Thursday, July 20, 2017

Travelers, Season One, Episode Three: Aleksander

Image result for travelers

From the moment that Philip took over the body of a heroin addict, I worried that his body's addiction would be swept under the rug.  This is something that often happens when addiction is introduced into the storyline. Instead, we've watched as Philip struggled to resist the lure of heroine, only to become sick and even a threat to the teams objective.  

The team of Travelers is off on a mission to meet a new Traveler, who is about to enter a host. Their mission gets cut short when they are approached by a child and told that their mission is to be aborted.  Rather than settling Philip down, this agitates him. Philip wants to go and save the life of the man who is scheduled to die but the others don't agree to participate because they aren't supposed to change things. Philip points out that it would just take a few minutes of their time but MacLaren is quick to shut Philip down. 

For Philip, heroine quickly becomes about more than his body's cravings but about escaping the harsh reality of his existence.  Philip is plagued by survivor guilt to start with.  When Philip inhabited his host, he could have saved his host's best friend who was dying next to him with a simple call to 911 but doing so would have broken protocol.  The Travelers are not allowed to intervene in history which means no killing anyone and no saving anyone. The guilt of leaving a man to die ways so heavily on Philip that he attends the funeral of the dead man and even arranges for Ray to drop off some money to the man's parents.  Ray tries to advise Philip that this isn't going to make the family forget that he failed to save their son but that doesn't stop Philip from doing what he can.

At this point, Marcy is the only one who is aware of Philip's addiction and she watches him carefully. Marcy tells Philip how much heroin he is allowed to take to manage his addiction, making it clear that if he takes more than that she'll know that he wanted to and report him. Marcy reminds Philip that they are supposed to slip into their hosts life and Philp reminds her that his host was a junkie, so there's nothing for him to do.  When Marcy leaves, Philip gets high and starts writing down the names and dates of everyone who is going to die. 

Jeff is busy researching personality changes. He's not over the fact that he's no longer able to intimidate or brutalise Carly.  A fellow officer gives Jeff a copy of the video of Marcy being attacked and then rising to her feet and defeating her attackers.  This gets Jeff to thinking and he decides to do some research.  Jeff heads to see David and informs him that Marcy hasn't been seen at her job or her apartment. As Marcy's social worker, Jeff is curious to know if David knows where she is and if she wants to press charges.  David explains Marcy's behaviour as her going into flight or fight and claims that nothing has really changed about her. Jeff leaves but it's clear that he is still suspicious. Marcy leaves the bedroom where she was hiding and thanks David for lying for her. At this point, David is keenly aware that Marcy staying with him is breaking the rules and so she blithely suggests that they simply don't tell anyone. 

MacLaren is having his own issues with fitting in. It seems that in the future, all humans are vegan, making him disgusted with the idea of eating meat. MacLaren suggests eating vegan to a very surprised Kay, because of course the original MacLaren is absolutely carnivorous. Okay, I'm going to say boo on the not so subtle vegan messaging here. Maclearn's next mix up is when he is informed that he missed a date to play squash with his partner Walt. These are the kinds of things just weren't in the information when the Travelers were researching hosts. MacLaren is stung a third time when he proves himself to be a perfect shot, something which his host clearly wasn't.

Trevor's experience with food is quite different to that of MacLaren.  He sits at the same table of a young girl who is clearly shy and not at all popular.  Clearly, Trevor hasn't prepared himself for highschool politics.  Trevor is all excited about the taste of corn when Renée shows up and shoves the shy girl off the bench, breaking her phone in the process. A shocked Renée looks on as Trevor helps the girl up and picks up her belongings.  This of course means a trip to the principal's office for Trevor and Renée, where they are lectured about the harm of bullying.  Trevor listens to every world and even tells Renée that she is not nice. The principal is shocked when Trevor offers to pay for the broken phone before asking to be excused. A shocked Renée goes chasing after Trevor and even kisses him on the check but he tells her to stop, much to Renée's surprise. Trevor leaves when he gets a text to meet from Philip.

Back at FBI headquarters, Walt talks to MacLaren about chasing down a lead on the tips they've been getting.  Before MacLaren can leave, he gets a message to meet from Philip and so he lies and claims that he has to go and take Kay to the doctor because she's unwell. 

