5 Aug 2013

[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Finale, Episode 13, "Second Time"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
A season ago, Continuum concluded with a big episode. Terrorist plots, suspicious CSIS agents, and a building collapse. This year, things were more low key. But what it lacked in grand action it more then made up for in grand ideas, bombarding us with new pieces of information, some revelations concerning questions we've had all season, and leaving just enough ambiguous to start us salivating for season 3 already.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that remain spoilers in this timeline.

Where to begin? More then any episode before, Second Time shifted back and forth between the present and 2077. In doing so, it reframed many of the events of the pilot episode, giving us a clearly view of what was happening behind the scenes with Sadler, and how Kiera was sent back in the first place. And what it revealed was that Jason is not Alec's father, and is in fact his son. This revelation, perhaps more then any other we received in this episode, both threw and impressed me. That it was he that overloaded the energy grid that allowed the Liber8 members to go back in time, and in doing so, himself. And of all the possible meanings that this information has, the one I'm getting caught up on in my head is: who is his mother? So far on this show, there is very little that hasn't meant something very important. So, if we can assume that Sadler's emotional exclusivity is in part to loosing Emily on that roof top, and he know he has a thing for future ladies of the evening, who is Jason's mother, and where and when does she enter the equation?

The question of Alec's paternity was also settled, by the reveal that Escher's division from the Freelancers was because he fell in love with Alec's mother. Which, I suppose, makes his actions over the season a touch more noble rather then just out and out goonish. He hired Emily to protect his son, not just to steal technological secrets from him (though, two birds and all that). His interest in Alec being an emotional one rather then a purely business minded goal certainly sets him apart from Kellog, who continued to show his personal brand of self interest and survival tactics. What I'm still fuzzy on is what everyone wanted with the time travel device. So lets break it down, and if I've missed anything, please let me know.

Kiera wants what she's always wanted: to go home. That is clear, probably the one one that is. Liber8 suddenly has a renewed interest in the device, with the intent on jumping to their original destination of the mid 2040's, to directly influence the formation of the Liber8 movement, and destabilise the corporate buy out from occurring (one can assume that this is the same period where Theseus was most active). Kellog, having bet on every single horse in the race, and still come up a loser, has opted that returning home is the best course of action, though I struggle with his logic. In 2077, he was being executed. Unless he thinks his new fortune will have accumulated enough interest to adequately hide him, he only returns to his world a potential dead man. Alec, he of the multiple hidden motives, wants and apparently succeeds, in going back to the recent past in order to save Emily from being shot (apparently, not having a strong father figure around meant he never learned that the way to deal with the end of a relationship is to lock yourself in your room and listen to Enya, not fold the fabric of space and time together to the breaking point). The Freelancers have no interest in the device, other then to destroy it. And Escher, whose motivations are fuzziest of all. Best I can tell, he also didn't want to use the device, rather he just wanted to either stop Kiera from using it, or insist Kiera use it, in order to remove her from the chain of events. Or, he manipulated Alec into going back to save Emily. Like I said, fuzzy. If anyone has a better picture, I'm all ears.

The Freelancers then are an organisation of Sam Beckett's, travelling throughout time via unknown means, putting right what once went wrong. What Douglas Adams called the Campaign for Real Time. Making certain that events unfold the way they were meant to unfold, and removing any anomalies like they were cancer cells. And, in finally explaining what was happening in those opening moments of the season premier, they don't kill, and they don't return. They remove the offending tissue, the travellers, their technologies and effects, and hold them in a neutral location, neither allowing them to continue effecting the time line, nor returning them to their natural locations (either unable to do so, or because their absence from their native times is the correct chain of events in that time zone). There were two lines of dialogue that, if I had to put money on it, I'd say will have the greatest effect on the series moving forward. 

First, the Freelancer identifies Kiera as a glitch in the continuum. We've already seen that she is a fulcrum point in many events and characters lives across the better part of a century. She is in part responsible for creating the Sadler of the future, has played a role in the creation of the earliest version of the CPS (as the final moments of the season revealed), and has been instrumental in the development of Theseus as a movement leader. But "glitch" suggests something more, something potentially worse. I'm wondering now about the gap between Alec knowing her, and Sadler knowing her. I'm wondering about her origins. I'm wondering if she isn't less a naturally occurring example of humanity, and more a recursive and self perpetuating paradox created by the time loop. That, for the time line to exist, Kiera must, so that she can go back in time, and cause the time line to exist. Without Kiera, this chain of events cannot ever occur. Without her, everything can proceed unencumbered along it's natural course.

