12 Things We Learned About 12 Monkeys Season 3 From a Visit to the Set

Syfy
Syfy

For two seasons now, fans of Syfy’s 12 Monkeys have watched as James Cole (Aaron Stanford), Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), Jennifer Goines (Emily Hampshire), and the rest of Team Splinter have traveled the past, present, and future trying to thwart The Army of the 12 Monkeys, a nefarious cult that wants to destroy time and create the Red Forest—a place where neither time, nor death, exist. Unfortunately, their prophet called The Witness—who they believe will be the one to bring their world-ending aspirations to fruition—seems to be Railly and Cole’s son. Now that the identity of The Witness has been revealed, season three is a very personal race against fate to try to save the world.

We visited the Toronto set of 12 Monkeys in April to chat with the cast and showrunner Terry Matalas about season three, which will air on Syfy over the course of three nights in a binge-weekend event beginning Friday, May 19 at 8/7c. Here’s what we found out.

WARNING: This piece contains mild spoilers for 12 Monkeys season three. If you’d prefer to go in spoiler-free, bookmark this piece and revisit it on May 22.

1. EACH NIGHT IS LIKE A SELF-CONTAINED MOVIE.

Aaron Stanford as James Cole.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Matalas says the writers didn’t find out about the binge weekend until they were late into writing season three, so it didn’t change anything about how they told the story. “The thing that I pushed for was that episodes one through four would be on night one, because it was like kind of one big movie with the right ending,” he says, “and that the second night would be five through seven because they’re like a whole movie. Each night is like a season’s worth of stories. I hope it’s something that’s successful and they do it again, because this show in particular, even though it’s very, very episodic and each one is a different thing, the threads are all united and I think if they’re fresh in your brain, the more satisfying it will be.”

According to Stanford, the binge weekend didn’t change anything on set, but he is excited to have the season shown this way. “I think the show lends itself to that format,” Stanford says. “Particularly with a serialized show like this, where every episode ends with an incredibly high-stakes cliffhanger and you just can’t wait to find out what happens, well, now you don’t have to wait anymore. You can watch the next one and make an evening out of it.”

2. EPISODE ONE IS MATALAS’S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT.

Episode One of season three is Matalas’s directorial debut. “It’s scary because it’s a whole new language to learn,” he says. “You know more than you think you do and so much less than you want to. But I loved it.” Matalas enjoyed directing so much that he’s directing episode two of season four as well as the series finale. (You can also spot him making an unforgettable cameo in one episode this season.)

3. AMANDA SCHULL TAKES REALLY DETAILED NOTES.

Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Matalas has often said that he and the writers didn’t use a whiteboard or any other method to track where and when the show’s characters have been—they could mostly keep it in their heads. But thanks to the introduction of a unique new form of time travel, they did have to start tracking things more closely at the end of season three.

“It’s fun, but it’s challenging to say the least,” Matalas says. “You have to know what came before it and what came after it and what’s going to be happening two years from now. That’s the maddening part. It makes you long to write a nice doctor [or] lawyer show.”

The actors all have their own strategies for keeping it straight. For Hampshire, it’s more important to know where her character is emotionally, rather than time-wise, before she shoots a scene. “In the first episode, when I'm in 1921, the fact that I just splintered there by accident was the thing that was important to me more so than what time I was in. Then the time became important,” she says. “The emotional arcs are so perfectly narrative and come full circle—that’s what I connect with.” Ditto for Stanford, who notes that the show shoots multiple episodes at once, “so you can’t just read one episode and keep that all in your mind at once; you have to juggle multiple episodes at once. But what’s nice is that Terry has written the show so that no matter what’s happening in terms of time travel, emotionally, it tends to be linear. It’s easy enough to track the emotional journey and the overall arc of your character because that all makes very, very clear sense. So that’s what I focus on for the most part.”

For Barbara Sukowa and Schull, though, it’s all about putting pen to paper. “I write a timeline for my character,” Sukowa, who plays temporal scientist Dr. Jones, says. “I write down what I’m doing in every scene.”

“I take a lot of notes,” Schull says. “Maybe it's a product of me taking so many notes, but I have a pretty good memory for episodes, and some of the other actors will ask me questions about things, so I have this sense of responsibility that I have to be the one to remember some of the details. But it is a challenge; we shoot really quickly and we shoot multiple episodes simultaneously, and things can get a little bit garbled. So I take as many notes as I possibly can, on the script, on a notebook—whatever I can.” According to Matalas, Schull has “kept us honest a couple times. It’ll be like, ‘Well don’t forget I said this!’ And we’re like, ‘Oh, right, OK,’ and we’ll alter a line or two. Yeah, she takes a crazy amount of notes.”

4. ONE SCENE HAD MATALAS WORRIED HE’D END UP IN “DIRECTOR JAIL.”

Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines in 12 Monkeys.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

One of night one’s best scenes is a musical sequence that takes place inside Jennifer Goines’s head. (We won’t spoil what she sings, but: It’s in German. And you can watch it here, if you want.) Matalas describes the sequence as a Katy Perry video, and the result is Hampshire’s favorite scene of season three. “Terry told me that really early on I was going to do that, and I learned the whole song,” she says. “I did some crazy dance moves. The best thing to come of that is the party trick I have now for karaoke.” Her German, Sukowa says, is “very good!”

The moment is sandwiched between two very intense scenes, and it’s just the breather the viewer needs—a wonderful, laugh-out-loud moment. And it’s true: Hampshire’s moves are great. “This show can get real, real dark,” she says, “but whenever it’s Jennifer, it’s processed through her logic and her brain, and that’s exactly how Jennifer would process it.”

When they watched the sequence in the editing bay later, when most of the season had been shot, “My editor was really happy,” Matalas recalls. “But I was so tired. I was like, ‘We’ve jumped the shark, we need to cut this out.’ He said, ‘It’s great—just test it.’” Matalas spent his Christmas break showing the sequence to people, who loved it as much as his editors had. The one big question is how viewers will react to the sequence: “Either we’ve earned this and I’m going to be able to pull this off, or I’m going to director jail forever,” Matalas jokes. “We’ll see if I’m cuffed by the end of May 19.”

5. NATURE VERSUS NURTURE IS A BIG THEME.

Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly in 12 Monkeys.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

By season three’s opening, Railly—who discovered at the end of season two that she’s the mother of The Witness—has spent her entire pregnancy imprisoned by the Army of the 12 Monkeys. “This pregnancy is a very challenging thing for her, because she's not really sure what she's carrying,” Schull says. “She doesn't know if it's nature—that she's giving birth to the devil because this is just what's meant to be—or if it's nurture, that [the Army is] going to create this hideous, horrible person.”

Railly has, at this point, spent two seasons in pursuit of The Witness with the goal of killing him to stop the plague that ends the world, but it becomes a lot more complicated when she realizes The Witness is her son. “I think her arc for this season is really trying to figure out what she’s capable of changing on the huge grand scheme of the fate of the world,” Schull says. “What she can do about it—if she can do anything about it.”

Schull wore a silicone baby bump in her costume that was so realistic it even had a belly button. “When I would touch it, I could actually feel the silicone rubbing my own stomach,” she says. “I found myself sitting down and holding the belly. It was like, ‘Get a hold of yourself, you’re not actually pregnant!’ But I did feel this ownership of it, and you can understand how, even if you've been told that you’re going to give birth to something that is completely beyond your control, how you would hold out an iota of hope that you can change things.”

6. ONE OF HAMPSHIRE’S COSTUMES WAS INSPIRED BY THE KID.

Emily Hampshire as Jennifer Goines in 12 Monkeys.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

After accidentally splintering directly into the trenches of World War I, Jennifer lives in Paris into the 1920s, where she eventually becomes an actress. Before she gets there, though, she's basically living on the streets. “I knew I was going to be in the ‘20s, and I did my Pinterest research, which I love to do,” she says. Her search brought up photos of the titular character in Charlie Chaplin's The Kid (1921), and bam: She knew exactly what Jennifer should look like, pre-acting gig. “The picture of The Kid is exactly my costume, which is what I wanted—the little hat and everything," she says. "The costume also reminded me a bit of Éponine [from Les Misérables]. Sometimes I feel like Jennifer really is Éponine—she’s always the one that isn’t Cosette.” Goines becomes a more integral part of the action this season, and Hampshire kills it, providing hijinks, heart, and heartbreak in equal measure.

7. SCHULL HAS SOME MAJOR FIGHT SEQUENCES.

Demore Barnes as Whitley and Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Fans of 12 Monkeys know that it’s not just the dudes on the show who get to kick ass. Schull has her fair share of fight sequences throughout this season—and she does as many of the stunts herself as she can. “I have this ridiculous chip on my shoulder, having been a dancer, that I feel like I really ought to be able to do everything myself—but there are some things I very clearly cannot,” she says. “Jen Murray, my stunt person, is totally comfortable getting thrown into a cabinet and onto the ground or getting hit by a car. I, on the other hand, am not. Nor would it look great on film, so she does it. But there are times—like the fight in night one—where I did everything I possibly could. At the end, there's a person on the ground that I'm supposed to jump over, and take out somebody else afterwards. The angle that they ended up using, I'm not sure if it’s Jen or if it's me. Because I have a feeling she probably caught a little bit more air than I did doing it, so I don't know. But she’s really giving and gives me great corrections and advice, and we get an opportunity to do as much as we can.”

8. STANFORD’S ‘80S OUTFIT MADE SCHULL LAUGH UNTIL SHE CRIED.

The cast of 12 Monkeys.
SyFy

One episode of night two takes place in 1989—which, of course, means era-appropriate outfits. Hampshire alone had five looks (“they're so amazing, and on paper they're the craziest,” Schull says), but Stanford’s Marty McFly-inspired getup got the biggest reaction on set—“particularly the 1980s mom jeans that I was wearing,” he says.

“I actually collapsed to the floor when I saw Aaron,” Schull says. “I laughed so hard that they had to redo my makeup—it was streaming down my face.”

Costume designer Joyce Schure sourced the outfits from thrift and vintage stores in the Toronto area. “I did a lot of shopping myself on that, and I had the best time!” she says. “Baskets and baskets [of clothes], the uglier the better, because you wanted it to be very iconic. Our leads, they laughed so hard. Once they were in it, they loved it.”

Stanford is loving the fact that the show is now at a point where they can have some fun with time travel. “When the show began, it was strictly future apocalypse and the present where there’s about to be a plague,” he says, “so it’s really fun to jump back to Victorian London and wear a bowler hat, or go the 1980s and hear all the music.”

9. CHRISTOPHER LLOYD HAD AN IDEA TO MAKE HIS CHARACTER EXTRA UNSETTLING.

Matalas knew going into season three that he wanted to explore the origins of the Army of the 12 Monkeys and their leader, the creepy Pallid Man. When it came time to cast the Pallid Man’s father, Zalmon Shaw, Matalas knew they’d need a tall, angular looking actor to play him. “I was like, ‘How cool would it be if it was Christopher Lloyd?” he says. Matalas got on the phone with Lloyd—who had heard about the show at fan conventions—and pitched him the character, and Lloyd said yes. “The coolest thing about it was how much he embraced the role and the mythology,” Matalas says. “To be having these theological discussions about the Red Forest with Christopher Lloyd was so surreal.”

The actor came to the role with lots of ideas for his character, from costume to ... eyebrows. Specifically: Lloyd didn't think his character should have them. “He said, ‘I think it would be really weird, you'd look at him and know something is off but you wouldn’t know what,’” Matalas recalls.

At first he hesitated, but, Matalas says, “There was this voice in the back of my head that was like, ‘This is an American icon who wants to shave his eyebrows for your show. Goddamn it, you’re going to let him shave his eyebrows if he wants to.’ And he did, and it looks great. It was just really cool to collaborate with somebody you have such deep respect for, for so many years.”

10. MENTAL FLOSS INSPIRED A LINE.

Late in the season, Team Splinter heads back to Victorian era London to track down The Witness. So—as the writers and all of the show’s departments must do whenever they start plotting out a trip back in time—Matalas hit the internet to do some research. “I was sitting here in Toronto, it was on a Sunday morning and I was like God, I’m never going to be able to find anything on Victorian slang,” he says. “Victorian slang was exactly what I Googled, and a Mental Floss article came up.” We won’t tell you who says it, or in what context, but the line is “Hello, chuckaboo.” The word is, according to the 1909 book Passing English of the Victorian Era, “a name given familiarly to a favourite chum.”

11. THE COSTUMES FOR THE BIG MASQUERADE WERE MADE ON THE GROUND IN PRAGUE.

Aaron Stanford as James Cole and Amanda Schull as Cassandra Railly in 12 Monkeys.
Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

“Like the people on our show, we’re always battling time,” costume designer Schure says. Case in point: The epic Victorian London masquerade the travelers attend in 1899, which was shot on location in Prague. Schure couldn’t design the main characters’ costumes until a freelancer she’d hired went to London and picked costumes for the extras. “The company she was dealing with had been completely picked over,” Schure says, “but she managed to pull together some really nice things. [Our costumes] are all original; they had to work with what we were getting, and I didn’t know what we were getting until I got there.”

The costume department designed the costumes (which are actually from the Louis XVII era—"in Victorian times, they would wear clothes from an earlier time period; that was their idea of dress up," Schure says) and did fittings in muslin in Toronto, then brought those along to Prague, where they had around five weeks to actually create the ornate costumes. Each outfit has little details that reflect a part of the character wearing it. “I tried to keep what we’ve established as their character costume looks to this point,” Schure says. “For example, Jennifer’s a double sock girl—she always wears tights with double socks—and we repeated that little motif in her costume.”

Schure’s team also had to create doubles of the costumes for things like stunt work and photo doubling. “And we’re killing people, left, right, and center,” she says, joking, “I’m always up for a clean strangulation, but they like to shoot or knife people, so there’s always blood.”

The Victorian costumes came with an added challenge: There was a lengthy exterior scene, and it was very, very cold. “The second set of costumes, I fleece-lined them all—basically you could go skiing or snowboard in any of the fleece-lined versions,” Schure says. “We used the fleece-lined version if it was a stunt double or photo double or [on the actors] when we actually did the exterior portion.”

12. IT ENDS ON A CLIFFHANGER.

It wouldn’t be 12 Monkeys if the season didn’t end on a cliffhanger, and season three’s finale, “Witness”—which sets up the final confrontation in a totally unexpected way—will definitely have fans screaming for more, like immediately.

The cast and crew are currently shooting the final season of 12 Monkeys. “Going into season three, we had to know how we were going to end, because it is a finite story and it felt like at the end of season two we were kind of at the midpoint,” Matalas says. “The most gratifying thing is knowing for sure you’re going to be able to tell that story. When you don’t know you have another season coming you might be like ‘Oh, well, we have to do this now because we may never do it again,’ but when you know that you’re not you can tell the story as it organically wants to be told.”

And yes, he knows what the final scene will be. “I definitely knew what the last scene was from day one. I think you kind of have to, right? It just influences so much [of] where you go. So yeah, it’s going to be very strange in a few months to actually shoot that scene. It’s going to be very, very bittersweet.”

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This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

18 Cool Facts About Beavis and Butt-head

MTV
MTV

On March 8, 1993, Beavis and Butt-head made its debut on MTV—to the delight of young viewers, and the annoyance of their parents. While some people considered it the end of the civilized world, TIME Magazine critic Kurt Andersen lauded its irreverence, writing that it “may be the bravest show ever run on national television.”

From its original 200-episode run to the books (yes, plural), movie, and soundtrack it inspired—plus its brief return in 2011—Beavis and Butt-head has not lost any of its original charm. With the recent announcement that the series is coming back for two new seasons on Comedy Central, here are some things you might not have known about Mike Judge's animated headbangers.

1. Beavis and Butt-head got their start on Liquid Television.

Mike Judge went from teaching himself animation and playing bass for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets to having one of his cartoons played on MTV’s animation showcase program Liquid Television in one year’s time. Cartoon short Milton, the origin of the character from his live-action cult classic Office Space, appeared in a 1991 episode. In 1992, Beavis and Butt-head made their loud, violent first impression in his short Frog Baseball. MTV then paid Judge for the rights to the two characters and ordered 65 four-minute cartoons.

2. MTV pulled Beavis and Butt-head from the air shortly after it premiered.

Shortly after greenlighting Beavis and Butt-head, MTV had to halt production. Not because of any controversy, but because Judge and his animation staff couldn’t keep up with the demand for new material, forcing MTV to stop airing the show entirely two weeks after it premiered. It made its return more than six weeks later on May 17th with “Scientific Stuff” and “Good Credit.”

3. Mike Judge improvised most of the dialogue during the music videos.


Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Judge voiced virtually all of the characters on the show and was one of just a handful of people who made up the writing staff. He opted to add to his workload by winging it when it came to Beavis and Butt-head's taste-making opinions on music. Time was saved on the animation for the music video commentaries by having an editor take footage from earlier episodes and sync it up with new mouth positions.

4. Beavis and Butt-head were named after kids that lived in Mike Judge's neighborhood.

Bobby Beavis was “kind of an athletic kid” that lived three blocks from Judge while he was in college, and not similar to the character with the Metallica shirt christened with his surname. There was also a 12-year-old who called himself “Iron Butt” (because he claimed to never get injured from a kick to the posterior) who had a friend called “Butt-head.”

5. All references to fire were permanently removed from Beavis and Butt-head after the show was blamed for a child's death.

In October 1993, a 5-year-old boy set fire to his Ohio home, which killed his 2-year-old sister. Their mother claimed Beavis’s fire-making and blatant spoken love of arson were responsible. MTV’s quick response was to only air the show after 10:30 p.m. and to wipe all fire references from all of the previous episodes—only fans who taped the offending episodes on their VCRs have proof that the word was ever uttered. “Fire” was banned for the rest of the series’ original run, but it was allowed again in 2011.

6. A senator referred to Beavis and Butt-head as "Buffcoat and Beaver."

Soon after the fatal fire accident, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina, spoke at a Senate hearing as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Hollings attempted to argue that TV broadcasters needed to be forced to clamp down on their offensive programming and used the most controversial show at the time as a specific example ... or at least he tried to.

7. Prison officials in Oklahoma banned Beavis and Butt-head.

There were also documented reports of South Dakota schools outlawing Beavis and Butt-head-related clothing.

8. Marlon Brando was a Beavis and Butt-head fan.

According to Mike Judge, Johnny Depp told him that Depp and Marlon Brando would imitate Beavis and Butt-head, with Depp as Beavis and Brando as Butt-head. This occurred when the two worked together during 1994’s Don Juan DeMarco.

9. Matt Groening was a fan of Beavis and Butt-head, too.

The creator of The Simpsons claimed that he liked the show because it took “the heat off Bart Simpson being responsible for the downfall of western civilization.”

10. David Letterman was the voice of the Mötley Crüe roadie who might be Butt-head's father in Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

David Letterman was credited as Earl Hofert, which is actually the name of Letterman's uncle. Letterman was a fan of the show and had the Highland teens on The Late Show in 1996 to promote their movie.

11. Beavis almost said something too clever once.

In 1993, Judge told The New York Times that one of the big challenges of the show was to keep the two in character and, therefore, dumb. An original line had Beavis telling his classmates that they had “Beavis envy” because he received a school pass. It was cut because it almost made the 14-year-old with the underbite too smart. In 2011, Judge admitted to “cheating” and probably making them smarter than they are during the music video commentaries.

12. Daria was created with Janeane Garofalo and Darlene Connor in mind.

The character of Daria was created after then-MTV president Judy McGrath expressed concern about the show’s lack of smart or female characters. Garofalo and Sara Gilbert’s Roseanne character were the models for Daria Morgendorffer. Morgendorffer was the maiden name of the show writer David Felton's mother, and was deemed perfect for the new character.

13. It's Butt-head's house that you're usually seeing.


MTV

While it isn’t officially canon, Judge responded to a reporter’s assumption that the two were always at Butt-head’s abode by saying he “always imagined” that to be the case.

14. Beavis and Butt-head were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone—three times.

Their first appearance in 1993 ended up being the best-selling issue of the magazine that year.

15. Beavis and Butt-head starred in their own live-action Thanksgiving special with Kurt Loder.

The night before their (first) series finale, “Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead," MTV put Beavis and Butt-head in charge of broadcasting the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then later put them at a dinner table with the veteran MTV News broadcaster. The one-hour special only aired on television once.

16. Beavis and Butt-head ended due to creative burnout.

Toward the end of the show's original run, Judge was running on empty. "I actually wanted to stop a little sooner," Judge told the Los Angeles Times in 1997. "We've done over 200 episodes [since 1993]. After the second season, I thought, 'How are we gonna do this anymore?' I was completely burnt out. I got a second wind in season three, and again in season five. But I don't know, you do it as fast as you can, get it on the air as fast as you can, and there's never a break. I felt, like, why not retire before it gets too stale or whatever?"

17. Kanye West wanted to be on Beavis and Butt-head.

In contrast to the more innocent 1990s, Judge and his team had to get authorization from all of the parties involved in a music video to have it appear on Beavis and Butt-head when it returned in 2011. Kanye West wanted to have one of his videos featured on the show, but another credited songwriter on the undisclosed track declined immortality.

18. Beavis and Butt-head is coming back for today's generation.

In July 2020, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Beavis and Butt-head is coming back for two all-new seasons, this time to Comedy Central. Mike Judge will oversee the series yet again, but this time it will be geared toward a "whole new Gen Z world."

"We are thrilled to be working with Mike Judge and the great team at 3 Arts again as we double down on adult animation at Comedy Central," Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS' entertainment and youth group, said. "Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can’t wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world light-years from their own."

This story has been updated for 2020.