Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Continuum, Season 2, Episode 9: Seconds

We start in 2035 – before Kiera was born. She recounts a recount of what happened – the public governments have collapsed, people pull together in factory cities, people pulling together and doing their share to build a better society and a better future; destroyed by one man and his zealots. And we see New Pembeton, a factory city and a cell full of whimpering prisoners who are treated brutally. One of them, referred to only by a number, is taken to a corporate court where her citizenship is “voided” for defaulting on her “civic debt”. She is sentenced for life and something is implanted in the back of her neck, making her an emotionless drone that works in the factory – among hundreds of others.

In the present, Kiera and Carlos are bitter about Julian getting off and the judge being murdered and Kiera expresses her preference for the future with an automated justice system which… yeah, no thanks. But grumbling called because old boss, Dillon, walks into the office – perhaps swagger would be a better term. He goes to see new boss, Nora, and give her her marching orders. She remarks that it’s politics (and definitely personal) and she always knew there was a glass ceiling – but didn’t realise she’d be cutting her throat breaking through it. She leaves with her head high and Kiera and Carlos are called by Dillon

And Dillon confirms that he’s made a deal with the sinister and questionable Escher (time traveller, manipulator, involved in stuff possible current or ex-Freelancer – and I say stuff because I only have the most tenuous idea about what is happening with all the plots) who is investing lots of money in making the city safe with his company, Prion. Something Escher told Dillon Kiera would relate to (corporate control of the police? Yeah, if you still related to that Kiera you have no learning curve)

As Julian is released – and getting a note from a sympathiser guard – Dillon gives his grand speech to the gathered police about their new budget and how they’re going to take off the gloves. He uses Julian as an example and has him watched. Kiera and Carlos turn up to watch his release with Kiera remarking that this is the last freedom Julian will ever see even as his mother talks to the press about his innocence. A gun man fires trying to hit Julian – accusing him of killing his daughter – but he hits Julian’s mother, Ann, instead; before Kiera and Carlos intervene.  Ann tells Julian he’s in danger and to leave – and he runs. Kiera tries to chase him but he’s picked up in a car by Rebecca – a Liber8 supporter working for Travis who we saw murder the judge, who tells him she follows Theseus (Julian in the future).

She takes him to a safe house full of people who gather round him, people who were inspired by his words while he was in prison, thoughts he scribbled down (they must have been pretty good). They’re joined by Travis and Julian tries to leave though they block his exit. Travis says they’re his army, willing to die for him but Julian counters that if they read his words they’d know better than to be with Travis. He leaves

At the police station, Betty tells them she has all the CCTV looking for Julian, but she’s uncomfortable – Julian’s a free man after all. Kiera says he’s a time bomb and the judge’s verdict doesn’t change his heart. Kiera decides to check in with Alec to see if he’s heard from Julian – at his injured, possibly dying mother’s (Ann’s) bedside. Kiera is such a sensitive soul.

Julian ends up with the other Liber8s – lead by Sonya, she admits Kagame used him but then gives him a rousing speech about how awesome he is and the movement and – Julian’s not buying it. He doesn’t get why all these people claim to know him and he isn’t joining up – but Sonya doesn’t want him to join. She wants him to lead.

Julian’s words burn through social media and are picked up by Betty who shows them to Dillon, Carlos and Kiera. And she tells them what they’re calling him - Theseus (after the ancient Greek hero who founded Athens, united Attica and cast down the old corrupt system). But Kiera recognises that name from the future  and almost enters shock.

As she drives home from Carlos, she tells him that Theseus was the boogeyman of her childhood, they even had fairytales warning against him. He lead a huge army that slaughtered any who opposed his vision (was his vision shutting down the factories creating slaves? Because I’m totally Team Theseus then), inspired Liber8 and caused all kinds of badness.

Julian gets a little more confused as Lucas begins serious fan-worshipping him as the man with the vision that inspired Liber8. But then he begins undermining Sonya – telling Julian she’s trying to steal his manifesto and she believes she’s from the future (ha!). Lucas says it has to be Julian’s manifesto – it’s supposed to be him, it always has been. Either he’s very cunning or he has a serious case of hero worship. He doesn’t inspire any confidence by speaking to empty air then opening the door and telling Julian that Kagame wants him to go. Not being the biggest fool in the world, he leaves. And then calls Alec for help – ok, he might be.

