Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Continuum, Season 3, episode 7: Waning Minute

After the revelations last week that Curtis was the one who killed the spare Kiera, Curtis gets himself put in one of the clear cells. They talk about “debriefing” which sounds ominous, applied to Future Alec as well. Curtis mocks her for the title “protector” as well – she didn’t protect Alec, her family and barely even realised what was happening in the future. And now what does she do? She sees one of the other locked up prisoners, with a tattoo, and remembers him telling her that he’s freer than she’ll ever be (I can barely remember who this random encounter was – but the point is made). She cries and asks “what have I done.”

Honestly, Kiera? I think this whole series could be titled “Kiera: What Have I done?”

That calls for a flashback to the future (which sounds so wrong) when she and her colleague stalked tattoo guy who has been getting busy with a knife –stabbing someone and cutting their finer so he can use their DNA/finger print secured gun. A gun that shoots armour piercing rounds that cut through the Protector suits. When he’s out of ammo he lays a crafty ambush for her but her suit protects her and lets her electrocute him.

She ships him back on a future plane thing – which then has a systems failure and crashes. Kiera crawls out of the wreck, the pilot is dead and her CMR is messing up – so is her gun. And her prisoner is up, alive and well except for a chunk of “fascist gunship” in his leg which needs removing and treating. He makes an attempt to bribe her (while taking a swipe at the system) but she’s not playing, she’s too loyal to her corporate overlords and keeps chanting the corporate party lines.

The man keeps trying to talk her out of her party loyalty and that they need to head to civilisation themselves because the corporations will have just written off the plane. 2 men find them (men with crossbows) and take them away – once they’re assured by her prisoner that her CMR is broken.

They take them to a camp of “gleaners”, an old derelict factory turned over to growing plants; they’re self sufficient and try to live separate and apart from the corporate congress. Their doctor fits Kiera with a headband that prevents her CMR, even if it were working, from transmitting, receiving or recording.

Back at the city, Kiera’s husband is informed of Kiera’s supposed death with a corporate drone bringing a pack of paperwork for him to sign and absolve them of all responsibility. Yes they’re caring people

At the commune Kiera tries to convince everyone the system is fair while the farmer points out they were legally required to use genetically modified crops that produced no seed – so they had to buy seed every year; which in turn would only grow with proprietary fertiliser and pesticide. So she and her farm went off the grid “went grey”. Others have stories of how the system treated them and Kiera offers weak, empty sympathy that her prisoner mocks as the useless thing it is.

The doctor is actually Sonya – and in the back she is treating Kagame. And he is sharing banned literature and reminding her that the Gleaners are always on the edge of being hunted down. When he’s alone he bites and apple and puts his blood on it… that’s not hygienic.

The Gleaners argue about what to do – they could ransom Kiera’s prisoner to Liber8 but there’s still the issue of Kiera – and even if they spent the money they got from the ransom it would allow growth that would only attract attention and have them destroyed. The prisoner continues to try and talk people into killing Kiera.

They also find people from the city trading with the settlement, since their product has more flavour than food bred for yield, they’re in demand among the elite. Kiera is shocked and appalled that they’d trade with their enemies, showing again how shallow her understanding of the system is.

We get some more info on Sonya, she left the city because they were forcing her to join the super soldier programme. She’s afraid of the implants, the CMRs, because they “nudge” behaviour – and they drive people to record data rather than remember things like feelings and emotional impact Kagame continues to challenge Sonya to consider how much Kiera can be considered to be a dupe of the system as opposed to someone who is knowingly complicit to it – and that the “freedom” of the gleaners is illusory since they’re still hemmed by rules that force them to walk a tightrope of the system’s tolerance.

In the city, receiving an apple with Kagame’s blood and saliva on it, Old Alec authorises, well, vaguely ominous things which are probably bad.

The Gleaners check out Kiera and the prisoner, Jowaski. They confirm the corporations think Kiera is dead and that Jowaski is one of the 10 most wanted, high bounty – but Jowaski’s own organisation will pay much much much more. But whole he’s there, the Gleaner, Jayden, checks out Kagame as well.

Kiera’s CMR continues to hurt her and she’s taken to the infirmary where, through a curtain, Kagame asks who she is Protecting, who needs Protecting from the Gleaners. But he does say Sonya convinced him not to blame the Protectors who are brain washed – but that he does hope she will have a chance to see things as they really are.

Sonya consults the community leaders who decide to remove the governor on Kiera’s implant since her damaged implant probably won’t transmit but the governor could kill her. In the infirmary Kagame is packed to leave, expecting betrayal (or his apple bait coming back at him) and when he tries to stagger and leave, Sonya offers to give him a lift – not far, but a little way.

Jayden takes Jowaski to the trade but things seem to be going wrong. Kiera leaves her bed and holds one of the residents, Pangea, at crossbow point and makes her take her to the hand off  - where Jayden is dead. They track Jowaski and, while he briefly holds Pangea hostage, Kiera shoots him when a flier appears. As she’s picked up, she’s told they’re in a “hot zone.”

Meanwhile Kiera’s husband is dealing with the fact he’s been bought off with a promotion. He’s visited by Alec and he breaks – he breaks over life being measured by actuaries and balance sheets deciding how much a person is worth, how much life is worth. He wants some meaning for her loss – and Alec gives a big speech about how the corporations enrich lives, to create a civil society

While his fliers attack the Gleaner camp, bombing it from above, massacring the people.

Kiera sees from the windows of the flier, Jowaski mocks her for stopping thinking again – and that even in a cage he’ll be freer than she’ll ever be. And Sonya sees it from a distance where she is with Kagame. He stops her running back and helping them because there’s nothing left. He asks her to take the super-soldier job to be their mole and help him heal them all.

And to the present where Kiera says something stunning to Catherine – Kagame was right, he said Kiera would see through new eyes. Catherine blames Kagame for the Gleaner’s death (what, Alec didn’t order it?) Kiera also adds Alec’s own wisdom to her husband “each of is judged by what we leave behind” and adds that both Curtis and Jowaski said she was asleep. Curtis, Kagame and Jowaski all had commitment.

Kiera says she isn’t asleep any more and announces she’s going home.

And in the cells Curtis escapes by feigning his own death

This is one of the better episodes of Continuum in that it carries warnings of where we are heading – for example, certain agricultural companies are suing farmers for saving seed of genetically modified crops. It’s not an action packed episode, but it’s future focus reminds us of the complexities and what both Liber8 and Kiera are fighting for. What’s at stake in Kiera’s battle.

And you see how Kagame’s subtlety works. Just provoking a response from the corporations exposes them and recruits for him. He doesn’t even have to work hard on Sonya, he sews the seed, pokes Alec and he can rely on Alec’s response to be so abhorrent as to drive her to Liber8 (and, coincidentally, “punishing” the Gleaners for trading with the corporations)

And, as seems to be a growing trend with these episodes where the dystopia of the future is clearly exposed, we’re getting a creeping sense that Kiera was becoming appalled – but still went along with it, which kind of makes her evil. Sure “just following orders” but that’s not exactly the most palatable of defences; even being brain washed would make her character seem less, well, knowingly complicit of evil. I think that’s why we’re getting info on the implants “nudging” people – to try and hurriedly excuse Kiera’s actions.

So what does Kiera mean by she’s awake? Is she realising what kind of future she’s fighting for? Am I going to be able to cheer for her or do I keep waving for team Liber8?