Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Continuum Season 2, Episode 5: Second Opinion

Let’s start in the future so we can top up Kiera’s angst levels – it’s little Sam’s birthday party and he’s all mopey because his dad can’t make it to his party. She gives him some moveable toy soldiers to make him smile

Now fully angsted up we can return to the present and have Kiera looking morosely at one of those soldiers. She’s frustrated by modern databases trying to find information on the mysterious Escher (who was earlier described as a “freelancer” time traveller, may be involved with Agent Gardiner and was behind setting up one of the biggest corporations in the future – but today is a mystery). Also today is Sam’s birthday.


With her not-so-subtle angst, and playing with a child’s toy, Carlos asks about her son while she tries to focus on business and the 2 Liber8 factions. She asks for the toy back because, of course, it’s a future toy that may animate and surprise everyone.

Kellog continues to follow Alec around and try to get him to go into business with him. And Alec, seeing the shiny computer lab Kellog has, agrees to go into business – with Kellog as the junior partner. Kellog tries to object given that it’s his money but Alec isn’t impressed, capital doesn’t match genius. Alec settles on his 51%, control of the projects and living space for all nighters. Kellog  agrees to all, including Alec’s repeated demand for decisions on what technology to pursue – and how it is used.

At work, Kiera is reaching new levels of angst and Betty interrupts her running for cover with some information about someone who looks like they might be their mole – he’s covered in debt which is normally a bad sign. She’s already taken it to the inspector but he’s blown her off – she needs Kiera to approach him because he actually listens to her.

Really, Betty. You think Kiera is listening to you?

Kiera leaves – and in comes a whole squad of people including one who looks awfully self important going into Dillon’s office. It seems Dillon is for the chop

Could it be he is being removed as an incompetent since he allowed someone with no credentials from a fictional department access to top secret case files and work with zero accountability, knowledge of procedure or even awareness of the basics of the law? Maybe?

Kiera has a meltdown in the toilets, helped out by a complete stranger who offers a shoulder to cry on and a sympathetic ear. After spilling her guts she goes out to see Betty who gives her the news about Dillon. And the person Kira just spilled her guts on is Dillon’s replacement – Nora Harris. And her first act is to address the security breach – which means no phone usage, no leaving the office and no using the computers until Internal Affairs has done its job. And since Carlos has already been cleared, she wants him to help her with interviews – starting with Kiera. Carlos is not a happy bunny.

Kiera, meanwhile, has left the office to talk to Dillon who says he has been ambushed, that he is being scapegoated and that Harris will be looking for more people to hang out to dry.

Back in the office she talks to Carlos and presents the idea that them being sidelined, the whole take over is another Liber8 plot. There must still be a mole – they just need to find out how to find them. Then Harris comes to ask Kiera for an interview and Carlos goes all protective bear, reminding Kiera she’s not police so doesn’t have to and saying she can have the department lawyer (aren’t those 2 mutually exclusive?) Kiera ignores them and goes with Harris – calling for Alec as she does. But he’s not there and not listening.

Alec, out on the street, is being followed – by Jason, the eccentric time traveller freelance guy – he has schematics for time travel thingies to show Alec. He hears there’s a problem with Kiera and rushes off to his computer

Kiera is sat in a recorded interview – her cell phone taken (Alec assures her from his end that he will wipe her phone) and then Agent Gardiner joins them, spiking up Kiera’s hostility several times over. Harris points out she has her authority from Section 6, apparently a US organisation, that neither the FBI or CIA has heard of. Dillon accepted her credentials, they’re less inclined to. Alec desperate tells her to stall until he can get to his lab and provide a cover – while Harris wants her to call her supervisor so they can talk to them. She refuses and stonewalls, she will not talk about Section 6, or herself – they are free to check her phone and computer. Harris brings up the family member she was crying over in the bathroom, because there’re no relatives listed on Kiera’s file. Alec races to create a new identity for her. Harris continues to push about her son and Kiera says she doesn’t have a family – while dropping her child’s toy on the floor. Slick. It’s grabbed by Gardiner who accuses her of being a fantasist. Harris and Gardiner both talk about hunting down her child and then finding her through him – and Kiera goes for Gardiner’s throat threatening to kill him.

Smooth, Kiera. Really smooth. And convincing, I’m sure.

And her CMR shuts down its link with Alec – that’s not good. And a hologram only she can see appears. The hologram says she assaulted a fellow officer and he needs to check to see if she’s in control of her emotions. And has taken her offline pending a psych review. Kiera runs from the interview. Does this make Gardiner an agent as well?

Followed by the hologram who continues to question her and poke to see if she’s psychologically well. He’s there to provide therapy and get her operational again. Yes, her CMR comes with a therapy bot built in, apparently. And it’s really fast therapy bot – it will get her back up and running over 80% efficiency within 1 hour. Or the memories causing her distress will be erased.

While Kiera is melting down in the toilets, it’s Carlos’s turn to be grilled to try and making him doubt Kiera and spill anything he knows about her, poking at some of the inconsistencies caused by her extensive knowledge and superior technology.

When Kiera insists she is in contact with Alec Sadler, the person who invented Therapy Bot, and he realises it’s true (apparently can detect her lies) he brings her CMR back up so she can contact Alec. But even Alec is locked out while the psych eval is ongoing – and the memories causing Kiera’s distress are those of her entire life. With Alec cut off again, Kiera tries to convince her therapist he’s in 2013 without him thinking she’s having a complete breakdown.

