Continuum Season 2 (Blu-Ray) Review
Posted by Michael Weyer on 04.03.2014
The second season of the Canadian time-travel series elevates itself nicely with better pacing and stories to showcase a thrilling look at a future that's closer than we think.
Continuum Season Two
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
9 Hours and 33 Minutes
It’s always fun to see a TV show that had the ingredients to be something great pay off on that promise in its sophomore season. When Continuum premiered in Canada in 2012 and emigrated to the U.S. via Syfy last year, it showcased a very intriguing mix of time travel and drama that actually made you think about the dangers of technology in our world. It ended on a good note but the second season is truly an improvement, elevating what was already good in the show and with more complex and compelling plotlines matched by a good cast and sharp writing. Now on Blu-Ray, the season offers one of the best genre shows on television now that shows the dangers such exploits can provide and how changing the future isn’t as easy as it seems.
A quick recap of season 1: In 2077, the world is run by corporations, the majority of the populace forced into working at debts that can never be paid off and under the constant surveliance of a government that would give Orwell nightmares. Against this regime is Liber8, a terrorist group striking back at the power with one attack killing 30,000 people. Several members are prepped for execution: Leader Edward Kagame (Tony Amendola), Travis Verta (Roger Cross), Sonya Valentine (Lexa Doig), fighter Jasmine Garza (Luvia Petersen), tech genius Lucas Ingram (Omari Newton) and con artist Matthew Kellogg (Stephen Lobo). At the moment of execution, the terrorists use a device to create a blast of energy that swallows up them and Protector Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols). In a flash, Kiera finds herself in 2012, soon using the CMR wireless system in her head to communicate with Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen), a teenage genius destined to become one of the architects of Keria’s society. He helps her create an identity as an agent of a group called Section Six to hunt down Liber8, working with cop Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster) under Inspector Dillon (Brian Markinson) and Betty Robertson (Jennifer Spence). In the season finale, Kiera met with Jason Sadler (Ian Tracey), who had been at the prison breakout in the future and thrust further back in time, mind broken by the incident. Also, Kiera had to tangle with Agent Gardiner (Nicholas Lea), convinced she was working with Liber8. The season ended with Kagame killed in a massive bombing set off by a group that included Alec’s step-brother Julian (Richard Harmon) and Sonya turning on Travis.
As we pick up season 2, Kiera returns from an absence still wary of working with Carlos who is growing increasingly suspicious of how she knows so much. Alec decodes a message in Kiera’s CMR that’s a message from his older self wanting to change the future. Alec tries to keep away from Kiera, getting a job at an electronics store and soon dating the attractive Emily (Magda Apanowicz). Travis survives being shot by Sonya and Jasmine breaks him out of jail to join together in a Liber8 civil war. Kellogg plays both sides against each other as he increases his wealth and reaches out to Alec, trying to sway the boy into creating his technology earlier to change things. Both sides also use Jim Martin (Mahmoh Penikett), a rising politician and friend of Carlos’ who accepts the aid of Liber8 in his quest to become mayor. Meanwhile, Julian is released from prison and becomes a symbol for those fighting corporate control, leading Kiera to realize Julian is destined to become Theseus, a ruthless terrorist who paves the way for Liber8. And watching over all this is the mysterious Escher (Hugh Dillon) who Kiera suspects of also being a time traveler but is far more.
The best part of the series is that the lines are never black and white. Yes, Liber8 are brutal in their methods but you can understand it when you see the brutal future they come from where the elites rule all through any means necessary. It also touches on the great bit of how “history is written by the winners” as Kiera talks of how the destruction of a processing center in the future as a massacre of innocent people. However, we see that those “people” were literally lobotomized for being unable to pay their debts and turned into robots and thus, killing them was a mercy. While Kiera may be our heroine in some ways stopping Liber8, she still wants to ensure this Orwellian future remains intact to keep her husband and son safe and while she may admire the present, she doesn’t consider it “real” in so many ways. The show also does a great job with the time travel aspects, the question of whether you can change the future and if you should. A key example is when Kiera is tempted to kill Julian before he becomes Theseus but later wonders if their encounter wasn’t what pushed him on that path in the first place. The “flash forwards” to 2077 are also good in exploring the history of Liber8 members like how Travis and Sonya met and showing more of just how this world is so bad and yet so much like our own. When Liber8 does stuff using the feelings of the populace against the elites, you can understand how they’re seen as the good guys. That’s brought home when a computer virus basically causes everyone’s private e-mails to become public and Dillon decides to use this to target people connected to Liber8, Carlos and Betty pointing out that all he’s doing is proving them exactly right. It’s amazing just how you feel we’re on the path to this future today and why the show resonates so well.
