Continuum, Season 1: Review

Season 1 of Continuum has come to an end and we take a look back at what we hope will be an ongoing time travel experience.

Continuum’s first season has ended, as has its time on Den of Geek, so let’s take a look back at the good, the bad and the bewildering.

Continuum has already been renewed for a second season in its home country of Canada and made its debut here in the U.S. on January 14, 2013, with a short, nine episode run. The show centers around heroine Kiera Cameron (the gorgeous Rachel Nichols), a Vancouver City Protective Services officer, who is as tough and smart as she is pretty.

She is observing the execution of a group of terrorists called Liber8 in the year 2077 when they suddenly produce a time travel device (that looks like a metallic orange with distinct segments) and disappear. At the last second, while trying to intervene, Kiera “leaps” with them. Right from the beginning, you know that Liber8 had help and this was an inside job, but who did it and why?

Disoriented and alone, Kiera immediately starts hunting down whichever members of Liber8 she can find. Her 2077 technology still works in 2012, but when she calls for backup, the only person who can hear her is brilliant teenager Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen), who saves her behind not only on her first day in 2012, but many times thereafter.

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He can hear her on an experimental frequency he has set up in a barn on his family’s farm and is the first person to befriend Kiera as she struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. Her two most important pieces of tech are her suit (which is bulletproof and can do things like extract cash from ATMs) and the implant she received when she joined CPS, which serves as her own private polygraph.

As the series progresses however, Alec is Kiera’s best weapon in terms of keeping up with Liber8 and passing on useful information to her hunky new partner, Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster), who is called in to investigate the wreckage created by the time travelers.

Kiera and Carlos quickly become friends and partners on the police force, even though Kiera constantly has to lie about her background and the source of her information. Carlos knows he can’t completely trust her, but what is she supposed to do?  Tell him she’s from 2077 hunting down a group of futuristic terrorists?

I doubt many people would buy that. Anyway, it’s fun watching Carlos’ bemused expressions when Kiera whips some little bit of intel out of nowhere. She even goes so far as to pretend to be on a cell phone while Alec is talking to her through the device inside her head.

Of course, everyone’s wondering if these two will hook up, but Kiera is married with a young son and Carlos has been burned in his romantic life before. Things stay platonic for the entire first season, but it begs the question, will anything happen between them if the chances of Kiera returning to the future are slim to none?

Liber8 pops up in every episode and is behind every unusual homicide, including a string of murders where the victims’ endocrine fluid is drained to help save the life of Travis Verta (Roger Cross), who is Liber8’s interim leader as they wait for Kagame to rejoin them. Kagame’s failure to jump back in time with them is never explained, but in his absence, it becomes clear that there is quite a bit of unrest within the group.

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The odd man out seems to be slick, sneaky Matthew Kellogg (Stephen Lobo), who is far more interested in finances than Liber8’s violent tactics and is not well liked by his peers. He has his own agenda and gradually becomes a double agent of sorts, assisting both Kiera and his colleagues in their pursuits. He even tampers with the past a bit by tracking down his grandmother (Maddie, who is a young lady in 2012) and befriending her…until she is discovered by Liber8, and pays for it with her life.

That particular episode (Episode 5, “A Test of Time”) followed almost the exact same plot line as The Terminator in the beginning, as Carlos and Kiera try to save every Lily Jones in the city because one of them is Kiera’s grandmother. Turns out that the Lily Jones they need is a trash talking, pregnant teenager with a criminal record and one hell of a temper.  

During what should be a trade of both 2012 grandmas, Kiera is able to outsmart Kagame, Maddie is killed by Travis and strangely, Kellogg is still around despite having his relative bumped off. Remember Marty McFly starting to fade out at the Under the Sea dance in Back to the Future when his parents almost don’t get together? Doesn’t happen here and it’s one of those things that isn’t explained…at least, not in this season.

There is virtually no attempt to portray the members of Liber8 in a sympathetic light. They are terrorists, after all, but I learned more about their individual back stories from the SyFy website than I did from the show itself. They inexplicably try to get back to 2077 in the second episode, claiming they have “started a war” when all they do is kill a bunch of cops, steal their weapons and then try to hightail it out of 2012. When the time travel orange…er, device, fails one piece goes missing, resurfacing back at police headquarters in an evidence bag (which Kiera steals).

Even though the missing wedge passes through a few hands, there’s no real effort made to get the machine put back together. In one ridiculous scene, the two female terrorists, Jasmine Garza (Luvia Petersen) and Sonya Valentine (Lexa Doig) pretend to need help from a marijuana dealer, only to beat the snot out of him and his friends as the men of Liber8 stand by and watch.

I find Garza particularly annoying. She’s nothing more than a thug with very little dialogue and the few lines she does spew out are pretty lame. (In the season finale, she asks the kidnapped Alec, “Do you think I’m pretty?” SO not the right time and it sounds like SHE’S the one being forced to talk, not Alec.)

