It’s a full-on Assasult on Precinct 13 as the mercenaries attack the VPD to recover Kellog (Stephen Lobo). Explosions and casualties inevitably result.
Let’s bitch it out…
First things first: kudos to the Continuum team for pulling off an action powerhouse. This is probably the biggest, most stunt heavy episode of the series and it is extremely well executed from a technical standpoint. As a penultimate episode, ‘The Desperate Hours’ definitely feels like an attempt to clear away the baggage that has built-up over the season in order to set up the final conflict for the series finale.
While I’ll confess that I’m still frustrated by the whole Brad (Ryan Robbins) storyline and don’t feel that the character has been a constructive addition to the show, this episode finally confirms where he stands (which offers some small measure of closure). Brad’s agenda has always been a bit suspect, even when he was presented as a potential love interest for Kiera (Rachel Nichols) back in S3. If ‘The Desperate Hours’ does anything well, it’s confirm once and for all that Brad is no good. Sure, there’s an attempt to suggest that he’s conflicted – it’s the whole point of his conversation with Zorin (Michael Eklund) about his sister (something that’s intended to mirror Kiera’s motivations) – but I don’t care anymore. His role in the attack on the station proves that Brad has sided with the mercenaries, not Kiera. It’s time to label him a bad guy and call it a day.
The politics of betrayal underpin many of the interactions in the episode: Kiera and Carlos (Victor Webster) come to blows (again) about their individual priorities, Kellog spies on Kiera and Alec (Erik Knudsen) while they discuss options for cheating the mercs of their time travel plans and Kellog trusts Kiera more than he trusts Vasquez when it comes time to choose a side during the jailbreak. All of this suggests that there’s a fluidity in the alliances, though with only a single episode left everyone is going to have to choose a side and stick with it.
The savagery of the attack at the VPD also confirms something that I’ve been struggling with throughout the fourth season. One of my favourite aspects of Continuum has been the series’ complicated morality, something that has been lacking in S4. By making the mercenaries the clear villains and disintegrating Liber8, there’s no murkiness about what is good and what is bad anymore. In previous years Continuum has traded in questions about capitalism and power by refusing to categorize its characters as “good” or “bad” (many fanboards debated whether Kiera’s desire to protect the capitalist future from whence she came made her the real villain of the show). That ambiguity, so thematically rich, has been removed this year in the clear division between “good guys” and “bad guys.” Even during the height of S3 (arguably the series most problematic year) the narrative toyed with the idea that Alec had the potential to become a villain in both the future and the present. Over the course of these five S4 episodes, however, the closest anyone has come to the murky grey line is Dillon (Brian Markinson) and even that doesn’t last. His alliance with Piron and Kellog falls apart here when he provides Carlos with the evidence required to charge Kellog in Escher’s death. At this point we know exactly who to root for (Kiera, Carlos, Alec) and who to root against (the mercenaries). Kellog remains the only figure caught in the middle, but by making him a pawn – a walking kidney for future Kellog – he’s been effectively neutered.
Despite my complaints about the lack of complex moral issues, ‘The Desperate Hours’ is easily the most exciting hour of the series’s fourth year. The action, once it begins, is non-stop: from the moment that Brad clicks his future tech to disable the security and Nolan (Lisa Berry) and Vasquez (Kyra Zagorsky) storm the back entrance of the VPD all the way through to Travis and Rollins’ (Aleks Paunovic) big fight scene, it is wall-to-wall action. The direction and editing is top-notch, generating and sustaining the adrenaline despite the relatively familiar action setting (stairwells, long corridors, corners, etc). The frequent use of grenades certainly helps to ensure that the damage quotient is high.
By the end of the hour, the board has effectively been reset. Kellog is in the hands of the mercs, Brad and Kiera have parted ways (breaking Alec’s fingers and taking him hostage is certainly a deal breaker) and Kiera and Carlos have made their peace and reunited. Travis has earned his status as a hero for taking down Rollins. We’re now up to the final battle, which will presumably see the forces of good prevent the machine from opening a wormhole to the future. I have no doubt that they’ll be successful, so the only real question is whether Alec will be able to reconfigure it and send Kiera home. Tune in next Friday to find out!
- Kiera tells Alec that Brad “asks her the questions I’m afraid to ask myself” about whether her son Sam still exists in the future. Um, sorry – this is really the first time that she’s asking herself these questions?! If so, that’s pretty ridiculous (though admittedly the return of Kiera’s desire to “go home” to the future has been one of the most arbitrary and least enjoyable aspects of S4).
- It’s a bit ironic that Kiera is inadvertently responsible for the carnage in this episode. Following the meeting with Kellog, Keira firmly but politely reminds Dillon that he didn’t need to side with Piron, setting in motion Kellog’s arrest and the VPD attack.
- I thought that Kiera and Carlos had aired their grievances last week, but ‘The Desperate Hours’ proves that they still have a lot more to say. In the aftermath of Kellog’s arrest, they square off, each scoring their own individual (completely relevant) blows: she declares that she has helped everyone and should be allowed to move on (fair) while he accuses her of acting in her own best interests whenever it suits her needs (100% true). It’s clear that Carlos is still pissed about how Kiera has treated him this final season (again justifiably so), but he’s also delusional when he claims that he’s serving the public good by arresting Kellog at the exact moment that Kellog is needed to prevent a massive military operation involving a wormhole from the future. Priorities Carlos!
- There are a few throwaway lines by Nora (Catherine Lough Haggquist) about how Piron was making demands of the VPD to transfer Travis into their custody and Kellog later reveals his plan to cut open Travis in order to patent the nanotechnology from 2077. It’s actually a super gruesome idea that is very quickly passed over.
- Side Bar: when did Travis become superhuman? It’s clearly not a 2077 thing or else Lucas wouldn’t have been killed so easily last week. Am I just having a mental lapse or did Travis suddenly become indestructible this season?
- Finally, with Travis’ death, only Garza remains. Luvia Peterson better be back for the finale or heads will roll.
- Kellog (to Kiera, after she asks what happens to him in the future): “You choose you.” That’s a bit rich coming from him.
Your turn: do you think that the murky morality that has made the series so interesting has been abandoned by the black and white / good vs bad conflict? Are Kiera and Carlos finally ready to move on? Does Kellog still have power? Are you sad to see Travis go? Will Kiera and Alec persevere? Sound off below.
Continuum airs its series finale next Friday at 11pm EST on Syfy (in the US)