Written by Jeff King
Directed by Jon Cassar
The first episode of “Continuum” came out of the gate strong, moved fast and defied expectations of what a show about a cop from the future would be like. The second episode continues this trend and moves with the kind of sure footing that a lot of shows don’t find until much further into their run — it’s not perfect, but it’s damn hard to figure out what they could be doing better at this point in its life.
Following on from the first episode, “Fast Times” sees Kiera continuing her mission to stop the time travelling Liber8 terrorists with Alec’s help, only to be hamstrung in the opening minutes of the episode when her cover as a Portland cop is blown by Chief Dillon and she has to work against Carlos and the VPD. Meanwhile, a schism forms within Liber8 when one member, Kellog, wants to stay and wage their war in 2012 while the rest plan to help Lucas’ experiments with rebuilding their time device and returning to the 2070s.
Right off the bat, the “Continuum” writers deserve no small amount of praise for cutting to the chase: both the possibility of returning to the future and the notion of Kiera’s flimsy cover identity being blown are obvious story points that would need to be dealt with eventually, but most shows would push those back, stringing out these possibilities until a season finale or some-such and using this first episode after the pilot to establish a basic formula. Instead, this episode dives right into these issues, and all their character and plot implications, and lets them drive the story. The closest thing to a formula that develops is Kiera using Alec’s resources and her future knowledge to figure out what Liber8 is up to, but it doesn’t feel that way in the slightest. This fast pace adds to the realism of the characters (and therefore the show) because they’re immediately trying to do what people would immediately try and do.
The only real drawback to this is that by pulling the trigger on a “can we get back to the future?” story so early in the series, they rob the climax of a lot of its suspense because the audience knows they’re not going to make it; if they did, there’d be no show. But that failure is immediately spun off into new storytelling possibilities and little Chekhovian nuggets of plot to be picked up later. Exactly what Liber8′s ultimate goal is gets discussed, leading to the schism. Kiera not only has to figure out how to establish herself in 2012, but she has to contend with having killed whatever trust Carlos, Dillon and the rest of the VCP had in her. These things and more directly play into how the story unfolds and there’s every indication they’ll continue to play into future episodes.
In the premiere, it felt like Alec got the best showing of the main trio of characters. In “Fast Times”, Kiera and Carlos get far more room to shine and their actors get a bigger variety of material to work with. Victor Webster came across as bland and dull in the previous episode as Carlos, but here he gets to wear his detective hat a bit more often and interact with a few more characters, and much more personality comes out as a result. His rapport with Rachel Nichols is great — and better still, there’s a distinct lack of romantic tension, hopefully purposeful, because with Kiera’s family waiting back in 2077 it wouldn’t seem right for there to be a big will-they-or-won’t-they storyline between these two.
And speaking of Rachel Nichols, she also gives a better and more varied performance than what she did in the premiere, which — given that she was quite excellent in the premiere — is really saying something. The Kiera Cameron of the teaser was almost a whole different character, young and green and with a totally different attitude towards police work, a night and day difference from the tough officer trapped in 2012, and the credit goes entirely to Nichols for the performance. She also got a chance to play some more comedic moments, such as figuring out how to open and drive a car, in addition to the familiar shades of stern cop and distraught wife/parent. The only scene of hers that felt like a let-down was at the very end, but that was less from performance than hammy, cliché-ridden scripting that had executive meddling (of the “can you just sum it all up for us?” variety) stamped all over it.
All of this doesn’t touch on the quality of the special effects, or the (mostly) solid script, or the genuine sense of malice and danger that the villains exude, or the veins of blue collar that permeate the tone of the police department compared to some of the very slick cop procedurals on the air right now, or a dozen other little things. The presentation is outstanding, the characters are engaging and one comes away from the episode wanting to know what will happen next: it’s a feat that it manages all this in only the second episode, and if the next eight instalments continue to unfold to such a high standard, “Continuum” might just usurp some geeky bigwigs when it comes to what’s the best genre show on TV right now.
Mirrored from Critical Myth.