Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Continuum, Season 2, Episode 13: Second Time

Starting in the future, Kiera is investigating the murder she was expressly told to leave alone – because her supervisor appears to be burying the murder rather than trying to solve it.
Her takes her suspicions to his boss since he works for Sadtech and it was a Sadtech technician who was murdered. His boss mollifies him – and assures him that Kiera will be kept out of danger during the execution

Hah, shows how much his guarantees are worth.

His boss goes and talks to Old Alec, worried about Kiera digging deeper. Alec is impressed by Kiera’s dedication and tells the supervisor to leave it with him – then goes and looks up Kiera’s file. Once pulled up he uses it to transfer information – at home, in bed, Kiera jerks awake in sudden pain. She tells her husband it’s her CMR and he looks out at the satellite.

The next day, the day of the Liber8 executions, Kiera goes down to breakfast and sees her husband working on the very device she was examining connected to her murder inquiry. He closes it and calls it a work thing. Her husband clearly has something on his mind but in the end doesn’t tell her

In a meeting of important people, Alec convinces them that it’s necessary to let the Liber8 plot to escape progress as far as possible so they can use it to expose their conspirators. When the meeting breaks up, Alec turns to one of the women and asks for an explanation (presumably of the murder of the Sadtech technician). The woman claims the murder victim was approached by outsiders – a sect that knew of Alec’s research and felt they had to intervene; Old Alec realises she was contacted by the Freelancers. When she leaves someone else approaches –someone Alec called in expressly to stop the Freelancer threat. It’s Jason – a much much younger Jason.

Jason, Alec’s father, Elderly Alec and young Jason. Time travel makes my head hurt.

In the present, young Alec goes to see Escher. Escher tries to convince Alec that he set Emily on him to try and protect him. Alec came to tell Escher he holds him responsible for Emily’s death; Escher asks him to tell him what happened.

At the police station, Carlos tells Dillon about Emily’s murder (using her real name) and connects it to Gardiner’s death – but Dillon sees Carlos trying to protect Kiera and reminds Carlos that CSIS thinks he’s involved especially since he didn’t bring her in. Carlos asks for some breathing room and gets a call from Kiera and tells her about Emily’s death – Dillon goes to Betty and asks Betty to trace Carlos’s call. With an address Dillon sets off and, call ended, Carlos then calls someone in Internal Affairs. And Betty texts someone…

At Liber8 HQ, Sonya want Kellog (who they have graciously invited to visit with lots of implied violence) why Kiera, Alec and Escher are meeting – she got a text from her friendly contact in the police (Betty?). Kellog talks quickly and tells them that Escher is behind the kidnapping of Garza (she was kidnapped by Freelancers who Escher may or may not be involved with). Kellog also tells them that Escher may have a working time travel device – or be preparing for one. Sonya and Kellog see how very dangerous the device could be in Escher’s hands.

Escher keeps trying to establish a connection and friendship with Alec, but Alec’s not having it. So Escher claims to be his father – which is dubious since Alec already has a DNA match to Jason. Escher pulls up a photograph showing him and Alec’s mother together when Alec was a baby. Alec, I’m sure future tech includes photoshop.

Alec actually seems to fall for it (he takes a photograph over an actual DNA test? Really? I thought the guy was supposed to be intelligent). And Kiera arrives to tell Alec how sorry she is about Emily. Alec has plenty of blame for Kiera as well, for chasing after the device and leaving Emily.

Then Dillon arrives with a small army of police to arrest Kiera. Alec tells Kiera dramatically how much he hates Kiera and how he will never ever ever forgive her, ever! And Escher is her father and he’s totally on his family’s side and how mean is she!

Oh you have no idea the angry, furious rant I made about how ridiculous this whole twist was! It was EPIC. And then I had to delete the whole damn thing because the minute Kiera’s taken away Alec steps aside and talks to her through her CMR making it clear it’s all an act, he doesn’t trust Escher and he still supports Kiera. He tells her that Escher has an anti-matter machine and if Kiera can get out of her mess and bring him the device he can send her home.

Kiera is taken to the police station in cuffs and Carlos confronts Betty about tracking his calls. Betty complains that she doesn’t know what is happening around there any more (so much police corruption, breaking the rules and brutality) but he says she does know – she just doesn’t know what she’s going to do. He asks her to requisition some evidence; he threatens to expose her as a Liber8 mole if she doesn’t. That was what his contact in IA was doing (damn I hoped he was going to expose Dillon)

With that evidence he goes into the room where Dillon is interviewing Kiera – and she’s accusing him of having changed and got into bed with Escher. He puts the “evidence” on the table – Kiera’s hi-tech weapons and then punches out Dillon. Oooh I love to see that – would still have rather seen Dillon fed to IA. Kiera warns him he’s throwing away his career – but he says that career isn’t there any more. Touching bonding moment between Kiera and Carlos and she goes invisible and leaves. Carlos leaves his badge behind and leaves as well – Betty begging him not to throw his life away. He says it’s too late – he’s a cop and he wants that to mean something. He asks Betty to go with him?