And Kiera is musing about killing Julian to save the thousands he will kill. But Carlos points out that she has no idea if what she remembers is still true since Kiera’s presence has already changed the future – it’s not a certainty. He also adds, wisely, that victors write history, how does Kiera know it happens how she thinks it did? She claims closeness – people close to her parents were killed at the New Pembeton massacre (if they’re some of the guards running that place I think Kiera may be on the wrong side of history). But Carlos still can’t sign off on killing a scared kid. Carlos even tells Dillon about her plan so he calls her in to make her say she’s not going to hunt him down and adds that they have an undercover operation to get information about Liber8 from him.

And Betty gets a hit on where Julian is – Kiera uses her CMR to playback what she said and read her lips. Julian is actually in a meeting with Alec, discussing who he wants to be, what he wants to do, not what everyone says he should be. Alec gets him clear from the CCTV before Kiera and the undercover officers arrive: which means they don’t get Julian but they do talk about working together to “do what needs to be done.”

Alec and Julian have some brotherly bonding over pool – about their future, reality, their mother. They take that bonding moment to her bedside where they all bond and talk about putting their differences behind them. And they have a mutual complaint about people telling them what their destinies are; and rejecting that anyone can tell them that.

Which is when Kiera and the two undercover police kidnap Julian; Julian believes Alec has betrayed him. The kidnappers take Julian to an isolated cabin in the woods. The torture begins

Back at the police station, Carlos makes a fuss until Dillon reveals what he’s authorised – kidnapping and torture (great, that means no-one can ever be tried because you’ve completely screwed up any evidence you get! Hasn’t Liber8 already shown that it’s powerful enough to compromise a judge? Like any group that powerful won’t use such actions to hang you out to dry.)

Alec witnesses Kiera’s participation in torture through her CMR, he tries to get her to stop and she terminates the connection. He calls Carlos instead. At the cabin, Cameron smacks Julian around then draws a gun to fire on him – even the cops who were willing to torture him move in to stop her and Julian runs while she’s distracted.

She catches up with him in the woods and points a gun at him – but Carlos also finds them (somehow… magic I think). Kiera babbles on about the future, expecting Julian to understand. Carlos tells her that their principles is what separates them from the people they’re trying to stop.

Carlos drives Julian back into the city and drops him off with a threat that he won’t stop Kiera next time. Julian goes to Rebecca’s safe house where Travis is gone – because Julian didn’t want him there and people respect his orders. He gathers them for him to address them

Carlos and Kiera talk – so I’m guessing she and the two torturers aren’t facing consequence either (and they complain the justice system is corrupt). And she has a sudden doubt – what if pointing a gun at Julian’s head is what makes him ruthless fighter? Yup, seems likely.

Return to the future with another poor so being turned into a drone – but proceedings are interrupted by forces moving in, shooting down the guards and corporate officials, led by Julian. They rescue the man about to be implanted and take him somewhere safe. Before they blow the factory they have to turn off the chips in the heads of the thousands of drones – which will kill them  and they’re making more chips. His associate is horrified that he’s killed tens of thousands of drones in several slave factories. They turn off the chips and the workers die – stopped from making more chips with the Sadtech logo.

Well Nora didn’t last long. Whether it’s glass ceiling or not on the show, it’s a shame to lose even a half-way prominent WOC on the show, especially since Betty isn’t particularly present.

Do you know what this show didn’t need? A 2 week hiatus. There is so much going on in this show, so many twists and so many characters that don’t appear often enough to be memorable that a 2 week break makes it harder to follow. Which is a shame because I was getting a handle on everything (though I did keep confusing Rebecca and Emily for the same person which left me beyond confused). I finally have everything in its place -

In the last season there was a lot of problems with Kiera being presented as the good guy rather than what she is – an enforcer for a brutal dictatorship. This season has been far more nuanced, showing more and more how very questionable the corporate republic of 2077 is – and why Liber8 act even with the lives they cause.

Again with this episode we saw what the factory was that Theseus “massacred” and the real truth of his actions – killing slavers but their remains the extremely ruthless grey over whether the drones  could have been saved from the control chips. Liber8 doesn’t becoming shiny, happy, good by any stretch, but the evil of what they’re fighting has never been clearer. And now we’ve got Kiera (and Escher through Dillon) resorting to kidnapping and torture. The moral compass has been reset on the series – it’s not becoming really clear who Kiera works for and who Kiera is.

But now it’s necessary to keep that up – and not excuse Kiera for her participation in torture and attempted murder. I especially want to see Alec, who witnessed it, be unwilling to forgive her.