The Witness! – Twelve Monkeys and Skillful Character Development
The TV series, Twelve Monkeys, is possibly one of the best shows you haven’t seen. If you have that’s great, but if not then I highly recommend it.
In this post there is one particular aspect of the show I want to concentrate on because it was done so well!
Without giving away spoilers this aspect centres on one of the main characters, who is known as The Witness. And it is how this character is revealed to the audience that is done with such skill.
The Witness, is a mysterious and dark figure, who apparently leads a cult called the “Army of the Twelve Monkeys.” I write, apparently, for he sends orders through time and is not in direct contact with anyone from the cult. (It’s best to watch the series for this to make sense).
This character is cloaked in mystery for much of the first and second series, and it is not until the third series that all is revealed.
My expectation, without being aware of it, was that the witness would be revealed as a mastermind and then would be killed or imprisoned by the heroes of the show. But this is not at all how it works out. (And interestingly made me think about my expectations as they were unraveled).
The witness is slowly revealed as a human being with hopes and aspirations. A complex character who is not just an evil mastermind. He has his own internal demons, created through events in his life and these drive him forward to take the actions he does. He is not just there to fill the role of a villain and is part of the interwoven storyline. This depth of character is what humans harbour, for good or worst, in real life. We are not just one dimensional and have many intricacies.
There is a point in one of the episodes where The Witness, after traveling through time, meets one of the heroes (James Cole) and see’s him committing a crime. James, unaware of who he is, has a conversation with him and this makes for a hard look at morality and that humans are all prey to the evils in life. For everything is not just black and white, good or evil. Most of us try to do the right thing, but often make the wrong choice through temptation, weakness or hardship. The Witness has weaknesses like anyone else – just like James.
(Note: To be fair James is a bit of anti-hero and has a checkered past. But I have referred to him as a hero, for his character fills that role and he does try to do the right thing).
It is difficult to write in any further detail without giving away spoilers, but if you have not seen the show then I do recommend you watch it. The reveal of ‘The Witness’ is great and this show is not often enough in the spotlight.