The Women of 12 Monkeys on Time Travel, TV, and Terry Matalas

Time keeps on slipping as we close in on the second season finale of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys. With a premise that seemed easy enough, the series quickly bloomed into a psychological thriller mixed with the staples of classic sci-fi, and the multi-part finale has already left fans wondering, ahead of the end: what’s next? Ahead of the finale, news broke of a third season, and at the show’s recent L.A. Press Day, the relief and joy in the air was palpable. For actresses Amanda Schull and Emily Hampshire -- who play the enigmatic Cassandra Rally and troubled genius Jennifer Goines, respectively -- the future of the show represents something more.

“TV is the place for strong, amazing characters, and the writers on television right now are the best they’ve ever been,” said Hampshire. “But the more shows you have written by women, the more opportunities for these female characters you’ll have.” 12 Monkeys has hosted a handful of incredible female writers, including Sleepy Hollow’s Kristen Reidel and Janet Peoples, who co-wrote the 1995 Bruce Willis film that inspired the series, just to name a few.

In a world where it is still common for female characters to remain wordless and two-dimensional, the competition can be exceptionally fierce, and that’s without delving into other aspects of the industry that limit actresses, such as the color of their skin. Though the series is primarily guided by Terry Matalas, Hampshire feels like there’s finally enough room for actresses to work alongside each other rather than being pitted against one another for camera time. “Because we have such great parts individually [on 12 Monkeys], we don’t compete with each other,” said Hampshire. “We support each other. It’s really a nice dynamic.”



Cassandra’s path has led her to some pretty heavy forks in the road, and her latest decision may change her entire dynamic with the rest of the cast if the finale keeps her on the same road -- but the horizon, for Cassie, looks pretty dark. The opportunity to bring a female character who is so vital, complicated, and empathetically realistic within the sci-fi genre was more than enough for Schull to take the role. “Cassie is… very different from anyone I’ve ever seen on television,” said Schull. “In large part because she’s flawed, and she’s not perfect, and she’s not always right.” Cassie has an uncertain future, and according to some fan theories, an even more mysterious past.

“My expectations are always way surpassed by what Terry Matalas writes,” Hampshire said when considering Jennifer’s future. “Each script is like a new Jennifer that I’d never even imagined before.” This kind of lenience and exploration is something that not only lends a hand to the show’s female characters, but -- because of the deeply-connected relationships surrounding both Jennier and Cassandra -- ripples throughout the show and impacts the very direction it is taking. So rarely,even now, do women change the course of a story by taking action and doing much more than existing. On 12 Monkeys, where the characters are often fighting for their lives in eras they’d only seen through the archives, the women are often what keep the cogs turning.

As far as time travel goes, nearly everyone sang the praises of the costume and set departments for the 40’s, which ended up being the resounding favorite time period for most of the cast and crew at the press day. “The greatest thing is seeing Amanda and Aaron come out in their costumes,” said Emily Hampshire, who, admittedly, still hasn’t gotten to play around outside too much just yet, for somewhat obvious reasons. When asked about her favorite era for costumes, though, Hampshire had to physically stop herself from revealing anything on the red carpet. “Oh my god, I almost spoiled everything,” she said. “If there was a time period I could be in, costume-wise, I’d like to be in something with corsets. Like the 1910’s, that kind of thing.”



While Jennifer’s future may become far more complicated than her relatively grounded (haha, get it?) role at the moment, Cassandra’s decisions are beginning to lead her away from her partner, Cole. “I think that Cassie is finally making a decision that’s more emotionally guided by her heart than by what she probably knows is the stronger decision,” said Schull. “She can’t just let him go out on his own to face whatever may happen in 1957. At the end of the day, she is his partner. Whether she knows it deep down in her soul yet or not? We’ll just have to see.”

Keeping up with time travel can get a little complicated, says Schull, particularly because the series is block shot, which means that several episodes are filmed in a short amount of time. This is common place for a good deal of tv shows these days, especially since seasons are becoming ever the more shortened by the rigorous demands of a changing TV landscape. So when it comes to hopping through time on such a demanding schedule, things can be a bit disorienting. “That adds another layer of complete and total confusion,” Schull admitted. “I try to keep focused on what’s going on at all times, and fortunately we have people who are also paid to do that, so if I don’t have it straight someone will bring it to my attention.”

As for the future itself -- even though it might rest within the depths of the past -- everything is uncertain. The upcoming final episodes will determine whether or not Cole’s leadership can keep his team from breaking, and with any luck, a very key mystery will be solved regarding the series’ mysterious Witness. “I’m not going to confirm or deny [that Cassie is The Witness],” Schull hastily added after a light accusation from co-star Kirk Acevedo.

12 Monkeys airs on Mondays an 9/8c, only on Syfy. Catch the finale on July 18th.

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