Nichols is able to get better material, settling in a bit in the present but still wanting to go back to her home. She’s great in fight scenes with steely resolve and drive, in her element as a cop. It’s the softer moments she shines more as it hits her how far off she is. A fantastic episode is when a holographic “therapist” comes via her CMR to force her to face her agony of being away from her son and husband and Nichols handles this powerful moment so well. Another brilliant twist is when Kiera discovers that her partner from 2077 was also sucked into the time warp, appearing in 1975 and now an old woman with a family, making Kiera wonder if it’s possible she could live her life in this time after all. Yet this drive to go home pushes her onward to make some bad moves near the end and Nichols handles it all wonderfully as a great lead, a woman whose personal choices can overwhelm what may be the greater good. She and Webster match up better, building to the moment where she finally tells him the truth and we get the fun dynamic of him trying to work with this woman from the future and handling the wild antics with a new eye but still a good cop doing his job the best he can.
The division of Liber8 gives those actors some nice material as well, Doig pushing up her already hot role as Sonya, now a leader and trying to work her own various plots while Cross is even harsher as Travis, angry at her betrayal. A fun bit is when, captured, he mocks Carlos on what’s coming, telling him to cash in his money and enjoy it while he can and laughing on “who’s the crazy one here?” Newton shows some new edge of Lucas, especially when he starts having hallucinations of Kagame, leading to worries over how time travel affects the mind. Kellogg remains fun as a master schemer in his element in 2012 as he uses his knowledge of the future to get richer, a good chemistry with Kiera and the kind of guy who will be able to talk smooth deals even when getting choked out. Mostly background in the first season, Garza gets a spotlight episode highlighting her psychotic tendencies but how she’s the ultimate “failsafe” by Alec’s older self to stop what he’ll do. Knudsen continues to show the tech-geek side of Alec but his relationship with Emily softens him up ( a funny bit as they discuss the science of a time travel movie they just saw) and Apanowicz does a good job in a role that turns far deeper than expected as the season goes on. The role of Julian is unique, starting a scared boy but soon turning into a leader and convincing as a man who can turn into the monster Kiera knows of her history, Harmon terrific taking this punk and elevating him to a true threat. Markinson and Spence have their own characters shifted as well with hidden agendas that become clearer and it’s great seeing William B. Davis as the future Alec, a man in control but regretting what he has turned the world into.
The production remains top notch with great FX for Kiera’s suit and her future tech along with more looks at 2077, which feels like a fully-formed future time with touches of the past around. The writing is sharp, bringing in aspects of today’s society, letting you see that this future isn’t as far-off or unrealistic as it might seem and terrifyingly possible. Everyone in the cast steps up their game for the conflicts, the battles to try and “improve” the world, unaware that in some cases, they may be creating the very future they want to prevent. The twists are great with sharp and smart writing that tackles realistic issues of time travel and such but also compelling notes on our society. It speeds along, paying off in a great finale that sets the show in a bold new direction. One more, Continuum is one hell of a good time of a show and looks on its way to its own great future.
Rating: 8.0 out of 10.0
1080p/AVC-encoded, it looks even better than the first season, colors warm and saturated, the skin tones vivid and great detail to backgrounds. It really shines in the future scenes, not overt CGI but handling the effects quite well to pull you into the stories and no problems with banding or textures. The show rests on its visuals a lot and whether it’s a moody 2013 street or the dark future, it pops as a treat for the eyes for a terrific presentation.
