Continuum: “Minute by Minute” Review (S3, E1)

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Kiera Cameron.

This post is for my fellow Continuum fans! The Syfy show is back, and I feel like I’ve aged 100 years waiting for season three because I love the show so much. So of course I have to review the first episode and talk about what the new season might have in store for us…

Now, before I get into this, please be aware that we are definitely spiraling into die-hard territory, where you better not plunge unless you’ve watched the show from the beginning. It’s not confusing — it’s just extremely complicated, and it’s worth seeing how everything evolves to this point. I won’t recap all of it here. Skip reading this post if you are going to watch it, or at the very least, perhaps skim my summary of the first seasons here.

If we really break down the season 3 premiere “Minute by Minute,” there are two big storylines. The episode switches back and forth between them, but I’m going to separate them here for clarity…

Alec’s Story

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Alec using the time travel device = bright explosions!

We pick up right where we left off, with Alec Sadler using the time travel device to travel back in time and save his girlfriend, Emily, from dying. He goes back one week — but within a few minutes of arriving, he sees himself walking with Emily and realizes there are now two of him.

Jason shows up and agrees to help him in his quest to save Emily, but he leaves when Emily shows up and Alec promptly begins making out with her. Alec invites her to go to Thailand with him, apparently figuring that getting her far away from Vancouver will keep her safe from the bullet that would have killed her, you know, a week from now. Of course she wants to go.

Alec has arrangements to make. He goes back to the lab, where he runs into Kellog and talks about all these things that are going to happen. Of course, he doesn’t tell Kellog he’s from the future, but his attitude and knowledge surprise Kellog. This inspires Kellogg to go talk to Escher. It’s the same art gallery scene we saw last season, but this time, after the conversation is over, someone shoots Escher with a silenced gun, clearly on Kellog’s orders. The shooter is Emily.

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Emily shoots Escher.

Alec also stops by the police station to give Kiera and her (cop) partner, Carlos, some intel. But later, when he’s back at the lab later getting his passport and stuff together, he spots Kiera Cameron, dead on the lab floor with a bullet in her forehead. Alec is upset, blaming his time travel for what happened to her. But…

Kiera’s Story

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When Kiera goes back in time a week, she frees Garza.

Okay, snap back to the beginning of all this. Remember at the end of last season, when the Freelancers had Kiera locked in a cube with a bunch of other time travelers from Liber8? That’s where we pick up with her.

Kiera is taken to meet the head Freelancer, Catherine, who says that the Freelancers are not actually time travelers themselves. Apparently, the discovery of time travel in 2077 inspired all kinds of people to travel back in time for selfish reasons, and it wasn’t good. In fact, a war began 100 years after Kiera was born. Eventually, laws were enacted to prohibit time travel, but one man went back in time 1,000 years to start an organization of people dedicated to keeping the timeline intact. That’s who the Freelancers are. Kiera likens them to a cult.

But what really freaks Kiera out is that there’s someone there she recognizes: Curtis Chen, a member of Liber8 who was killed by Kiera’s own gun when he shot it and it backfired on him. Now he’s alive and well — and a Freelancer. None of this is explained (yet…).

Catherine wants Kiera to go back in time one week and stop this whole Alec mess. By going back in time, Alec has started a new branch of the timeline, which essentially means that the Alec that’s supposed to exist — the one who creates SadTech Industries and all that — isn’t there anymore. He’s left the current timeline, and now there are two of him in a new branch of the timeline that he has sprouted. And who knows what this new branch of the timeline is going to bring about.

At first, Kiera doesn’t want to help the Freelancers. On her way back to her cube, she encounters Garza, and together they knock out the guards and try to escape. Along the way, Garza is shot while distracting the guards for Kiera. And then Kiera is caught again.

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I just love Garza’s face here.

But seriously, this whole sequence was one of my favorite parts, even though it’s basically just the two of them running around damp corridors for 10 minutes. I love it because they’re two women in slightly baggy men’s suits they stole from the guards, and the fight sequences are the best. I forgot how much hand-to-hand combat Continuum shows off; it’s really well-choreographed, and those scenes are surprisingly long.

After being captured again, Kiera agrees to help the Freelancers. Catherine insists that they want the same things, after all: They both want to keep the timeline pure, with no glitches that could change history. For Kiera, this is because she wants the future to remain the same, so her husband and son will be waiting for her when she gets back to 2077. (If she gets back to 2077…)

And so Kiera hops in the Freelancers’ rusty old time travel chair and heads back in time one week. When Catherine and Curtis meet her here, Catherine says something along the lines of, “Have we met?” and Kiera shows off the new tattoos between her fingers that prove she is now a Freelancer. (Apparently those tattoos are codes that Freelancers can scan for authorization, so they recognize each other as legitimate.)

