Continuum season 1 episode 2 review: Fast Times

Review Rob Kemp
5 Oct 2012 - 07:30

Rob urges promising time travel cop show Continuum to spend more time on characterisation. Here's his review of Fast Times...

This review contains spoilers.

1.2 Fast Times

There was a lot packed into last week’s pilot, so for this episode I’d held out hope that some of the other characters, (Victor, Erik and the Liber8 gang) would have a chance to shine and that we could start to get a feel for the show’s dynamics - unfortunately this met with mixed success.

As per last week, the acting remains solid. Rachel Nichols can carry this show and Victor Webster seems to be finding his way as Carlos, although the relationship between him and Kiera still needs work before we’ll get a true feel of how successful the partnership will be.

I’m also pleased that the showrunners are continuing to show that Liber8 are a serious threat. People die in Continuum, actions have real consequence, and you do feel that the group have very few red lines that would stand between them and what they need to accomplish. However, they still feel generically bad. The pilot's strength was its exploration of the question: what price would you pay for freedom, but we still haven’t really seen how bad the future is (and even in tonight’s show, the future still doesn’t look like a place you wouldn’t want to live). As such, Liber8 come across as terrorists stripped of any moral ambiguity – they’re just a bad bunch of people killing for their own selfish purposes. I hope that future episodes will shed more light on their motives and put their actions into some kind of context, otherwise ‘generic’ bad guy could get stale pretty soon.

What was interesting is that Liber8 seem to have a splitter on their hands – although in the whole, they didn’t seem that bothered that Kellog wanted to do his own thing, (surely cohesion in terrorist cells is essential for secrecy?). If they were content for Kellog to keep a low profile, then surely his turning up at a bank with a sack of money would make them mightily miffed. As you can probably tell, this is one area where Continuum is starting to let itself down. The writing seems to be so concentrated on the big ideas, that details are sacrificed in order to focus on propelling the main story forward.  That may be me being harsh on a show only two episodes old – and I suspect that Kellog's story will have more weight in future, but for the moment it’s just not quite there.

What hasn’t changed from last week is that the suit still seems to be getting Kiera out of trouble. Having a cool techno suit is not a bad thing, but I can foresee a point when its use will just be a case of 'Kiera gets into a tight spot, her suit gets her out of it' repeat ad infinitum… I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this won’t be the case. Whilst we’re talking about her suit, wouldn’t you be curious if your prisoner managed to electro-shock you unconscious? I only mention it because Victor seems perfectly happy for this to have happened and not be curious at all.  

That’s not the only thing that seems to be forgotten. Last week it was pretty clear they couldn’t go back to the future. Lucas even says so himself. And yet, all of a sudden, they can go back. To revise quite a fundamental aspect of the show just seemed a little jarring so soon after the pilot. I feel that if this had come later in the season, or even in the next couple of seasons, it would have been an interesting place to take the show. To have it in episode two suggests that the showrunners either didn’t have much faith in the pilot or that the overarching stories hadn’t been developed in time. However, by having the possibility of returning to the future, it has given us an interesting dynamic to Kiera’s character: will self-motivation to get back to her family trump her duty to capture the terrorists? Even if the terrorists don’t have shades of grey (yet), at least Kiera could provide us with some interesting character moments.

There’s one other thing that hasn’t quite come together. The relationship between Eric and Kiera seems to have developed significantly over what couldn’t have been that long a time. Seemingly gone is Eric’s interest in the future (surely a key aspect in any time travel show?) and any idea of his motivation to help her. What also threw me was the somewhat inappropriate and oddly out-of-place conversation about her family, just as she’s about to engage the terrorists. If you didn’t know that this was only the second episode you would presume that they had been doing this for some time, not for what must only be a matter of hours and days.

I think what’s largely wrong with this episode is that the show needed more time during the pilot to iron out some key character dynamics. It’s got so many ideas  and possibilities that there’s not enough time to take a breath and just give the characterisation room. It's certainly early days, and I still hold out that this show has promise – it has good action, solid acting, and a great concept. The characters just need to step up and become more than the generic stereotypes they’re threatening to become. 

Read Rob's review of the season opener, A Stitch In Time, here.

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