Mania Grade: A
15 Comments | Add
Rate & Share:
- Episode: Second Time (Season 2, Episode 13)
- Starring: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen, Stephen Lobo, Roger Cross, Lexia Doig
- Written By: Simon Barry
- Directed By: Pat Williams
- Network: SyFy Channel
- Studio: Reunion Pictures
Continuum: Second Time Review
A unique exploration of our time?
By Chuck Francisco
September 02, 2013
Full spoilers below
A chaotic divining rod illuminates a path through the maelstrom of Continuum's season finale, but are viewers being led down a trail of misdirection? Given the intricacies baked into this small screen pie by creator Simon Barry, I don't doubt for a second that many of the thought seeds planted in this finale as setup for season three will prove false scents for our mystery addicted consciousnesses.
Despite the con game being played on our expectations, Continuum is never cheap or unfair when exposing its logical conclusions. Motivations are almost always well reasoned in hindsight, coming off as deeply considered plot twists rather than shocking revelations, tossed about in a slap-dash manner. Credit Simon Barry for his intricate prep work, then extend that credit to a sequence of writing/directing teams who truly comprehend the material. Another thread of instilled quality winding through this second season is cohesion of directorial reigns. The first ten episodes of the second season where grouped into pairs for the directors, so each helmsman would handle two episodes sequentially. The added stability conferred a confident swagger to Continuum, keeping the episode quality level high across the board in a way that most shows fail to attain.
The continuing saga of Alec's linage has taken on a staggering Maury Povich turn, with multiple parties on the genetic hook, only the twisted pretzel logic of time travel can sort out this paternal conundrum. While Jason had the glaring spotlight of Deoxyribonucleic acid blind and befuddle him last week, there still stood the slim possibility that he was related to Alec in another way. And so old Alec sent his own son, Jason, back in time to sow the seeds of a new future. Whether Jason retains the cognitive ability to comprehend the enormity of this is at present open to debate, but this relationship dynamic does illuminate the way Jason dotes on Alec. It's very much akin to Marty McFly's behavior around 1950's George in Back to the Future.
This revelation then implicates Escher, the former freelancer, in the potential unwitting attempted murder off his own grandson Jason (in trying to thwart the plans of his own son). I may need a flow chart if this continues. If we are to take the Sadler lineage as truthfully depicted (with no more mysterious shenanigans), then old Alec must always have sent travelers back in time, thus ensuring his own existence. In giving us too much information, the team behind Continuum may have inadvertently created their first inconsistency: if Alec is born of a man sent back into the past by an aged version of himself, how then did his father originally create him so he could create the means of uniting his mother to his father to begin with? It's a paradox unless we're missing vital information. Giving the well thought out complexity of the show to this point, I'm willing to put a little faith in the as yet unexplained.
Erik Knudsen puts in a credibly guarded performance, with deceptive layers reminiscent of the first Mission Impossible film staring Tom Cruise. Growing tired of the selfish agendas orbiting his future, he fools everyone in an attempt to save Maya and grant himself happiness. We're talking Inception level of deception here: in appearing to help Esher, he's helping Kiera; in appearing to help Kiera, he's setting the stage to help Maya (in turn, himself). This presents multiple interesting scenarios for season three, as a second Alec Sadler is manipulating the events of seasons one and two from the shadows. Have we already seen his work in unexplained occurrences, meaning he can't alter Maya's fate? The potential draws more favorable comparisons to the Back to the Future series, but with a decidedly more serious stakes.
Carlos makes the career change which has been foreshadowed on his tortured face for half the season, abandoning his role as a peace office not long after the job abandoned its principals. Through Betty's tender encouragement he finds himself on the run and allying himself with Julian Randal, which makes a great deal of sense in the context that the future rebellion leader's goals actually are freedom and justice for everyone. Carlos has been one of the best characters to watch this season, and the ship's mast to tie yourself to if a virtuous paragon is the archetype character toward which you gravitate. Victor Webster has been doing a bang up job, and I'm hotly anticipating the dynamic he creates working with Julian.
Travis and Kiera share a a series of battle vignettes which run the homage gamut from The Matrix through The Terminator, offering stylistic visual motifs within the wrapper of rousing action. With both gladiators clad in protector armor, the contest is a clash of cunning, persistence, and deception. The protracted combat encounter leverages nearly all of the future tech at their disposal, and even at the climax Travis somehow survives or is revived by their warden freelancers. Credit to director Pat Williams for staying with the action, allowing the prowess of these combatants to be showcased fully. The high water mark for Continuum still lies in season one when Kiera took down Curtis, but this brutal battle against Travis is still quite praiseworthy.
Thank Curtis and the Freelancers (terrific band name, by the way) for another conundrum which will plague viewers until next season: what is their ultimate goal and how does imprisoning all other time travelers service that goal? In their fanaticism, they may not have followed temporal mechanics to the logical conclusion. If their drive is to restore an unmanipulated timeline, then how can Sadler exist in the future to send his own father back in time? Or does this actually mean the freelancers come from a timeline where Alec Sadler does not exist and thus an all powerful corporate dictatorship never comes to fruition? That scenario would paint the Freelancers as the good guys then, which would be a fascinating way to turn the show on its head. Still, if they are attempting to thwart manipulation of the timeline, flat out murdering people like Gardener runs against the grain of that goal. Who speaks for all of his descendants who were just winked out of existence?
With so many potentially explosive threads left hanging as part of the season ending cliffhanger, the break until new episodes arrive may feel like an eternal punishment. There are so many fascinating directions in which the creative team could take the show, and odds are good that they'll explore them all. Hopefully the season three resumption allows Canadian and American broadcast schedules to align so we can all discuss plot ramifications simultaneously. Continuum is an amazingly complex and nuanced show that has also been able to bring explosive action as needed. It's consistent, it's intriguing, and it's high time your friends found the fascinating delight of this show. Use this time off to get them hooked, and I'll see you next season for what promises to be a unique exploration of our 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.