Entertainment Magazine

Review #3613: Continuum 1.9: “Family Time”

Posted on the 31 July 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Bronzethumb

Written by Floyd Kane
Directed by William Waring

With rare exception, “Continuum” has excelled at using the forms and functions of a typical cop show without falling into the category of one. That skill is on display in “Family Time”: instead than simply being one of the militants-take-hostages-and-police-siege-ensues stories that viewers have seen a thousand times, this stock episode is stretched and remoulded and used to further the overarching story, in a way that’s consistent, surprising, exciting and tragic.

Review #3613: Continuum 1.9: “Family Time”

Kiera and Carlos conduct a routine investigation of a local farm that’s ordered a larger-than-average amount of fertiliser. The farm turns out to be that of Roland Randol, Alec’s stepfather, and discovering the fertiliser puts Kiera, Carlos and Alec’s family in the crosshairs of a new militant group determined to follow in Liber8′s footsteps. It’s a particularly tense and well-constructed episode that succeeds for two reasons in particular. The first is that things start escalating with a few minutes of the opening and never really stop. It’s one big moment after another, be it a surprise, the culmination of a tense build-up, or just something awesome. There’s really not a stretch of time where viewers can sit back and breathe.

The other reason it all comes together so well is the sense of inevitability. “Family Time” demonstrates the difference between telegraphing a plot point and building towards one: it’s that the audience, from its omniscient point of view, is supposed to see all these pieces coming together and know what’s going to happen. The climax of the episode is tense, emotional and shocking, but it’s all because we see how the characters are being led to these decisions. Viewers are sitting on the edge of their seats, screaming for Kiera or Alec or anyone to make a different decision and set things down a different path. They get to rail against the cruelty of fate and in those moments, viewers become part of that world, right there with those characters, feeling what they feel. That kind of investment in a story is rare and it makes the experience so much richer.

Rooting the story in this stock cop show structure means that viewers can get right to the meat of things, and part of that is further exploring the dynamic of Alec’s family, who have mostly hovered in the background to give context and scope to Liber8′s ideals. It’s all brought to a head here, putting the characters at dramatic cross-purposes and letting that dynamic drive the episode. Kiera is caught in the middle, pushing at this dynamic, so it’s Alec who has to step up and be the protagonist, showing us more of what he’s like as a person. He’s quiet, almost meek, but resourceful and sneaky when he needs to be, and above all he doesn’t think twice about putting himself on the line for his friends and family. It’s the kind of development the audience needs to like Alec as a character, not just a plot device.

This was a brilliant hour of television. It had a good story and told it well. It didn’t faff around or get bogged down in clichés, but it really emerged as its own thing. It was exciting and emotional and it engages viewers for the episode’s entire run. It’s littered with hugely enticing plot hooks and teases, and it’s set the stage for the mother of all first season finales.

Score: 9/10

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