The smartest sci-fi show on television returns with what amounts to a complete reboot of its central concept.
Let’s bitch it out…The finale of S2 ended on a huge cliffhanger as Alec (Erik Knudsen) jumped back in time to save his dead girlfriend, abandoning Kiera (Rachel Nichols) to the Freelancers and their prison collection of time travellers. As far as OMG jaw-droppers go, it was pretty darn effective, which translated into unrealistically high expectations for me going into the premiere.
And yet ‘Minute By Minute’ easily meets and even exceeds them.
My favourite scene features Freelancers Miller (Zak Santiago) and Curtis (Terry Chen), as well as newly introduced boss Catherine (Rachael Crawford), dumping a metric ton of exposition on Kiera about the impact of Alec’s actions. As a narrative concept, time travel is always a huge paradox, but the way the Continuum writers propose it (visually with the tree) and analyze it (key figures cause greater ripples),a very complicated idea becomes much more palatable. More than this, though, the discussion of the parallel timelines approach to time travel confirms how the series and its writers are grounding the show, which has never really been confirmed. I’ve always wondered why Kiera seems so determined to return to 2077 when it seems pretty clear that her actions are constantly altering the future. Now that Catherine has explained it, Kiera – and by proxy the audience – have clarification about how this all works.
The parallel timeline concept is arguably the most popular time travel model because it removes the chicken vs egg dilemma of people from the future affecting the past and therefore the future that enabled their meddling in the first place. This has been explored before when Kellog’s (Stephen Lobo) grandmother was killed in 1×05 ‘Test Of Time’. Kiera’s conversation with the Freelancers also clarifies what their role is on the show, suggesting that they’re the Continuum equivalent of Timecop, a cultish group of people scattered throughout time to police history from those seeking to profit from the time travel tech. It’s nice to have the show tackle some of these thorny issues directly before we jump into a parallel timeline with doubles and revised histories.
The premiere doesn’t manage to do much more than introduce these ideas, as well as tantalize us with a brief / unlikely Kiera & Garza (Luvia Peterson) partnership (more please!) and briefly highlight what Alec is getting up to in the new timeline. But it’s enough to suggest there’s plenty of drama to come, which is exactly what I’m looking – and expecting – from Continuum.
- I’ll admit some of excitement from the new timeline was two Kieras for the price of one, so it’s disappointing that her doppelganger is killed before they even meet. It does, however, set up an intriguing question: who shot this Kiera and why?
- Speaking of shooting, it’s pretty shocking when Emily (Magda Apanowicz) kills Escher (Hugh Dillon) after the replay of his art gallery conversation with Kellog. This is the first dramatic alteration to the timeline as a result of our Alec’s appearance. Emily would never have acted out against Escher, but because our Alec convinces her to go to Thailand, she’s moved to action. The big new question is what does it mean for Continuum that one of the main antagonists driving the show’s agenda is now deceased?
- I love how quickly Kiera removes the frame job the Freelancers set up regarding Agent Gardiner’s (Nicholas Lea) murder. She doesn’t have time for that kind of shit anymore!
- Everyone note the increased special effects budget? The Freelancer time travel device looks pretty darn good, no?
- And yet, some of the most low-tech stuff is still effective. Case in point: Alec’s iPhone shuffling back one week is an incredibly simple way of communicating how far back he traveled. Never mind that I feel like his iPhone would have exploded (or at least short-circuited) from the time travel, but I’m willing to let this go (Side Note: Alec better be mindful about his usage because two phones on one plan will eat through minutes and data like crazy!)
- Kiera (when Garza saves her life): “Holy shit.”
What’s your take on the premiere? Are you happy that the writers have definitively clarified how time travel works? Were you sad that we won’t get two Kieras? Who do you think killed new Kiera? What other events will Alec alter with his jump? And how does Escher’s death affect things going forward? Speculate away below.
Continuum airs Fridays at 10pm EST on Syfy