|Courtesy of Relativity Media.|
The last few episodes of Continuum have been pop culture reference heavy. Last week, Kiera let Star Trek and Wars references go over her head, but my man Kellog clearly used the first season appropriately, took the time to learn the important stuff, and has enough cultural awareness in his pocket to make a burn on Geordi La Forge (to be clear, no one bad mouths The Forge).
This was another emotionally heavy and tonally dark episode, as Julian resurfaces just in time for the youth of Vancouver to get all riled up, and for Carlos to come this closer to breaking. If he hasn't already. It's pretty hard to tell, but my goal post has always been whether or not you drink in the company of corpses. If you do, you might have broken already.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that can only ever be that one thing.
You have got to give the show credit, it doesn't rest on its laurels. We're only four episodes into the season, and they exposed Betty as a mole, established Earlier Alec's rule over the boardroom of Piron, and had a confrontation between the two Alecs. The only major storyline they didn't make mention of at all here was the identity of Kiera's killer, though we might want to give this episode a second pass once the identity has been revealed, just to make sure (for the record, I have no theories as to the gunman. Yet).
The confrontation between the Alecs was a shock, and not necessarily for the best reasons. Later Alec really sucks at the whole "keeping his head down" thing, just hanging out in the SadTech lab. Even with Earlier Alec pinging on GPS, it seems like a heavily exposed place to hang out. Its not like it is a secret lair, and while I get that Later Alec might want access to the technology already in place there, why force himself to dance around Kellog and anyone who might wander in. For someone who, only a couple episodes ago claimed that he was going to stay out of history's way, we seems to be mucking about fairly well. Either way, their interaction was technically fun to watch, but it was so brief and cold I couldn't get too excited about it.
Seemed like the writers wanted to keep these two at odds, but couldn't figure out exactly how to do it, so they got through the scene as quickly as possible. Alec tends to be a reasonable person, and if the two of him had a cool-headed sit down, with Later Alec explaining his position clearly, I'm sure they would have come out of it allies. Even with Earlier Alecs overreaction concerning Emily, if Later Alec had explained his sequence of events, that they would have found a common ground. But that has all the dramatic tension of a fart in a breeze, so I'm happy to see how this plays out. Earlier Alec's behaviour wasn't out of sorts for him within this episode. While the peons at Piron might claim that they saw shades of Escher in him, I saw more than a little of the elder Sadler poking through. Once he had a clear goal in mind, it was his party alone. I suspect there will be a power struggle for King of Piron mountain in the coming weeks, but for now Alec has proven that he is neither a figurehead or an empty shirt.
Emily also made a choice, and I can't blame her. If you've got two versions of the person you're in love with, one shouting at you, calling you horrible things and refusing to listen to your story; and another that claims to have ripped a hole in the space/time continuum so they could come back and prevent your death, the rules of chivalry clearly state which you are to choose (seriously, medieval Germany was a weird place). It also speaks to the writers abilities to upend our expectations. Here I have been for three weeks, spouting off about how Later Alec is the one having been beaten down by sorrow and defeat, left alone and driven by desperation, and will eventually grow into the obsessive and solitary Elder Sadler. Now, he's got the world on a string. Meanwhile, the innocent and happy go lucky Earlier Alec has had wedge after wedge driven between him and the people he loved by lies and deceit. Now, he's increasingly isolated in his gift-given ivory tower, aware of external manipulations by a renegade version of himself, and seeing no issue with equipping the military with semi-futuristic military technologies. Did not see that switch coming so quickly, though I suspected something similar would occur over the course of the season.
And now to Carlos. The last couple weeks have been brutal to our everyman, and things didn't get any easier here. Student riots, a resurgence of public support for Liber8, the return of Julian (who appears to have become disillusioned with his own campaign) and now claims of police brutality and corruption. Carlos really takes corruption hard, since it's a form of betrayal and he really has had enough of that. He insists, despite overwhelming evidence from nearly all quarters, to continue doing his job as he knows it should be done. Even Kiera, who mostly works towards the same goals, works outside of his comfort zone, with her ocular lie detectors and long range GSR scanner. About the most telling interaction they had this episode was when he shut her down, insisting that he would work the case honestly and without sci-fi assistance, and that only if she got something tangible and provable would he welcome her back into the fold. This is basically Carlos' living arrangement now: he's just trying to do the best and most honest job he can with his natural abilities, while all around him the world is losing it's mind. People being remote controlled by computer chips, time travellers messing up the way things should have been, the force becoming increasingly hard-lined. His friends revealing themselves to be less than he expected them to be. He's about one solid night of drinking away from collapsing to his knees and screaming at the sky.
Of course, he's keeping the body of his best friend hidden in a disused walk-in freezer, while her temporal doppelganger assumes her role. And he's not sleeping. And he's drinking - a lot. So, right now, he's not the picture of mental health. It is an interesting turn. We've seen the cognitive effects that time travel can have on those that undergo the journey, and now we're seeing the effects on those the time traveller interacts with. Carlos gets to know all the truths of the universe, without any way to manage them. At least everyone else gets to snuggle up to comfortable lies. Imagine Kiera's family in 2077, if they even still exist. They got to mourn, got to grieve, and got to move on thinking that she died in a tragic prison explosion. Think of the fret they'd be under if they knew where she'd gone, the obsession that would over take them to try and get her back (though, because she moved less through time and more through physical timelines, that would be impossible. As soon as she entered the vortex, she was irretrevably lost to them. As soon as she arrived, she began moving along a unique timeline that is divorced from them. The best they could hope for would be a very similar Kiera). But they miss out on all that, get to be sad for a while, and get on with their lives. Carlos gets to know everything. He gets to see behind the curtain, at the pile of lies and bodies that are hidden back there, and is expected to just deal with it. So he is - poorly.
With Julian back in the picture, and getting a media boost from a rating hungry reporter, Liber8's message might pick up more momentum in the coming weeks. The terrorists themselves stepped up their game, and the pubic took notice. The corruption, not only in the system, but in society in general is becoming all the more obvious to everyone, and it seems like as much as Kiera is able to push back against it, events keep pushing things in a preordered way. And because part of Kiera's mission is now to make certain that her future unfolds the same way, there will come a point where her desire to do what is right and her need to do what she must will come into conflict (as illustrated by the flash forwards in this episode). I was asked last week if I foresaw a moment when Kiera might realize that Liber8 has been right all along. While I don't see her going that far, I do think that she will realize at a certain point that her future isn't the best of all possible futures to be fighting for.