So not reporting everything you’ve seen Dillon doing to IA is the way to do that? And the press?

When Dillon wakes up and finds Carlos has quit, he tells the whole floor that Kiera is public enemy no.1 and Carlos no.2.

Kiera goes to the lab to get the device where she finds Jason – and Kellog who got there first. She threatens him but he tells her that Alec is in danger – from Escher, Liber8 and/or the Freelancers. Jason adds that Kellog is right – Alec doesn’t know how dangerous Escher is. She makes a deal, she’ll bring Kellog Alec and Kellog will give her the device.

Back to the future and Old Alec talks to Future Young Jason in which he talks about rewriting history, how Liber8 exists because of him and how they may even be a manifestation of his conscience (which is slightly narcissistic but very powerful). He has to try and send them back and change things – he can’t live with the alternative. He tells Jason to set up the generator to power the device – and he trusts Jason because Jason is his son.

Well that’s a good explanation of the paternal DNA as well! Even if my brain did just explode rather messily.

Modern Alec, meanwhile, is being given a guided tour of Escher’s super tech (which still needs the device) while keeping a phone connection to Kiera. Escher gives Alec clever plans on how to get through to Kiera – not realising Kiera is listening so she can plan accordingly. And Escher leans on a pedestal, allowing Alec to see the Freelancer tattooed dots between his fingers. Oopsie. Escher claims he left the Freelancers – and he faked his death in the fire when Alec was a child to keep the Freelancers away. Everyone was safe – until Kiera came back from the future.

Meanwhile, in Alec’s lab, Sonya joins Kellog and both look through Kiera’s CMR as she heads to Escher’s company. But she is followed into the building by a suited up Travis with a big gun and working CMR of his own. The guards in the building draw guns and open fire – doing nothing because of the suit’s forcefield – and Travis slaughters them. Kiera rushes to cover using her own suits shield.

Travis uses the cloaking device and sneaks up on Kiera, knocking her to the floor. They fight but Travis, a soldier, seems to be the better fighter – Kiera manages to get one shot in that knocks him back then runs. Travis throws a suit-based telekinetic bolt after her, knocking her through another convenient pane of glass (looks dramatic). He grabs her and throws her into more glass (extra drama) and tells her she’s the villain in this tale (true, I agree there). Again kiera manages to surprise Travis with a shock and run.

Back in the lab, Kellog leaves to get Alec and the device part Kiera has before the police, coming into the aftermath, take them both.

Kiera and Travis continue to fight. She runs from him, he catches her, she manages to delay him and sets off running again. She runs into the lift shaft for dramatic scenes on top of the lifts – but drops her gun in the process. She cuts a lift cable, electrocutes Travis with it, then drops him down the lift shaft – a looooong way.

In the lab Sonya looks on, horrified, as Travis’s CMR goes still. And her gang member minion pulls a gun on her, confused, lost and knowing he’s out of his depth. And then he’s shot in the eye by a Freelancer – who keeps the gun on Sonya.

This is getting complicated again.

In the tower, Kellog finds a beat up Kiera and gives her the time travel device. There’s far too much chaos in this time, he’s lost control – he wants to return to the future with her. They join Alec on the time travel floor (without Escher) and they discuss random paradoxes and admit they have no idea what sending Kiera back will do.

They power up the machine – and out comes Escher with a gun (so Kiera? We’ve just seen how useful guns are against Travis in a suit. Laugh at him and take it off him them slap him to death). Alec was in on it – the only way for him to get the device back

Alec working with Escher after all? Damn it, I could have used my rant!

Cut to the future where we see young! Jason preparing the time machine and Liber8 being taken in to be executed.

Present – Kiera asks Alec what he’s doing – and he says protecting his family. Escher tells her that between himself, Alec and Jason – time travel is the family business. Alec tells Kiera Escher is his father and Escher adds that he had protected Alec until she came back and exploited him – and exposed him to risk.

Back to the future and Jason is confronted by a Freelancer, trying to stop him from making a huge mistake. He tells Jason he swore an oath to prevent people from exploiting technology to pervert the past, present and future – and in the execution chamber, Kiera’s husband rants at old Alec because he said she’d be safe.