Second, the Freelancers mention that things are sorted in "this time line," which I think gives us the clearest image of the universe's structure yet. I compared it a couple weeks ago to Doc Brown's chalk board from Back to the Future Part II. The theory is this: time is unalterable. What happens, happens. A timeline plays out due to cause and effect, as all things must. However, multiple timelines are staked on top of each other. Movement into the past that causes changes, as we've seen Kiera and Liber8 do on many instances, creates an alternate timeline that exists along side the original (this is the same basic function as the new Star Trek movies timeline). Movement forward means moving forward in that particular time line only, and that the traveller, once changes are made, cannot return to their original time line. Only moving further back, and preventing the original changes from occurring, would cause the new timeline to cease to exist (or cause another timeline to exist, that is virtually identical to the first), and potentially allow the traveller to then return to their native unaltered time. Note how the Freelancers keep having to come further back in time to attempt to preserve the order of things. Alternatively, the Freelancers suggest that removing the offending tissue might be enough to cause time to reset itself. This could function like Farscape's elastic nature of time: disturbances cause instability, but preventing the disturbances from occurring at their point of origin can limit the damage, and that so long as the pieces are all there, the universe will restructure itself to as close as the original pattern as possible. Meaning that a traveller, once a change is made, can never return to their original timeline, but can return to something that is reasonably similar. 

What does all of this mean? Well, Sadler will continue to be a bitter old man whose life is full of regrets. His 2077 timeline will remain as it has been, except now it lacks his son. Kiera's husband and son get to grieve for their dead wife and mother, and will never ever see her again. Kiera can only move forward into the timeline that she has created, where Theseus is either better or worse, Liber8 began decades earlier then expected, Kellog cannot exist, Kiera might not exist, and Sadler does not. Because he removed himself from that chain of events, moving back either to save Emily, or in an attempt to stop all changes from happening, back to the point where Kiera and Liber8 came through in 2012, to stop them right then and there. If so, and he succeeds, then everything that has happened in the last two seasons ceases to be, the changes are nullified and Alec will be to only one who remembers that particular timeline. 

Now, that's a lot of speculation. What the show has proven, considering the Kellog never evaporated into a cloud of nonexistence, is that the Continuum universe is paradox proof, which suggests that it isn't one single timeline in flux. And, that the Freelancers have the ability to perceive and potentially move between these various alternate timelines, which suggests that there was once one single timeline, and their goal is to attempt to make all possible futures converge into that one unalterable future yet again. Or, maybe it's something entirely different. Point is, this show make me very happy.

So, we leave Continuum with everyone in a bad way. Carlos threw away his career to help Kiera, in a wonderful hero moment that was ultimately all for not. And, in his desperation, he turned to Theseus as apparently his only remaining options left to him, which shows the power of his message. As Dillon slips further down the line towards the corporate run oppression we've seen in the future, Carlos, being the white knight in all this, the only one with clear morals and motives, turns to what he has perceived to be his enemy as the only island of sanity left. Meanwhile, everyone and everything that has come back through time are now kept in frosted storage lockers, though what happened to Escher is unclear, as he wasn't one of the Freelancer's guests. And Alec is in times unknown, confused, angry, bitter and perhaps most dangerous of all, a true believer in his cause. He needs to "save her." We can assume that he means Emily, but he can't know that for sure. So the who and the how, and the when he means to do that, only time will tell.


  1. Blue.Umbrella5 August 2013 at 14:44

    Nice review!

    What about Curtis Chen, now apparently one of the Freelancers? I'm not sure but wasn't he killed by Kiera in season one?

    1. Forgedias5 August 2013 at 15:31

      That Curtis Chen was killed, this one is an alternative Chen from a different future. This is why I really don't like time travel shows. I want a show to actually make sense logically to me but Continuum credit to the writers makes logical arguments. So I am not about to fall of the wagon just yet, I know the writers will clear things up.

      I actually figured Kiera to do the time travelling, not Alec, so this is interesting take.

    2. by MR. Clark5 August 2013 at 20:22

      Way I see it, the Curtis that was present at the detainment facility is either 1) a Curtis from one of the other time lines that the Freelancers are aware of and can possibly travel to, or B) the reanimated corpse of the original Curtis, possible explaining why some of the Freelancers seem robotic in their movements and general lack of emotion.

      Since it was established that Curtis was a Freelancer in 2077, maybe there is a "reboot" possible when one gets killed. Kiera and Carlos shot a lot of them in the warehouse in episode 12, perhaps the ability to bring back fallen members is their way of maintaining the ranks if time jumps aren't something they can readily muster up. Remember, we still haven't seen the means by which they travel through time. It could be just as difficult to coordinate as the Terry's Chocolate Orange Liber8 used.

