agreement, with all indication they would have a fruitful conversation during the flight. The facial expression alone sells the fact that "Jones" knows exactly who Dr. Peters is, that it's very important he trust her and be willing to discuss his interests, and that she feared her baiting him into talking was a little too on-the-nose. She was likely sent there not (only) to get a sample, but to pump him for information regarding the virus by pretending to be the sort of apocalypse fanatic that Peters would gladly share his plan with. (Given his willingness to proselytize a completely indifferent Dr. Railly at her book signing, she'll probably be successful!)
    • Or it's just Dramatic Irony. The culprit was right under their nose all along, but the Council never knew it, either back then or in the future.

2015 Series

    Sending Cole back to themselves 

  • It's interesting (and possibly/probably withholding information from the viewers) that now that the future time travel team knows they must keep doing this, they haven't sent Cole back to contact the original team that was working on time travel. True, you don't want to change the past, but out of all the people in the past you would think these folks would at least understand that Cole was a time traveler and help him out.
    • They're playing with fire, and are well aware of it. Making a major change like that could undo all the work they've done. They're hoping to only press the "undo" button once, when they stop the release of the virus and save the world. Considering what a paradox looks like, you can understand why they don't want to risk too many of those.


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