Continuum – Season 4 Episode 1
Continuum season 4 opens with “Lost Hours”, the first episode of what will be the final season. “The Internet” suggests that creator Simon Barry had ideas for many more seasons but, like so many shows we love, Continuum is getting cut short. However, unlike many shows we’ve loved it’s being given a chance to finish properly, even if with a short six-episode finale.
“Lost Hours” definitely felt like the beginning of an ending. Not very far in Kiera and Alec, now friends again, have time to reflect on old times: “do you miss the barn?” asks Kiera. “Every day,” replies Alec. Also, we learn that Kiera’s motivation has changed back to her desire to get home.
I wondered for a while if I thought this was too sharp a jump from her state of mind at the end of season 3, where she’d made her peace with her timeline and family no longer existing, but in the end I went with it without challenge. Even if you aren’t prepared to allow the writers a little leeway because they likely had to skip over several seasons’ potential plot we do see Kiera having a hallucination of her son and realising – correctly under analysis – “I’ve accomplished my mission”. After all, as she says herself, she’s stopped Liber8, prevented her unfair corporate future occurring and made sure Alec never tries to rebuild it. Job done; time to go home. Of course, what home will she return home to? Currently, the “green timeline” future has a world broken by war, considered by most to be even worse than the “red timeline” corporate-dominated future she started in…
The episode also hailed back to the very start of Continuum with its plot setup. There’s a new terror group in Vancouver, this time from the future of Brad Tonkin, the soldier sent back to kill all time travellers that created his awful world: his platoon has come to finish the job he wouldn’t. Carlos calls it at the end of the episode: “it’s Liber8 all over again”, which is a clear parallel, as the soldiers are a militant group who rock into town, set up a base to assemble their plans and weapons, uncompromising in their will to get the job done.
I didn’t find this a bad repeat though. The political status quo was broken up by the end of season 3 with the Freelancers killed, Liber8’s ideology undermined and Kiera’s job complete. To go any further we needed a new danger to face and new desires to strive for. In come the soldiers for the physical threat and up steps Matthew Kellogg to be the political one – connected to each other but already with different goals bound to collide. And neither of their goals will be good for Kiera, Liber8 or Alec.
This is what I still enjoy about the show: trying to work out who’s on who’s side; what future is everyone trying to bring about and is that possible? Plots within plots – and this is what “Lost Hours” gives us, the greatest question of which is given to us in the show’s final scene when current Kellogg receives a message from future Kellogg. It is difficult to believe that though future Kellogg has sent the soldiers back to complete the mission and ‘save the future’ he doesn’t also have a side goal in mind that means he’ll end up with all the power and influence when the dust settles.
By my count there are now maybe eight power groups fighting to get their way: the Traveller and Chen; Kellogg and Kellogg; Liber8; the future soldiers; Kiera (and maybe Carlos); Alec (and maybe Emily and Jason); Vancouver police Internal Affairs; and Julian / Theseus with his new group of possibly peaceful political activists. So many factions and all who still can’t decide who they all trust whilst often clinging to their past allegiances.
This faction infighting seems to have replaced the earlier political tension of season one. I do miss the ideology of the early seasons. The banking crisis of 2008 is still in our cultural consciousness. You still hear anti-banker comments in the news, on comedy shows, even on the street, and many people are still angry that no-one was punished for almost breaking at least the western world – no exaggeration. I find one to be as interesting as the other, though I’d listen to an argument that Continuum has lost some of its topical relevance with the shift.
Another thing the show used to have a lot more of was little Easter eggs to find. Right from series one there were images dotted throughout the story that suggested greater meaning or gave you patterns to connect. In the very first episode Kiera’s son Sam comes out of his bedroom and takes an innocent pose that perfectly mimics the picture on the wall next to him. Escher, Alec’s ex-Freelancer father and a character potentially named for the artist who created pictures of impossible spaces and infinity, is seen at important moments in front of paintings.
Now, I don’t say the show needs this but commentary on current events and hidden patterns are a science fiction staple that we don’t get much of anymore and Continuum used to provide it. It’s possible that this is part of a natural evolution that series go through, a change of focus from an interesting background to resolving the plots in the foreground. Perhaps whether a show succeeds in the long run is how well in makes that change.