  • Anonymous6 August 2013 at 12:57

    Very thoughtful discussion of a terrific episode. I was thinking Chen was a Freelancer "plant" all the way from him being with Liber8. We've seen that they don't die: in e12 in the blazing gun battle, the lead Freelancer goes down in a hail of bullets, only to be pulled to his feet a few moments later. I, for one, want to know what and who the Freelancers are. The little speech about keeping the universe (or whatever) safe etc. sounded very "police" like -- and I wonder if Carlos, in going over to Julian/Theseus (and wanting only to be an honest cop) hasn't aligned with the force than might create the Freelancers who might be the universe cops (Klaatu anyone?).
    I'm not sure I buy that in the Second Time (around) Jason did go back with everyone -- wasn't the Head Freelancer there to change something? What did he change if not the actual power surge sending Liber8 and Kiera back. What of Jason? (I love that he's Alec's son!).
    Escher remains a mystery: his stating that Time Travel is the Family business was fascinating and suggests why he would want the device. Did he -- or did Alec create it to begin with (chicken and egg)? Jason remains an uncertainty as his stint in the nut house seems to have really damaged him in the 2012-3 we have been watching, so it all seems to rest with Escher and young Alec.

    And what of Kiera; is she the anomaly (what does Escher call her? A "time bomb?") because old Alec sent her along on purpose meaning to change everything? I was struck by what Alec said to her just before using the device: "It's about family. What would you know about that?" Very pointed; it has been to restore her family that has driven Kiera nearly mad all last season and this. Surely this was an ironic statement and meant to be some kind of clue as the who "I must save *her*" means. But when has Alec gone then?

    I for one can't wait to find out! The writers have done a brilliant job!

  • Anonymous6 August 2013 at 13:41

    Forgot to add: Regarding Chen, I wondered what that introduction was (in e10 maybe?) where Travis meets him in prison and they talk about getting beyond death? Did that have anything to do with Chen being a Freelancer? (Why Travis? ) If Escher truly was recruited to be a Freelancer, is he too impervious to death? I believe in e12 when Emily is being told everyone is from the future, including Escher, Jason says (about Escher): "Well, not exactly." What did that mean?

  • Anonymous7 August 2013 at 23:18

    does anyone else think Jason is Escher? as if he has jumped around time a couple times?

  • Сергей8 August 2013 at 05:42

    Chen - freelancer. S2E10 - http://www.picshare.ru/view/2741760/

  • Anonymous8 August 2013 at 20:39

    " Meanwhile, everyone and everything that has come back through time are now kept in frosted storage lockers"

    I don't believe that's the case. I think what we saw there (a way to close the circle, perhaps) was either a flashback (or flash-forward, whatever) or an alternate timeline of sorts. The first occurrence of the scene was implied as a nightmare of sorts back in 2077, or a suppressed memory, whatever. But I think it doesn't tie in with the basic timeline the series mostly takes place in, there's a disconnect there. Probably meant as some sort of confusing cliffhanger-ish thing, and it does a damn good job of that. I want season 3. Nao.

  • Anonymous9 August 2013 at 06:14

    If the freelancers don't kill, then why did they just instantly murder Gardiner? Wouldn't that change the timeline and create a large anomaly which they seem to want to stop from happening?

    Plus, the smile on Escher's face when Alec used the device suggests that he manipulated him into doing it... perhaps knowing he would want to save Emily and so he changed the time he would go back to in order to serve his own purposes... maybe even to get him into 2077 so that his older self could relive his life over again but in the future with even more technology to play with (or dare we say, transfer his consciousness into his younger self, thus extending his life?)

  • Woralo9 August 2013 at 20:43

    These freelancers give me the same kind of feeling as the observers did in Fringe, anyone else have this?

    1. killiang169528 October 2013 at 00:43

      I completely agree. JUST like the Observers.

  • Chris Hoffman11 August 2013 at 05:49

    Really enjoy the show. It's very well written, good acting, seemingly everything going for it. One of my favorites. I'm not a fan of the Freelancers, and I had the same feeling with the Observers just like Woralo mentioned...but other than that, love the show. Hope it continues strong long into the future.

  • Anonymous13 August 2013 at 12:06

    Oh my ! ? ! You are deep there Author C. Clark ~~~ but that’s what inquiring sci-fi minds wanna know. For the most part, you helped clear up mine, so thanks. Because, I ALSO thought this was an awesome season finale, with some “cool” twists & turns.

    And, I must say It was nice to finally see Kiera’s ass get an asswhoopin’ – ‘cus before now, she ALWAYS would end up the whopper, with everyone one going up against her crawling away bent & beat [yes, I know, once again at the very end even Travis met the same fate]. But, now finally she was defeated too – by the Freelancers. And, stripped of her magicians suit, she turned into a big “I wanna go home” crybaby [as compared to fiery Garza pounding away yelling "Let me out!"]. And, did you notice that Travis was “hanging around” still, while he healed from getting the elevator AND the shaft from Kiera. So, I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him.

