Another week comes and goes, and again we're given a sizable helping of middling story telling gussied up with some interesting science fiction tech. The focus is split down two branching paths during the episode. One we don't follow far enough for satisfaction and the other we spend too much time with.
The lesser plot line plows through Kiera's attempt to continue undercover as Portland PD officer Linda Williams. When an officer from that department shows up, it blows Kiera's cover wide open. She's arrested, processed and detained by her new partner, Carlos. When her explanations fail, she has Alec use his computer skills to plan a false identity for her, one that's of a deep cover operative, leaving her sometimes strange activities beyond reproach. It just doesn't work, the tension is tepid and the dread never quite materializes. Sure, we know the hero is going to get out of the sticky situation that they're in, but in the moment we're supposed to think that they aren't. Continuum never works that illusion.
All is not lost though, as the situation gives us the chance to glimpse some more future tech in action. Kiera mashes her thumb print onto mirrored glass, then uses her ocular implants to send them to Alec. And since she's on camera in a police interrogation room, she discretely types out her plan on the display of her tactical pants. We're also treated to a flashback of our young protector's first day. The process of her upgrade is quite fast; leading me to believe that everyone in 2077 already has ocular implants, with police officers receiving a software upgrade for advanced functionality. It was a nice touch that her HUD is accompanied by the sound effects that we the audience hear, until she thinks about turning down the volume.
The stronger plot line deals with the members of Liber8 seeking a source of power to charge their time travel device. They go so far as to kidnap a noted scientist in order to gain access to a particle collider. The desperation of Kiera, in wanting to return to her own time, is so forceful that she doesn't attempt to stop Liber8. Instead she tries to join them for the jump, though it is at gun point. Again something goes spectacularly wrong, to the point of shorting out Kiera's high tech gun and suit. There were flashes of bravado from Rachel Nichols during the standoff sequence, but over all I'm having trouble believing her as a bad ass future cop. Maybe the reality of her is more nuanced, which is solidly less one note than most tough cops, but there has to be a point where I believe she could take down anyone of the Liber8 terrorists (not counting the tech nerd guy). That's just not being conveyed. It doesn't help she completely fails to shoot any of them, with the advantage of surprise from about ten feet. I can buy her being hit in her bullet proof suit, but her inability to hit any of them with the assistance of her own custom head's up display is a bit beyond the realm of believability.
I was grateful that one of the members of Liber8 appears to not be a foaming at the mouth murder, with some semblance of sense. Kellog decides he can better effect the future by remaining in the past and using his knowledge of the future to shape the events to come. It's exactly what I'd suggested last week, but most of the group appears to be so one note homicidal that they can't even stop to consider what would best accomplish the goals of their organization. In fact, they're killing so ridiculously indiscriminately that it would be a wonder if they didn't accidentally off one of their own ancestors in the process. Of course, the beauty of a time travel story is that we don't know if they're even in the same universe as the one they jumped back from.
Is anyone else a tad bit confused by the faction portrayals thus far? Kiera may be a noble protector, out to arrest "the bad guys", but she works as part of the system in a corporate dictatorship. Why have we been shown none of that oppression? It's possibly because we're seeing flashbacks from her POV, which regards the system as right or correct. But then why are we also only seeing one note negative portrayals of Liber8? A far more interesting show would muddy the waters, confuse the sides and challeng the characters' established viewpoints. Perhaps they'll get there in time. I just hope the ride improves by then.
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.