The crew gathers when Philip reports he's been given their next mission. MacLaren is suspicious because as the group leader, he should have been the one contacted but Philip argues that there aren't a lot of kids roaming around FBI headquarters to be able to give the order. Philip explains that a child is going to be kidnapped and murdered. The Travelers wrack their brains but the child's name isn't familiar to them from the history books. 

The team splits up and Philip and Marcy end up digging up a child's grave as MacLaren and Carly interview the child's supposed parents.  MacLaren asks to speak to the boy in order to find out if he's seen anything suspicious.  MacLaren speaks to the child in Russian and ascertains that the child is there against his well and that the adults in the room are not his parents. The child then gives a Traveler number and announces that MacLaren is off mission.  MacLaren tries to back out of the room, leaving the kid behind but Philip bursts in and says that they have to save the boy and that the people MacLaren was questioning also killed another boy. A fire fight breaks out and the two adults are killed and Philip is shot in the abdomen.  MacLaren takes the boy aside and makes him promise not to reveal that there were others in the house, as the team gets Philip back to the warehouse for medical treatment. 

MacLaren covers with Walt and the cops who show up.  MacLaren explains to Walt that he was given a tip about the boy and decided to check it out, not believing that it would actually come of anything. Walt says that tomorrow they can start looking at the rest of the IP addresses to find out who is sending them tips.  Walt cannot wrap his mind around how one person could know so much about what's going on.  It turns out that the first place that Walt wants to check out tomorrow is the Traveler warehouse. To avoid being found out, MacLaren agrees to check out the warehouse on the way home.

When MacLaren arrives at the warehouse he's super pissed to have been tricked like that. Philip asserts that the director doesn't know what it's like to actually be here and know that people are going to die and not be able to do anything about it. Maclaren reveals that he knows that its Philip who has been sending the tips to the FBI and that as smart as Philip thinks that he is, the FBI is already on to him. Marcy reveals that Philip is dealing with addiction as a way to explain his actions and promises that with time she will be able to wean him off.  It's clear, Philip will be watched closely from here on out.

Later, Trevor shows up at the warehouse with burgers and pops to share.  He's really embracing the 21st century and the food at this point.  Philip is still overcome by the people who are going to die.  When Trevor looks at the list of names and dates that Philip has written on the wall, he sees the name of a person he knows.

Now that Trevor knows that someone he knows is going to die, I wonder if this will make him more sympathetic to Philip's feelings? Will the two of them get together to save the person on the list?  Yes, the mission is to save humanity but not saving people they can save -- who they know are going to die -- is kind of like playing God. Given that MacLaren was warned that if the team breaks protocol that there will be consequences, it makes me wonder what the mystery director is going to do.

I'd like to know more about the world that the Travelers are coming from. I do like the fact that we are seeing the difficulty the Travelers have with fitting in, like not knowing how to tie a tie, or being exposed to copious amounts of meat, but I feel as though we are only getting half of the story here.  It would be much better to see, rather than be told about the differences regarding the future.

Thus far we've been introduced to three characters of colour.  There's a part of me that feels that even though there are three characters of colour that there's nothing specific about them that recognises that they are different than the white characters.  They might as well be white characters painted black.  This is particularly true of the characters who belong in the 21st century. Given the fact that humanity is on the verge of becoming extinct, there could be a reason why Carly doesn't have any cultural markers but there is no such justification for the other characters. 

I'm really curious about Trevor. Is he simply different than the host's personality? There has been nothing explicit suggesting that he's gay but he's turned down Renée twice now.  If there is going to be a gay character in this series, the only one it could be is Trevor. I'm not holding out hope for any real inclusion, because this is episode three and if they were going to make Trevor gay, it should have happened already. 

I'm not really certain where they are going with Marcy's issues being in the body of a host who is neurologically atypical.  A seizure really could have been because she banged her head so hard when the the body died and not because of a mental illness. The writers are playing this off as though Marcy has a ticking time bomb in her head related to being neurologically atypical. I think that they've hinted enough about this already and need to do something substantial with it. 

I'm still waiting for an over arching narrative other than the Travelers being there to save the world.  We really need a larger fixed target and a great explanation about what exactly goes wrong with humanity with the future.