12 Monkeys "Mentally Divergent" Review: The Bad Guy Has Arrived!

12 Monkeys S01E02: "Mentally Divergent"


So far, Syfy's 12 Monkeys adaptation has exceeded expectations and is certainly worth talking about, but for the time being, we're going to take a more casual approach to our coverage of the show. I'll touch on few different aspects of each episode to get the discussion going, and dive deeper into the madness when something big happens. Cool? Cool.

"Mentally Divergent" only boosted the confidence I had in 12 Monkeys: The TV Series after watching the pilot, thanks to its continued to focus on the time-travel element that's going to make series pop. We've now seen Cole in 2013, 2015, and, in an unfortunate set of circumstances, 2006 North Korea, and it's the inexact science of hurtling through time and space that will leave our knuckles white every time he steps into 12 Monkeys' giant MRI machine. I'm not saying I want him to always be zapped to the wrong year, but dammit, it's fun isn't it? It's like watching a hungover Quantum Leap trying to operate a coffee maker.

To me, this second episode had two goals: 1.) Introduce mental patient Jennifer Goines, the equivalent of Brad Pitt's character in the movie (and who's played here by Canadian actress Emily Hampshire), and 2.) Introduce the character who appears to be the season's Big Bad, a well-dressed dude known as "Pallid Man," according to actor Tom Noonan's IMDB page. I love Noonan, and he really brings the creepy to the role.

Through Jennifer, we learned some background on the Army of the 12 Monkeys—namely, that the organization does exist and that it's nasty—and discovered that she's one of two people who know the location of the "Night Room," her father's secret lab that possibly houses the virus. The other person? A scientist who escaped a massacre at Leland Goines' company years ago. Voila! Now whoever finds this scientist first will know where the Night Room is. And there's our plot for Episode 3.

12 Monkeys is looking pretty great so far. And the idea that we'll spend more time than the film did with Cole and his pal Ramsay in the future opens up a whole new chapter of the story that we'll be able to experience with blissful ignorance. What do you think so far?


NOTES IN TIME

– Ummm, who was that apparition Jennifer saw at the very end of the episode? And what hallucinogenic herb mixture did Pallid Man give her?

– I loved that last chat between Cole and Jones, the time-machine creator and the leader of Cole's mission. They're stuck with each other, even if they don't work well together. Kind of like how they're beholden to the time machine, despite its flaws.

– "I don't care about your paradox bullshit," Cassie said. But as 12 Monkeys progresses, that's probably something that will be important to keep track of.

– Would it be okay if Cole banged Ramsay's mom back in 2015? I say yes. What happens in 2015 stays in 2015.

– I'm going to need to see more of Hampshire in the role of Jennifer before I make a judgment on Syfy's version of the character, but she's not irritating me, so that's a solid start!

– Jeremy, you're dead already? Since this is a time-travel show, let's hope he returns. One can never have too much Robert Wisdom.


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Feb 06, 2015
Tim, you bum, where's your review for the exciting third episode?
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Jan 27, 2015
Pallid man really reminded me of the evil Rev Kane in Poltergeist 2. Had to check IMBD to see it wasn't him. Bet he was channelling him tho
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Jan 26, 2015
TV might be making a come back with excellent Sci-Fi.
12 Monkeys hits the mark so far and expect it to continue.
Another show, Man in the High Castle, looks like it also could elevate Sci-Fi on TV.
It is an Amazon show so will have to wait awhile before the series goes beyond the pilot.
What a relief after the Terra Novas, etc that we have seen...
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Jan 26, 2015
Tom Noonan first made an impression on me when I saw Michael Mann's "Manhunter" based on an early Thomas Harris novel.
The movie was creepy but good and Noonan's role was memorably classic scary.
When I saw him pop up in 12 Monkey's I knew that they had made the right choice for a villain, and villian is not a strong enough word for him...
Shouldn't overlook Emily Hampshire's outright crazy character either.
Great casting so far in 12 Monkeys. Kudos to whoever handles that.
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Feb 06, 2015
You should check him out in Hell On Wheels!
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Jan 26, 2015
I think this might be my new tv obsession. I'm already hooked. Is it just me or does it feel like 12 Monkeys could fill the post-Fringe void?
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Feb 06, 2015
Having Agent Charlie Francis certainly helps matters!
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Jan 27, 2015
yes!
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Jan 25, 2015
Finally - the first show syfy has done right - and well - since Battlestar. I'm a huge fan of the movie 12 Monkeys and was worried this show would not live up to it - but I really like the alternate way they have approached it so far - and it's started off stronger than anything on syfy in years! Another great ep - if this keeps up syfy may finally have a hit on their hands. 9/10.
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Jan 26, 2015
Really BSG? It is the "Go To" example of what Syfy is capable of doing wrong!
BSG was really good in the beginning but a major letdown after the 3rd season, thanks to syfy.

