>On the other hand, if they intervened and
>stopped the plague earlier, the altered past would change both their future and
Which is why the scientist remarks that she's from "insurance": insuring
the timestream she came from. It's not only their power over the future
world that's at stake, it's their ability to come back and alter events.
Had she stopped the virus from spreading, there would have been no
armageddon. Hence, no future society living deep underground. Hence no
need for time travel back to 1996. In other words, it's the old
"grandfather paradox." Going back in time to prevent a particular event
(say, the birth of your grandfather) presents a paradox: if your
grandfather was never born, you were never born, and thus you could not have
travelled back in time to prevent his birth. In 12 Monkeys, the grandfather
is the virus. The scientist was there to get a bit of the virus, and to
most likely "insure" that Cole was shot dead trying to stop the
virus-spreader (as an earlier poster said). Remember, unlike other time
travel flicks (i.e. Terminator), the goal here was *never* to actually
prevent the virus in the first place.
For a slightly similar storyline, check out the original Outer Limits
episode "The Man Who Was Never Born" (featuring Martin Landau). The OL
producers understood time travel's paradoxes very well...
"So shines a good deed in a weary world." -- Willy Wonka
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