Continuum season 1 episode 4 review: Matter Of Time

Review Rob Kemp
20 Oct 2012 - 16:35

Matter Of Time is undoubtedly Continuum's best episode yet. Here's Rob's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.4 Matter Of Time

We have moral ambiguity! We have rock’n’roll bad guys! We have Carlos getting suspicious! We have Kiera without a suit!

Yes, this week’s episode, Matter of Time, has started to address some of the show’s teething problems in what is undoubtedly the best instalment so far. The story centres on the murder of a scientist whose advanced technology has seemingly backfired, marking the first episode in which the Liber8 story line hasn’t taken centre place. However, they haven’t been forgotten altogether, the appearance of Kagame, Liber8’s leader, will give the somewhat chaotic group some much needed leadership (and charisma) and increase their chances of living up to the menace they've yet to truly demonstrate.

Moving away from the Liber8 prime story arc was a wise move as it allowed more time for the Kiera and Carlos dynamic to develop. So far, Carlos has been superfluous to much of the action and his stubborn insistence to ignore any sign that Kiera was out of place and gleefully accept her actions as part of a secret government agency came across as lazy writing. It would appear that his Homer Simpson-like ignorance is finally ebbing away, caused in no small way by his frustration of being kept out of the loop. This doesn’t mean that we have the beginnings of a Mulder and Scully on our hands (although the episode’s early reveal of a weapon that could shoot through five floors of building had a nice X-Files vibe), but at last Carlos finally gets some much needed depth and can play off Nichol’s strong but sensitive portrayal of Kiera (in terms of acting strength, she continues to be a series highlight).

Throughout the episode, I admit, I was waiting for Liber8 to be connected with the scientist’s murder. When, mid-way through, I realised that this wasn’t the case, I felt relieved and also worried. When previous genre shows strayed from developing their mythology it was usually to mixed results, (the aforementioned X-Files being a good example). Replacing Liber8 though was a story whose pay-off was a classic sci-fi time travel dichotomy - can one crime go unpunished if the result would benefit millions? Finally we get to a ‘what would you do?' situation, and it didn’t disappoint.

We already knew that Kiera would place personal motives above justice via her 'truces' with Liber8, but here we get a feel for the importance she places on maintaining a future that she perceives as right. At what point will the price be too high – and what right does she have to play God? Throw into this the realisation that she can cause as much damage as Liber8 in changing timelines (both accidentally and purposefully) and we start to see a show starting to grapple with some big sci-fi issues. We haven’t been allowed to see the rules of time-travel in this show – yet - but it will remain interesting to see how the writers tackle issues of both causality and fate.

The positives don’t stop there.  I have long worried that Kiera’s wonder suit would be a constant deus ex machina, so its absence and the idea that Kiera would have to rely more on wits than tech was a reassuring turn of events, although I notice that it hasn’t been written out completely. Alec’s character, who takes the suit to be fixed, becomes more ambiguous as we learn his motivations in understanding Kiera’s technology may not be entirely selfless. No doubt a future plot line will follow the consequences of his actions (and will likely throw the machinations behind her arrival into the present into some doubt). It will be interesting if/when Kiera realises that Alec could present a more dangerous threat than Liber8, but that’s likely jumping a little too far ahead…

Although Liber8 have limited screen time, they weren’t completely forgotten. In fact the small scenes they had were satisfyingly well done. Their take-down of a local low-life was more stylised than anything we’ve seen to date – and violent. Letting the girls off the leash whilst the men looked on was a nice touch and added to the group’s dynamic. Kagame’s return was marred in that he had little to do, although I remained hopeful that his flash-back would put some much-needed meat on the terrorist ideology. This was not to be – and the future still looks like a nice place to live. Okay, I get that personal freedoms have been lost, but for the moment, all I’m seeing are the benefits. We need to understand why the future needs to be altered and what’s at stake. Kagame’s promise of war at the episode’s close lacked drama, although only because he remains largely unknown – I’m sure that will soon change.

There were some negatives – Kellog’s philanthropic ways seemed out of place and unnecessary. I’m sure he’s raising funds for more than just ensuring his future grandmother has a nice dress, but in an episode with so much else going on, it just seemed to be unnecessary filler, as if to say – don’t forget about Kellog – he’s still around.

Actually, that’s about it.

It was a really good piece of TV and the show has undoubtedly grown in confidence – lets hope it’s the start of a trend rather than a blip. Next week looks promising – the what-if-I-killed-your-parents-take has been done before and it will be interesting to see if the show can make it fresh and exciting whilst maintaining the upward direction in quality. 

Read Rob's review of last week's episode, Wasting Time, here.

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