Back to the present and a Freelancer shoots the gun from Escher’s hand. These Freelancers appear out of nowhere all the time. Kiera asks the Freelancers to send her home – she can stop Liber8 ever travelling through time and make sure none of it happens. The Freelancer says that there would still be a glitch – Kiera

We see the future where Liber8 goes back – and in the present Alec grabs the device of Kiera and uses it – telling Kiere he has to save her. Emily, we assume. Alec disappears back in time, Kiera cries, the Freelancers look annoyed.

Switch to Kiera trying to run through some tunnels in a medical gown – being grabbed by men and injected with a sedative. Ok… that’s a switch. Freelancer prison? She is returned to a glass and barred cell. Through the glass she can see other imprisoned time travellers, including Travis, Kellog, Jason, Sonya, Garza; all they need is Sadler. And one of the Freelancers is Curtis, the Liber8 member they thought was dead,

Dillon gets a big book from the CPS and chief constable which looks like an official new manual. And on the front of it is the company name “Piron”.

Carlos drives looking angsty and he and Betty arrive at a farm and meet Julian and his mother. Carlos shakes Julian’s hand.

Continuum was picking up for me. It was focusing more on the complicated campaign between the dystopian corporate future and the better world Liber8 wanted – the conflict between extreme methods and desperate goals, of Kiera and Carlos and Betty realising that they’re not clear cut good guys, the exposure of how bad the dystopian future is, coupled with Dillon’s own descent made for a compelling and developing story.

Continuum went from being a show I found vaguely irritating, to one I was beginning to look forward to. It was addressing the complaints we had, making it clear that there was a lot of shades of grey going on and even Kiera – and Alec’s – motivations moved on from “get me home” to edging on “we need to fix this”. It was evolving and I was enjoying it.

And then we had a season finale full of Escher and Freelancers and the whole Liber8/1futureourway battle that has been brewing all season just wasn’t there! And it was so annoying because they had an excellent twitter campaign, it was engaging, it pulled people in, got the fanbase engaged in picking sides and philosophies and it would all matter and have ramifications on the last episode! It was an excellent strategy.

Clearly it did have an impact – Betty is joining Theseus rather than staying with Dillon – but it was such a side point to the whole episode. It was incidental, it was even missable. The iconic conflict of the whole season was pushed aside so we could focus on Escher and the Freelancers – and hooks for next season

Yes, Continuum had to leave the Liber8 conflict for next season to keep the theme going and yes it needed hooks to draw us in, but this was too unsupported. All through this season the Freelancers –and Escher – were this mysterious force of random annoyingness. They’d leap in, get in the way of the plot, not actually develop any plot of their own (other than being Freelancers and mysterious) and then an episode would be over. There needed to be more to them than that – so springing it all in the last episode while barely mentioning the conflict they’ve spent all season building up really didn’t work for me.

I think this whole season, while generally much better than the last, has also been crowded – there are far too many factions and side plots. There’s the 2 factions of Liber8. There’s Matthew Kellog playing his own game. There’s Garza with her own agenda from Old Alec. There’s Escher (and using Dillon). There’s the Freelancers. There’s CSIS and Gardiner. That’s a lot of factions – and from that we get a lot of side plots: controlling Julian/Theseus, controlling the mayor (did anyone even remember the mayor in that episode?), there’s Jason and Alec’s family ties, there’s Alec and Emily falling in love, there’s bodies going missing and odd law firms and random deaths – there’s too much there.

Inclusionwise we have a number a strong women – Kiera, Garza, Sonya who are also strong in different ways. Sonya is clever, intelligent – and motivated by principle and cause. Kiera is motivated by family. Garza by her own cause conspiring with Alec. I do wish, sometimes, Kiera wasn’t quite so willing to put “I want to go home” ahead of “Oh I work for a fascist police state!” but, then she does have loved ones and it’s hardly unreasonable for someone to put their missing family first.

We do have a very large number of POC in Continuum and, to a degree, the problem with the vast majority of them being evil Liber8 is addressed simply by the show no longer having clear cut good/evil. We’ve always been Team!Liber8 but I think anyone is going to be dubious at the idea that Dillon is a good guy while Sonya or Betty is a villain. If anything (and this is reaching a level of meta I doubt the show has gone into but still), POC are more likely to be distrustful of government institutions, the police and expanding corporate power. We still have some unfortunate stereotypes (inscrutable Asian Curtis, big angry Black man Travis, Asian computer whizz Betty) but we also have some counters – Lucas the tech expert, for example.

The pathetic attempts at GBLT inclusion don’t even deserve the name – this is an erased show (made more insulting by the show creators apparently believing they have depicted a future in which everyone is Bisexual).

In future seasons I don’t think they can really remove any of the plot lines they already have – but they need to be very careful about allowing this ballooning show to expand any further than it already has.