12 Monkeys on the other hand is awesome, and I really hope it stays that way!
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Jan 25, 2015
I really hope enough people watch it so it gets renewed.
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Jan 26, 2015
Scify gave it a full 13 episode order before it even aired so they obviously liked what they saw.
As positive word gets out I would hope more viewers will guarantee renewal.
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Jan 26, 2015
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Jan 25, 2015
What a pleasant surprise this show is. I love it when a sci-fi show (or any show for that matter) exceeds your expectations and delivers the quality. Cole being time-dumped in North Korea was a great little touch. Made me think of the much-loved 60s series "The Time Tunnel." I'm on board the Monkey Train for the rest of the run.
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Jan 25, 2015
This episode was amazing. The actress playing Jennifer is selling her version of crazy beautifully. The monkeys on her wall look so creepy that I know they'd drive me ape-shit just looking at them every single day and night.

I chuckled when the leader told Cole she'd send him to the right place and time and jacked up both by sending him to 2006 North Korea. No wonder N.K. is so paranoid, people pop in and out of their country on a moment's notice.

That pallid guy was creepy, but there's something else about him and his actions that is off. My guess is that he's another future guy who was sent to fix things, but he's gone off the reservation big time.
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Jan 25, 2015
I was really pleasently surprised by the pilot and this second episode was at least as strong. It's easily the best SyFy show since BSG. Considering the strength of the writing, acting and directing it's hard to believe that Monkeys and Bitten are on the same network.
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Jan 25, 2015
indeed!
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Jan 24, 2015
Never saw the movie, but I'm loving the show.
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Jan 24, 2015
I am liking the series more than the movie. Many TV adaptions of movies failed but this one is doing well. I love Aaron Stanford from his Nikita role and he is proving he can be the lead of his own TV show. Never seen Amanda Schull before but I am enjoying her as well. Emily Hampshire is another perfect casting. It only has six episodes but I am predicting a second season with more episodes order.
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Jan 25, 2015
"Syfy" ordered 13 episodes of 12 Monkeys. (link)
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Jan 25, 2015
That is great news !
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Jan 24, 2015
Other than their little power struggle over whether Cole takes orders, why didn't Cole tell Jones that he hadn't contacted Cassie? It would have seemed the perfect thing to tell Jones since she believes in destiny.

Plus, to be honest, I didn't find that the conversation between Jones and Cole resulted in much -- except the reveal that either Jones isn't a ruthless despot (because that conversation would have been the point at which she told Cole, as she did with his friend, that he's expendable), really believes religiously in destiny (so that even if she could replace him, she won't because she believes he's the One) or isn't able to create another human computer who can time travel and so is stuck with him.

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Jan 24, 2015
Something else I've noticed: Now that Jones and the others realize that averting the viral destruction isn't as simple as killing Leland (I'd echo Cole in saying that it's never just about one person) in real life they'd be good to stop sending Cole in like a blunt hammer.

While it's good for the show -- drama and action and all of that to have him confronting the killer with the flowers -- in real life, they'd be better off to be trying to profile and trace all of Goines' company's significant scientists and in their timeline investigating all of the company's facilities.

The Night Room cannot possibly be a secret only Goines, his daughter and the mysterious scientist who escaped the massacre know. They'd be some kind of paper trail in the future or the past -- some way to track the company's real estate holdings that could reveal The Night Room or trail of payments to a construction company.

But again, this is TV, so we're going to have Cole smashing through things and doing more grabbing of people's throats instead of the slow, intelligent detective work that would really be more plausible.

ESPECIALLY since, so far at least, the writers haven't introduced any kind of pressure in Cole's own time.

Yes, his visits to the past only last so long, but even with that, so far there hasn't been any mention of his time travel having any ill effects on him. We can believe that he can make countless trips back (with the constraints of the paradox set aside).

