|Courtesy of Neal Street Productions|
This episode ended with a thank you to the dedicated fans that have supported the show over it's four seasons. As one of those dedicated fans, I feel that it is only right to say to Simon Barry, Showcase, and the cast and crew of Continuum that the feeling is entirely mutual. Thank you for giving us what is easily the most sophisticated time travel program on television. Fans don't become dedicated to something that doesn't deserve it, and Continuum deserved it. Looking at each episode the way I have over the last four seasons (well, three and a retrospective, I suppose), I can tell you that the reason I fell in love with this show was the earnest and intellectual way it approached a confusing and existential plot device.
It never felt dumbed down, it always placed the characters in difficult moral gray areas, and was never afraid to let an explanation simmer until it needed to be explained. This show assumed more and better of its viewers from day one, and expected them to rise to its level, rather than sinking to a lowest come denominator. And for that, I will be forever grateful, and reverent to the unexpected and amazing series that has now left us. I didn't see this one coming, but I am thankful that I was around for the ride.
Hit the jump of the review, which contains spoilers that take me away, but I don't mind, so long as you promise me I'll be back in time.
The question that comes to mind when looking at this season as a whole is, "was it worth it?" As many readers suggested to me at the end of last season, season three didn't end with all the answers, but it did end in such a way that it suggested a "the adventure continues" sort of finality. Things are over, but never really end kind of vibe. The news of a fourth season was welcome, the news of a truncated fourth season was seen as better than nothing. But was season four really better than nothing. I would argue that, while the cast were still engaging and delightful, this season offered the viewership less than previous seasons. And that is entirely down to the episode count. As I've said repeatedly this seasons, six episodes was fewer episodes than the writers were used to, to get into the kinds of stories they wanted to tell. The biggest stumble this season was that there didn't seem to be any adjustment for the reduction, which led to a weird compression of storytelling, resulting in a lot being explained but not as much understood.
This season lacked a Big Idea in which to centre the philosophical fulcrum of the season upon. This season was all about Kiera's fight to get home. Except, the fight to get home felt occasionally like treading water. It felt like really, this season was a two hour film, comprised of the first episode and the last episode. The events of those two hours were the conclusion that the series earned. the four hours in between was all about making as little noise to disrupt what needed to happen. To their credit, the writers fill these noiseless gaps with heroic sacrifices and bizarre character deviations, and a lot of unexpected and unnecessary violence. But really, it boils down to that first hour, and this last one. Like a MAD magazine fold-in, the season can be pinched at the edge and covered over, until the secret message of the season is revealed.
I've said before, series finales must first serve the arc of the season, then the arc of the finale. If a show has been well constructed, those shouldn't be too separate a notion. A finale that focuses too much on one or the other is going to feel disingenuous. A finale also shouldn't rely too much on nostalgia for the series that came before it, or it feels like too obvious a good bye. Continuum's Final Hour managed to strike a slid balance between resolving the only well developed through-line this season, that of Kiera getting home. Unfortunately, it really did try too hard to wrap up as much as it could in the course of what was essentially a thirty minute long fire fight. And because the season was already less focused on the auxiliary characters and plot developments, this resulted in just too much just happening as a consequence, and not enough happening by design.
For instance, at the end, there is a pow-pow of characters who take it upon themselves to shape the future as best they can to ensure that Kiera arrives in the best possible future she could. this group included Curtis, someone who has switched sides and died more times than we can keep track; Garza, the sole remaining member of Liber8, and apparently content to take on the Protector's role from here on out; a time-addled indigent who gave Kiera a note to give to a father that by their own design won't exist when she arrives; a solider who has just lost both his family, his future, and the woman that he was beginning to love; a boy genius rife with self doubt; and a cop who has earned the mantle of grisled. That is a group that deserved a little more time to come together in Kiera's absence than what the show's run time allowed. This is a group where no more than three of any of them currently trusted any of the others. Brad's presence along is odd, considering that mere minutes ago he was the enemy. As far as we were shown, no one explained to Garza the intricacies of Brad's situation. And yet, she seems to readily accept him as part of Time Traveler's Anonymous.
I've meant all season to discuss Dylan, and how over the life of the series, he developed into the show's most tragic character. Watching his fall was occasionally heartbreaking because half the time he did it to himself out of the best intent. More often than not, or it was done to him because the people he trusted we're telling him everything he needed to know. He was a pure character: he just wanted to protect his city. He stepped out of bounds, and backed the wrong horse form time to time, and ultimately paid the price for his desire. This season has been about his realization that he is at the bottom of the barrel, and that everything he tried to stop, he either helped make happen, or helped make worse. And yet, right to the end, his insistence was that he was always just trying to do right by Vancouver. Kiera's fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants reveal of time travel to him felt wrong; Dylan didn't need that information to do what was right, and he didn't need it to inspire him to action. Tell hi that there was a building full of terrorists, and he'd ask for a gun. His death felt right in that it was the tragic end to a tragic figure. And that, like so much of his life, his death made less of an impact that he intended. It also smacked of "hey, this is the last episode, so lets kill someone just to show that things are getting real." Which I hate. Personally, if I had my way, no one would ever die in series finales. Its emotional manipulation, and if you like the show that is ending, you are already emotionally compromised. I certain feel that Dylan's story needed to end in death, but perhaps earlier in the season. but again, that doubles back around to the point that six episodes didn't leave them enough time to do everything they wanted to.
And then there is Kiera. She stepped through (after Kellogg, in a masterful stroke of karma - couldn't have happened to a nicer guy) and ended up in the most idealized version of her future possible. Everything that could go right did. Kagame was raised by Julian to be an instrument of peace, Liber8 succeeded completely (not sure if that's a great subtext on the issue of terrorism), and the future is bright and peaceful. But the rub is that, Kiera still doesn't get the future she wants. She's an orphan. her time line was destroyed long ago. The blind spot she had for her son made her miss the fact that the future she was returning to wasn't hers. And that she would have no place in it, other than as a lost observer, as alien as she was when she first arrived in 2012. It is exactly the sort of hard truth that made me fall in love with this show. Accept the consequences of your actions, and live with them. And now, she's run out of chances for her happy ending. She could have stayed in the present and forged a life with her allies and friends. Now she is forced to live in a future that she helped inspire, but did not help build, cannot be a part of, and can never leave. It is an optimistic look at the worst way for a wish to come true. Do everything right, do everything perfectly, and if you are lucky, everyone else walks away with a happy ending. The best you get is to fade to black.