And there’s more problems, Betty comes in to warn Kiera she was keeping a file on Kiera back when she and Dillon didn’t trust her. If Harris and her teams finds the file it will show the many times she was in dubious places, places she says she wasn’t, places she shouldn’t have been etc. She gives Kiera a programme to wipe the files. Also, in the file is Betty’s own attendance at a Liber8 meeting on behalf of Dillon to get some idea on them – but it wasn’t sanctioned. Of course they’ll think she is the mole.

Dillon what kind of cartoon cops were you running here?!

Keria tries to debate with Therapy Bot about giving her her systems back, especially camouflage so she can go use Betty’s virus, but Therapy Bot wants to talk about her guilt over abandoning her child. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Which means Kiera tries to move around unnoticed and you see why she needs her camouflage because she’s not even slightly subtle. Kiera continues to slam Therapy Bot with the reality of time travel, how he can’t connect to his servers, the archaic look of the office. She adds that if it’s 2013 there is not CPS and she can’t be taken offline for not being of use to them

By that logic, she should be taken offline because she is using CPS resources, skills, knowledge, technology and programmes completely outside of her normal oversight and accountability procedures. Surely? I mean, a system that shuts you down and pushes forced therapy and memory re-writing on you if you step out of line is going to be completely fine with you wandering completely off the grid? Am I applying logic to Continuum again?

And Betty is taken in to her interview where she is grilled for her Liber8 meeting. Aaargh, can we have a moment here where we grasp the ridiculousness of a suspect mole attending a Liber8 meeting and writing up a report on that on her computer, which she brings to work – which isn’t in a protected file, unlike Kira’s data for that matter! THIS MAKES NO SENSE! NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY!

They take Betty away for formal charges, her protesting angrily and demanding they call Dillon and Carlos even less amused than before. Got to love Harris’s human resources skills don’t you?

Back to Cameron finally breaking down and talking about her son, her guilt and her knowledge that Sam will feel guilty because kids always blame themselves when a parent disappears. Therapy bot uses a trick to create a hallucination of Sam so Kiera can reassure him and tell him it’s not his fault. She unloads to him, how she loves and grieves and worries for him

Wow, that’s some pretty short-cutted therapy here. Talk about placebo effect.

She resolves in the wake of this, to keep trying to get back to him. But to also accept the truth that it may never happen. Therapy Bot nods. And she’s going to fight not to be arrested and to get Betty out. Therapy Bot disappears and Kira is back in action.

Back online, Kira uses her camouflage to use the programme Betty gave her (a bit late for Betty. And disappearing data is bound to convince Harris there is no mole!) Then Harris and Gardiner go to her desk to confront her about Betty and she both being moles and how section 6 is a myth. But with the info deleted they’re not happy – and a Trojan in the computer, discovered by Alec, has been planted to feed info to Liber8 and frame Betty. Kiera starts mocking them while Alec makes the Trojan even more obvious to slap them in the face with it.

Betty is released. As to Kiera’s own issues with no file, no credentials and a fictional employer? She confronts Harris and tells her to kick he rout. Because she isn’t a police officer Harris has no authority over her – she can kick her out but Harris can’t demand she answer questions. She throws in that everyone in the office would rather have Kiera onside than not.

Uh – you’re someone involved with lots of sensitive police data, the idea that you can’t be investigated is bemusing to say the least. Background checks. They happen.

Harris returns the toy soldier and walks away. Her silence is apparently permission for Kiera to carry on.

Are you kidding me?! She has no credentials. The organisation she claims to work for is American intelligence (she’s working in Canada, remember) and American Intelligence that neither the FBI nor CIA know about. Not a “we can’t confirm yes or no” but outright “no that’s bullshit, there is not section 6”. Her file is a pack of lies – but because she’s popular in the office she stays?

Back to Alec who asks Jason about the drawings he gave Alec – because the device is the same as the one that sent Kira back in time. He agrees to work with Jason reverse engineering the time travel device –and takes him into his lab.

In the police station Carlos and Betty go home, Betty thanking Kiera and Kiera angsts a little more.

And Betty gets into a car with Lucas Ingram. Looks like she may be part of Liber8 after all

Gasp for a moment, people, at the sight of Betty having to use Kiera – completely new person with no standing or real credentials – be a go-between with her own boss because her boss doesn’t take her seriously.

I think they need to work more an establishing why Kiera & co are interested in Escher before looking for him. I had to go look up who this guy is and I’m still not 100% sure beyond “freelance time traveller who meddles and isn’t a big fan of Kiera’s”

Am I supposed to be sorry for Dillon? Or regard Harris as a bad guy? Because, considering the scale of stuff going wrong at the department, the unanswered questions, all the intel with no chain of information and, oh yeah, the agent with zero accountability wandering around doing stuff for funsies? This is me, not criticising the powers that be for actually insisting the loose cannon vigilantes actually follow the rules. Funny that. Let’s not forget she is presenting herself as an American as well. Why SHOULD Harris – or, for that matter, anyone in Canada, accept the credential of an American agent, coming in, demanding access while having zero credentials or proof and being told “it’s top secret” when they seek to check it out.

The therapy bot is an interesting tool – because it shows the nature of the society Kiera comes from. This isn’t about healing or helping her – it’s about making her a good tool for the corporations. If they can’t heal her mind so she can work quickly, they’ll just cut chunks out.

I think this is becoming clear that season 2 has a more nuanced approach than season 1. Especially with the net campaign – Liber8 or the corporations. One of the main problems with season 1 was that Kiera was portrayed as working for the good guys, it was frustrating when she clearly wasn’t. In season 2 we have much more exposure of the evil of the future, and it is presented as evil.

That being said – if Betty is part of Liber8 – and Harris is a new villain on the other side, that makes for a huge amount of the show’s racial inclusion to be, if not bad guys, at least in opposition to Kiera.