I guess middling science fiction is better than good normal television programming. Or at least that's the bill of goods I'm trying to sell myself. Continuum extends it's trend of focusing more on the uncompelling aspects instead of the teasing us with vague hints at a greater mystery. Certainly there are many parts of the show's unknown which they could use to great effect, but it appears that the story teller doesn't understand how to best utilize their voice to enrapture it's viewers.
The SyFy channel isn't doing the show's stutter step pace any favors by moving the commercial breaks into different places than where the production team put them. It's incredibly jarring to come back from an advertising spot, only to then have the action conclude then fade to the intended break thirty seconds later. I hadn't noticed in episodes one and two, but it's very much in effect here for the third one. With Continuum needing all the help it can get, purposefully adding obstacles in it's way is not only irresponsible, it's silly (even foppish), and all kinds of bush league.
Perhaps I've had my police procedural expectations blown wide open by Castle, or I'm just done with the genre, because each and every time Continuum brings us to that well, it feels drier than a thousand year old Twinkie. Attempts to spice the investigations up fall largely on the effects team's shoulders. Luckily they have a knack for inventive usage of speculative technology (still the biggest hook in the show's arsenal). But as her technology fails her more and more (as several of you have hinted at in previous episode's comments) I'm worried that we'll see an increase in boring detective work. The only joy from these sequences is the fish out of water aspect of Alec and Kiera's relationship. They have nice chemistry together, for a pair of characters who are never on screen together. Strangely it seems like Erik Knudsen, the young actor playing Alec, is the strong of the pair and brings out the best in Rachel Nichols. It will be interesting when they at last meet (of course Kiera's met him already as a much older man).
Not all is the fire of Mount Doom, though. This episode is a hare's breath better than it's predecessors (though not enough to Merritt a higher grade). As the defacto lead of Liber8, Travis, lies dying and in need of radical human growth hormone treatment, others among the group begin vying to take over. Kellog is emerging as possibly the most interesting character. A master manipulator, he initiates a number of confidence schemes in this episode and we aren't even sure which ones carry his intended effects. It appears that he has been kicked out of the group and that they've tried to kill him. I want to believe that's all part of a long con which Kellog is playing in collaboration with Liber8, but I'm concerned that the show isn't sharp enough for that to be the case. Kellog claims to desire to live out his life in our present, which I can totally buy given the nature of the world he comes from. Is that the truth and would that being the truth make for compelling television though?
I have to admit that the while the gun battles are still boring, the fight choreography in this episode was varied and visually interesting. It's a welcome and unexpected level of a spice for an otherwise middling show. The sequence between Curtis and Carlos is excellent and explosive. For a few minutes I could believe that this 2012 cop could hold his own against a futuristically enhanced super soldier. Kudos to the stunt coordinator are well earned. The accolades are then quickly taken away once Kiera enters the fray. I don't at all buy the "kick ass" factor which we're supposed to believe she possesses. She wins because of her gun's safety feature and because the villain is dumb (what an accomplishment).
So as one member of Liber8 walks off into the sunset (in very Judge Dredd inspired fashion), we make room to welcome the true leader of the group, Edouard Kagame. Does this new addition signal a turn for Continuum's tedium? Will the waters became muddied, the lines of right and wrong blurred, the black and white blended to grey? Some of you have insinuated so in the comments. I'd very much like to believe you. For now, Continuum continues to be far less than it could be, but still more than standard, non-nerd flavored TV.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Saturday's Shock-O-Rama, the weekly look into classic cult, horror and sci-fi. He is a co-curator of several repertoire film series at the world famousColonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. You can hear him drop nerd knowledge on weekly podcast You've Got Geek or think him a fool of a Took on Twitter.