Continuum review – 1×05: ‘Test Of Time’

Courtesy of Showcase

After detouring last week with a non-Liber8 centric episode, Continuum returns to its bread and butter as the terrorist group gets personal. Oh, and we’re finally facing a significant sci-fi dilemma.

Let’s bitch it out…One of the biggest sci-fi elements that Continuum has avoided addressing are the implications of both Liber8’s and Kiera’s (Rachel Nichols) actions on the future. It’s clearly a front and center aspect of the show’s premise since it’s right there in the opening voice over: this is a show that is foundationally based in the idea that whatever occurs in 2012 will affect 2077.

So what to make of the big twist that Kellog’s (Stephen Lobo) grandma, Maddie (Olivia Ryan Stern) is mowed down in 2012 but he’s still around in 2077 to time travel back to watch her die? As Alec (Erik Knudsen) suggests when Kiera asks him this directly, it’s unclear how the timelines are operating now. Initially I proposed that there were two possibilities: 1) actions in 2012  are actually part of the events that will contribute to the future everyone comes from or 2) there’s a paradox and changes made in the past will inevitably lead to a new future. Now the show is suggesting that there’s a slightly different third alternative: a multiverse. Multiverses are like alternative universes that coexist alongside our “familiar” world. In the case of Continuum, what we have is a 2012 that has no impact on the 2077 future the majority of these characters come from. This world is no longer tied to the future they came from, so we’re creating a brand new world (Side Note: this is a similar rationalization used in other science fiction texts like Sliders and virtually every superhero comic book ever).

Does this revelation remove some of the tension then, since nothing anyone does will affect the corporate-controlled 2077 we still see in Kiera’s flashforward memories? Potentially…if you want to fixate on these kinds of questions. Suddenly it matters significantly less if Kellog’s grandmother, Maddie, is killed because in this multiverse she was always going to die, whereas in another multiverse, his grandmother will live on. The intriguing question then becomes: what kind of future are they building and how will Kiera’s (and Liber8’s) knowledge of the future impact this? Their actions are all based on a future that will no longer happen, so they still have the power to shape the future, but the outcome is completely unknown. They literally can build the future because anything can happen now! Consider this: Alec may no longer grow up to become the Alec that Kiera knows in 2077 and his interactions with creepy step-brother, Julian (Richard Harmon), could set off a brand new chain of events.

Looking at the episode as a whole, this is another solid episode. I liked the moral quandries of Kiera’s decision to let Melissa Dobek go last week, but that episode was primarily a standard procedural with a little Continuum morality thrown in at the end. By focusing the action directly on Kiera and doing a better job of tying her flashforward memories into the 2012 events, ‘Test of Time’ feels more personal and emotional. I also appreciated some of the sly callbacks to earlier episodes. Exhibit 1: Kellog attributing the attacks on the various Lily Jones’ to Kiera’s suggestion to Lucas (Omari Newton) in the pilot that she’ll track down his grandmother. Exhibit 2: Kagame (Tony Amendola) chastising Travis (Roger Cross) for attempting to kill Kellog back in 1×03. There’s a nice continuity developing  as we cross the half-way point of the season. With five episodes remaining, I’m more interested than ever to see where the show goes next.

Courtesy of Showcase

Other Considerations:

  • As mentioned, one of my most anticipated storylines is the conflict brewing at the farmhouse with Alec and his step-family. It’s clear that his step-father and brother are involved in more than a “grassroots” campaign, but the way that Alec and Julian talk to each other reminds me of Enders Game, in which two equally brilliant brothers venture on very different paths that shapes the future of the world. Continuum may not be interested in investing such a grand scheme so early in its run, but I can’t help but think that the events at the farmhouse are more than scenery setting
  • The brewing mutiny between Liber8 members from 1×03 is more pertinent than ever now that Kagame has reclaimed his role as leader. It’s clear that he and Travis have very different ideas of how they should proceed, although Kagame’s paradox-testing plan still involves murder (so maybe they’re not that different). I like that Sonya (Lexa Doig) is caught in the middle of this conflict – at some point she’ll need to make a decision whether to support Kagame or follow her lover, Travis. I’m betting she chooses Travis…
  • The girls sure did a lot of the physical action this week, huh? Aside from Travis putting down Kellog’s grandma, Garza (Luvia Peterson) and Sonya both get to do drive-bys: Sonya with a run-by stabbing on Kiera and Garza with a literal drive-by T-bone in the Liber8 truck
  • On the lighter side, I liked the way Nichols played Kiera’s frustrations with her grandmother after learning she isn’t the goody-two shoes Lily Jones. Bonus points for having blonde Lily liken their situation to Terminator, which Continuum continues to use as solid source material
  • Finally, we also get a bit more intel on Kiera’s shady husband, Greg (John Reardon). Kellog tells Kiera that the guards were in on the time travel plot (a fact we suspected, but now have confirmed) and we learn that Greg should have died in the Liber8 bombings that got them charged in the pilot. What saved Greg? The meeting is moved at the last minute, which is the second time in two weeks that Greg has referenced inside information on terrorist activities. It’s more clear than ever that Greg is involved in some capacity in these acts. But if we’re now in a multi-verse timeline, will Kiera ever have a chance to confront him to find out the truth about how much he manipulated her, their son Sam (Sean Michael Kyer) and both their respective careers in service of these nefarious plans? Only time will tell!

How are you feeling with the season half over? Are you surprised that Kellog turned out to be trustworthy? Do you think Julian will turn out to be an important player in all of this? Thoughts on the multi-verse we now find ourselves in? Sound off below!

Continuum airs Sundays at 9pm EST on Showcase in Canada

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About cinephilactic

cinephilactic is a university contract instructor in Film Studies. He is an avid TV watcher, particularly science-fiction, fantasy and drama series. His favourite shows currently airing on TV include The Good Wife, Breaking Bad, Justified, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones and a smattering of shows on The CW. He has a tendency to "hate-watch" particular shows and likes to think that his sarcastic voice comes through in his reviews, though sometimes he's just being bitchy

2 thoughts on “Continuum review – 1×05: ‘Test Of Time’

  1. Watching #DoctorWho, makes this show a snap to follow. But it’s different as the Doctor always tries to avoid paradoxes whenever and wherever possible. But as Continuum shows us in E5, they aren’t afraid to deal with a paradox and it’s affect on space/time. This is definitely my new favourite show for sure until the Doctor comes back this Fall!

    • I’m actually just catching up on Dr. Who (LOVING IT), so that’s a really timely comment. Agreed that the Doctor is a more complicated time travel narrative, but I will admit Continuum really surprised me by not dodging the subject or going for easy answers.

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