In 2044, Jones reads over a passage from Hamlet as Cassie watches over Cole and Ramse walks closer to the red storm. She then prepares Cassie for a new mission and sends the doctor through the machine. Deacon then wakes Cole up after discovering Cassie’s departure, wanting him to find out where she went. Cole and Deacon march up to Jones just as the other scientists report a glitch in Cassie’s tether. Jones replies that if Cassie is successful her tether back to 2044 shouldn’t matter. Cole asks Jones where she sent Cassie, and she reveals that Cassie is in 2020 to stop a worse plague: the creation of time travel. She sent Cassie back on a mission to kill her younger self following the passing of Hannah when she was inspired to develop the machine. Cole argues that erasing the machine isn’t the way, but Jones explains that her machine was part of the destruction of time itself, believing the world would be better off without the machine altogether. Cole nevertheless orders Lasky to pull up the time Cassie was sent to, determined to stop her before assassinating Jones.
Cassie arrives in 2020 wearing a gas mask to protect herself from the virus but hears a military fire for a fallen soldier. She removes the mask within the perimeters and attempts to enter the base. The military immediately accosts her as she introduces herself as Dr. Cassandra Railly from the CDC. They shout that the CDC is dead, but she replies that she survived and needs access to the base.
The military check her for infection and take her DNA to confirm her claim to be Dr. Railly. When asked about her lost I.D., Cassie claims that she escaped Baltimore. The officer questions how she went around the West 7 quarantine zone, but Cassie maintains that she escaped despite reports from the CDC. Lieutenant Foster then leads Cassie through the base, explaining that they hope that her presence as a virologist will help boost the morale of the base since they believed that the CDC was taken over by riders. Because they have seen up to 75% containment rate of outside wanderers, the military fears a greater infection on the inside, especially since almost a dozen officers have been buried. With this fear, they have kept all outsiders, known here as “scabs,” detained. Cassie asks to speak with Jones, but the lieutenant reveals that she is with her daughter who is in serious condition.
Lieutenant Foster takes Cassie to his office where he reveals that security measures have changed since the escalation of the virus. To Cassie’s shock, he reveals that their doctors and security team have stopped assisting many of the sick out of fear of losing some of their valuable members. An officer interrupts their talk to inform the lieutenant that Jones’s daughter had passed. Lieutenant Foster leaves to find Jones while Cassie secretly steals his gun.
Foster speaks to Jones as she sings her lullaby to daughter. Despite his insistence to leave, Jones doesn’t respond. Once he leaves, Cassie sneaks into the room and shoots Jones.
Cassie is then sent back to the outside of the base with her gas mask on once again. This time, Cole arrives to try and stop her from killing Jones. Cassie insists that she already killed Jones, but Cole informs her that he was sent back to the moment she arrived in order to prevent Jones from dying. Furthermore, nothing has seemed to change. Cassie tries to prove that she already killed Jones by leading Cole to the military base.
At the base, however, the two are confronted by the military who once again accost Jones, insisting that the CDC is dead. Cole and Cassie go through the entrance process when Cole asks Cassie why she wanted to to kill Jones in the first place. Cassie admits that both she and Jones felt responsible for the deaths of Sam and Eckland, realizing that their problems with the Army stemmed from the introduction of time travel. Eliminating time travel could eliminate the threat and save time from collapsing on itself. Cole questions what they plan to do about the plague, but Cassie argues that perhaps the plague was inevitable. Cassie is then once again asked by the military about how she arrived there. Cassie, confused, tells the officer that she already explained that she escaped Baltimore, but the officer once again asks how she went around the West 7 quarantine base, a name Cole recognizes. While the officers corroborate Cassie’s DNA, they find that Cole’s only connects to an 11-year-old, Cole’s 2020 self. Unsure of their origins, the military place Cole and Cassie in detainment with the scabs.
In detainment, however, they find 2020 Jennifer Goines who is excited to see both of them. Before she goes further, Jennifer questions what they know about the hyenas in order to find out which versions they are. To Cassie’s surprise, Jennifer remembers that Cassie had already shot Jones only to have time reset itself. Jennifer insists that she keeps hearing the situation repeat with Cassie killing Jones only to have the day begin again. Cole remembers that there was a glitch in the system when Cassie splintered, possibly finding a reason for the loop. However, Cole and Cassie are then taken from the compound.
Jennifer: See you soon! They're like my best friends.
Down the hall, Lieutenant Foster then confronts the two, revealing that he discovered that Dr. Cassandra Railly had died at the CDC. He demands with soldiers at gunpoint to know who they really are with the threat of death otherwise. Cole and Cassie then fight back against the soldiers to escape. Unfortunately, the fight leads to a soldier shooting Cassie in the back with a fatal wound. In a desperate situation, Cole shoots his way through the hall to find and kill Jones, leading to another reset.
Cole and Cassie once again arrive outside the base with Cassie’s bullet wound disappearing. However, both are beginning to falter after the excessive splinters. Nevertheless, Cassie suggests they split up to try a different idea in killing Jones. Cole argues that he only killed Jones the second time to save Cassie from her wound, knowing that it wouldn’t solve their problem. Instead, he says, they should figure out how to escape the loop, but Cassie insists that the mission is still the same.
Separately, Cassie enters the base with the military believing her story and detaining Cole who once again meets with Jennifer. Cassie then steals Foster’s gun and dons a hazmat suit to sneak into the hospital room to find Jones. Just as she is about to kill Jones once again, Cassie notices the readings on Hannah as the girl stirs. Cassie asks Jones about her daughter’s condition, but Jones insists that her daughter will heal because she is immune like her mother. Cole, meanwhile, demands Jennifer to help them out of the loop through her knowledge as a primary. Jennifer offers that perhaps time does not want Cassie to kill Jones. Time may, in fact, need time travel. Cassie looks on the records regarding Hannah, but the group is interrupted by Foster’s arrival. In the chaos, time is reset once again.
