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- Episode: Second Chances (Season 2, Episode 1)
- Starring: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen, Stephen Lobo, Roger Cross, Lexia Doig
- Written By: Simon Barry
- Directed by: Patrick Williams
- Network: SyFy Channel
- Studio: Reunion Pictures
Continuum: Second Chances Review
An early return for this heady show
By Chuck Francisco
June 11, 2013
Continuum came to American audiences thanks to the caring kindness of our Canadian cousins. Last fall it brought the SyFy channel's level of discourse up a notch, and helped us remember that it wasn't just the spot on the cable box for monster mashup movies and bulky men in spandex. The show is back earlier than expected, eschewing a fall release schedule in an attempt to keep us out of the sweaty discomfort of sweltering summer temperatures. The first episode of season two, Second Chances, is strong, capitalizing on the chaos of the first season's finale to shake up the status quo. The unease of this familiar cast of characters struggling to adapt to their post bombing world works very well, keeping viewers off balance and unable to anticipate quite where the chips will fall. Second Chances is a strong return for the series and should keep your brain engaged all summer long.
Full spoilers in the section below
Having said that, it was very disappointing that by the hour's conclusion Alec is back to assisting Kiera; Kiera is quasi-partnered with Carlos at the discretion of the Vancouver PD; and Kellogg returns to being her shady benefactor. The whole thing feels akin to thriving on the excitement and unpredictability of trapeze artists without a net, only to have it returned by the end of the act. These relationships aren't on the same footing which they enjoyed last season though, and the expectation is that the safety net is worn and not quite as dependable as before.
I love the changed persona Kiera brings. The events of the the first season manifest in her as a decidedly more headstrong attitude. She's confident, making bold moves and acting decisive in the field. Realistically Kiera's become a sort of vigilante in the the time between the end of season one and the beginning of season two, thwarting Liber8 activities wherever she can. This is a great change which makes her a more believable force to be reckoned with. Her CMR plays two important roles in this week's story as well. The primary revolves around the mysterious message which old Alec embedded within Kiera's hardware while she was asleep in 2077. This manifests as a nightmare of being trapped in a cell, followed by a massive, short lived, headache. I'm hopeful that the nightmare will evolve to hold more meaning than simply fright, and that it will be representative of something deeper, perhaps more sinister.
The other function her CMR serves is interesting from a futurist perspective: the crime scene reconstruction utilizing thousands of security camera dumps was brilliant. Not just in conception or visual depiction (though the CGI team gets a cyber commando fist bump for their work), but for the sheer scale of it, viewers should be both frightened and impressed. This isn't simply the future of Continuum's timeline we're looking at, it is the eventuality of our world too. For so neatly bringing that to bear while wrapped within entertainment, the show runners deserve praise. And don't forget that older Alec has the ability to embed coding inside the minds of private citizens, which he has clearly realized has gone too far, while simultaneously reluctantly utilizing it to undo his influence.
Travis appeared to be a goner for a moment there. Sonya hides her steel reserve beneath a deceptively pleasant surface. I didn't think she was going to shoot Travis; he clearly didn't either. Despite emptying an entire magazine into him, his future soldier augmentations resurrect him after heart failure, and then stabilize him enough for stumbling locomotion. Sonya was attempting to reload and shoot Travis in the head when she was interrupted, so I suppose it isn't a secret that some future soldiers are neigh-unstoppable augments.
Agent Gardiner is clearly nursing an unhealthy obsession with one Kiera Cameron. What was her motivation in laying out the god's honest time travel truth to the vindictive agent? Was this a case of making a statement so absurd sounding that it can't possibly be believed? His stunned silence only served to show that he saw right through the deception. Kiera would have been better served by calling Gardiner's senses into question in the wake of the explosion rather than admitting her temporal refugee status. And still poor Carlos is left in the dark.
I didn't notice the oddly spaced commercial breaks of season one, a symptom of trying to impose our American break structure over the original Canadian dramatic pauses. These plagued last season and served to be quite jarring. Instead a different import issue presented itself; swear word censoring. Apparently "asshole" and "bullshit" are part of the original episode but where censored for our broadcast. I'd have liked a quick redub because that serves to be far less distracting. This isn't a massive problem, it only elicited a chuckle, but it is something easily fixed.
So a solid return kicks off season two of Continuum in America. No momentum was lost in the hand off and many of the fascinating plot threads are already being teased to lock in viewers for the long haul. It will be interesting to see if the Friday night death slot will diminish Continuum's returns any, or if the age of time shifted television has killed the curse of this unlucky air time.
Chuck Francisco is a columnist and critic for Mania, writing Wednesday'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 famous Colonial 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.