The time-travel pseudo-political mindfuck Continuum has vehemently established its second season as the sort of no-holds-barred affair that turns a good show with a cult following to a great show that all should dedicate some DVR and hard drive space for. The question of what makes a hero, the grey area between revolutionary and terrorist, and our basic comprehension of time travel, were explored adeptly in the first season with certain lines drawn, alliances created, and, most importantly, explosions. This week’s episode, “Second Last,” puts a dead body in a trunk and teaches us that there’s still dirtier, grittier, darker places to go than political corruption and corporate tyranny.
The most striking and compelling aspect of this episode, which can also be said for the last few, has to be how carefully the pacing takes care of and develops each of our characters. Alec is in love with an adorable redhead with some skeletons in her closet (which she probably beat to death). Kiera genuinely feels that she’s closer to the future, her home, than she’s ever been, literally having her hand on the contraption that brought her here. The weight is coming down on Carlos due to his close proximity and loyalty to Kiera and her more secreted extracurriculars. Liber8 is, for all intents and purposes, back together (sans Lucas in the crazy house) with Travis and Sonia rekindling the sort of semi-abusive bi-racial lovemaking that would yield the most cheek-pinchable little Canadian anarchist babies.
There are a lot of moving parts to this series, which at times seems cumbersome, but in this episode feel as if they’re all moving collective towards one climactic point. The trajectory is thoroughly set by: Emily’s decision to be with Alec despite her secrets and the questionable origins of their relationship; Alec’s belief that he has found his biological father (while completely ignoring the fundamental logic of a time travel-based familial drama); Liber8 finally re-focusing their energies on not only killing Kiera but also Escher; Carlos’s white knight complex; and Kiera’s one-future-tracked mind that will put getting home above all else. It’s unclear that the dynamics we’ve grown comfortable with can withstand all of these conflicting and distinct interests. And trust has always been an issue in the series, or at least it should be to anyone paying attention.
Interestingly enough, the build-up doesn’t amount to much in this episode. Nothing that the viewer doesn’t already know or see coming. And if you couldn’t see the most expendable character to date, Emily, being shot with so many bullets flying through the air without hitting anything but rooftop, you were either too enamored by the flame-kissed locks or a sucker for a love story not ending in heartbreak. Silly you.
But still, what this episode does set us up for is the future. The faraway time of Kiera and Liber8 has in some ways been meticulously preserved and even utilized to greater affect this season, this episode in particular. Flashforwards are no longer blatant overtures of what we need to remember about Kiera to understand her next monologue. They’ve become a hint at what’s to come in the future-present (tell your primary school English teacher about that shit!) and a pretty coherent framing device for present-day shenanigans. This episode from beginning to end, establishes that there is obviously more to fear than Liber8, perhaps even more to Alec and Sadtech than we previously thought. The episode ends with his heart breaking and a fire igniting, which may be the firmly planted bridge between the two times we’ve been waiting for. The next episode is bound to have more to digest, being the season finale and consisting of some sort of a Escher-Alec showdown. Fingers crossed for more explosions and a thorough reconfiguration of how we see Continuum. Emily’s (or is it Maya?) death should mean at least that much.