Last week Continuum had a creatively promising (and commercially successful) launch, but there were lingering concerns about how the series would develop moving forward. After viewing the second episode of the season, I can say that the show is already well on its way to addressing those concerns.
Let’s bitch it out…A few people felt that I judged the pilot episode of Continuum a little too harshly, but a week later I stand by my review. The biggest issue that I had was that Kiera (Rachel Nichols) was accepted far too quickly and easily by the Vancouver police force. It was a slight against the otherwise intelligent nature of the show, which had taken great pains to create a believable world only to populate it with people who were far too trusting.
That’s why ‘Fast Times’ hits the right note right out of the gate. By having the police uncover Kiera’s deception in posing as Linda Williams of the Portland police force and arresting her, Continuum proves it’s not going to skirt believability for an exciting narrative. Because let’s face it, Kiera getting arrested is exactly what would happen in real life. She would be booked and questioned, and likely even imprisoned for impersonating a police officer. Never mind that she saved Carlos’ (Victor Webster) life and has valuable intel on Liber8; the police simply would not be able to overlook the seriousness of her offenses (even at the end of the episode when the professor vouches for her. Sorry old dude, but that doesn’t cut it!)
Knowing Jon Cassar’s work with 24, I wasn’t too surprised that Kiera’s situation prompted her to take advantage of the blackout, go rogue and handcuff Carlos in the elevator. In these kinds of shows (when conspiracies are lurking and/or characters must operate in secret), there’s often a need to generate suspense by having the protagonist be a lone wolf and have their colleagues doubt or even hunt them. As far as generic conventions go, ‘Fast Times’ falls into a familiar pattern: we knew that Kiera would likely try to recover or use the time travel device herself and that it would ultimately fail. These early episodes have to go through a certain routine: in addition to Kiera learning to trust Alec (Erik Knudsen) and Carlos, she must begin to accept that she’s not going home and everyone from the future must acclimatize to the present day. So while it’s a bit of a chore to watch Liber8 charge and then detonate the device only to have it backfire, it is necessary because now we’re all on the same page. No one is going anywhere and the action will stay put in 2012.
With that said, had this been the only thing that happened, I might have felt less positive about the episode. For me, it was the brief scenes with Kellog (Stephen Lobo) that made ‘Fast Times’ worthwhile. Oh sure, the shoot-out at the university, and the cease fire that required Kiera to cosy up to Liber8 members who would just as soon kill her was deliciously tense – but Kellog proves to me that the show’s writers have a future mapped out.
See Kellog’s decision first to stay behind, and then open a bank account with his share of the bank heist money, is refreshing. As much as the show dictates that Kiera and Liber8 have to come to grips with their situation, this isn’t overly interesting for us (we know they’ll stay because otherwise there’s no show). Kellog is different because he’s already planning ahead: he sees 2012 as an ideal time to set up shop because democracy still exists (Side Note: I chuckled over the line about the President still having autonomy over corporations, even if it didn’t quite work since in Canada we have a Prime Minister). The fact that Liber8 has more influence and persuasion in the present day is clear to us: the more time they have to get their pro-democracy word out, the better their chances of changing the future. And that’s where the story is heading. Now that both Liber8 and Kiera have exhausted their options to return to 2077, it’s time for the real fight to begin.
- It was subtle, but I loved how the opening of the episode mirrored the final scene in the police station. In the opener (after the new exposition heavy intro), we see Kiera on her first day as a Protector. She gets shown around the Precinct, has her camera chip installed and picks up her fancy futuristic gadgets. At the end of the episode, after Liber8’s unsuccessful attempt to open the portal, Kiera dejectedly accepts a new gun and paperwork from Carlos. It’s her first day all over again, but the circumstances of her employ are significantly different. I liked the contrast as Kiera continues to grapple with her newfound situation
- There’s also a hint of darkness in that opening scene. Did anyone else get the feeling that Protectors are encouraged to follow orders without question? I was particularly struck by the word “passive” recording – which I know suggests that she doesn’t need to turn it on. Put together, however, with the suggestion last week that her recorder continues recording even at home and there’s a creepy Big Brother vibe going on. I do hope that the conflict between Liber8 and the Protectors is not simply black and white (or rather Liber8 bad, Kiera good). Of course, Liber8 could do themselves a favour and stop arbitrarily killing every single person they come across simply because they can. It’s hard to believe in their cause when they’re constantly murdering innocent people
- While I’m already tired of Kiera mourning for her lost life, Nichols absolutely sold her heartache as she waited, chained, in the precinct for Alec’s hacking work to exonerate her. In fact, I enjoyed her acting so much that I actually found the song distracting. I hope that the show doesn’t try to pull on the heartstrings quite so aggressively in the future because the actors can do a lot of this heavy lifting without the overly manipulative music.
- With the sci-fi and police procedural angles covered, do we really want to introduce a romantic triangle with Betty (Jennifer Spence), who’s clearly in love with Carlos, who will clearly fall in love with Kiera? I hope not, especially since ‘Fast Times’ shows that Betty has a useful purpose in tracking down and exposing Alec. I like that she and Carlos don’t completely trust Kiera’s “deep undercover” story, even if the Captain Dillon (a most improved Brian Markinson) does
- My number one Curiously remains Alec’s life on the farm. Brother Julian (Richard Harmon) has a Joffrey Baratheon face that makes me distrust him / want to punch him, so clearly he’s up to no good. I get the feeling that Alec’s mom remarried into a fanatical family and they will factor into the show in a bigger way shortly.
What are your thoughts, Continuum fans? Did the second episode improve on the pilot for you as much as it did for me? Are you excited to move beyond the “let’s get home” storylines and into more political upheaval in 2012? Any theories about Alec’s family? Sound off below and we’ll see you next Monday for episode 3!
Continuum airs in Canada on Sundays at 9pm EST on Showcase.