The appearance of a second future crime fighting suit proves comedic, violent and emotionally heartbreaking as Continuum dials down the mythology for a low-key episode.
Let’s bitch it out…
I’ll freely admit that I had completely forgotten about Kiera’s (Rachel Nichols) partner in 2077 until I saw the “previously on” clip. Despite the inclusion of the 2077 flashforwards, we don’t really have a full sense of Kiera’s life in the future. Continuum has a tendency to dole them out on as needed basis depending on the story (prime example: Kiera’s connection to Flash clues us in that she has a junkie sister, a fact we never knew until last week). The result is that the 2077 flashforward that opens the episode seems more significant because Kiera nearly fails her VR training due to an inability to cope with the appearance of her son in the simulation. The focus hardly seems to be on her hard-assed partner Elena (Caitlin Cromwell).
It’s a surprise then that Elena turns out to be the character the episode is entirely focused on! When Alec (Erik Knudsen) eventually tracks down the second suit we discover that the other lawkeeper has lived a full life since time traveling back to the year 1975. She’s now an elderly woman (Karin Konoval) in intensive care who imparts on Kiera the value of letting go of the CPR, the suit and the future crime. Without it Elena would have missed out on life, including a marriage, four kids and a few adorable grand-children. The refocus on the family is an important message that has gone a little under the radar in the second season thus far – more often than not Kiera weakly addresses her missing family as a casual aside. It’s understandable given that Liber8’s division into two factions have occupied both Kiera’s and the plot’s focus (plus it would become incredibly trying to listen to Kiera mope over her son every episode).
‘Second Skin’ is a low-key episode that helpfully reintroduces the theme of Kiera’s isolation in an organic, unforced fashion. I may be in the minority, but I really appreciated less gunplay and more emotionality; there’s a humanizing effect in seeing Kiera (re)connect with the only other person who can truly understand what she’s going through. It doesn’t hurt that Konoval’s portrayal of Elena is funny, smart and sharp. There’s a great chemistry between her and Nichols that makes you laugh as they laugh and cry as they cry.
That investment in their relationship only really becomes clear when Kiera arrives with Carlos (Victor Webster) at the end of the hour. As it dawns on Kiera that she’s too late, it’s heartbreaking. Not only because she’s missed the opportunity to say goodbye, but because Kiera’s self-imposed isolation returns in full force. No matter what the passage in the book Elena bequeaths to Kiera says, until Kiera confides in Carlos, or truly reconnects with Alec, she will continue to be alone.
Of course it’s not all raw emotions and 4-hanky melodrama. ‘Second Skin’ is actually also quite a humourous episode. Most of the funny is courtesy of guest actor Patrick Gilmore, whose Rex – the everyday schlub who buys Elena’s suit at a garage sale to wear to a friend’s cosplay wedding – is an adorable everyman. This not-quite secondary story gives off a Kick-Ass vibe as Rex becomes increasingly emboldened by the powers of the suit, which leads to an unfortunate beating at the hands of Travis (Roger Cross) once both Liber8 factions close in on Rex’s dry cleaning business.
This is also where the bulk of the action occurs as Sonya (Lexa Doig) and Garza (Luvia Petersen) go hand to hand in a knock-down battle of the broads. This was the fight scene I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it, but man I love it when the girls get their hands dirty. I must say, I am impressed with Sonya’s ability to hold her own. The doctor has more moves than I expected considering Garza is clearly more experienced in combat. Considering that Continuum has primarily focused on Kiera and gunfights of late, this white knuckle beat-down is a refreshing change of pace. Hopefully we’ll see more of these well coordinated stunt fights in the future and not just machine gun exchanges.
- As predicted last week, Emily (Magda Apanowicz) returns to meet-cute with Alec at the coffee shop. They later go on a date…at another coffee shop? Confidence issues aside, perhaps this is why Alec doesn’t pick-up a lot of ladies
- Also rearing his ugly head is Agent Gardiner (Nicholas Lea, whose head isn’t actually ugly – I just hate the character). Unfortunately Gardiner has gotten even more annoying and caricaturish. He insists on following Kiera around, seemingly just so that he can goad her. The sole positive that comes out of his involvement in this episode is that Kiera now knows that he believes she’s connected to Escher, which may give her another card to play should she find herself on Gardiner’s bad side
- Finally, a political shout-out: I know that this episode aired in Canada a few weeks ago, but how great it is that ‘Second Skin’ features a gay wedding on the same week that DOMA and Proposition 8 are repealed? Hells ya!
- Carlos (when Kiera’s phone goes off): “That’s okay, I’m dating other police departments, too”
- Kiera (to Gardiner, when he suggests they’ll be spending lots of time together): “Our first date? It’s not starting well”
- Garza (to Sonya, when she tells Garza to walk away): “You made my bed. I like lying in it.”
What did you think of the more emotional, low-key episode? Did you tear up a bit with Kiera? (I’m an empathetic crier). Do you wish that Kiera would stop acting like Alec’s mom? Are you paranoid (like me) that there’s more to Emily than we know (ie: she’s Kellog’s plant)? Speculate below!
Continuum airs Fridays at 10pm EST on Syfy (and is airing a few episodes ahead in Canada on Showcase)