Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Leaving the past behind for the time being, Atari gives us our first in depth look at life in and around 2043. We get a much better sense of who the survivors are and get our official introduction to the main threat in the future.
The first three episodes of 12 Monkeys only gave us a few fleeting moments with the people of 2043. We didn’t know much about them and the only real use for them was to send Cole back and forth in time. Atari dedicates its entire run time to fleshing out that part of the world and giving us a better idea of who the survivors are.
Ramse (Kirk Acevedo) has been a bit superfluous up to this point, but having seen the events that led to his alliance with the survivors he has instantly become one of my favorite characters. We first see Cole and Ramse scavenging in an abandoned building. The pair have been without solid food for days and are willing to do whatever it takes to get some sustenance. Then they come across a dog and their true colors show. Neither of them is willing to take the animals life showing that even in the darkest of times these people are still capable of empathy. It’s only after Deacon (Todd Stashwick) makes his appearance that things begin to change.
Deacon is the leader of a gang of survivors that murder and steal, to the point of excess, in order to get by. Ramse and Cole are folded into the group and we begin to see some real development. Cole quickly adapts to the kill or be killed mentality that gets him into Deacon’s good graces almost instantly. Ramse, on the other hand, is adamant in his values and refuses to compromise them. It was interesting to see the varying degrees of morality in 2043. It’s clear that the world is now a brutal place (as evidenced by the heartless murders peppered throughout the episode) but there are still individuals who recall a time of civility. Acevedo does a tremendous job here and more than makes up for his lack of material in prior episodes. The scene in his tent where he relinquishes himself to death was heart wrenching and proved just how far he was willing to go to stay a good person.
Cole stayed pretty true to the cold demeanor we’ve come to expect of him. It was a shame we didn’t see him have more of a moral conflict such as the likes of Ramse or newcomer Max. His past relationship with Max (Romina D’Ugo) and the budding romance in 2015 with Railly is sure to cause some inner tension in a later episode but for now it was a little underwhelming. Max isn’t much of a character yet so I will reserve judgement until her new role within the group is established.
Todd Stashwick comes in and demands attention from the get-go. He’s harsh, intelligent and ruthless. Stashwick plays a fantastic villain, his voice alone commands respect. It isn’t completely clear what made him such a heartless bastard but I’m ok with that. When the world forces you to do or die total psychopaths are bound to pop up now and again. Judging by his reaction after seeing Cole vanish into thin air, I wouldn’t be surprised if he made another pass at the lab to get his hands on the power to time travel. Expect Stashwick to make an appearance in 2015 at some point this season (how awesome would it be if he was actually the leader of the 12 Monkeys and was key in starting the viral apocalypse? Really awesome!).
Amanda Schull was more or less absent from Atari. The interplay between her and Cole was missed but not enough to detract from the core of the episode. It would have been nice to see Railly piece together how she discovered the location of the “night room” but that will most likely be explored next week.
With a number of interesting new additions to the cast, some great moral conflict and some progress on the plague front, Atari proves itself as the best episode of 12 Monkeys thus far.
Overall I give this episode 8.5/10