There are many classic tales of brothers taking up arms against one another. Sometimes they’re even in direct opposition of each other. Sure, there are the tales of brothers who all want to rule and seek to kill one another (Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, for example), but there are plenty more instances of brothers (or siblings) who wish to resolve a conflict in different ways and end up hurting each other in the process. As Ramse said: “We always try to do the right thing. We just end up doing it the wrong way, right?”
Three distinct storylines, tightly coupled but wholly independent once again, come together at long last by the end of this episode. From Jennifer’s nightmares and confrontation with Olivia to Ramse and Cole’s journey back to 2007 and Deacon and Cassie’s daring escape from Titan, we’re all over the timeline, everyone desperately trying to protect someone.
Climb the Steps, Ring the Bell
In Jennifer’s manic mumbling, she kept repeating the phrase, “Climb the steps, ring the bell.” So much is happening in this episode that it’s hard to tell whether this bears significance now or if it has more to do with this dying person she keeps seeing. Then I had this really random memory of a scene from season 1 where Jennifer is dragged home after she’s found living on the streets. When the guard is pulling her up the stairs, Jennifer says: “I know what’s happening here. You climb the steps, ring the bell.”
At first I thought it had something to do with a bell inside a church or a town square, but I think it is referring to a doorbell. In my part of the country, we don’t really have steps leading to a doorbell, so that concept wasn’t immediately apparent to me. There is a step, if anything at all. Just riffing here… that phrase would then indicate to me that someone has an inquiry and must take action in order to find answers. In the course of Jennifer’s storyline in this episode, it comes to follow that she enters the lion’s den and has a little pow wow with Olivia.
The more time that passes, the crazier Olivia’s plan becomes. It’s hard to tell just how far into the future she can see, but this sequence of events is super interesting. It probably began the moment she rescued Sam from the woods when he traveled from 2046, it built up over time until she could return Ramse to his son when Sam was in his final moments knowing that the death of the boy would be the key to turning Ramse against Cole. Simply telling Ramse that the Witness is the child of Cole and Cassie wouldn’t be enough, Ramse might not be properly motivated to try and kill Cassie. But because the Witness was made responsible for his son’s death, Ramse has the proper motivation. She then provides Ramse with a side mission (in direct conflict with Cole’s driving purpose) and the Splinter team with an opportunity to nab the Witness so that Cole would discover the truth, end Ramse, and on his return require Olivia’s help to find his own son.
I think Jennifer is right. Olivia is unbreakable. She’s never spent a day anywhere that wasn’t exactly where she wanted to be. Jennifer goes to her expecting to inquire about the dying man in her nightmare, but instead uncovers a piece to Olivia’s plan that it seems like Olivia truly did not intend to reveal: that of the map. Jennifer’s crazy might have a rhythm to it, but chaos will inevitably throw everyone off their game. It’ll be interesting to see whether Jennifer brings this map to the attention of the Splinter team and whether that throws a wrench in Olivia’s plans.
The Last Hurrah
In the words of DC Talk, love is a verb. (Or Luv is a Verb.) One of my favorite lines from the song is: “Words come easy but don’t mean much / when the words they’re sayin’ we can’t put trust in.” Ultimately, it’s not what we say, it’s what we do. And though Ramse says Cole is his brother, his actions don’t quite match up to that claim.
We can’t blame him, though. As Pallid Man says, secrets are delicate and tenuous. While Olivia manipulates everyone around her so that Ramse will ultimately attempt to end Cassie’s life, it seems her true purpose is to make Cole reliant on her to find his son. “Not everyone of us gets to be Primary,” Olivia tells Jennifer. “The rest of us are doomed to juggle eventualities. And when the music stops and the balls drop, all you have left is the one in your hand. There is no script, there is no plan. There is no [map].”
Stepping outside of the big picture, and taking a breather from events that appear to already have happened even though they haven’t happened yet, the actions we make daily are a product of our experiences. Ramse has been through a lot these last 30-ish years, much of which can, on a small scope, be blamed on Cole. On a larger scope, however, we don’t really know who to blame everything on yet. Events are so intertwined and the causality so complex, that it might ultimately be impossible to blame anything on one person.
Ramse’s decision to assist the 12 Monkeys was a product of desiring his son’s life to be. Without the plague, Ramse would never meet Elena and, thus, never produced Sam. The actions taken by players of the time travel game produce this increasingly complex web of interdependent actions that are not so much deterministic as they are inevitable. Despite the fact that Ramse and Cole have this brotherhood, the actions both men have taken caused their methods to diverge, both seeking what is best for their families.
Up until Ramse reveals to Cole that the Witness is his son, I was getting a feeling like Cole’s sense of duty and awareness of the Greater Good superseded his desire to protect family. Ramse has always been so narrow in his scope of who he will protect, and for whom he will fight, that it has nearly always resulted in him opposing the majority. Without any concept of, or willingness to fight for, the greater good, he’s left only fighting for himself and what he wants. And it leads him to manipulate his brother in an attempt to kill the woman his brother loves.
It all comes back around. On the grounds outside of the Parsippany Community Center where Ramse first called Cole brother, they stand again at an impasse. Ramse believing the only way forward is to stop it all from happening, Cole believing that there must be a better way.
Is this the end of Kirk Acevedo? With Ramse’s dying words, “Promise me you won’t undo this,” I can’t imagine we’ll see him anymore in real time. But this is a time travel show, we’ll inevitably see him again. Right?
The Great Escape
There isn’t much to comment on as far as the Deacon and Cassie story goes. Neither were aware the other was even in Titan until relatively the same time, and neither will reveal to the other why they were being held. But Cassie just wants to get back to Cole and we can see the jealousy written all over Deacon’s face.
One interesting comment, made by Pallid Man, has me thinking about Deacon’s role in this whole game. It seems as though Deacon is a hidden piece on the chess board, so to speak. It’s almost like his actions are obscured from the future and are unable to be prevented or foreseen. He could just be a wildcard, in that circumstances really do determine his allegiance; or maybe there’s something different about him. Honestly, I’m more inclined to believe the first option, but it’d be super interesting if there was something about him that made him a constant ace in the hole.
The scene where Cole appears to Cassie outside Fairfax, telling her he knows he shouldn’t be there and asking her to come home, I really liked that scene. It felt like up until Cole decided to save Ramse at the end of season 1… everyone only ever did what they knew they already did. A couple nosebleed instances have happened already this season, once to Cassie and once to Cole and Katarina, which is a nice deviation from the norm because we can see that these characters are choosing to act outside of what they already know has happened.
The gang is reunited. Everyone has a lot of stuff to work through, Cassie and Cole in particular, but as the team will undoubtedly regroup and devise some sort of plan to find the Witness… Cassie and Cole will either have to give up their secret or face the music once the truth is revealed.
I really enjoyed the score in this episode. It accompanied the intense and emotional scenes very well. I was not expecting Ramse to die. As much as I will miss that character, I’m incredibly impressed with the conclusion of his story (if it is, truly, the end).
Next: Season 3 Episode 5 Causality