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Travelers (Season 1)

Travelers (Season 1)

By Jonahh Oestreich • September 26th, 2017
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
TRAVELERS (Season 1)
Netflix

Original release: October 17th, 2016
Running time: 544 minutes

Creator: Brad Wright
Producer: Eric McCormack

Cast: Eric McCormack, MacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, Patrick Gilmore

Travelers Season 1

“The human mind is full of useless things.”
Grace (Traveler 027)

Time travel is probably a bad idea. It’s not just full of paradoxes (so if you’d kill your ancestors and you’ll never be born), it also lets you fix one thing in the past, only to break another for the future. Alas, everybody dreams of making amends one time or the other, and mostly this involves turning the clock back a few minutes, hours, years or more… It’s like a primal need.

Especially when it comes to saving the world after it ended; if we only could go back to the past and prevent the apocalyptic event. This is the mission of the ‘travelers’, who come to the 21st century from a temporally undefined future. There are no time machines though, instead a traveler’s consciousness is sent back through time to take over the body of someone who is about to die.

However, those takeovers don’t always work out. As the potential hosts are researched in the future — using, for example, records of social media accounts, there are some mishaps. One traveler arrives in the body of a drug addict; the other host is a single mother with an abusive ex. Marcy, the host of traveler 3569, is mentally disabled — unbeknownst to the future as the research there and then was based on a made-up Facebook account.

Travelers Season 1Human errors like this are a recurring theme in Travelers. The repercussions are more or less severe but always have an impact on their mission. Though all specialists selected for their unique skill sets, the travelers suddenly see themselves confronted with the problems of random people whose lives they assumed.

This sets Travelers apart from other sci-fi shows that revolve around time travel, and allows the story to explore subjects such as identity, memories, life, death and compassion in more depth — without taking it too far. At the same time, the series avoids the usual hi-tech reverence and takes itself not too seriously, delivering a fresh approach to the time travel theme that’s equally absorbing and entertaining.

Of course, Travelers is still a show made in the present for the present; the story has the ingredients we expect: friendship, love and betrayal, life-or-death choices, fights and stand-offs, the promises and the perils of a technology that, to us, looks like magic.

Travelers Season 1The extremely critical viewer though will ask the inevitable questions: If only the consciousness travels through time, how do the travelers have access to a superior technology that’s centuries ahead? If the transfer of consciousness is utilizing quantum entanglement, does the host, or mind, a traveler takes over actually die? At least this conundrum is explored in one of the episodes when the life of the boss traveler (played by Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack) hangs in the balance.

The biggest mystery in Travelers however, is the future. There ‘was’ a near-apocalypse with all the imaginable turmoil. A dark age so bleak that some travelers find a prison in the 21st century still better than life in the future. There’s a ‘grand plan’ the travelers have sworn to follow, but we don’t get to know what this plan is about, or what this future dystopian society looks like. The ‘director’, one of the powers-that-be in the future calling the shots, seems to have the faculties of a benevolent dictator at first, but we soon learn that he or she is a not-so-human, if human-made entity.

Travelers Season 1In the end, we wonder if the post-apocalyptic society is run by humans, or artificial intelligence — a question that dominates the second part of the season. As the travelers realize their seemingly world-saving mission might not have changed the future for the better, new lines are drawn. It almost seems like the future now turns on the travelers who cannot be sure who or what to trust anymore. A faction with their own agenda emerges, and some of the characters are thrown between a rock and a hard place…

This opens the door to season 2; there are enough loose ends to tie up. Travelers has characters you can root for — each with a story in their own right that builds on the tension of a supposedly dead 21st century person carrying the mind of a person from a far future. I found this synergy the most compelling facet of Travelers, coming to a head with traveler 027 (Grace) who not only is a bunch of tough wisdom, but also seems to be the linchpin of the story itself — and probably the nemesis of the travelers.

Travelers Season 1

Jonahh Oestreich

Jonahh Oestreich

One of the Editors in Chief and our webmaster, Jonahh is a photographer and journalist who has been working in the media industry for over 15 years, mainly in television, design and art. As a boy, he made his first short film with an 8mm camera and the help of his father. His obsession with (moving) images and stories hasn’t faded since.

His passion for intricate stories and the ‘seven basic plots’ (ask him!) often times makes his friends and family put him in the doghouse for “predicting” too many twists and endings.

You can follow Jonahh on Twitter @Resonance_Zero.

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