    It’s interesting that we even discover Chen is also a Freelancer – and ALIVE – so maybe Lucas really did see him & not just imagine him? Plus, you muse how Escher is connected – and I say just connect the dots. Maybe he broke the Freelancer Oath “…to protect the past, present & future from those that would exploit it…” since we saw he is an inked one as well, and heard him proclaim, “Time travel… It’s the family business…”.

    Then, Season 2 ends – with ALL the time travelers caught & boxed.[Even though I didn't see him, you'd think Escher was caught as well & would be in one of those cubes too - unless he carries a special 'get outta jail free' card] Meanwhile, Alex Marty McFly’s back to the future, no doubt to double his brainpower with his older wiser self [and plan how to free his friends from the Freelancers, so they can help him save Emily from being shot & killed by them?!?]

    Anyways, hope they continue Season 3 with this great cast, great acting, great action, great story lines and great special effects that Continuum has given us so far! Because, I’m in agreement with everyone here — that this has to be the BEST sci-fi tv series to come outta Canada yet... EHHH ! ! !

  • Anonymous23 August 2013 at 17:25

    Is it just me or did any one notice at the end of the episode when Carlos and Betty arrived on that farm who was the person with Julian at the end? Wasn't that Alec't mom? Maybe when he said "I have to go back to save HER", he meant his mom. Maybe I am mistaken.

  • Anonymous28 August 2013 at 14:39

    I don't know if this is just me, but I'm still lost on the issue of Lucas.

    So he saw "hallucinations" of Chen, and that triggered his madness? Was Chen actually there? I understand he's a Freelancer, but the other Freelancers didn't show this ability of appearing only to one person and being invisible to others.

    Lucas also took orders from Julian, who appeared to be Kagame, as Lucas had already gone crazy at that point. Seems to me that Julian knew that he was posing as Kagame and giving orders as such. This makes me wonder, when Julian first gave orders to Lucas, was he just surprised when Lucas thought he was Kagame, but decided to just roll with it?

    Or do you guys think Julian might just know more than he's letting on?

    And if to neutralize the threat/damage to the timelines, the Freelancers must lock up time travelers in limbo, why are they unconcerned with Lucas being left in the mental hospital? He's the brains of Liber8, there's no telling whether or not he'll come to his senses and start causing trouble again.

    This tells me that the Freelancers wait for something bad to happen, then fix the problem. They don't seem to be concerned with preempting potential damage. I think this behavior paints the Freelancers as foot soldiers (also because the black Freelancer didn't understand specifically what Jason was doing to travel back in time, back in 2077) who just take orders.

    So who is their leader? Escher?

    Gah, I need Season 3, like yesterday.

  • Anonymous29 August 2013 at 11:28

    Great season finale! So many twists and turns and jaw-dropping envy that I can't have a time travel machine myself to see what happens next!

  • Anonymous31 August 2013 at 00:24

    Ok.. I don't know why this struck me in those closing sequences where Carlos and Betty go back to see Julian.. than fade over to the scene with Curtis..and I couldn't help but think maybe Curtis is the descendent of those two? I have to admit some of the loose ends were a little puzzling..

  • Anonymous31 August 2013 at 02:39

    I wonder if Alec is the anomaly. Yes, there was tech for time travel in Escher's time for him to be able to go back, but the fact that a man from the future meets and falls in love with a woman from the past and they have a child (can anyone say Terminator)whose to say that Alec being born, inventing arc isn't the reason for all the crap going on.


  • Anonymous30 November 2013 at 12:35

    In the last episode after Kiera is dismissed from the case of the killed scientist but decided to keep after it finally triggered a thought about why she is considered a time bomb etc...Even though she has her CMR she still tends to retain her own objectivity in situations that are outside of the tech feed she's supposed to rely on.

    The morning before the execution Alec appears to increase the ability to track her triggering her midnight headache when she says she thinks something is wrong with her CMR her husband nervously glares up at SADTECH. After she wakes up she seems to have lost her memory of the time device when she sees it on the computer. The way her husband is acting so cold toward her in the morning vs. the way he acts at the execution seems like they may be two different versions of them.

    Also her comment about something being a memory she can almost recall seems important especially the way her husband responds "all the time" when she asks if that ever happens to him hints at him being something more than he appears.

  • redpaper17 January 2014 at 18:01

    I feel like Escher was Alec's future self's father. Not the present Alec Sadler's father. It does not explain at all why Jason's DNA was a match. I think when the anomaly was created, Jason ended up loving Alec's mother and becoming his father.


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