Continuum season 1 episode 7 review: The Politics Of Time

Review Rob Kemp 9 Nov 2012 - 08:57

With just three episodes of the season remaining, Continuum seems to be dragging its feet. Here's Rob's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.7 The Politics of Time

As the season enters the home stretch, Politics of Time attempts to resolve an issue that I’ve had for some time with the Continuum. The relationship between Kiera and Carlos has been mostly superficial, with Carlos typically acting as the muscle or as a way for Kiera to conduct her investigations into Liber8. This week, Carlos gets some much needed attention by the show’s writers as the result of his implication in the murder of a friend. Although the higher-than-normal exposure does at least give us more on who Carlos is, the episode itself lacks momentum, with the Liber8 reveal being the only significant point in the entire episode (and that comes in the last thirty seconds).  

So the big ticket item for this episode was that Carlos was given something to do. The bad news is that without knowing much about Carlos, as his background has been very thinly sketched, it was really hard to care. This is exacerbated when he tries to cover his tracks upon examining the crime scene. Don’t get me wrong – I like morally dubious characters (they’re typically the most interesting), but without any frame of reference, it just seemed like Carlos was being weak. Surely by covering his tracks vital leads were being lost? With his limited development on the show it’s hard to ascertain how this turn of events would impact Carlos and therefore his actions are bereft of emotional weight. In essence, this reminded me of an old X-Files episode, Avatar, where Mitch Pileggi had to prove his innocence after being implicated in a murder in similar circumstances. The difference is that by the time we got to that episode, Skinner’s character had been well developed and the implications of the plot had impact and meaning. For Continuum, this type of episode just comes too early in its run.

There are some positives though, if Carlos is the kind of cop that will sacrifice honour (and potential leads) to cover his own back, then this could work well with the selfishly determined character they’ve established with Kiera. Ultimately, it will come down to how the writers want to pick up on his actions in future episodes – but at this point in the season’s evolution I have little hope of that happening.

My other niggles from this week include the fact that Kiera’s reliance on future technology is back – and with the seemingly new and improved suit to make a re-appearance soon, my fears of a weekly deus ex machina have risen yet again. It would actually be nice to see something that Kiera can’t do – such is the level and sophistication of her box of tricks that it’s hard to see anything that could challenge her - and that doesn’t make for good TV (it also reverses/forgets a theme from earlier in the season where Kiera made a conscious effort to use her ‘gut’ as opposed to her technology).

Here’s the other thing – if Alec is working and fixing her technology in the current time-period, shouldn’t he have learnt from that experience and therefore have better technology available in the future? We have already seen that cause and effect are not linear when Kellog’s grandmother was killed and he survived – but there has been no more exploration of this mechanic, which is frustrating as it brings into question the rationale for everything Liber8, Kiera and Alec do.  Why fight to change the future if that future may no longer exist for these characters? Continuum has proved that it won’t shy away from the big ideas, but it seems that at times it struggles with the one-hour format (each episode has a set structure, including book ends) and as a result is restricted by a lack of innovation rather than confidence in the stories it is telling.

I talked earlier about the lack of momentum in this episode, and looking back over the season so far, I think it’s something that the show has lacked in general. I am more than aware that there are another three episodes to air and so maybe proved wrong, but for the moment the plotting hasn’t really got any sense of speed or purpose, nor has there been sufficient character development. I had a similar feeling about Grimm’s first season, but that show had twenty-two episodes in which to propel the plot and the last few easily made up for the mediocre middle third. Continuum only has ten episodes, but contemporary shows such as The Walking Dead and Boardwalk Empire prove that short seasons do not need to sacrifice momentum, in fact just the opposite, as those shows’ episodes are packed with character development and multiple story-lines that feel like they have a purpose (although less said about The Walking Dead’s season two stay at the farmhouse the better…). I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a late surge as Continuum edges towards its end of season climax, because when it works – it really works, but for the moment count me as merely hopeful.

Next week – mind control through the failure of advanced technology. Apple and Google beware. 

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

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