[Review] - Continuum, Season 4 Episode 1, "Lost Hours"

Courtesy of Reunion Pictures
Watching serialized TV can be a punishment we pile on ourselves. Because for all the lofty artistic story telling principles we might revere, TV is still a business, and businesses need to make money, and in TV, money is advertising, and advertising is based on ratings, and ratings are fickle, especially in today's digital environment. A lot more people are watching, and more importantly, discovering, series then are "watching" them in a conventional sense. This is especially true of heavily serialized series, where a common refrain is now, "I'll wait until it's over, then I'll binge it." Binge watching might give you a narcotic-style high, but its bad for business.

I, and many, are reeling from Hannibal coming to an end, largely in part because people were not watching it in the conventional ways. I have to imagine that is also the case with Continuum, which had proven to be a great success for Showcase in Canada (and is an exemplar in the sort of original programming Canadian networks are capable of generating without having to cow to an American perspective). Perhaps it's cancellation did have to do with the American influence, that support from American broadcasters was less than was necessary to keep it alive. But Continuum has never been normal, and it continues its effervescent irregularity in that it has been granted a reprieve: six episodes to wrap things up. Not the full extent that Simon Barry wanted to tell the whole story he had intended, but certainly not a gift horse to look in the mouth. Most shows don't get notice, let alone a cool down. So now, we buckle in and see how wrong things can go in Kiera Cameron's final hours.

Oh, and in case you were worried, they aren't going any easier on us just because the show is ending. Just because there aren't time duplicates or freelancers running around anymore doesn't mean we're in for a morality-free easy ride. We're off the edge of the map, lads and lasses. Here, there be paradoxes.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that claim not to have missed this, but their CMR says differently.


Let's jump straight into it, shall we: I'm sort of disappointed. And here is why. Last season saw Kiera make great personal strides towards accepting her situation. Once the intrinsic nature of time travel was revealed, and Brad's arrival all but certified that Kiera's future had been wiped form existence along with her son, as well as a mountain of evidence that jumping from time to time, putting right what once went wrong only makes things worse, she had settled in. She had built a life for herself in the present. She had friends, a job such as it was, she had fulfilled her mission. And she had Brad, whom she could see as a fellow voyageur adrift in time, and someone with whom she could pull up on a deserted island, and build radios out of coconuts. And after a quick action sequence and bump on the noggin, she's done a complete 180 and decided that she wants to - neigh, must - go home.

I wonder at this development. Is it really as transparent as giving her a burst of intent for the home stretch? It is such counter intuitive behaviour based on a decision that she had just made (within the series). Maybe I'm reading too much into her prior mind set. She has, after all, spent most of three seasons only wanting to go home. Perhaps her momentary decent into comfort was the outlier, not this heel turn. But it does feel like the narrative directing the character rather than the character directing the narrative. Had she made this decision after making a discovery suggesting that a return home was both possible and feasible, then I would have bought it. As it is, it seems very much the cart being put before the horse, structurally speaking.

All the more because Kiera is first and foremost a police officer, and trained to allow evidence dictate action. And the evidence, based on all the revelations made last season, suggests that there is no home to go to. No son to run into her arms. The arrival of the mercenaries with a hard edged grudge against time-tinkerers confirms that. If she were to travel into the future at this time, she would be travelling into the Kellogg-controlled, war ravaged dystopia that Brad came from. Even if she over shot and landed in 2077, or 2080 (which, thank you series for not falling into the cliche ridden cesspit that is the "it might have been a dream" story line), it would be the future of that time line. One of immeasurable death, ultimate destruction and no way to come back to try it again. In order for her going home to be even a hypothetical option, first she has to avert that future (which they attempted last season and failed), and then hope that the replacement timeline falls more into sync with her original home. And hope that all the other changes they've made over the years hasn't resulted in her and her husband never meeting, and thus erasing her son from existence anyway (which is highly likely, because on the bed of leaves that is time, Kiera has not been treading lightly).

And now comes my favourite part: supposition. Kiera seems pretty certain of her ability to go home, meaning she's fairly certain that her future exists out there, somewhere, for her to go back to. All evidence that she has been confronted with thus far does not support this, but let's wonder for a moment what would be needed for that to occur. At this point in the show, we've seen essentially two different futures. The first, Kiera's future, is the corporate oligarchy made possible by Alec's technology. This is the future that is possible is Alec is in charge of Piron. It is one of the Greater Good. Rights are oppressed, freedoms restricted, and profit above all else. All in all, not a bad place to live if you have a job or belong to the elite. Less good if you are dirt poor, or sick, or are in prison. the last couple season have really taken the shine off 2077. The second potential future, Brad's future, is war and strife and misery and doom. Basically, a living Cormac McCarthy novel. This is the future made possible by Kellogg being in charge of Piron. It is one of Survival of the Fittest.

Now, a lot depends on the nature of time itself. We've seen that time can be rewritten. The question is, how often does time get rewritten? The change in leadership of the company that will define the future is a massive change, and lead to massive changes. But, does killing a butterfly really create a hurricane, or does it simply lead to one less butterfly? It boils down to the elasticity of time, which I've mentioned before. If events are nudged enough in the general configuration of their original design, will the future snap back into a reasonable approximation of its initial sequence, despite other changes that have been made? The big stuff remains the same, the little stuff can be different. A house that was blue is now green, but the Mets will still never win the world series, that sort of thing. Until we have a more definitive answer as to how time behaves, then the best that can assumed is that all of time is a direct consequence of action. And therefore it is in everyone's best interests to behave as best they can. But that does not guarantee that Kiera's family will be waiting for her in 2077.

If time is elastic, and leadership of Piron is all that determines the difference between these two futures, it seems the decision is a logical one: kill Kellogg. Now, hear me out. We know time travelers are immune to changes in the time line. Kellogg in the present is only a threat so long as he is alive. If he is killed, that is the end of the original Kellogg that came back with Liber8. And there isn't another to replace him. Back in season one, his grand mother was killed, thus erasing any occurrence of Kellogg in any other version of the timeline. If events played out exactly as they did the first time, they would with the absence of Kellogg. If he doesn't exist, he doesn't come back, he doesn't take control of Piron and the timeline can continue as it did originally, with Alec as head of Piron.

So, no future Kellogg to come back and tinker with things again. So, killing him in the present removes any version of Kellogg from corrupting events. Kellogg's nonexistence uncreates Brad's future. And Alec, blessed with all the future knowledge that he has, can create the best of all possible futures. One that sees the benefits of the advancements of Kiera's time, but without all the horrible underbelly stuff. He can create an environment over the next fifty years that doesn't spawn Liber8, and those individual are able to put their skills to good use in the future. And, because he's done it before, Alec would be able to nudge the careers of Kiera and her husband close together, to ensure her son is still born, and to give her something to go home to.

I have no idea what the next five episodes will bring us. And I had thought the idea of Kiera settling down in the present was a wonderful way to leave things. But if they insist she return to her own time, and knowing that this is the final end, I can see them going this route, and having her return to 2080 and finding things a lot better off than when she left. Foes as friends, freedom intact, and Alec the architect of a utopia. Though I hope it doesn't all end with kum-ba-yah. That would be very disappointing.
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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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