Week three of Showcase’s new sci-fi series, Continuum, continues to impress as the series delves into the dynamics of the Liber8 group and exposes the factions within.
Let’s bitch it out…
I believe I called it last week when I said that Kellog (Stephen Lobo) was the Liber8-er to watch as this week he proves himself to be the smartest of the bunch. I’m uncertain whether we were meant to question if Kellog was truly selling out Kiera (Rachel Nichols) to the rest of the group, but when he showed up early in the hour ordering a delightful sounding brunch and offering Kiera an olive branch if she allowed him to live out his days in the 2012 present, I liked the direction the series was moving in.
At this point, it seems as though Continuum will continue to struggle with logic problems (Kellog plans a false ID in the fertility clinic’s records that Kiera just happens to find amidst the 45 boxes that leads them to Faber College at the exact time that Kellog and Terry Chen’s Curtis were arriving? Puh-leese!) Keeping in mind that completely logically plot points are nice, but not a dealbreaker, what will help to distinguish the show from a zillion other well produced, paint-by-number science-fiction shows is if it can surprise viewers. Initially I thought that the show would be organized around a “Liber8 of the week” or – even worse – a “Liber8 crime of the week” format, like so many procedurals on the air. As a result, I’ve been pleasantly surprised that two of the seven terrorists that we’ve seen in 2012 have already been taken out, but not in a traditional “Kiera goes after this guy this week”. At this rate we’re going to run out of bad guys in episode eight or nine, but – in all seriousness – it feels like the show is dispensing with the “stupid” villains (and clearly Curtis was one for believing anything that came out of Kellog’s mouth). That means that fairly soon we’ll only be left with the truly terrible, brilliant and dangerous ones for Kiera to battle for a season or two.
It’s also nice that we’re getting a bit more characterization out of these baddies. We have a handle on Kiera (though it’d be nice to see if the show pushed past her black & white politics). Carlos (Victor Webster), meanwhile, has been firmly established as a generic cop with a heart of gold. This is a decent enough start, but we need to know who the people they’re after are, too. ‘Wasting Time’ begins this process nicely as we open the episode with brief descriptions of the remaining Liber8-ers and their skills and then spend the rest of the 42 minutes expanding on the group dynamics. We knew that Travis (Roger Cross) is in charge, but we didn’t know that the others were already arguing over who is the next one in line as leader should Travis be killed. Immediately this makes everyone more interesting because they’re not random foot soldiers or nameless henchmen. These are all politically motivated criminals with valuable skills and unique talents – the more of this that we see, the more interesting their battle with Kiera will become.
And, with Curtis now out of the way and Kellog on the “outs” (unless the show does a 180 sometime down the road), there’s a lot more opportunity to continue exploring these folks in terms of both story and character in future episodes.
What else worked for me? As hokey as it is, I’m completely digging the relationship between Kiera and boy-genius, Alec (Erik Knudsen). The “educate me on how to do things in the past” is a tale as old as Terminator, but it remains enjoyable. There’s a certain amount of slapstick in watching people cluster around the exit as Kiera talks to herself in the coffee shop, or engage in witty banter with Alec about how to win a game of rock-paper-scissors. It works because it means that these are people and, Kiera especially, is not just some robot who exists solely to track criminals 24/7. In order to succeed in the long run, we as an audience have to learn to care about who Kiera, Alec and Carlos are. Even when Liber8 isn’t killing people for human growth-hormones to treat really bad cases of eczema, we’ve got to care what all these people are doing. If we don’t learn to like (or take an interest in) the lives of these people beyond the case, then the show lives and dies on the basis of how interesting the latest caper is. I would argue that the show thinks that it’s already begun exploring who Kiera is as a person by including melodramatic crying scenes over her absent child and (shady) husband. While I appreciate that some people feel that that grounds her, I would argue that it is meaningless since we a) don’t know her family (we’ve spent, what, five minutes tops with them?) and b) we likely won’t ever see them united (unless the show ends). Continuum then has to establish new relationships for our core principals – be it familial, romantic or friendship – in order to survive in the long run.
That, and at some point, Kiera and Alec will have to actually, you know, meet! (Side Note: I’m already envisioning her disdain for his height and/or appearance…since he really does look like the teenage boy he is).
- Highlight of the episode: Kiera’s look of admiration and almost appreciation as she spots Kellog coming out of the kitchen, only to then shoot him in the neck with the tracker. Great little moment between the two, which makes me hope that Kellog actually is on the outs with Liber8 so that we can see more of his interactions with Kiera. Teaming these two up could be a lot of fun. Do I think that he’ll betray her as part of a larger scheme? Absolutely, which is – sadly – the most predictable thing the show can do.
- Follow-up moment: the kick-ass fight scenes between Carlos and Curtis and Kiera and Curtis. Some nice physicality on display, with an epic amount of destruction. I really liked that Carlos didn’t end up saving Kiera, which I definitely thought would happen (and was dreading). Kiera has proven that she can handle herself in both shoot-outs and hand to hand combat, so let’s put the “white knight saves the girl” stereotype on the shelf and leave it there for Continuum’s duration. I’d much rather have her save him than vice versa, so kudos to all involved for allowing Kiera to kick some butt.
- We have confirmation that Alec’s step-family is eeeevil as he is forced to attend an anti-tech, anti-corporate group meeting. Mom doesn’t share these beliefs, but she does want Alec to “hear them out” which is code for “I’m trying to make this relationship work, you little bastard, so stop hiding out in the barn and cut new hubby some slack.” Or something to that tune…
- Our previous journeys into the future have been pretty interesting, so I found this week’s snippet of 2077 a little disappointing. Oh sure, the thermoscan was interesting (very Minority Report) , but aside from remembering about Sonya’s (Lexa Doig) proclivity for planting bombs, I didn’t get much more out of it. I do, however, want to know more about that nickname: the Queen of Hearts…
- Finally, is anyone getting anything out of these titles? They’re all clearly about “time” but they seem really arbitrary. Like who was “wasting” the titular time???
And that, ladies and gents, is week three. With the season nearly a quarter over, how are you feeling thus far? Are you getting a better sense of the structure of Liber8? Do you think Alec and Kiera will meet soon? How long can Carlos remain oblivious to all of these weird coincidences without pointedly asking her what the hell is going on? And how much longer do you think it’ll take for Kiera to desperately need Alec for something only for him to be trapped in some family function away from the barn and she is thisclose to disaster? Weall know it’s coming, so it’s just a matter of time, right?
Continuum airs Sunday nights at 9pm EST on Showcase in Canada