8 May 2013

[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 3, "Second Thoughts"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
Adding on to last week's discussion of loyalty, this week Continuum continues the trend of not pulling it's philosophical punches, and tackles the concept of reality. What is real? What can we trust to be real? Do we remember what happened, or what we wanted to have happened? When does reality break down, and when are we capable of recognising that moment, if we ever are? These are not small ideas, and kudos to the show not only for raising them, but not searching for easy answers. Nothing makes me more excited then a show willing to head into strange waters, with no expectation of what it will find. It shows bravery, and it shows intelligence.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that talk softly, and carry a big stick.

The grander mystery of Continuum resurfaced this week, in the form of Mr. Escher and the "freelancers." It should be noted that we only have the ramblings of a self-confessed mad man on the existence of the latter, though the antics of Kellog certainly don't make it seem unreasonable. Jason's description of their tactics, coming back and influencing the progression of the timeline, certainly falls in line with Kellog's current tactic of making things he knows will happen, happen, and prospering in the mean time. The question becomes, are they real. We haven't seen evidence of them, not clearly anyway. Is anything that Jason says true, or is it just his paranoid mind at work? And what does that mean for Kiera, who recognises in Jason a danger for herself, that the longer she remains in the past, the further she'll become from her present.

It also recalls a plot point mentioned last season, that I hope might surface again: those closest to the blast that sent Liber8 back in time arrived first. Those further from the blast arrived later (Kiera arrived hours after Liber8, Kagame arrived weeks later). The room was full of protectors, with Sadler placing Kiera in the exact place to be sent to the precise time. When, if at all, will these others start appearing in the past?

Liber8's fragmenting became even clearer in this episode, as both sides made use of existing conflicts within the gangs of Vancouver to fight a proxy war. To fiance this war, Sonya unleashes a drug called Flash onto the market. This action drives the two factions to even further extremes. Sonya, woefully unmatched with only Lucas by her side, wants to takes the pacifist stance, and fight the future using Kagame's preferred method, ideas and nonviolence. Travis goes hard the other direction, and pulls a Joker, uniting the warring gangs under himself, with an eye on wiping out Sonya and installing himself as the Kingpin of Vancouver. Travis has journeyed far off the Liber8 reservation, thus making clear why Kagame chose Sonya to succeed him. Sonya and Lucas' debates on the future of their "organisation" was hammered home in about one scene too many, and I would have rather the action of the characters illuminated their philosophical intent, and Sonya's arguments rang a little false considering she hasn't shown any reservation up to now about using any of the methods she is suddenly so adamantly against.

When I heard that this episodes was going to be about some crazy future drug, I had worried flashbacks of last season's weakest episode, also the third episode of the season. Happily, the mistakes of the past were learnt, and this time the drug was but a MacGuffin to move the story forward. It catches the attention of the police as the gang war breaks out, and it catches the attention of Kiera because she recognises it as from the future, and also because Alec nearly gets himself killed in a drug fuelled car accident. What I didn't care for was the opening and closing future segments, usually glimpses into the time and society that Kiera is so desperate to get back to. This time, it was a Frey-inspired short story of Kiera tracking down a drug addicted and here unto unknown sister. Who then dies. This, I take no issue with.

However, that her sister died while using this drug, and Alec's near death experience should illicit more of an emotional reaction from Kiera. The show has done well to avoid the cliches of seeding romantic interests between Kiera and the other characters (happily mocking such an idea in this episode), but Kiera and Alec's relationship is a familiar one: literally, like family. I expected the appearance of the drug to cause more of an instinct, more passion, more rage from Kiera. instead, it was business as usual. This may be a sign of her emotionally deadening state, as she becomes colder and more closed off as the prospects of getting home become bleaker and bleaker. Or, it could be a rare misstep in the writing. Time will tell, I guess.

The most interesting development this weak, by my reckoning, was Ann's sympathy towards Julian. The scene of her visiting him in prison, essentially thanking him for his involvement in the terrorist attack, was jarring and entirely fitting. When last we saw her, Alec was isolating himself from her, pushing her out. Her husband dead, her step-son a terrorist, and her actual son abandoning her. The olive branch that is possible reasonable vindication, and a mind set steeped in desperation would of course breed this sort of measured acceptance. Ann seemed resistant to Roland's message when he was alive, but might she now become the budding Theseus' first acolyte? And when will the toll of being the common mid point between the two extremes, Julian and Liber8 on one side, and Alec and the corporation on the other, tear her apart?

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