I got pleasure in trying to work out who’s on who’s side though, so Continuum is still a success for me so far. Did I see a hidden plot point when I saw something in the look Chen gave Jacqueline as he left Kellogg’s office? Is she one of the Traveller’s agents? Kellogg announced that she was more than complicit in getting him into Alec’s position as Piron’s CEO. Was she just being a good lawyer or is there more to it?
Either way, there are plenty more questions left unanswered that will provide fodder for the last five episodes. What’s Kellogg’s plan for Kellogg? Can Kiera get home and to what future? Are the soldiers building a bomb from the their power suits? What is the real purpose of the Traveller? To set up the correct future? Most characters have decided that there isn’t such a thing but the Traveller seems to think there is. So why does he send Chen to deal with Kellogg? And who is Chen now anyway, given that in season 3 he is said to be “merged”? Why too does he say that Kellogg is coming back to him?
Clearly the Traveller is the underlying force to be reckoned with – something that is nicely emphasised after the moment when Chen tries to hurry Liber8’s plans to tackle Kellogg by pushing at Garza in a secret meeting. As Garza looks up we see this confident and more than capable soldier clearly unsettled just by the look of the Traveller standing nearby.
One final mystery I was glad to see teased was the reappearance of Mr Fairweather, Kiera’s digital psychologist, who returns to make sure some combat trauma doesn’t send Kiera over the edge again.
I was slightly worried when he first appeared that it was going to be a stock plot episode where the hero has to decide if what they’re seeing is real or just a dream. The fake reality is quickly shown to be just that though, only a safe place for Kiera’s brain to hang out whilst she recovers from being hit. Better still, there seems to be some lasting affect that will hopefully come back in a later episode. Carlos comments that Kiera seems different after her hallucination and she does seem remarkably calm. Surely Mr Fairweather’s coming back…?
Ultimately a promising start that I really enjoyed, “Lost Hours” even managed to avoid a potential danger through just having so many characters to get through. Perhaps some had little to do but all present got something relevant. Travis was noticeably absent and Jason was really just assisting Alec but at least made some competent calls. Emily was really only used as a pawn against Alec but she was certainly no damsel in distress and showed her sheer competence again by only just being taken down by multiple opponents in a terrific fight scene.
Oh, I’ve not mentioned much by way of time travel for time travel show… Well, people far cleverer than me have tackled the physics of it better than I could – check out: http://thequantumtunnel.com/continuum-time-travel-physics/. Instead of trying to work out the rules of the Continuum… multiverse? I’ll focus on Kiera: I wonder if she’ll get a happy ending or if the show will go back to ideology or philosophy. Her “red timeline” future has collapsed and there’s no guarantee that the “green timeline” has her married with a child in it, let alone whether the physics of the whole thing would allow her to merge into the Kiera that lives in there…
So far Continuum’s short final season has lots to offer. It does seem that the writers have had to ‘skip to the end’ a bit by having Kiera back to just wanting to get home, which was different to her Zen acceptance of her situation at the end of season 3. However, she’s not wrong when she says she’s completed her mission by stopping Liber8 and making sure that Alec doesn’t create the corporation-controlled future. That combined with a powerful hallucination of your child does seem like a good reason to refocus on getting back home. The big question for her then will be ‘can she get home’? Her timeline has been destroyed and replaced by a much worse one in which there’s no guarantee she or her son are alive or even exist.
Happy ending coming or not, there’s plenty the final season has set up for us to enjoy. There are many power groups set up, all trying to get their future guaranteed and as all the groups want something at least slightly different the season has plenty of room to arrange some good politics, side-switching and power plays. Kellogg and the soldiers from the future are well set up to be bad guys of the piece, Kellogg as the selfish mastermind and the soldiers and as the powerful physical threat.
Though it’s a shame that the later seasons have much less of the ideology of the earlier ones and fewer visual Easter eggs to look out for, these plots are replaced by intrigue – who’s on who’s side? Who wants what future and why? Maybe if you preferred the anti-corporate ideology you’re not going to be as interested in the show now. Maybe if you wanted more hard time-travel sci-fi you feel the same. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the thriller element of the show as it is now though. There’re are still a lot of questions posed that I’m keen to find the answers to.
What is future Kellogg’s plan? What future does the Traveller think is the ‘correct’ one? Can Kiera get home to her son? Much as I haven’t agreed with all of Kiera’s actions and speeches throughout all the seasons so far I find I do really still care about her.