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Sonya is lower than her boyfriend Travis in the chain of command, but when Kagame reunites with them, you can tell he’s playing favorites. The first one of the band to perish, Curtis Chen (played by Terry Chen…weird), is barely even worth mentioning. Like Garza, he’s a frowning, grumpy looking sourpuss who doesn’t have much to say. Even his colleagues don’t really seem to care when he’s gone.

With Kagame’s arrival, Liber8 can’t seem to decide on what tactics to use to get its point across. In one flashback (sorry, flash forward), Kagame is holding a peaceful gathering of Liber8 members when they are attacked by CPS.  Did this incident make them decide to fight violence with violence?  

Kagame insists that the revolution should take place in people’s hearts and minds and be won by strategy, not force, but then he not only kidnaps Maddie, but a corporate executive who seems to have a bomb strapped to her chest.  (It’s full of confetti and the whole point of the kidnapping was to get the lady to admit her wrongdoings as the executive of her company to the public…big deal.)  

In a conversation with Sonya, Garza sides with Kagame’s nonviolent stance, but then tries to kill Carlos and succeeds in murdering one of his lovers. Alec’s stepbrother Julian joins a radical group supported by Liber8; they even order the ingredients to make an enormous bomb and hide it on Alec’s farm.  

I guess my point is that if Liber8 is trying to be less violent, it’s not working AT ALL. They’re better at being gun-wielding menaces to society than a calm, organized protest group with a “message.”

As much as we want to see Kiera return to her husband and son, we also find out that her life wasn’t always rosy in 2077. When she announces her unplanned pregnancy to boyfriend Greg, he responds by proposing, only to cheat on Kiera with her best friend before the wedding. Kiera is particularly blindsided by this because with her technology, she is able to track anyone, anytime, anywhere and yet she had no clue that her husband had done such a thing.

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In 2012, as she comes to realize that she may never return to her family, she tries to rely more on gut instinct than technology, especially when her suit is damaged. She and Alec meet face to face for the first time (and earlier in the series than I expected) when he sneaks into her apartment to get the suit and take it back to his house for repairs. Once she has it back, she goes right back to using it, but seriously, how could you not? That thing is pretty sweet.

The finale sends the Season One out with a bang (literally) when Kagame blows himself up inside a building, on his birthday. He sends Sonya to the hospital room where he’s just been born to deliver a gift and message for the mother, neither of which is revealed to the viewers. Oh, and Sonya makes it plenty clear that she’s next in command when she returns to Travis.  

Julian thinks he’s a part of Liber8, but they end up using him as a distraction, much to his disappointment. Last but not least, Alec discovers that HE is the one who sent Kiera and Liber8 back in time and even thinks he knows why, ending the finale there and leaving the second season wide open for a continuation of the story.

Final review:  

It would be an understatement to say that time travel has been done a LOT. I was afraid that a new series would make it a little overdone, but it seems like there’s always a fresh twist on the concept.  

Anyone who is skeptical about “just another time travel show” should give Continuum a try. I’ve been pleasantly surprised and look forward to seeing the next season, whether I’m reviewing it or not.  

It’s a little mind bending in places, but not totally confusing or hard to follow. You know that Liber8 is going to be behind most, if not all, of the subplots, so there are no wild tangents that don’t seem to make any sense.

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The flash forwards give viewers insight into how Kiera has come across each of her enemies, but not much of their backgrounds are revealed during the actual show.  

If you go to SyFy and read about how Sonya was the director of a super soldier program that started to push ethical boundaries and got her in hot water, you would understand more not only about her motives but also her relationship with Travis, who was one of her subjects.  It’s interesting reading if you really want to get to know the characters better and plan on following the show for a while.

Best bits:  

Alec’s curiosity about life in 2077, from makeup to pornography. You can tell he has a massive crush on Kiera, and he’s just so stinking cute. He is going to be a major player in the story (even more than he is now) and he may be a genius, but he’s still a naive teenage boy.  

Kiera’s deepening friendship with Carlos is heartwarming at times, especially when he nearly dies from a gunshot wound. Tears roll down Kiera’s face as she admits that even though he’s her only friend, she lies to him every day.  

One of the biggest question marks in Season 2 will be not only whether or not Carlos finds out the truth, but when and how. There’s also the constant underlying issue of playing god by tampering with the past. It’s inevitable, and even small actions are going to have big results, even though we may not discover until later what they are.

Worst bits:  

As I mentioned before, the members of Liber8 are mostly one-dimensional, with only Kellogg garnering any sort of sympathy and he’s still a backstabbing scumbag. Yes, Travis might be a super soldier who was trained to kill, but does he really have to threaten a baby’s life to get Kiera to release Kagame (Episode 3, “Wasting Time”)?  

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I also wouldn’t mind seeing a few side stories that don’t involve Liber8…you know, like a “normal” murder case not connected to either Kiera or Carlos.

I really can’t find much to complain about with the show; I was hooked as soon as I saw the pilot, and I hope it gets a larger audience as time goes on (Ha Ha). I just hope they can keep coming up with the cheesy little titles for another season (Family Time, Playtime, etc.). Spending an hour a week watching Continuum is hardly time wasted.