You know you’re closing in on the final episodes when characters start dying in quick succession.
Let’s bitch it out…
With ‘Power Hour’ we hit the halfway point of this abbreviated final season of Continuum and it’s never been more obvious how much the truncated episode order has impacted the narrative.
First things first: RIP Lucas (Omari Newton). The computer hacker was one of the least flashy Liber8 members, but he always provided an interesting counter point of view to the more militant members (ie: basically all of the others). It’s a little ironic that Lucas ends up going out in an action scene considering how frequently he sat behind a computer. At least he earned himself a hero’s death protecting Kiera (Rachel Nichols) and Garza (Luvia Petersen) after their aborted recon mission at Kellog’s (Stephen Lobo) new warehouse goes awry. Admittedly the death would have packed more of a punch had it not been so explicitly telegraphed; Alec’s (Erik Knudsen) insistence that the girls would die if Lucas didn’t act might as well have screamed “someone is going to die!”. Nothing spells doom quite like an uncertain plunge into action by a relatively pacifist character.
At least Lucas’ death isn’t entirely in vain. As Travis (Roger Cross) later tells Kiera from his wannabe Hannibal Lecter-esque prison cell, Lucas knew what the stakes were and wanted to stop Kellog as much as any other member of the team. And if that still feels like lip service to explain what ultimately feels like bloodshed for bloodshed’s sake, at least Garza is kicking around. If I’m being honest, I’d rather have Garza’s big personality around for the remaining three episodes over Lucas.
Still, it’s difficult to dismiss the feeling that Continuum‘s writers realized that we’re nearing the finish line and hastily elected to begin killing off characters. The sudden death of Marcellus (Ty Olsson) immediately feels like a mistake that will come back to bite the show in the near future; Olsson’s measured turn as the head merc was the lone defined villainous role for audiences to identify with. Now all we’re left with is the “hot head” guy (that’s how I refer to him in my notes) who seemingly exists solely to cause conflict for charisma-void Brad (Ryan Robbins). If the plan was to increase the adversity between the mercs by eliminating their leader in order to make this part of the story more interesting, it’s an unwise decision. I simply don’t care about these people or their plan (however ill-defined it remains). Keeping both Kiera and the audience in the dark about the newly constructed machine isn’t making this part of Continuum any more interesting to watch.
Therein lies my continued issue with this final season. Everything is so compacted that we’re missing crucial plot beats that in the past have helped to generate suspense. Right now I literally can’t tell you what Kiera is trying to do; we know she wants to go home, that she wants to stop Kellog and that she’s determined to keep Carlos (Victor Webster) in the dark. Aside from that, however, it feels like things are just happening because something has to happen. And when things do occur, it’s full-on with no lead-up or investigation.
Consider, for example, the posting of the Theseus manuscript. Last week I lamented that this story line had seemingly been dropped because it hadn’t been referenced at all. Now suddenly Julian (Richard Harmon) is burning his manuscript and discovering that the whole thing has been posted online by Kagame’s mother (when? how?). Once again, Curtis Chen (Terry Chen) is behind it – influencing events completely outside of our perspective and for unknown purposes. At this point both he and Brad Tonkins exist solely to “do” things; they’re not characters, they’re just there to usher the narrative along on some pre-determined path that no one other than the writers know. The problem is that this isn’t fun to watch. We’re not trying to figure out a mystery, nor are we positioned with Kiera’s point of view. At this point the audience is simply lost; we just get to throw our hands up and go along with everything without explanation. It’s really frustrating.
- Another example of ill-timed plotting occurs when Vasquez (Kyra Zagorsky) randomly shows up to act as Kellog’s bodyguard. After sitting off for an entire episode, there’s literally no context for her appearance. If anything, her new role as bodyguard seems designed solely to put her into conflict with Kiera as often as possible. This could have been interesting if we knew anything about Vasquez, but since we don’t, it’s a non-starter.
- Alec joining the police squad (even name-dropping Betty) also doesn’t make sense. I appreciate that he wants to change his future, but I’m unsure how this does anything other than escalate the simmering conflict between Carlos and Kiera.
- Also: is Kiera really so obtuse that she doesn’t realize that Carlos will listen in to her conversation with Travis and realize that she lied to him about her adventures?
- One big episode highlight is the fight with Garza, Kiera and the huge, hulking merc. Shifting in and out of camouflage, the girls struggle against the giant, who repeatedly body slams them against tables and walls. My favourite moment occurs when he swings Garza around, straight into a camouflaged Kiera. It’s a fun, adventurous fight scene that feels like the Continuum of old.
Your turn: what do you think of the unclear direction of this final season’s narrative? Is anyone’s motivation evident? Does Vasquez or Alec’s new jobs make sense to you? Are you dismayed by the sudden rise of Theseus’ manuscript? Sound off below, but please refrain from posting spoilers if you’ve been watching in Canada.
Continuum airs Fridays at 11pm EST on Syfy