Kiera explains to Catherine why she’s here: There are two Alec Sadlers in this timeline, and it’s now her job to figure out which one of them will bring about the future that she and the Freelancers want. It’s implied that the other Alec will have to die. (And how do you tell the two Alecs apart? Just before traveling back in time, our Alec got grazed by a bullet on the side of his forehead. Great idea.)

And then we have Kiera showing up at the lab where Alec is hovering over dead Kiera — but that’s just dead Kiera from the past. It’s not completely clear what happened to past-Kiera, but this means there’s only one of her to deal with. However, it does bring up questions about who killed her and why…

In any case, it’s intense, guys.

Thoughts. . .

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The time travel device!

I was really impressed by this episode. Although there are still a few questions to resolve this season, so far things are pretty clear. The story may seem confusing if you haven’t been following along (and I had to refresh myself on what happened by reading old posts and forum threads about the show), but already season 3 is setting up a pretty tight story. Kiera has to kill one of the Alecs. That seems to be the major thread — though there are surely going to be lots of other subplots and crazy things happening along the way.

The only slightly silly thing about the episode is how much explaining there is. Catherine goes into great detail about who the Freelancers are, and then Kiera goes into great detail about why she went back in time a week and what her purpose is in chasing down Alec. I mean, I get that you need some explanation when the story is so complex, but it feels a little heavy sometimes — like it’s not what the characters would really say, it’s just dialogue for the viewers so they don’t get confused. Still, I guess it’s better to have things spelled out at the beginning than to be completely lost the entire season.

The main things I’m currently curious about are regarding the very end of season 2. When it seemed Kiera was already locked up in the Freelancers’ prison, we saw two things happen:

Carlos and Betty meet Julian (who is set to become the leader of Liber8).

Dillon, the Vancouver Police Department inspector (and Kiera’s “boss” when she’s in our current time period), is reading up on City Protective Services, the future of the police force. The CPS is what Kiera is a part of in 2077. Sounds like the seeds are being sown for it in our time…

If these two things are happening when Kiera is imprisoned, then this means that when she (and Alec, for that matter) go back in time a week, these things don’t happen. Or at least they haven’t happened yet. Are they integral to shaping the future? Will something that Kiera or Alec does throw these off and cause a different future to develop? Though brief, both moments are so prominently featured at the end of season 2 that I’m sure they are going to come up in some form soon…

I’m also curious how, if there is only one Kiera right now, she used to “remember” being in the Freelancers’ prison. I thought it was her CMR linking with the CMR of another version of her — like there were two of her — but it looks like there will only be one. At least for now.

Also, there are already additional timelines happening, because the future has changed. The biggest event I can think of is Kellog’s grandmother being killed. This means that no matter how long Kellog lives from 2012 on, he will never run into another version of himself, because he won’t be born in this timeline. However, the Catherine pointed out that 1,000 people can die with no effect on history, but one single person (such as Alec Sadler) can change the course of history. If that’s the case, then Kellog must not be important enough to change history. (But if he’s responsible for murdering Escher, then is Escher not important either…?)

Finally, why does Jason want to help Alec save Emily? I wonder how important she will be. It even made me curious about whether she’s Jason’s mother, which would explain why Jason wants to make sure she stays alive.

Really, what I love about Continuum is that in addition to the excellent cast, the writing is smart enough to surprise me on a regular basis. Storylines go in different directions than I expected, and even when the show treads “familiar” territory — like testing out the grandfather paradox with Kellog’s grandmother — it feels fresh. Rather than trying to make a sci-fi spectacle of itself, Continuum thoughtfully explores the nature of time travel in new ways.

— Ashley

2 thoughts on “Continuum: “Minute by Minute” Review (S3, E1)”

  1. I was going to tweet you about this today to see how you liked this season so far and noticed this on your timeline. Somehow I missed this review. Anyway, I really love the season so far. Especially how they are delving more into the time travel issues in the first couple of episodes. It is kind of a bummer Carlos and Kiera aren’t quite getting along now. Other than that pretty great so far. I love shows that have stuff I can think about between episodes. So many different things to try and figure out where they are going. I’m a sucker for having two versions of people roaming around, so that aspect with Alec this season has been neat. Love hearing your theories about them here. Great review!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I agree about Carlos and Kiera! I miss them being such good friends. I’m also not crazy about the idea of Carlos “drinking away his troubles” if that’s what the show is going for lately? It’s just kind of silly and overdone, imo.

      But the two Alecs thing has been interesting! Especially with the last episode, it’s almost like we should start rooting for one versus the other… The past-timeline (non-scarred) Alec seemed so sweet and innocent before, but now in this latest episode he’s switched gears a lot…

      Such a good show. =)

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