And while we don't know if there is anyone above Jones we haven't been told of any outside pressure the survivors suffer (outside of scavengers and possibly mutated viral strains).
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Jan 25, 2015
Remember most of this financial information is now in electronic form, they may no longer have access to this information the future. Through I hope we see them arranging longer missions in to the outside world to track down this information, I got a feeling they are limited to what ever scraps of paper they can find.
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Jan 31, 2015
Yes, I know that they probably don't have access to this info in the future (2040) but they would do better in terms of their mission (though it would make for boring TV) to send Cole into the past to do nothing but search for info online and in physical registries all day long. As I suspected and now have confirmed by Henri Toussaint in the latest ep, there are other giveaways to the Night Room's presence beyond intel from people (the equipment had to be ordered, the Night Room was shipped around and housed in physical facilities that had to be rented or purchased, etc.) But like I said, none of that makes for scintillating TV. Far better to have Mr. Cole hacking and shooting people to death.
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Jan 24, 2015
I have made up my mind,... I am loving this show soooo much,.... I am loving Jennifer and I think her chemistry with Cole is awesome,... and no it is not cool to give his friend's mom a hug,...
on rather unrelated note : our doctor's blond hair is so beautiful that I catch myself just watching it move instead of paying attention to the scene ;)))
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Jan 24, 2015
I don't need more episodes to make up my mind: I already like it.
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Jan 24, 2015
I am really enjoying the show so far. That said this is one of those shows in which to keep the conceits going a lot of logic is ignored.

Cole's world: You'd think that with so many humans gone that the world would be more beautiful (in terms of nature) and that there would be an abundance of things -- versus the scarcity that the scavenger theme implies. I get that large scale farming takes people and organization but you would think that people would move South where food could be grown year round, where they could fish and hunt (left alone you'd expect there to be plentiful game year round). Plus, you'd imagine that handfuls of people could live off of Walmarts stocked with canned food for years.

I also didn't understand Jones saying that they don't have enough power to send Cole back to the 1980s. You would think that their facility would run on a nuclear reactor (a small scientific one maybe, but a nuclear reactor, no less).

Nuclear aside, the science facility that Jones and Cole work for is organized and staffed. If they need additional resources -- which should be plentiful now that almost all of the people are gone, you'd think they could just go and get them.

I do understand that the virus may have triggered other consequences, like war and that the remaining humans may live under the thumb of warlords or feuding armies (as in Revolution) but so far there's been no mention of that.

Not talking and not sharing information, while it's pushed forward the mysteries of the main storylines in real life would be a problem. Cole could have gotten more info out of Goines, once Goines revealed that he believed that Cole was a time traveller if he had been less close lipped. Cassie might have gotten more out of her boyfriend if only securing his later support by spinning things differently with him and telling him more -- if she had been able to get over the hurdle of her distaste for his tendency to treat her as if she were crazy.

The big elephant in the room for me is that Cole and Cassie continue to follow this plodding gumshoe route to finding out more when they could benefit, for example, from a few minutes with an NSA computer. Goines knew about the 12 Monkeys, which likely means he isn't the only one. Even a thorough profile of Goines' family and his company (via computer research?) would be helpful. The scientists of Cole's time, while they have computers seem to be almost totally relying on paper clippings (a really hard way to go about a search for things in 2015).

But obviously the show has its conceits and pacing.

As I've said, I really am enjoying the show can't wait for the next installment.
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Jan 25, 2015
She said they don't yet have enough power to send Jones that far back, we know he go back that far because we been told that already. I presume they are still rebuilding and repairing and learning about the time traveling facility they found. I'm guessing in this time period most of the computer records of our time period have been erase and they are down to relying on paper clippings and what ever their search teams can retrieve.
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Jan 25, 2015
In the list of questions department: why go back in time and try to save humanity at all? It's not like the arc of humanity in 2015 is so great. In their time they still have scientists, power, and access to the accumulated wisdom of humanity via libraries, etc. Hey, if they want to consult the internet or run a computationally intensive equation or simulation on a cloud cluster they even have time travel to do it! In terms of reviving humanity "from scratch" they have an ENORMOUS head start. Why not concentrate on that rather than some quixotic effort to alter what has already happened?

