A voice describes the events of the previous episode when Cole failed to stop the paradox as well as the deaths of Ramse, Whitley, Hannah, and Deacon at the hands of the Witness. Now, Cole and Cassie live in 1959 where they celebrate Christmas in what the voice calls the beginning of the end and the end of the beginning.
Cole and Cassie exchange presents for the holiday. Cassie gets Cole a shaving razor, joking about how she wants to see what’s under his shadow. Cole then nervously watches Cassie open her present, remarking how he only ever really exchanged gifts with his father who always got him a toy train. It’s revealed that he got Cassie a diamond butterfly clip for her hair after remembering her saying that not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly. She remarks that she loves it but also reveals she has another gift for him. Cassie hands him an envelope which he quickly opens. After reading the card inside, the two embrace as the truth of the matter sinks in at their home.
At a local store, Cole walks in a daze before a cashier takes notice. Cole admits that he is going to be a father. As the cashier speaks, however, time around him begins to still. He walks outside the store to see the world frozen except for one women. With one arm bleeding down, she stares at him and remarks that it’s not over just yet. Suddenly, she disappears, and the world moves again.
At night, Cassie remarks how difficult it is to remember certain products don’t exist in 1959. Cole reveals that he saw a woman who claimed that it wasn’t over yet. He brings up the possibility that Ramse did not succeed in his mission. Cassie states that, like he said, there aren’t any red forests or messengers to worry about, but Cole believes they would have noticed if Ramse succeeded. Cassie then says that perhaps the reason nothing happened is because they were meant to be there. After everything they’ve been through, they deserve it.
The next day, Cole drives a truck through the street. Suddenly, time stops once again around him. This time, however, he sees the sign for a hospital called St. Mary’s Mercy Asylum for the Insane. He walks inside the building and requests to meet a woman he saw. The receptionist, at first, refuses to help him, but, once he remarks on the woman’s bleeding from her left arm, she recognizes her as Lillian.
Lillian has been a patient at the asylum for years without any visitor besides Cole. Previously, she had killed both of her siblings as well as her parents and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Nevertheless, Cole meets with Lillian who instantly recognizes him as James Cole. He reveals that she knows she is a primary. Lillian then admits that his mission is not over, though Cole argues that Ramse stopped time from collapsing as well as the Witness. She fires back that the Witness is the only one who could notice the cycle continuing. Now, she has a chance to warn him just as she warned her family. When they didn’t believe her, she killed them to spare them of the suffering. Cole initially ignores her ravings, but Lillian shouts back that time is at risk of collapsing on itself, referencing 1975, 1944, and even 1959 and their paradoxes. She advises him to go to the pines if he doesn’t believe her.
Lillian: Death can be undone. Love cannot.
After the visit, Cole drives out into the forest. At the edge of woods, he finds a red tree. Surrounding it, more trees begin turning under a red storm.
Cole then returns to the asylum to receive help from Lillian who advises him to change fate. He reminds her that there is no time machine to help him travel, but she states that James Cole does not need a machine to travel through time. Instead, he could simply use the red leaves in the tea to move his consciousness through the time stream. With that, he can return to 1957 and prevent the paradox. However, everything that occurred after the paradox, including his new relationship with Cassie, will be erased. Lillian also warns him that should he return to the future he must not rescue Ramse in Titan since it can only lead to death. With that in mind, Cole needs to make a choice.
Cole returns to the cabin where Cassie is waiting and wondering where he has been. The store had informed her that he hadn’t shown up for work, leaving Cassie to feel that he has been uncertain about the newest change in their lives. Cole embraces Cassie and tenderly tells her that this is all he wanted.
At night, Cole sits up, watching Cassie. He then finally makes the decision to brew a tea from the red leaves to travel back. Before he can erase everything, he makes a mark on the wall of the cabin reading “1957-1959 This Was Home.”
In his visions, he appears to return to the facility in 2044 where he sees a figure wandering the halls. In his shifting, he arrives in 2013, the time when he first met Cassie. In her car, he watches her walk towards him, musing how she doesn’t yet know who he is. Focusing again, he attempts to splinter back to 1957. However, his next stop takes him to 2015, the time when he first met Jennifer Goines in the asylum. Stopping there, he informs her to never call him “otter eyes” again before he keeps shifting back. Suddenly, he returns to 2043 in the middle of a conversation with Ramse about Cassie. Ramse tells Cole to take a chance in being with Cassie. In his many attempts to return to 1957, he sees many different past experiences such as the trip to the Night Room, the time-loop, and his dance with Cassie. Between each time, he returns to the facility where he now recognizes the figure in the halls as the Witness. He confronts the figure, shouting at it to reveal itself.
Finally, Cole manages to return, right at the moment when he confronted Reginald at gunpoint. Thinking quickly, he makes his way back to the factory to find Charlie approaching his wife and Cassie. Charlie pleads for Cole to let the paradox occur so that he can be with his wife forever in the red forest while Cassie urges Cole to shoot. Cole admits to Charlie that he understands Charlie’s desire to be with someone he cares about deeply. Turning to Cassie, Cole wishes her a goodbye before shooting Charlie. The death of the messenger prevents the paradox and sends the two back to the facility in 2044 with a greeting Jones.
