Kiera (Rachel Nichols) and co. are back after an extended sabbatical as Continuum enters its fourth and final season.
Let’s bitch it out…
When we left Continuum in 3×13 ‘Last Minute’, two significant events had occurred:
- Alec (Erik Knudsen) killed his douchey doppelganger – whose murder was pinned on Emily (Magda Apanowicz) – and he lost his company in a hostile take-over by Kellog (Stephen Lobo).
- Kiera and Brad Duncan (Ryan Robbins) unleashed a pulse to determine if they have successfully changed the future to avert the wasteland Brad originates from. Instead they accidentally summon a group of heavily-armed mercenaries from the future.
‘Lost Hours’ picks up immediately in the aftermath of these events, barely bothering to catch viewers up to speed before the mercs are chasing Kiera and blasting her unconscious after an extended fire-fight. It’s an exciting way to open the season, even if it feels like stuff is just happening without a great deal of clarity about why.
Unfortunately that sense that things are happening, but without a sense of guidance or flow, is pervasive throughout the first of Continuum‘s last six hours. Perhaps this is a concession made in exchange for this final abbreviated season, but throughout the hour it often feels as though the series is juggling a large number of balls all at once and not always successfully. The result is an episode that has a lot of dangling plot threads, but no single defining conflict or story for audiences to hang onto. This is particularly true in the first half when everyone is scattered about and seemingly doing their own thing: Alec works with Emily and Jason (Ian Tracey), then later Julian (Richard Harmon) and Liber8 on a collaborated hack on Piron; Brad goes undercover in an attempt to win the mercs’ trust; and Carlos (Victor Webster) plays the role of police chief under heavy scrutiny from Nora (Catherine Lough Haggquist). Then there’s Kiera, back to whining about her family, and generally doing a lousy job of avoiding the mercs’ much more sophisticated weaponry (seriously, how many times does she get knocked on her ass? It’s actually kind of funny).
There are tantalizing bits in each of these stories, but we’re spread much too thin far too often. Take Kiera’s too-brief sojourn into the future after she is knocked unconscious. There’s a whole discussion to be had about how her CMR-induced lifelike simulation includes not only Sam (Sean Michael Kyer) and hologram psych Mr. Fairweather (Alessandro Juliani), but also old Sadler (William B. Davis). While I’m glad that this doesn’t prove to be a “very special” episode in which Kiera must determine what is real, I’m hopeful that the (re)appearance of these infrequently glimpsed characters suggests the possibility of future simulations, but before this can be even be considered, we’ve already moved on. The sim itself is never mentioned again; just Kiera’s desire to go home (which completely flies in the face of developments that occurred late in S3, but…whatever, I guess?)
The most exciting development teased by this first episode is the new central antagonist role adopted by Kellog. While he’s unmistakably the same conniving, opportunistic character he’s always been, the idea of the other characters teaming up to topple his new future-threatening empire is tantalizing. Unfortunately Continuum only seems 50% invested in this idea, dedicating as much (if not more) time to the new plight facing Vancouver: the mercs. This is where the show is on much shakier narrative ground since we know less than nothing about this new crop of characters (aside from their mission to kill time travelers). Thus far we know that they’re portrayed by familiar looking Canadian actors and have crazy-assed weapons, but that hardly makes them compelling. Considering the ennui Brad brought to the show once we got to know him last season, I’m less than enthused by the introduction of an entirely new crop of characters driven by the same bland motivations.
With just under 20% of the final season complete after only a single episode, here’s hoping that the narrative crosses the merc story line with the Piron/Kellog battle double-quick (or at least the very least provides us with some rationale for why we should care about them). As it stands too many of our favourite characters are given short shrift as a result of the extra time dedicated to the newbies…
- Despite the appearance of the mercs, Kiera still believes that she’s achieved her mission (???) and asks Alec to send her back to the future. Unfortunately without Piron, Alec lacks the specialized tech required to do so. This is the kind of easy-to-comprehend and satisfying-to-watch conflict that Continuum does well. It’s just too bad that ‘Lost Hours’ only seems half interested in exploring it.
- Liber8 has never felt less vital to the story than it does here. We’re nearly halfway through the episode before any of the group’s members appear (Roger Cross’ Travis fails to appear entirely). In some ways their role in this new battle is uncertain; Chen (Terry Chen) – who is seemingly playing both sides – has taken over the role that Liber8 traditionally occupies. As a result Liber8 barely has any impact in the premiere. It’s only when Chen and Garza (Luvia Peterson) meet late in the hour that we get a hint Liber8 still has relevance, though Chen remains the most interesting character in this equation, not them.
- Brad gets the third degree from merc commander Marcellus (Ty Olsson) and the other travelers for working with Kiera. They allow him to remain with them as they cannibalize their suits (presumably to set up for a longer mission), but they refuse to tell him their plans. I’m sure Kiera’s impromptu party-crashing certainly doesn’t help his undercover profile.
- Also: holy crap is that Julia from Helix aka Kyra Zagorsky?! Damn, I thought we were done with that b*tch after Helix got cancelled earlier this year.
- There are two predominant TV tropes I’d like to see disappear: the sudden car crash anticipated by the framing of the camera lingering out the window and wondering where someone is when they’re being abducted or killed. Continuum hasn’t engaged with the first trope in quite some time, but here it employs the second in the most obvious manner possible when Alec and Jason suddenly realize that Emily has been gone for a while as she’s being kidnapped. I’d complain more, buuuuut her fight scene with the Travelers is easily the action highlight of the episode. Seeing the petite girl take on a slew of men, including a mostly-amazing roll under a moving car, is definitely an awesome sight.
- Nora, who is still someone on this show, not-so-gently infers to Carlos that she doesn’t trust Kiera, but so long as her extracurricular work produces results, Nora will overlook the details. Good to know. Also: we shouldn’t expect Dillon (Brian Markinson) back on the force anytime soon, which is music to my ears since I’d genuinely hoped he’d died in last season’s bomb blast.
- Admittedly watching Kiera get body slammed repeatedly by the mercs gun blasts is kinda amusing. The wire work is much better than the bad CGI used for their suits (yikes!).
- Finally, I love me some bad wigs, but Nichols’ is distractingly bad. I don’t remember her wearing one for previous seasons, though the delay in getting S4 off the ground may be to blame. Either that or its not a wig and the hair stylist on the show needs to be fired ASAP.
- Kiera (apologizing to Carlos): “I’ve caused enough collateral damage, literally and figuratively.”
- Carlos (after Kiera drops a guard): “Oh that never gets old.”
- Garza (when Kiera asks if Garza is following her): “No, this is a total coincidence.”
Your turn: do you agree that Continuum has too many storylines on the go right now? Is Kellog’s new role more interesting than what’s happening with the mercs? Do you hope we get more CMR simulations? Is Kiera delusional for wanting to go back to the future? Is Liber8 effectively irrelevant now that Chen has taken over? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers if you’ve been watching the Canadian broadcasts.
Continuum airs Fridays at 9pm EST on Syfy in the US