Might be a good show in its own right...
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Jan 31, 2015
Yes, I don't really get it. Especially since the show's perspective on humans seems to be so pessimistic. Next week's conflict over the marauders trying to take the facility because it has food, water and power -- HELLO, wouldn't people's time be better spent creating sustained systems for growing food, filtering water and producing electricity (definitely not rocket science any of it, especially since you'd be able to get the info on how to do these things from books and as you've pointed out they have advanced scientists) versus channeling your energy into 1) scavenging and 2) going back in time to "fix" things?
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Jan 25, 2015
Yes, I agree. I kept thinking about why they didn't concentrate on making life better there for the humans that remain and rebuilding. The only answer I could think of is that most of the scientists in the complex are older and as Jones says "remember" the dead 7 billion and are traumatized by their loss. But I don't think that's thoroughly convincing either.
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Jan 25, 2015
The virus may still be active and killing people. Cole and his friend were screened for pathogens before they were allowed back into the facility.
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Jan 25, 2015
Could be. They were screened for viral mutations. I think the screening was by those cute canaries (genetically engineered?).
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Jan 25, 2015
The impression I got was that the human race is basically an endangered species, so the only way to prevent the end of humanity is to prevent the outbreak.
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Feb 17, 2015
The show is running on one huge assumption, that humanity is worth saving. Excuuuuse me ?
So "suspension of disbelief" is at 200%, other than that, i'm sooo enjoying this show.
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Jan 25, 2015
But that's a tautology unless there is something else they aren't telling us about their situation in 2040. What I mean is all other things being equal the human race may be endangered but there doesn't at this point seem to be any reason that Jones and her scientists couldn't concentrate their energies on making sure that life becomes better for the surviving humans and creating a situation in which extinction is less likely.

Another answer to the question might just be that everyone has essentially given up on their time period. I think that's why there are so many shots of the scientists smoking. They have no futures so why not?

Heck, Cole has so little will to live in his present circumstances, for its own merits, that he jumps at the chance to be erased while stopping the pandemic.

Whatever. It's not really convincing to me. But I set it aside when I watch because the overall drama and scope of the story are compelling even though a lot of the premise doesn't hang together once you think about it.
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Jan 25, 2015
You ask some very good questions but here is a question of my own: do you keep these thoughts to yourself and save them for here or are the people watching the show with you constantly throwing things at you?
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Jan 25, 2015
I'm the only one in my household watching so this forum is my outlet for discussing what I've seen. : )
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Jan 24, 2015
well said,... all post apocalyptic pieces suffer from this,... Isn't population reduction better for mother earth ? Would catastrophe this magnitude always bring chaos ? that is a rather moral question than scientific,... morally you are suppose to think that it would be wrong thus the consequences would be against us,...
Technology wise I get it,... You have to keep the audience investes so having time travel machines and bioengineering means you keep the paper and pen and energy deficiency,...
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Jan 24, 2015
Still enjoying it a lot, and "Syfy" is still giving us next week's episode online, Saturday only, I think. Interesting strategy.

I looked up Emily Hampshire on IMDB, and she's in several recent/upcoming things. I think there may be two of them. ;-) She's also in Schitt's Creek and an episode of Man Seeking Woman. Plus starring in a movie and a short. Indications are that she's a solid choice for this potentially important role.
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Jan 25, 2015
I don't think she will be doing that much this year on the show.
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Jan 25, 2015
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Jan 24, 2015
I think she's a dead ringer for Parker Posey.
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Jan 24, 2015
Not sure at all if "The Pallid Man" makes for a good villain. I found him lacking of any menacing air whatsoever. What made him seem menacing more than anything else was the dead body stuffed with petals sitting in a chair nearby and the music that was played during the scene.

And it is not that I find older men with a courteous attitude not menacing per se. The russian mob boss played by Arnim Müller-Stahl in Eastern Promises is someone I'd really go out of my way never to cross, and all he ever did was talk and prepare food.
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Jan 24, 2015
I find the actor creepy -- as do other people, or at least casting directors, since that's how he's usually cast. I did think though that that scene with Cassie and him went on for too long. I already got the idea of menace, whether the sold it to me 100% a minute into it.

I'm not sure he's the sharpest knife in the drawer either since he and his group probably should have secured Jennifer a long time ago.

