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Review #3554: Continuum 1.4: “Matter of Time”

Posted on the 19 June 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

Written by Sam Egan
Directed by Michael Rohl

For a show about cops, “Continuum” has done remarkably little in the way of straight-up procedural storylines, instead playing out like an awesomely franchise-free Canadian take on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”. Not so this episode — regarding the procedural, that is, not the awesome. The weakest episode to date is certainly not a weak episode, but falling back on a more tried-and-true formula to craft an episodic A-story creates a level of disengagement that all the other subplots have to work to overcome.

Review #3554: Continuum 1.4: “Matter of Time”

In “Matter of Time”, Carlos calls in Kiera to help him investigate the mysterious death of a local scientist whose work on developing a clean anti-matter energy source attracted the enmity of activists and rivals, one of whom may have sabotaged his efforts. It’s the strangeness of the death, and later the potential Liber8 involvement, that gets Kiera — and the audience — involved with this story in the first place, yet for the most part it winds up playing out like a typical police procedural storyline that has no connection to the larger mythology of the show.

“Continuum” has been so focused up to this point that the relatively minor gaffe of an A-story feels like a big, gaping problem. When all the subplots are so much more interesting and directly plugged into the premise of the show, much of the time spent on solving this case feels wasted and it sucks dramatic tension out of other aspects of the episode. It’s only in the final moments that things start to come around and the A-story feels like something that belongs in this show, but that doesn’t quite make up for the proceeding forty minutes of waiting to get to the “good bits”.

But given all that, it was still a somewhat engaging storyline for the little interactions between Kiera and Carlos as they build a trust and a professional relationship. Carlos’ style of police work flies in the face of Kiera’s, both in personality and training, and underlying this storyline is a sense that Kiera is trying to figure out how he can be so “disadvantaged” yet match her as a detective. The answer being that he’s developed skills that don’t require technology, hunches and the ability to read people, and Kiera is slowly coming to see the value of these.

Furthermore, a certain lightness is starting to develop between the two, a willingness to joke and be honest, and it does so much to keep these characters fresh. Kiera’s very hard façade has moments where a funny, charming young woman shines through, while Carlos’ gets to be more passionate and make the audience feel like our protagonist has found a genuine partner in all this. It’s not that the audience doesn’t know these characters have depth — Kiera, especially, gets the flash-back/forwards that show different sides of her personality — but seeing them show that depth to one another makes the audience appreciate the partnership all the more.

One of the other big developments was the appearance of Edouard, the Liber8 leader who’d disappeared during the time jump. It was a fantastic introduction, with far more breadth than anything we’d seen during the premiere episode: Tony Amendola gets to stretch the acting muscles, playing different points in Edouard’s history that give the audience just enough understanding of how he became a revolutionary as well as some fantastic reaction shots to being in 2012, and at the same time he got to show why he spent ten years playing the baddest Jaffa in the known universe of “Stargate SG-1″. More than any of the Liber8 members, Edouard elicits sympathy while at the same time creating an atmosphere of danger and the promise of a brutal and bloody conflict.

There were also a couple of orbiting characters and plotlines this week. After having such a “wow” introduction, Alec has unfortunately been relegated to the position of Voice With An Internet Connection and does nothing but give Kiera up-to-the-minute digital assistance. Despite all the character’s promise, he’s yet to really start driving any of the story. Similarly, Kellog is capitalising on the freedom he earned in the previous episode to make money, buy expensive stuff and help out his ancestors. Sure, it’s something most of the audience would do if they’d been thrust back in time, but it’s so removed from the rest of the myth-arc that the audience is left to sit back and ask “why are we seeing this?”

The fact that the closest “Continuum” has come to having a clunker still made for fantastic television is really something worth knowing. The straightforward procedural element was easily the weakest part of the episode but it was still couched in great writing and acting. Plotlines and promises from only two or three episodes ago are coming to fruition, with every indication that whatever little lingering problems the audience might have will be addressed very soon, such as Kellog and Alec’s role in how things play out. Reviewing an episode feels like a mishmash of gushing and nitpicking: “Continuum” is simply that good, with every indication that it plans to continue as such.

Rating: 7/10

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