Continuum: Second Guesses Review -

Continuum Review

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  • Episode: Second Guesses (Episode 11, Season 2)
  • Starring: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen, Stephen Lobo, Roger Cross, Lexia Doig
  • Written By: Sam Egan
  • Directed By: Simon Barry
  • Network: SyFy Channel
  • Studio: Reunion Pictures
  • Series:

Continuum: Second Guesses Review

Who really is the bad guy in all of this?

By Chuck Francisco     August 20, 2013

Full spoilers below

It seems I've got my work cut out for me this week.
Second Guesses may be the densest installment of the season, exploring a bevy of critical and socially relevant topics within the allotted time slot. Partially chilling are allusions to the NSA total spying package, only recently revealed to the public. One of the more fascinating brain ticklers woven into the episode's fabric is the complete exposure of everyone's formerly private information. Police emails, video of mayoral candidates, records of cheating spouses, and back room deals are all stripped of their secure encoding then plastered to digital telephone poles for public consumption. Julian's televised speech perfectly lays bare the truth of it: we didn't recently loose privacy; it was never ours to begin with. Does he refer only to the world of Continuum or to us as well? Bravo, Simon Barry.

The mechanism for this digital revelation is a cloned version of Alec's Ark system, created by an off his rocker Lucas, and relying on more slices of the time travel device to power its computational cycles. The danger of an all powerful surveillance state is starting to build cracks into Alec's technotopia vision for the future, and I found it even more poignant that the situation moves Kiera to a privacy epiphany. When the woman who originated as a cog in the totalitarian system speaks up for privacy concerns, it's a specifically engineered warning to the viewer; screaming for us to pay attention. The initial scene, a flashback, directly deals with America's current NSA saga; Kiera queries regarding the length of time her CMR recordings are kept and uncovers that, despite being told that they're erased after a few cycles, every single thing she does is being kept for years or possibly indefinitely. The technician is clearly ecstatic at the possibility of this state of affairs assuring his continued "safety".

Julian really comes into his own in the battle for hearts and minds. Amazingly, without the need for bloodshed, he succeeds at shaking the public from their feeding stupor. I can really get behind his purpose and his methods in a way which I never could for Liber8. Manipulating an already unstable Lucas into crafting the evil nemesis to Alec's Ark, he then engineers the forward progress of the Theseus agenda under the guise of a wise Kagami- which makes sense in many ways as Julian grows up to mentor the Liber8 leader. He further sells the con by surrendering himself for police questioning, then accuses Alec of a crime he committed. I couldn't have imagined a scenario where I found myself sympathetic to Julian, but here I am, considering just such a thing.

Dillon emanates all of the signs of having gone off the deep end in search of the greater good. Taking his new mandate and funding from Escher to the darkest shades of police state, he sends swat squads to arrest everyone who ever even glanced sideways at a word substituting an 8 for a syllable. Certainly he feels as though he originally lost his job because of Liber8, but there must be something else driving him so hard to have fallen so far. Carlos seems perpetually on the verge of quitting over the gross abuse of civil liberties, but has been working hard to convince himself that it's necessary. Was a benign act from the end of this week's episode, turning a blind eye as Kiera pockets the crime scene evidence, the subtle straw that breaks the good cop's resolve? 

A handful of tabletop RPG systems treat dangerous social situations almost exactly as if they were a round of combat, with opponents rolling against each other's ability scores in the realm of personality. Kellogg's squaring off against Esher could have been ripped right from the pages of a FATE role playing game example- one which sees the former Liber8 member loose handily. We can actually feel Kellogg projecting his insecurities upon Escher, longing for a kindred spirit because that would make him a known quantity; a conquerable opponent. Loss was not without gain, however, as in consulting with Alec it becomes evident that Escher is advancing antimatter technology as a potential means to power indiscriminate time travel. What the devil is his end game?

New mayor Jim Marten is not long for this world after attempting to set Sonya and Travis against each other like rabid dogs. The reunion of Liber8 factions was not an eventuality which I had considered. Was it necessary to combat the currently nebulous forces of Escher? Very, very likely. Even Kellogg seems to be coming into alignment against the threatening foe. The question is: will Kiera side with them to stop Escher? 

This is an excellent, tense, densely woven episode, which epitomizes the high level of entertainment which has become the calling card of Continuum. If you've not done so already, be sure to introduce your friends to it; season one is available to stream on Netflix.

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.


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monkeyfoot 8/20/2013 12:56:55 PM

My thoughts in the continuum:

I wonder if this episode was re-written like this or was it just synchronicty that it comes out at the same time the subjects of internet spying is happening in real life?

I am also suprised and liking the intellectual depth being displayed by Julian. He was not originally portrayed as someone thoughtful and calculating (and I don't mean calulating in a negative context). He doens't show any need for villence or hurting anyone, just waking them to the world they are living in. On the "bad guy" side he is now the most likeable.

How did Julian appear as Kagame to Lucas? Did Julian realize he was nuts and take advantage of it?When did that happen?

Has Dillion been one of those guys with the dots between his fingers all along? His total personality change makes me feel that or he's been mentally controlled.

I really liked the song running under the last scene of Lucas entering the psych ward. It is Au4's Everyone Is Everyone. I had to Shazam it.

CyanideRush 8/20/2013 1:11:51 PM

 @Monkeyfoot, I believe Julian manipulating Lucas was setup or eluded to an episode or two back when Lucas opens the door and advises him that Kagami wants him to "go". I think. 

blankczech 8/20/2013 8:47:54 PM

 I had so many things I wanted to say about this episode but as usual Chuck has beaten me to the punch. Oh well, he explains it better than I could.

 I am disturbed by Alec's trusting nature, and his naivete, gullibilty, and malleability.  His genious seems to manifest itself in a form of tekkie tunnel vision (without any consideration of the big picture).  Outside the scope of his focus, Alec appears socially challenged (inept) and quite easily fooled and manipulated, (especially when attractive females are involved).  This makes me wonder if 2077 Alec has spent much of  his adult life as a puppet of the evil corporations...and in looking back .... is none to happy with the things he's done and the world he's helped to create.  That could have motivated him to stage the event that sent Kiera and Liber8 back in time (to perhaps save him and the world from himself).

lusiphur 8/21/2013 7:01:56 AM

 Following up on blankczech's train of thought, maybe it is Alecs naivete, gullibity and malleability that causes him to become the man he is in 2077.  After years of trusting people and having them betray him and/or stomp on his heart, who could blame him for becoming bitter and angry.  

On the point about him being socially challenged, I think that has been shown in the flash-forwards concerning him.  Unless I've missed something, he's an 80-some year old man with no family, lots of money and prostitutes at his beck  and call.  Not exactly the rich and fulfilling life we're promised as children.  I'm not so sure about him being a puppet of the corporations as much as the guy with the good intentions having knee-jerk over-reactions to betrayals and perceived threats.  By being short sighted, he proceeds to take care of a current problem with no concern for the repercussions until they rear their heads and start biting at him.  



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