There is also the matter of (and I kept thinking of this throughout the episode) whether Goines wouldn't just have moved The Night Room. Stupid to keep it in place when your seriously disturbed daughter knows where it is.
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Jan 25, 2015
May be that will be another twist, the night room has already been remove. We know the 12 monkeys or cole aren't going to be getting access to the virus anytime soon as that would be the end of the series, so The Night Room is either false lead or Emily character isn't as crazy as she looks as it playing a game of her own.
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Jan 25, 2015
Emily is pretty interesting because she's supposed to be genius level as well as really mentally ill. Once Cole started asking questions Emily started her own little investigation. It was freaky on one level that she cut Cole with the scalpel but it also made sense given her reality -- she needed to know whether he was real. Also, after he threatened her life (stupid and blunt like a hammer -- he would have gotten more sooner if he'd been able to enter into her train of thinking and play along) she hit the alarm button to summon the orderlies a perfectly reasonable thing to do when someone threatens you.

I'm not sure where the show is going with it but Emily may become more lucid or have more frequent or longer periods of lucidity now that she has a better understanding of what happened the night of the massacre.

There was the suggestion that the trauma and guilt of those events had caused the voices she'd been controlling by medication to resurface. Someone else mentioned to the possibility that they are writing Emily as not just mentally ill but as a kind of oracle. I guess, we'll see.
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Jan 25, 2015
Well remember whilst she was in care she was being essentially interrogated by her therapist not actually being treated for her condition. So we don't know how she will be if or when she actually start retrieving proper medical care.
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Jan 24, 2015
Very good second episode! After the pilot’s information overload, it was more focused on its plot and introduced us two very interesting characters, Jennifer and the Pallid Man.
Hampshire as Jennifer was exceptionally good! She’s powerful especially when she holds a scalpel... loll.. She really sells the mentally unstable character! Yet, I need to question her character’s “clinical” condition. Her reaction to the drug she was given at the end leaves lots of possibilities open about the origins of the voices she hears.
For a second week the “12 Monkeys” manages to keep its momentum thanks to a well written story, compelling characters and great cast! It establishes its mission and leaves crumbles about its future development, for that’s what the “Not yet” we heard was all about - or so I believe. I’m referring to the scene were Cole asks if he’ll be sent back to 1987 and Jones responds that they can’t sent him back that far, “Not yet.” But that’s in the future! At the moment the “12 Monkeys” has definitely won me!
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Jan 24, 2015
Very strong series. I fell in love with Madeline Stowe and Brad Pitt after watching the original 12 Monkeys( I always thought Bruce Willis was awesome so he doesn't count) So far their replacements are doing a bang on job. I alos love the scifi parts of it. Been too long without a good scifi series on tv.
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Jan 24, 2015
This looks promising. Emily Hampshire was not bad in Brad Pitt´s character, now called Jennifer Gaines, she is fun to watch and her character looks very interesting. I am not so sure about Amanda Schull as Dr Railly, she is just not convincing, I don´t know but she doesn´t seem credible. But she may get better, and I do hope so because she will be with us most of the time . Aaron Stanford as James Cole is doing a great job for me. He makes me alomst forget Bruce Willies and that says something. I like him.
So far 12 Monkeys gets 👍
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Jan 24, 2015
I hope they give Amanda Schull more to work with. Right now the writers seem to have focused most of their energy on Cole - though to me he isn't potentially as interesting a character in terms of plot. I'd expect Dr. Railly to be doing and saying more - but in a lot (too many ) of the scenes she's just reacting to someone else.

It's a waste since we are supposed to believe that she's very bright. Yet, so far, she's only been useful in connection to other characters.
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Jan 24, 2015
I loved him Nikita and always thought that he deserves a leading role,... very well casted IMHO
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Jan 24, 2015
You're not stereotyping Dr. Railly, are you? Young/dumb/blonde? Please dont' do that! ;)

She is okay and at least I can understand her dialogue unlike the scientist (is her name Cassie?).
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Jan 24, 2015
Great to see this show getting Tim's reviews. I've enjoyed it a lot so far, and I reckon the time travel effects and paradoxes are going to be open to a lot of discussion here. I'm all for that. Love when TV shows cross that boudary into a real thought process (miss you Fringe).
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Jan 24, 2015
This episode was better than its pilot.
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Jan 24, 2015
I'm absolutely loving the show so far. Over on IGN they somehow got 7 episodes deep into the series and they seem to think it only gets better. Bout time Syfy got some quality SciFi back on the air.
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Jan 25, 2015
7 episodes was sent out to reviewers in syfy good books or however these things are decided. Syfy actually doing promotion for a show is good progress in itself and may be they learnt a thing or two from The 100 who have sent out most of their first season and a good few of their second season episodes to reviewers weeks or even months in advance of them airing them.
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Jan 24, 2015
It seems promising and I am digging it.
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