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Continuum (Season 1)

Continuum (Season 1)

By Jonahh Oestreich • January 24th, 2013
Static Mass Rating: 4/5
Universal Pictures UK

Release date (UK):
January 28th, 2013
Certification (UK): 12

Running time:
422 minutes approx (10 episodes)

Created by Simon Barry

Cast: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster, Erik Knudsen, William B. Davis

Official website

Continuum Season 1

“The past is obdurate.” ~ Stephen King

If time travel back-to-the-future style would be possible, it would have been done already and our lives would be a constant Armageddon as we’d live at the mercy of someone or something perpetually changing the past. Pure madness. Incoherent zaniness. You’d wake up in your bed in the morning and fall asleep in a different one at night not noticing the switch somewhere sometime in the middle of the day. Your duvets might change colors too, and in the end no one would know where they are, when they are and, last not least, who they are.

For all intents and purposes though, the whole time travel conundrum could be anything but what we imagine and once it really is “simply an engineering problem” (Michio Kaku), we might be in for some strange surprises, but as far as entertainment and storytelling go, the simpler solutions are probably the best as they rarely break the present limits of humanly possible comprehension.

In this sense, Continuum turns out to be a surprising show as a sci-fi newcomer on television, even if the Canadian production takes its time developing some of the subliminal tension, absorbing atmosphere and otherworldly feel of US-made franchises like Lost and Fringe. The first season of the series is very much an invitation to connect with a story and its characters that promise a lot of potential further down the line, which has to do with the rather naturalistic set-up.

Whereas established shows have built a “universe” that is more or less close to our life experience yet place us in a world far stranger than ours, Continuum strongly draws on topical problems of politics, democracy and human rights. For that the show deserves kudos as we are, for once, presented with issues that really affect Continuum Season 1us acutely, here and now. At the same time, Continuum is bound to amplify a political stress field that’s already close to a breakpoint as the show could be interpreted as both political propaganda and profound critique.

Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a cop from the year 2077, a dystopian time and world that is ruled by corporations rather than elected governments. On the surface everything looks slick and clean but individual rights and liberties seem to be absent. There’s a somewhat fascist undercurrent but apparently people have arranged their lives and settled in.

Not all of them though. When “Liber8”, a group of rebel-terrorists, kill thousands of people in a 9/11-style attack, they’re sentenced to death but escape their execution with a time travel device which beams them back to 2012. Kiera, meant to monitor the execution, is sucked into the time jump as well, being the only one not knowing what’s going on at first. Eventually, she sets out to prevent the Liber8 guys from changing the past and joins the Vancouver police.

Obviously, the young woman is furnished with some neat hi-tech including brain implants and a skin-tight cybernetic suit that put her skills and resources far above what 2012 Continuum Season 1law enforcement could wish for but this remains her — and our — secret as the story focuses more on the characters and the mysteries that come with time travel.

Lead Rachel Nichols plays cop-from-the-future Kiera with a cool and a kind of withdrawn compassion that make it easy to believe she’s not from this world and connect with her nonetheless. Taught to trust her tech more than her instincts, she seems to believe in the righteousness of the world she comes from but in the course of the events we see she’s very much a human being making her own and sometimes unconventional decisions. After all, she’s also a mother of a boy who, “back” in 2077, is more than likely to miss her as badly as she misses him.

Ultimately, her motivation to get “back home” seems to dominate her actions and she’s the first and only character to consider the true dangers of “changing the past”, afraid of causing future disaster by doing something good in the present. On the way, her convictions seem to crumble and in flashbacks we learn there have been latent doubts about the society she grew up in.

It almost seems possible she’s been sent back to the past on purpose as she meets teenager Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen) whose older self (played by William B. Davis, the “cigarette-smoking man” from The X-Files) in 2077 is the head of a mega-corporation Continuum Season 1with obviously ulterior motives. Much of Kiera’s cybernetic gear has its origin in technology developed by Sadler who, as the 17-year old tech geek, is the only one aware of Kiera’s true identity.

The relationship between Alec and Kiera is the linchpin of the show’s first season serving as source of mystery and keeping the line between future and present open. Though interesting, it doesn’t seem to be important whether we’re presented with a time loop where nothing can be changed or if the time jump has indeed already altered the future. What matters more is how the characters cope, especially Alec and Kiera who know of at least one possible future.

In the end, Continuum seems to abolish not only the so-called Grandfather Paradox which somewhat deepens the mystery and makes me hope the show — given a sufficient life time — will build more and more on original ideas. The first season offers some hints that nothing is what it seems which it shares with the popular genre franchises but there’s promise the thread will lead some place — and time — truly unexpected.

Jonahh Oestreich

Jonahh Oestreich

One of the Editors in Chief and our webmaster, Jonahh has been working in the media industry for over 20 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.

You can follow Jonahh on Twitter @Jonahh_O.

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