19 Jun 2013

[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 8, "Second Listen"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
Something I rarely discuss in these reviews is the CG on the show. Mostly because CG isn't a big component of the series, and is largely restricted to Kiera's suit and HUD. But infrequently, they'll break out a shot of the future skyline, or some impressive technology, as this episode began, following a flying car as it sweeps across the future scape. And I have to say, considering that the show is an original production from a Canadian cable network, that the quality of the CG impresses me. With lower budgets, the CG tends to be the cost saving kind (such as we saw in Primeval New World, which also had international backing), and can be cheesy and distracting. Maybe its because they use it so sparingly, or rarely try to render things they know they couldn't get away with, but weekly, Continuum looks very nice.

This is all a preface to the fact that Showcase, the originating network (which is also the origin of Lost Girl, and co-producer of Defiance) has wisely opted to renew Continuum for a third season. Across the board, this show is the best original thing Showcase has ever put their name to, and allowing the story to unfold for another year is good for them, ratings wise, and good for us, story wise. And as proof of this, this week we got a mythology rich episode, that dives straight into some of the sticker issues surrounding the time travel that is the crux of the series.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have a circle, a rhombus and a parakeet tattoo been their fingers.

Game of Thrones this season introduced us to a new concept in sexualized television, wherein the use of nudity, sexuality and titillation was used to make the viewer uncomfortable and pensive rather then excited and distracted. Second Listen (a rather stupid and grammatically troublesome title, I'll admit) began with something similar, if far from equal to this. Kiera's escorting of prostitute Garza to Sadler's penthouse in the future was as unsexy as you can make it, even with exposed buttocks. And even before the reveal of the ulterior motive, the idea that elder Sadler is having the younger version of a person he considers a sister analogue bring him prostitutes, specifically one that he knows is actually a killer and terrorist is just chalk full of ick. And the implication that this isn't the first time it's happened is just unseemly, and speaks to how askew elder Sadler's world view really is.

This week went full tilt at the time travel issue yet again, and as it's tendency to do, befuddled the notion of clear motivation. Sadler, as it turns out, hand picked Garza to be sent back in time to kill Sadler if it appeared that he was continuing down the same path he went the first time. He sent Kiera back to protect him, and warned himself that he had to change things. It was hard to follow on just one watching, what with all the bouncing from time zone to time zone, but Sadler's plan seems to be this: he does actually want to change the way things turned out, and have instructed his younger self accordingly. Kiera's role it to make sure things go as smooth as possible, and Garza's role is to observe how things are unfolding, and kill him if history starts repeating itself. Considering that Alec and Kellog's actions have thus far been pretty hush hush, it makes one wonder if Garza just jumped the gun, or if she's getting information from somewhere.

Escher appeared again, and I have to say I'm disappointed with the character. I'm not expecting all the mysteries of the universe to be revealed in one go, but the caginess of the character seems like drawing things out unnecessarily. He gives cryptic hints, or half truths, and is supposedly on Kiera's side, but his inaction is getting grating. all the more so because, after delivering the information that "freelancers" have two dots (actually detailed coding) between their fingers, but refusing to give Kiera an answer on his own temporal displacement, the show reveals to the audience that he is at least dotted as well. If he's meant to be helping Kiera, I would think having as much relevant information would only aid her. The show is drawing this interaction out for as long as it can, and I'm not certain if that sort of decompression is what this story element needs.

Emily continues her journey down the road of ambiguity. She has clearly fallen for Alec, but the question remains if she was there to protect him for his own good, or just to make certain that when the time came for Alec to die, it was Escher that had control. She's certainly taken over his role as protector, which can only lead to conflict with Kiera down the road, inevitably forcing Alec to chose between them, setting up conflict for the next season. But what Escher wants with Alec is the more interesting question. Escher has already made distinct moves against Kellog, but if this is an attempt to prevent Alec from becoming what he was, or a long plan to draw Alec over to Escher's side, so he can have him all to himself is yet to be seen. What is seen is that Kellog, with visions of money and market domination clouding his eyes, has become a disruptive ass. As of the end of the episode, he has no control over Alec, who finally realised that he brings everything to the party, and that Kellog only knows where it's being held.

I began the episode thinking how nice it was to see Nicholas Lea on TV again, and how enjoyable his antagonistic yet constructive character is. And by the episode's end I was lamenting that I grew so attached to a secondary character, one left with his brains leaking out onto the floor. Gardiner's relationship with Kiera was dangerous for her, but important, and was just beginning to grow into something potentially constructive. And now he's dead. And I don't see how this will move things forward. Kiera didn't have an attachment to him, and won't be as motivated to solve his disappearance/murder as she would be Carlos, or even Dillon. And considering Dillon's oust at the VPD, I wonder if his character might not have been a wiser choice to be sacrificed. I won't judge what I haven't seen though, and look forward to seeing how things play out with Gardiner taking the bullet.

The time travel wedge returned, and with Alec and Jason tinkering with it, using it as a potential core to the technologies Alec is developing, suggests things might accelerate quickly in the coming weeks. And with five episodes left, time traveller bodies still missing, yet another faction, presumably the "freelancers", having made itself known, and no one entirely certain where they stand, things are presumably ready to come to a head. What condition they'll leave things in, and how we'll be left to move into the now certain third season, is yet to be seen. I'm looking forward to it.

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