[Review] - Continuum, Season 2 Episode 5, "Second Opinion"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures

The last couple episodes have been building towards a confrontation. Not between Liber8 and the police, those happen nearly every week. The confrontation was between Kiera and herself. The growing sense of dread, of inevitability, of hopelessness towards the failure of her primary mission to this point: getting home. And it should be made clear, that is all Kiera has really been working towards. Stopping Liber8 has been little more then a combination of duty and a means to an end, with Liber8 still representing her best chance at returning to her family. But as the second season has worn on, the evidence is falling more and more in favour of Kiera being stuck in the present. And her unwillingness to accept that truth has been making her unstable.

And in this episode, it came to a head.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that shoot lights when you squeeze their tummy.

This episode was what folk in the industry call a bottle episode. It took place almost exclusively in the police station, used few unestablished sets, or in the case of Alec's new server room, sets that will (presumably) be used frequently moving forward. Bottle episodes are budget savers, those shunted into seasons that keep the guest stars and location shoots to a minimum and the costs down. And the sort of thing they can shoot quickly and without fuss. And in terms of tapestry, this episode was without fuss. Minimal CGI, only a couple new characters, and save one brief scene, no Liber8.

I've long been a fan of bottle episodes, as they usually focus the most on the characters, rather then the action. And that's exactly what this one did, in as traditional a manner as you can get: interrogation. Be it a therapy session, deposition or police interview, the one-on-one examination of motivations is a quick and easy way to get to the heart of a character. Aaron Sorkin loves using the device to burrow in deep. Here, the accepting Dillon is ousted, taking the blame for Travis' escape episodes ago, and a new boss is brought in. First order of business: finding the suspected leak in the department. And trying to figure out exactly who Kiera really is.

The episode was an opportunity for Rachel Nichols to really impress us, and boy did she. This episode expected everything of her, and she delivered every time. Running from Hulk-rage to smug satisfaction to emotionally crippled breakdown, she was taken to her emotional breaking point here, and over. My favourite moment, possible of the season, was her breathless exclamation, while waving a paper towel in the air, that "they still use these things to dry their hands." A short line, but an excellent way to pair down all of Kiera' experiences and current situation. And Nichols nailed the delivery. It also introduced Battlestar's Alessandro Juliani as the therapist, who by the end of the episode was an unexpected ally of Kiera's, and a character I wouldn't be adverse to seeing again, under less antagonist circumstances.

The plot was another intriguing look into the future society, as her emotional instability on her son's birthday triggered the emergence of an AI therapist, who immediately cuts off contact with Alec, and insisted she come to terms with the cause of her trauma, or it would delete the offending memories. On the surface, this seems like a logical system to have: consider how much easier it would be for an officer to over come PTSD after a fatal shooting if the memories of that shooting could simply be erased. However, it also highlights to horror of the implications of that sort of black-and-white methodology.

I was discussing the potential effects of the singularity with someone the other day, and I mentioned this very issue. Were our minds connected to computers, my primary concern wouldn't be with other people potentially hacking my systems and controlling me (a plot Continuum covered in the first season). My concern would be with the technology exercising undo influence over me, and interpreting it's programing in new and unexpected ways. So, the simple directive to wipe offending memories poses a grave threat to Kiera, since the offending memories are of her family, her time, and everything she has experienced since arriving in the present, essentailly leaving her a blank slate. A terrifying prospect. One that forces Kiera to finally come to terms with what she has been avoiding for weeks now, that in all likelihood, she will never get home.

She's been living in two times the past season and a half, her body in the present, her mind in the future. Her refusal to live completely in the now has caused her no end of grief, and prevented her from properly establishing a life and meaningful relationships here. Even her relationship with Alec is predicated on his usefulness to her. He is a tool in her belt, though we've seen hints of a more sibling-like connection between them. What I'm excited about is, now that she seemingly has moved beyond the trauma of being sent back, and has accepted her time and place, how that will translate into her behaviour. Will she open up even further? Will she assimilate fully in the modern society? Or will she never be able to truly let go? Because Jason couldn't, and he became a raving hobo.

The episode also confirmed what I had correctly predicted back when the prospect of a leak was brought up. Not that Gardiner is a dick, we knew that already. Though his dickishness was on full display here (and what implications will his identification of Alec on the phone have down the line?). But rather the confirmation that Betty is the mole. I reasoned that she was the logical choice, having been present throughout the series, but not a major player, thus someone the viewer would have an emotional reaction to. The questions now begin to roll in: when was she turned to Liber8's side? How long has she been moling for them? What is she getting out of the arrangement? Is it mutual, or are they forcing her to act this way? I have to give credit to the show, even though I saw this reveal coming weeks ago, Kiera's speech about the obvious choice being a distraction was enough to have me convinced for a couple minutes that I was wrong, and that Betty wasn't the mole. They Kansas City Shuffled me with only one character. And that is impressive.

We're pretty much at the mid way point this season, and a lot has been shaken up. Now that Kiera is stable, we can look elsewhere, to see how other things will play out. Is Dillon gone for good, and if so, what does this mean for the comfort and leeway Kiera has received up to this point? Especially now with a new SO who is openly suspicious of Kiera? What is Kellog, seen ominously lurking behind Alec in command central, really up to? Has his moral ambiguity up to this point really been just a smoke screen for foul purposes, and if so, what part does he expect Alec to play?

Next week, former Headstones front man and Flashpoint star Hugh Dillon guest stars. Looking forward to that.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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