Jones reveals that, although it remains a blur to her, after they prevented the paradox, the storm began to recede. While the facility was initially engulfed by the storm, time apparently began to repair itself before her eyes, restoring the place and the machine to bring them back. Since the two waited through eleven months in 1957, she was forced to wait alone, forced to defend the grounds against scavengers by herself. Eventually, her skills improved, and she eventually took up a lost dog as her companion. Cassie then fills Jones in on the details, explaining that after months of investigating they found nothing. Cole, however, came just in time to stop the paradox. Instead of answering how he knew, Cole quickly reveals that Ramse and the team with him will die in Titan. Fortunately, with Jones’s help, they manage to reconfigure the time machine to the location based on Adler’s programming. Essentially, they can teleport to Titan’s location about twelve hours before the group’s death. This time, however, Jones offers to join in the splinter, reminding the two that her daughter is among those near Titan as well. She refuses to lose Hannah again.
The three splinter their way to the location outside Titan where they meet Jennifer and the Daughters. Jennifer reveals that Ramse, Deacon, Whitley, and Hannah went to Titan despite her warning. Cole advises her to take charge of the Daughters to lead them to Titan and rescue the others, but Jennifer mourns that they won’t listen to her. Cole inspires her to take charge, leading Jennifer to give and inspiring speech to crowds. However, none of the women listen to her words. Regardless of the Daughters, Jennifer agrees to go with Cole. The Daughters react to this choice, seeing that Jennifer would sacrifice herself for Cole or Ramse. Jennifer responds that her older self must have forgotten to teach them the most important rule. They then agree to help Jennifer.
Jennifer: Be excellent to each other.
At Titan, the events play out the same as Ramse and the others confront the Witness but then are captured by his army. Before they are killed, however, the four are rescued by Cole, Cassie, Jennifer, and the Daughters as they begin an ambush. The remaining soldiers are taken down by the group as the team reunites.
With the army in custody, Ramse interrogates each one of them on the location of the Witness. Each one of them simply reply that the Witness is safe before Ramse kills them for their non-answer. Eventually, he begins killing the soldiers at random in his anger and even turns on Cassie for bringing them to a dead end. Cole tries to get him to calm down, but Ramse refuses to leave until he finds the Witness. Jones realizes that the technology around Titan was pioneered by her husband Elliot Jones. Without knowing what it is, she fears it could be for a bigger machine. Jennifer advises against risking their lives any further with Deacon seconding her notion, but Cole agrees that the Witness is somewhere in Titan. The groups split up to search Titan.
Cole, Cassie, Jones and Hannah search one end. Cole remarks how he never believed that Jones would handle a weapon like that, leading Cassie to respond that not every caterpillar becomes a butterfly. At that statement, she suddenly remembers saying that to him earlier. She recalls the time in 1957 through 1959 where they lived together in the house of cedar and pine. She even remembers that they were in love. Then, Titan begins to roar alive. Jones looks up and understands why Hannah didn’t see Titan earlier: Titan is the Witness’s time machine.
The groups scramble to evacuate before the place can splinter. Ramse breaks away from the group to continue the search while Cole and Cassie make it out of the city. However, when Cole doesn’t see Ramse in the leaving crowd, Cole runs back to find his friend with Cassie quickly following. Ramse’s search leads him to fight off a soldier without any bullets, but, to his surprise, another soldier saves his life. The figure unmasks himself and tells him to follow if he wants to stop the Witness.
Deacon and Jennifer, meanwhile are surrounded by an army. Deacon sacrifices himself for Jennifer to escape, leading himself to be stabbed multiple times by the figures. Jennifer fights off some remaining soldiers but, in the crossfire, shoots the edge of a machine. This causes a temporal fire to engulf her, making her disappear from this time.
Cole continues to search for Ramse, but Cassie urges him to leave for her. Cole follows her to leave the city before the two are ambushed by remaining soldiers. The soldiers fight off Cole and manage to grab Cassie and pull them apart. They shove Cole outside the city, and, just as Cole is about to jump back, the city splinters.
In the forest, Ramse is brought to a group of followers outside Titan. There, he meets up with Olivia, who has aged significantly since their last meeting. Instead of killing him, however, Olivia reveals that she as well as the followers behind her have abandoned the Army of the 12 Monkeys. They plan to find a way to take down the Witness. First, though, they plan to reunite Ramse with his son, who had met with a younger Olivia.
In France 1917, Jennifer splinters in the middle of World War I. Shocked at her surroundings, she asks the nearest soldier in French to bring her to a phone.
In 2044, Cole and Jones manage to splinter back to the lab. Cassie, however, does not. Cole demands that Jones find a way to bring Cassie back, but Jones finds that her tether has been cut. Fortunately, though, she is able to track Cassie’s shift to the year 2163. Cole orders Jones to send him to the future, an act that Jones cautions against since they have no way of knowing what could be facing him. Regardless, Cole splinters forward, desperate to save Cassie.
In 2163, Cassie is brought before a large auditorium full of members of the Army of the 12 Monkeys. At the center, she comes face-to-face with the Pallid Man. Cassie accuses him of being the Witness, but he reveals that the Witness is a being beyond them. He proclaims to her that the Witness is safe since she was the one who brought him there. He presents to the crowds Cassie, the Mother of the Witness.
Notes From 2044
- Madeleine Stowe who plays Lillian most notably played the role of Dr. Kathryn Railly in the film Twelve Monkeys. That sounds oddly familiar.
- In Cole's visions to the past, we see moments from "Splinter," Mentally Divergent," "The Night Room," and "Lullaby."
- Jennifer's speech to the Daughters contain references to Lord of the Rings, Braveheart, Independence Day, and, of course Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.