Continuum season 1 finale review: End Times

Review Rob Kemp 30 Nov 2012 - 08:51

The Continuum finale does just enough to convince Rob to come back for season two...

This review contains spoilers.

1.10 End Times

The Continuum season finale is finally here, and after what I think it’s fair to say has been an uneven show, last week’s episode hinted at bigger and better. End Times certainly doesn’t disappoint in terms of momentum and action, but it was a stark reminder that the rest of the season has more than once lacked that all-important sense of urgency.

The plot revolved around a race against time to stop a Liber8 bombing, echoing the one that was responsible for the Liber8 sentencing in the future. Along the way, we meet some new characters in the guise of Julian – another time-traveller from the future and an old friend from The X-Files – yes Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) joins his old partner in crime, William B Davis, on the show. Meanwhile, the show races to its fiery conclusion with some surprises, some conclusions and lots of questions.

I’ll get the bad out of the way first and leave the review on a positive note. For the past few weeks we’ve been seeing more of Kagame and the way in which he wants Liber8 to operate. The show certainly didn’t want us to expect the clichéd terrorists of old, Liber8 were different; they would pull strings and operate behind the scenes – or so Kagame told us. I was therefore somewhat disappointed when they blew up a big building. It wasn’t very… invisible. That aside, we have now gone through an entire season and we still know very little about their motives – yes the future government is corrupt, yes it appears that most people live quite happily without their civic freedoms – and yet Liber8 seems content to kill thousands in the name of freedom. That part still hasn’t clicked into place. It may have something to do with the fact that we actually know very little about the Liber8 crew themselves. I’ve pointed out that reduced-run seasons need to make the most of the time they have (just look at the first season of The Walking Dead to see how well they did), but we’ve now got to the season finale and only three out of the main cast have been fleshed out to any degree (Alec, Kellog and Kiera), making the rest feel superfluous.

The next question is – did this work as a season finale – a satisfying end to a season whilst making sure I’ll be back for the next? Yes, and more than likely. Without a doubt this episode packed more into it than any other in the season, perhaps a little too much at times. The introduction of Jason as an erstwhile time traveller was surely a concept good enough for an episode on its own, instead we get a somewhat rushed explanation of his existence – and hang on – he’s only gone and found a way back to the future (or so it would appear). The coincidence unfortunately distracts from what could have been an interesting encounter (although the pay-off is good), and from first impressions, a more fun character that could have set up a nice partnership with Kiera, perhaps more so than the unfortunate Carlos (who this week seems to have been given the power of regeneration to have come back from the nearly dead so quickly).

I do feel for Carlos. Having singularly failed to detect anything strange about Kiera, being rightfully suspended for lying and generally acting as a human punch bag/bullet stopper, it was upsetting to see that he wasn’t the one to discover Kiera’s powers. No, that accolade went to FBI Agent Gardiner, although in all fairness if someone was going to find something out, my money was always going to be on Krycek, (it was good to see him back on TV, although was somewhat disappointing that it was as another FBI Agent).

Okay – the positives. Well, having invested ten hours into the season, the finale did want to make me come back. I felt the death/birth of Kagame was a nice surprise, but I’m relying on Alec’s portentous message that none of this has been an accident to alleviate the feeling that it didn’t quite make sense. I also liked that since Kiera’s now been exposed, I’m hoping that something will be made of this in the second season (i.e. it won’t just be explained away)  - a tech’d up future cop  attempting to disrupt terrorists whilst hiding from the authorities would give the show an added edge – in a Street Hawk/Knight Rider kind of way. We can, of course, always hope.

The key question of course was, what does Alex know? He says it was all planned, and that he’s responsible. Now this is a big time-travel theme (passing messages to your past self, the dangers of infecting the timeline, paradoxes etc…), and in my view for a show about time-travel – we just haven’t had enough of these. That alone would pique my interest for a return, but the ramifications of the episode, the rise of Liber8, the mysterious Mr Esher and how Kiera will operate are all good hooks and could shake up the show enough for the second season to really pick up the pace, because don’t get me wrong – it needs to pick up the pace.

I earlier mentioned a couple of shows from the eighties – a great decade for TV, now looked back on with much nostalgia. I’ve been thinking for a while now that Continuum has much in common with those shows, bucking the trend for intricate, overarching and complicated storylines (Lost, 24, Battlestar) and has aimed for simpler plotting. There’s nothing wrong with this and it certainly doesn’t make for an inferior show. However, without sufficient substance there remains a question of just how long it can continue and despite the quality of this episode, and the last ten minutes proves that Continuum can be great, it needs to have an underlying depth to fall back on when the episodes aren’t so good. With some tweaks here and there, season two can more than live up to Continuum’s initial promise and I suppose now, I’ll be back to see it.

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

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Given that Alec (young version at least) is a good guy, and the future government is clearly corrupt (all its citizens seem to have to work their entire lives to buy back their human rights, and if Liber8 are to be believed, the goalposts seem to be constantly moving so for the majority that never happens) I think that Sadler's plan was to take back control of the organisation he started. It is after all entirely possible for someone who starts a company to lose control of it to its own board of directors, and I think that is what happened here. His goals and Liber8's are not that far removed from each other, which is why he intentionally sent Keira back in time. Also, what if the massive death toll caused by Kagame's attempt to kill the leaders of the government was faked? I'm not sure how that would be possible, but it would put a new spin on who are the good and bad guys wouldn't it?

What's this about...the season finale came out in august.??? lol

The finale just aired in the UK on Thursday, Nov. 29. This is a UK review site.

While I understand your misgivings about the pacing, I think it's more fair to take the long view. You mentioned Homeland, and certainly Battlestar Galactica hit its pace early, but I think those are notable exceptions. Think of how many multi-season shows we look back on now where the first season is charmingly disjointed. Continuum, with all of its minor season 1 flaws, is clearly somewhere in between. With this strong season finale, I have confidence that the later seasons (especially with the bigger budgets that come with renewal and wider distribution) will be even more amazing.

Sorry, I gave up on this a few episodes in; dull, dull, dull.

First, I think the future they portrayed was clearly a dystopia.

Yea, some people were comfortable but other people were starving because the food corp jacked up the price of food making people desperate enough to riot. They even jail people for peaceful meetings.

At first they made it look like it was actually pretty good but they had Kiera get exposed to the darker side.

My theory is that they're making sure certain things happen the way they originally happened, but instead of keeping it a stable time loop they do enough things behind the scenes to change the future. While the militant liber8 blow **** up alec gets exposed to different viewpoints, future problems and how to find a moderate solution that doesn't involve blowing stuff up.

I got tremendously lost between season 1 and 2. I finished Season 1 on Netflix, started season 2 and it seems there is a bunch missing. She was seen doing techy things...then what? There is talk in episode 1 season 2 of some sort of vigilante action and I've no clue what they're talking about. What am I missing here??

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