Continuum season 1 episode 6 review: Time’s Up

Review Rob Kemp 2 Nov 2012 - 09:23

Finally, Continuum starts to tackle some of the problems it's had from the start. Here's Rob's review of episode 6...

Last week's episode, A Test of Time, was a disappointing slip back into a mediocrity that has plagued the majority of this season. This week, Time’s Up, is a more than solid episode with some nice plotting and good all-round performances which puts the show on a much firmer footing.

Time’s Up sees Kiera having to stop a Liber8 plot to kill the CEO of a financial services company. Gone are the more time-travel centric storylines; instead, we get an sci-fi light episode that examines a serious contemporary issue: the corruption of big business and the people’s need for transparency.

This episode starts to correct an irritation that I’ve had since the series began. Who were Liber8 and what do they stand for? For the most part, they’ve been the generic bad guys – killing innocents and generally behaving in an ASBO kind of way. When Kagame came back to lead, a war was promised, although not in the traditional sense. Time’s Up is an example of what Kagame wanted to accomplish – brains over brawn and I give credit to the writers for recognising that Liber8 are terrorists and not action heroes as they don’t have the numbers able to fight their way to victory. Interestingly, when the shoe’s on the other foot, shows depicting the actions of freedom fighters, like V and Falling Skies, all too often fall-back to gun play in order to forward their aims. I’m not too sure why TV ‘bad guys’ have to be the ones that can invoke a strategy that involves more than guns and explosives – but that’s probably a discussion to be had elsewhere.

This is also the first time that I’ve got a sense of Liber8 politics. We knew from the pilot that they were anti-corporation, but we are still to see what exactly it is that has been sacrificed in the future. In this episode, Liber8’s enemy has a face, and a face that we understand. Corporations stealing from their own employees is a theme too often heard in today’s news – alongside fiscal mismanagement and cowboy trading it represents a clear area of dissatisfaction amongst not just the youth but all generations. The assumption is that this must have escalated in the future, but without knowledge of the hardship faced by those citizens only one side of the story is still being told.

This bias complicates Liber8’s ideology as just like many other terrorist organisations, their intent may be noble but their methodology is not, and the show still needs to focus on why Liber8 believes killing innocents justifies their ideology, otherwise we’ll head back into generic & bland story-telling. Kellog’s small presence in this episode actually belies the importance of his mini-monologue on what makes a terrorist. The reveal that it’s all about popularity is not only largely true but is perhaps a bigger issue than even that of corporate greed. Add this to the wish-list of ideas the show needs to develop.

Liber8 were not the only ones to gain from this episode. I liked that Kiera didn’t rush to help Sherman, she wanted to know (or expose) the truth as much as Liber8. This puts her politics in a large grey area between uncertain and dangerous (for a cop), but having her share beliefs similar to the very terrorist organisation she’s trying to stop is interesting. I’m not sure how many TV protagonists share such sympathy with the people they’re trying to catch – and the promise of the moral ambiguity that was all too quickly referenced in the pilot is finally getting some air time and the show is all the better for it.

Alec’s mysterious family is also fleshed out, although the involvement of his brother felt a little tacked on. Yes, it’s good to get a feel for how Alec’s family may influence his motivations in the future, but it just felt out of place and may reflect the limitation in a 10 episode season. Likewise, the glimpse of the older Alec in the pilot is now even more precious as the answers surrounding his involvement with Liber8 and Kiera are likely to fundamentally shape the show in future episodes/seasons. It would appear that the ‘future’ book ends to each episode are a format that will continue, which is a shame as more time in the future could help propel the story in the present – and make characters such as Alec become all that more involving.

Some negatives this week: unfortunately Carlos remains as one dimensional as ever. He drives, he fights, he stands next to Kiera and become Mr Exposition. I won’t blame Webster’s portrayal as I believe the writers just haven’t given him enough to do, and when you’re trying to discuss some big ideas – and there are some big ideas in this episode – then some sacrifices have to be made. However, looking ahead at next week’s show, it looks like Carlos may be more central to the story – here’s hoping he makes the most of it.

Read Rob's review of the previous episode, A Test of Time, here.

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