[Review] - Continuum, Season 4 Episode 2, "Rush Hour"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
So... did this episode feel off to anyone else? It just felt, I don't know, wrong. Not morally, or anything like that. But in the way that Donald Sutherland realizes that the invasion of the body snatchers is happening. Everything is same-ish, but just feels off. Maybe it was the bizarre way the episode was plotted. Maybe it was the sudden and gregarious increase in cursing. Maybe it was the sudden increase in bloody violence. Or maybe it was that everyone was acting just slightly differently then they usually do. A lot of out of character moments that added up to an episode that really didn't feel the need to be one of the final six. So... why is it here?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that often need to flush the lung.

So lets talk about what didn't work, which was a lot, unfortunately. You all know how much a fan of this show I am, but I'm not one to give a show a free pass for dropping the ball based solely on past effort. This wasn't their best. It wasn't their worst (I'm still looking at you, season one super solider serum episode), but it didn't feel that this episode said or did anything that needed to be said or done leading up to the grand finale. Quite the opposite in fact. It did a lot of damage to the integrity of the story, by forcing some rather out of character decisions on these people, and then pretty much ignoring it all by the episode's end. So, I am looking for a little guidance. Is this a regrettable filler episode in a season in no need of filler, or is this a sign of things to come?

I'm not a prude. I have a mouth on me when it needs to be (otherwise, I rely entirely on my eyebrows, like Gromit). But the casual cursing in this episode really drew me out of the episode. The show has never been shy to say shit, and I've lauded that in the past. In Canada, you see, we don't give a shit if someone says shit on TV. I don't know if it gets censored or not in the States. But I've always been proud that Continuum has pushed the standards of what happens in a prime time sci-fi show a little. The cursing, the sex, it all added a veil of realism to a very fantastical show. But in this episode (and I noticed it last week too, but not to this extent), it seemed that character were cursing in the same way a child does when they learn a new word. Curses were being used when they weren't really necessary, when they didn't feel like organic word use. They felt like they had been inserted into the script by someone not entirely certain how or when to use curse words. The episode smacked of Mr. Spock's use of colourful metaphors - full of intent, but falls over on execution.

In fact, there was something off about a lot of the dialogue this week. It was silted, and lacked the familiar touch that it usually has. Shelley Erikson, the credited writer, has credits going back to season two, and is responsible for many of the show's highlights. Maybe she had a bad day. Maybe the actors just weren't on their best game. Maybe it was especially damp that day in Vancouver, and no one felt much like playing time travel shenanigans. Maybe Rachel Nichols didn't appreciate having to stand knees deep in a fountain in a wool dress all day while Stephen Lobo thrashed beneath her. Who knows. But these actors have all been working together for a while now, they know each other and their rhythms. These are pros, and whether it was the words or the acting, it didn't feel like they were on the same page.

And then there was the travesty of Emily. The direction they opted to take her character in boggles my mind. I still quite understand the logic of what they've done here. This is a show that is built on, and never shied away from, strong female characters. Kiera, Sonya, Garza, and Emily have all stood out in the modern television landscape as incredibly capable, occasionally frightening, earnest characters who act according their their own logic and morals and desires. The instances of the plot directing the characters are few and far between, and even when it has, it felt like the characters were at least acting in accordance with themselves. But not here. Why has Emily suddenly been relegated to the Princess Peach love interest? Yes, her character has been used since day one as an instigator of Alec's actions, and the show has victimized her in the past to further his plot. But she has at least reacted to those instances with a bravado and a strength that lets you know she's not going to put up with it.

And suddenly, here, she crumples into self sacrifice. That she is removing herself to protect Alec, because she is his Achilles Heel? where the hell did that come from? She beat a man to death with a chair leg, but now she's running scared? It is a cheap misuse of the character that weakens her and Alec by relegating her to a non entity who functions only in relation to Alec, and doesn't allow these two to confront that sort of danger as a united front. It neuters the plot, the character, and the purpose of her playing a role in these events for the last two seasons. Now it threatens to turn every action Alec took for Emily into a Shaggy Dog story. Or, at worst, a waste of time. And recall, pretty much the entirety of season three happened attempting to prevent her murder. Not cool, show. Not cool.

The whole, "am I your mother" epiphany bothered me too. Emily has largely stayed out of the time travelishness that the others have wrapped around them like latex body paint, but still accepts and understand those implications. And she's never shown any real sign of being effected by them, except for when she had to choose between two Alecs, and one of them turned out to be a major asshole. Her sudden fixation on the outcome of things rings false for the character, but also aggressively ignores everything that has been established about time travel thus far (as a lot of this season seem to be doing). Of course she isn't Jason's mother. In the original timeline, at best Emily never met Alec, and at worst, was shot by Freelancers. Jason is likely yet another time travel orphan, erased from events except in his current presence. We know that Old Alec was a whore-mongering lonely despot, who never knew happiness, and therefore caused the dystopian collapse of moral civilization. The point of Emily is that she buoys him above that level of self loathing. Saving her dramatically changed the future (and allowed Kellogg to rise to power, but never mind). She isn't Alec's Achilles Heel, she's his calm centre. His balance.

I'll end with a brief mention of the fight between Carlos and Travis. It was a great sequence, fantastically choreographed and well executed (if a little obvious in its staging). But in universe, I didn't buy it. Yes, Travis had just been rammed by a car, and yes, he gets multiple through-and-through gun shot wounds. But this guy is a super solider, who has routinely bested the best fighters on this show, none of which have ever been Carlos. And I don't buy that Carlos would walk away from multiple point black gun shots to the gut with gut a soar side and a limp, even with a bullet proof jacket on. those jackets slow bullets from a distance, and still cause massive damage like broken ribs and internal kinetic damage. At the very least, he'd in hospital for weeks after that. But more likely, at least some of those bullets should have punctured the vest. So, nice fight and all, but it seemed like an excuse to stage a fight and CG in a lot of blood splatter, but without much purpose for follow-through. Much like the episode as a whole.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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