Despite the failure, Cassie insists on another try inside the base with Cole once again being detained. This time, however, she asks Foster for his files on the virus. Instead of killing Jones, Cassie rushes into the room with Jones with a plan to help Hannah. She reveals that she noticed Hannah’s condition had a fluctuating temperature, but the symptoms of the virus include a steady rise in temperature. With Cassie’s expertise, she discovers that Hannah might actually be suffering from a bacterial infection rather than the virus. Hannah is immune to the virus just like her mother. Cassie then injects Hannah with an anti-biotic vaccine, but Cole and Cassie begin wincing from the timeline effect. Jennifer warns Cole again that time wants to keep the event the same.
Cole and Cassie splinter back outside the base with Cole vomiting at the effort. Cassie reveals that Hannah was immune and only suffered from meningitis following Foster’s new medical procedures. While Cassie was able to save her, it made no difference in their loop. Cole remarks that Jennifer told him how time wants to keep things the same, believing that includes her daughter’s death. This time, he suggests waiting out the day to return home.
At night, Cole and Cassie discuss Jennifer’s words. Cole believes that time needs Jones to invent time travel, a notion that Cassie believes is ridiculous. Cole then remembers a time when he and Ramse were boys and came across a gun store armed by five older men with boxes of ammo at their feet. The two were out in an open area when the men took fire. However, both Cole and Ramse survived that day without a scratch. Cole argues that perhaps it wasn’t their day to die, that something was looking out for them to survive. Or perhaps the boxes were filled with blanks. Cole then admits that he understands Jones wanting to undo her mistakes since he reveals that he would undo breaking into Cassie’s car in 2013 if he could. Cassie argues that she made her own choices, like waiting for him to return for two years at a hotel, and he needs to stop blaming himself for her actions to save the world. Cole admits that he doesn’t care about the world and only worked to stop the virus for Cassie’s safety, revealing his feelings for her.
Cassie: Did she also tell you that Time has a long white beard with commandments "Thou shall not splinter and kill the creator of time travel"?
Despite not doing anything, Cole and Cassie splinter back to the day’s beginning with Cassie having a brief vision of Titan in the red forest. Although the situation is fruitless, Cassie and Cole return to the military base where Cole speaks with Jennifer who is angry at not seeing Cole and Cassie in the previous loop. She then encourages Cole to “do something by doing nothing” to escape the loop and save the world. To begin with, Jennifer encourages him to keep hope like she has, despite her fear of being killed and leaving her people without a leader. Using Jennifer’s words, Cole comes up with an idea.
Cole convinces Foster that Cassie and Jones were behind the smuggling of the virus into the base with Jennifer Goines. After revealing that Cassie is not really the late Dr. Railly, the lieutenant sentences the four of them to death. Just as they are being dragged to the firing wall, Cole asks Jones if a little bit of happiness is better than anything else. When she responds yes, Cole tells her to hold onto that thought. Cassie grabs onto Cole’s hand as the soldiers fire, leading to another redo. However, Cole claims to have another idea.
Back in 2044, Jones and the scientists manage to reach Cole and Cassie’s tethers and fix the glitch, bringing both of them back to the lab. Still, Jones is disappointed that everything has remained the same. Cassie and Cole admit that they tried to kill Jones, but time kept resetting the day. After speaking with Jennifer there, Cole believes that time needs them and Jones to set things right in the world against the army of the 12 monkeys. In other words, time is on their side. Jones scoffs at the idea and insists that the only thing that happened was a machine malfunction. The glitch in the system caused them to be sent in a perpetual splinter sequence back to the same spot rather than time itself causing the act. Cole, however, still has something else to show Jones.
Cole, Cassie, and Jones walk outside the base to confront the Daughters and Jennifer. Jennifer is satisfied to see that the future came but tells Cole to explain what happened to Jones. Cole then reveals that they couldn’t change the loop by acting or doing nothing, so they did something by doing nothing. Cole and Cassie, utilizing multiple resets, came up with a new plan. Cassie explains that Hannah was immune to the virus but succumbed to bacterial meningitis. In one loop, Cassie had managed to save her, but time continued to reset itself. Jones blasts the argument since she remembered seeing her daughter dead. The two then reveal that time needed Jones to believe that Hannah was dead in order to be inspired to create time travel. Cole broke Jennifer out of the detainment facility while Cassie smuggled Hannah in a back room where she cured the girl’s meningitis. They then took Hannah to Jennifer’s group The Daughters where she has lived for the past twenty-four years. Now, Jones reunites with her daughter, alive and well, in a tearful embrace.
Amidst the reunion, Jones develops a new sense of hope in keeping the machine going. Cole and Cassie talk following his earlier declaration. He claims that, like Jones and her daughter’s reunion, he would rather have one moment of happiness with her than a lifetime without it. Unfortunately, Cassie rejects the offer, believing that losing anything is the greatest thing that haunts them. She tearfully leaves him and returns to her room.
Notes from 2044
- If you look carefully in the last scene, you can see Cassie is wearing the same watch used in the paradox from the pilot "Splinter"!
- The Witness might be located in a place called Titan. Could the fact that there were 12 Titans be an influence on the 12 Monkeys?
- This episode includes the return of Spearhead and a still-alive Colonel (then Lieutenant) Foster in 2020!