Rating: 10.0 out of 10.0
Also improved from the first season, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track with no real problems in muting or lossless spots. The dialogue is clear with English subtitles and effects of gun battles and future equipment pops out quite well along with good background noises. No need for volume adjustment as the soundtrack is great to immerse you into the series and enjoy it.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0
While the first season set was bare-bones, this one comes truly packed, starting off with eleven audio commentaries by cast and crew:
◦"Second Chances" with Rachel Nichols, creator Simon Barry and executive producer Pat Williams
◦"Split Second" with Victor Webster, stunt coordinator Kimani Ray Smith and VFX supervisor Adam Stern
◦"Second Skin" with co-EP Shelley Eriksen and executive story editor Jonathan Lloyd Walker
◦"Second Opinion" with actors Brian Markinson and Jennifer Spence
◦"Second Truths" with Eriksen and Walker
◦"Second Degree" with actors Erik Knudsen and Richard Harmon
◦"Second Listen" with actors Omari Newton and Luvia Petersen
◦"Seconds..." with Knudsen, Harmon and director Mike Rohl
◦"Second Guessed" with Newton and Petersen
◦"Second Last" with director Amanda Tapping and actor Magda Apanowicz
◦"Second Time" with Nichols, Williams and Barry
The commentaries are all a great listen, Nichols talking via phone on hers to note stuff like her hair and how the writers loved the idea that no one in 2077 knows who Batman is. There are a lot of technical aspects like stuntwork and the bad Vancouver weather but they touch on the show such as the question of whether Kiera should have a present-day love interest or if that would be seen as cheating on her husband. One episode shows how “it’s tougher than it sounds creating serial killers.” Visual effects master Adam Stern gets constant props over his vision of 2077 and talk of plot ideas like Kiera in a dangerous situation and imagining a future where she doesn’t exist. Peterson is fun as she distracts off her nude scene in an episode by pointing out how her collarbone sticks out due to an old rugby injury and a fun bit where she can’t recall Sean Connery as James Bond. Other fun tidbits include shooting at something called “the MacGyver cabin” that’s used in countless series while Lea is “on every show shot in Vancouver.” Technical aspects include stuff on a gun battle was shot on two different roofs and the suggestion that someday a fan will put all the flash-forward segments into one ordered video. Obviously, spoilers abound for the season with the finale having them chuckle on “you know how good a job we’ve done when we stop talking.” All great to listen to for fun insight to the series.
Continuum Behind the Scenes is a series of featurettes on the show with plenty of behind the scenes footage. They can be watched all at once or in separate chapters.
◦Reloading: Season 2 Kickoff (5:15)
◦Evolution of an Action Scene (7:00)
◦What Do We Do About Travis... (5:24)
◦Casting Continuum (5:19)
◦Do You Think I'm Pretty? (5:33)
◦Know Your Crew (6:02)
◦Alec: Past & Present (4:14)
◦Creating the Future (7:10)
◦An Actor's Journey (5:16)
◦The Bad Guys? (4:48)
◦Young Love (5:10)
◦Gone Fishing (4:29)
◦Continuum at FanExpo (9:00)
The way these are shot are fun as rather than in a studio, the actors are shown at cafes, parks, Webster and Cross sparring in a gym or even just driving around. Creator Simon Barry says they enjoy how the show is “no black and white, no right and wrong” and that drives them on. We get specific looks at things like a big prison break sequence where Webster and Cross did battle in a foam-lined van and a CGI train so well done that most who saw the episode thought it was real. Cross shares insight to Travis not being evil and we see things like audition videos where people had the roles well in hand from the start, Peterson laughing over how she got cast on her first try while Newton needed four and the tidbit that Kiera was originally a male called Kyle but they thought a mother figure would be a more compelling character. The fan expo is fun with questions to the cast of characters and big moments. Newton has a funny bit going around the set talking to lower crew members and showing off a ninja box (“every set has a ninja”) and laughing on how the time-travel device “looks like a giant orange, we know, we heard all the jokes you make.” A great highlight are the Liber8 actors at a restaurant talking of their roles with Doig stating that “as an actor, you can’t judge your character, just understand them” and Newton pointing out how Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist and the mantra of “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Lobo makes the interesting observation that Kellogg is the only one who has a real reason to be violent but isn’t and how most people who travel in time would be like him, using their knowledge to get richer. We get a good piece of Knudsen and Apanowicz in a park discussing their on-screen relationship and a fishing trip with the guys. Overall, a great look at how well the cast gels and how the show comes together.
Rating: 9.0 out of 10.0
The 411: In its second season, Continuum pays off on its promise, a great ride with compelling twists, backed by a great cast. The issues of privacy and technology are more compelling now and that no one is shown as truly right or wrong but shades of grey helps it stand out. The extras are terrific showing insight but the series manages to address real issues amid its fantastic elements as good sci-fi television should. A must-see for time-travel geeks but also to make you realize how this dark future may not be as far off as we think and how the "bad guys" aren't always what they seem.