The current season of Continuum airs Friday Nights at 10pm on SyFy.
This show is proof that a complex time-travel story doesn't have to be confusing. True, there is mystery, and there's all sorts of stuff going on that we don't know about until Kiera finds out, but there's also enough answers to keep us from getting frustrated, and a really interesting story-line.
In case you haven't seen it yet, Continuum is about City Protector Kiera Cameron, who is caught in a time-displacement field when a group of terrorists opts to go back in time instead of being executed for their crimes. She has her high-tech implants and her neat high-tech suit and gun, but she has none of her usual support system and finds herself working in a world that isn't yet the dystopia she was born into and believes in, but is on the way. Within minutes, she accidentally contacts the teenaged version of the genius who invented the tech her suit and implants work on, and he serves as her information-source and general hacker, despite having chores to do on the farm he lives on. To track the baddies, she gets herself inserted into a local police precinct as a deep-undercover agent of a secretive group called Section 6, which allows her to not tell people things about how she knows details or where she gets her information. At first, she's stiff and awkward and poorly-adjusted, but as the first season moves along, she settles in some and makes friends with her partner Detective Carlos Fonnegra and some of the others she works with. She and Alec bond. She enters into a strange sort-of-friendship and sort-of-affair with Kellog, one of the escaped criminals who has set himself up as a successful answer man and intends to stay in the present--and claims he was a pawn all along, not really a villain.
Most of the time she just wants to get home to her son and not-so-upstanding husband. Sometimes this means she makes alliances with the enemy, or it means she goes against the cops she's working with to get the information she needs. But as the series progresses, she gets more invested in the present and in her chance to change the future and keep the dystopia from happening--which causes a lot of angst because if she changes the future, will her son still be there? Will she even be able to get back if the future is not the one she left? If she stops the terrorists from bringing down the corporations, is she allowing a worse situation to happen, and does she still believe that the world she left was in the right? If she doesn't, is she as bad as a terrorist for sitting by while they kill thousands of people?
It's the philosophical questions and the way they're never quite answered that make the show something more than just a time-travel buddy-cop show. It's the secrets and the conspiracy that keep it from getting formulaic as they solve crimes and protect the populace. And it's the emotional heart that keeps it from being a chilly scifi monster of inter-woven continuity and heavy predestination questions. Without Kiera's real concern about what she's doing and whether it's right, without her core of decency even when she's forced to do desperate things, without the tentative affection for the people of 2012 that she's come to care about, the show could easily have gone into something that isn't very relatable and therefore is hard to care about.
But we do relate, and it's easy to care about.
Season 1 of Continuum is generally tight, with a moderately quiet start that reveals itself to be more than she thought at the time, and a powerful end that raises all sorts of questions for Season 2. Since this first season is only ten episodes long and is now available on Netflix, it's also addictive and a quick watch. The continuity is well-handled, the red-herrings are not overused, and the characters are all believable and realistic, and all have their own reasons for what they did and why they're there, and, most importantly, what they're doing next.
It also has good pacing, consistent tone, honest emotion, and that perfect balance between what the characters know and what they don't know that keeps us wanting to watch more.
All in all, a very good start. Let's see if they keep it up through Season Two, now airing on SyFy.
What did you think of Season One of Continuum? Share in the comments!