Continuum is the smartest sci-fi show on television. So what the h*@% went wrong with ‘Minute Changes’? This episode is garbage.
Let’s bitch it out…I honestly don’t know what I just saw, but that was crap. ‘Minute Changes’ feels like it was written by someone* who’s never actually seen the show, almost like a total amateur was given a Cliff Notes run-down of the show and sent away to write an episode in isolation. None of the characterizations make sense, to the point that it feels like we’re watching a brand new timeline in which all of our characters are dicks.
* The episode is credited to Denis McGrath, who has written for other Canadian television series, but doesn’t appear to have done other Continuum episodes. IMDB.com incorrectly lists him as a writer on last week’s episode, but ‘Minute To Win It’ was only written by Shelley Eriksen.
Take Kiera (Rachel Nichols). Yes, she’s a company woman, which means she often tows the line, particularly when it comes to events in the future. And yet the majority of Continuum has been about confronting Kiera about how damaging the capitalism-driven world she comes from is (it’s one of the main reasons she and Carlos work well together). Nearly all of Kiera’s actions in present-day Vancouver have been about her following her gut and acting outside of authority to do what needs to be done. That’s what makes her attitude early in ‘A Minute Changes Everything’ so strange: she’s acting like a complete bitch to Carlos (Victor Webster) because he refuses to let her generalize about how college students are terrorist sympathizers. She offers a throwaway line about the “Theseus riots” and school shut-downs, but we have no context for what she’s talking about. Without that explanation, Kiera comes off like a hard-ass for no good reason – she’s just really irrationally angry. It’s completely out of character.
This random characterization bleeds into all of her actions. After the college cops break-up a party and a gun is stole, Kiera sees Rebecca, a girl she recognizes from when Julian (Richard Harmon) kidnapped her, and she chases her and practically tosses her over a balcony. Sure Kiera is right to be suspicious when someone runs, but her reaction feels way over the top and inappropriately aggressive. This would likely end with charges of abuse and battery. But then randomly mid-way through the episode Kiera just arbitrarily switches back to normal, and she spends the rest of the episode trying to get the falsely accused student off.
The sudden character shifts are isolated to Kiera, however. The same odd behaviour occurs with Carlos, as well. The foundation for his mistrust of this Kiera has beena recurring theme since the season premiere, but it doesn’t work here. At the start of the episode, Carlos threatens Julian when he exits the half-way house – the same kind of oddly aggressive behaviour we see with Kiera – and then he pulls a 180 and stands up to Kiera on behalf of the College kids. Then when Kiera reverts back to normal, suggesting that they arrested the wrong suspect, Carlos switches again. His refusal to work with her in favour of “working the case” rings inherently false; even if he is having difficulty trusting her, he knows that she has access to information that clears the student. So apparently Carlos’ trust issues trump his interest in ensuring people aren’t victimized? That doesn’t sound like Carlos at all.
Oh yeah, and in-between he visits dead Kiera in the freezer and has a little heart-to-heart with her. Nothing strange about that, either.
I mean, seriously, what the hell is going on with this episode?! I get that Carlos is working out his issues with seeing his “partner” dead, but it doesn’t make any sense for him to suddenly start acting this way. It’s as though he just woke up and decided that he would rather falsely imprison someone than listen to his partner.
Alec (Erik Knudsen) has a more or less standalone storyline as he tries to fit in at Piron. His dismissal of Emily (Magda Apanowicz) is one of the few elements that feels right, though his sudden inability to speak at the board meeting comes out of nowhere. We have literally never had any indication that Alec has difficulty speaking up for himself, so this rings false to me from the start. Then Kellog (Stephen Lobo) magically shows up, knowing everything and offering a nonsensical speech about being the oil or finding a shark (I understand the sentiment, but what the hell was that?) and Alec ends up allying himself with Dillon (Brian Markinson), which is clearly a huge mistake. And then, in possibly the most confusing part of a complete disaster of an episode, new Alec confronts our Alec after seeing video footage of his arrival. Their confrontation follows the episode template of out-of-the-blue characterization as both refuse to answer the other. Within seconds of meeting, they decide to be enemies, which is also completely unlike Alec.
The poor characterization alone is enough to chalk the episode up as a failure, but then you have to consider that there are two HUGE developments that occur with the equivalent of a narrative shrug. Last week I giddily predicted that Betty’s (Jennifer Spence) role as a Liber8 mole would come out this season so it’s a pleasant surprise that it comes out here. Too bad it’s the most underwhelming reveal ever. Not only is the way she’s exposed weak (Carlos finds a SIM card that ties her to Rebecca? Yawn), but instead of being shocked or using it to drive the narrative, Carlos and Kiera just slap an ankle monitor on her and tell her she’s now Liber8 bait. So let me get this straight: a plotline that has been in the works for over a season is now being treated like a non-event with virtually no fanfare at all? WTF!
The same can be said of Alec discovering that he has a doppelganger. Perhaps this reaction is understatement because it’s new Alec who instigates the meeting, but honestly what a bland development! New Alec looks at the picture of his time-travelling self, followed by a cut to commercial and later tracks himself down at the lab to exchange some tense words. There’s no sense of amazement…or wonder…or even fear. Just like Betty’s reveal, Alec reacts as though this kind of thing happens every day. Really he just acts like a dick, getting angry when our Alec refuses to answer his questions. Clearly we’re meant to think that this new Alec, who wears cheap off-the-rack suits, is a big dink. Well congrats, Continuum, because we do!
Basically ‘Minute Changes’ is a colossal failure. It features a number of important elements (in addition to the two big reveals, Julian returns to stir up public sentiment for Liber8 – on TV no less!) but really nothing here works. Let’s hope that the next episode remembers who these characters are and gets back into the rhythm that made the first three episodes of the season so effective. Because this episode was a shit-show.
- Kellog (asking if Alec thought he could play Steve Jobs with the board): “Do you even own a turtleneck?”
- New Alec (touching his other self, thereby proving two versions can exist in the same space): “Suck it nerds.”
Your turn: did you find this episode as big of a failure as me? Were you underwhelmed by the Betty / two Alecs reveals? Did you find Kiera, Carlos and Alec acted completely out of character? Is everyone an idiot for trusting Dillon? And what do you make of new character Diana Bolton (Michelle Harrison), smarmy reporter for fictional program Firing Point? Sound off below
Continuum airs Fridays at 10pm EST on Syfy