Welcome to the second entry of my newest series of posts called Binge On This! Since around this time of the year (cold season in the northern hemisphere) one tends to stay inside more, and in certain countries the Covid Cops add their own to make sure you do so, I thought this could be the right time to recommend some of my favorite TV series. And what better show to start out with than one about a global pandemic?
12 Monkeys, The Series Based on the Film
Do you remember back in 1995, the movie where Bruce Willis plays a criminal from the future, who is sent back to the present, to stop a plague from wiping out the majority of humans? It was an all-right film, I guess. A bit confusing at times, as time-travel stories tend to be, but certainly one that could be puzzled out reasonably. Of course it had to include enough obligatory action scenes to lower the bar, but even so, the surprises hidden in the timeline and the inadvertent self-fulfilling prophecies of time-travel made it a film worth remembering. Even though I've never actually watched it for a second time.
Moving ahead a decade, and we find ourselves in the hay-day of TV-shows, where the good people of the Syfy Channel took the idea of the 12 Monkeys and turned it into a TV series, spanning four seasons. Enough time to expand on the notion of the time-traveler trying to prevent the virus outbreak from happening. Of course he never succeeds (no real spoiler, as this is quite obvious from the getgo), but instead other, greater problems are unleashed. At the same time we get to know a number of diverse characters, and various settings, including different epochs in both past and future.
The Question of Fate or Free Will
The philosophical theme accompanying the story from the very beginning is the notion of predetermination. Could you actually change the past if you were able to go back to it? If so, how? And then, could others change it too, maybe even change it back? Though these questions are never really answered, the story line puts sufficient emphasis on raising these ideas, without spending too much time actually debating them. And yes, what we see doesn't always make sense, and they are not always explained (... or maybe they are, I just should watch it all again more attentively). So this offers lots of great opportunities to hit PAUSE and immerse yourself in discussions, if you want. Otherwise, you can just relax, and enjoy the adventures of the characters solving puzzles in a number of temporal settings simultaneously. It's quite entertaining, really.
2020 - The 12 Monkeys Predicted it!
I'm sure you've heard about how The Simpsons supposedly predicted various events before they happened, such as the Donald Trump presidency or the 911 attacks. Well, it seems like the longest running TV series in the US is not the only one to make eerily accurate predictions about the future.
The 8th episode of the 2nd season of 12 Monkeys, aired on June 6, 2016, just happens to take place in 2020. And guess what! There is a viral pandemic threatening the world. Okay, not so unusual, since the pandemic is a major theme of the entire series. A closer look, however, will reveal some insane correlation:
The daughter of one of the protagonists is sick, allegedly from the virus, to which she should be immune. She is meant to die, but another main character discovers that it's not even the virus she is sick from, but simply a bacterial meningitis infection. So with the help of some antibiotics she saves her, but not without first going through a major struggle against the militant administration, who refuses to treat the girl, falsely believing her to be suffering from the incurable virus.
A global pandemic, a militarized authoritarian response to it, leading to a preventable death, and all this in 2020??? Sometimes the "coincidences" are just way too weird!
Granted, this only happens in one episode in the series. Still, the rest of the show is quite enjoyable. So if you like paradoxical time-travel stories to figure out, and are curious to look at a potential pandemic through the pre-Covid view, I can highly recommend the 12 Monkeys. If I managed to perk your interest, here's a trailer to check out: