In the first season they figure out that the timeline is mutable. Also they figure out that there is a villian that is also a time traveller who has knowledge about the future and direct his minions with his foreknowledge.

When they change the timeline

(delay the plague)

the minions are suprised because the witness has not foreseen this.

But In the second season

there is very strong evidence that the witness even not only has foreknowlegde about all the changes our heros make but in fact has planned all that, because he awaits them in titan after a chain of events that involve mutliple changes of the timeline.

We have other instances where characters are somewhat outside the time and are not affected by timeline changes and are the only one who recognize the changes and remember how it was before.

But the witness seem not only to be like that and react to changes of the timeline, he seems to know what changes will happen (know the meta future of the whole timeline or something like that).

I'm at the end of season 2. Is there any explanation for this later? Is there any explanation why he gives his minions only "unchanged timeline foreknowledge" and not more?


At the end of season 3 it is revealed that

The Witness was Olivia all along

but that that happening is dependent upon Olivia losing her faith in The Witness.

Therefore The Witness needed to withhold information from Olivia as The Witness knew this had already happened that way for her.


I'm at the end of Season 2 myself. IIRC, the Army of the Twelve Monkeys (or at least its leadership) was using a drug to gain prescient visions of the future, and possibly various alternate timelines. The exact nature and abilities of the drug have not been fully explained yet, but I gather that the drug comes from the red leaves created during a sufficiently large temporal paradox. Hence why the "Red Forest" is so important to the Twelve Monkeys. The drug is consumed as a tea.

Again, being only at the end of Season 2, I don't have all the answers yet because they haven't been given, but I believe the idea is that The Witness is using this drug to foresee what will happen and how the timeline will change, and therefore to have predicted everything (or at least most things) that has happened so far. Perhaps his ability to derive meaning from the visions is greater than most other people's for some reason. (For example, he's almost certainly "a prime," like Jennifer.)

Is there any explanation why he gives his minions only "unchanged timeline foreknowledge" and not more?

As for this point, I would assume that the reason he only tells his minions part of the story is because he needs them to behave a certain way in order for the whole thing to turn out the way he wants it. He has foreseen that the way to make them behave appropriately is to only tell them the details of one particular timeline, but not how it will change from that point onward.


(EDIT: The below is invalid, since it applies only to the film and I haven't seen the series. If it has no value, please ask and I'll delete.)

As far as I can determine, Twelve Monkeys is a Stable Time Loop universe. No changes are possible, and anything you do will necessarily make the (fixed) future happen. Not the most coherent time travel scenario IMHO, but that's how the film seems to depict it.

  • 2
    Perhaps the series is worth its own tag to avoid misunderstandings? – Hothie Jun 28 '17 at 9:19

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