Episode Title: "A Stitch In Time"
Writer: Simon Barry
Director: Jon Cassar
Going into “Continuum,” I had no expectations about the series. The only thing I knew was that it was a show about a cop from the future who is stuck in the present. It’s a premise that’s been done many times before and not always successfully. But the first episode of “A Stitch In Time” shows a lot of promise for what “Continuum” might become.
“Continuum.” originated last summer on Canada’s Showcase network, so the spoilers are out there if you really want them. However, that would probably take a lot of the fun out of this show. So we’re just going to take “Continuum” episode by episode as they debut on Syfy.
The story starts out in 2077, decades after the corporations apparently seized control of North America and began limiting freedoms. A terrorist group calling themselves Liber8 attempted to kill the leaders and took out thousands of innocent people in the process. But on the day of their execution, a police officer (which is called a “Protector” in this time) named Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is caught in their escape device that sends her and the eight condemned terrorists to the past.
One of the things that works best about “Continuum” are the smaller touches as Kiera explores her new world, like the way the people on the street laugh at her futuristic cop uniform or Kiera’s initial refusal to believe that she has traveled through time. The tech and the HUD of Kiera’s cop uniform is also intriguing, as it gives the series elements of sci-fi even in normally mundane moments.
Kiera also has a big motivation to find her way home, since she’s been forcibly separated from her husband, Greg Cameron (John Reardon) and their son, Sam (Sean Michael Kyer). In the future sequence, Greg appears to have some knowledge about the escape attempt as he freaks out when he sees his wife in the chamber with the Liber8 prisoners. But his boss, Alec Sadler (William B. Davis) looks like he was expecting Kiera’s presence and he even smiles after she disappears with the Liber8 terrorists.
In the present, a much younger Alec (Erik Knudsen) inadvertently aligns with Kiera since the tech in her head and clothing is all based on his proprietary designs. “Continuum” manages to buy itself more credibility by keeping Kiera and young Alec wary about each other until they both find proof that what’s happening isn’t a hoax. There’s an interesting dynamic at play between Knudsen and Nichols as well, despite not sharing a scene in person. Kiera doesn’t want to reveal his future, but she inadvertently gives Alec enough clues to figure out that he’s running one of the major corporations in her time.
There’s also something going on in young Alec’s home life that appears to be some kind of grassroots domestic group that could be the organization that eventually becomes Liber8. I have to wonder if the older Alec set up Kiera and Liber8’s time travel adventure just to ensure his own future. Helpfully, the show lays out two competing theories of time travel via Alec. Either Kiera’s trip was preordained and nothing can change or her presence has already changed the future that she left behind.
It’s less clear why the remaining Liber8 members decide to wage their war in the present, but it eventually leads Kiera to approach Vancouver Police Detective Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster) about Lucas Ingram (Omari Newton); the one member of Liber8 to be arrested after his arrival in 2012. But the episode falters when Kiera’s attempts to pass herself off as a Portland police officer who is outside of her jurisdiction. Twice when Kiera’s unconvincing lie should have been exposed, “Continuum” bends over backwards to make sure that no one actually calls Portland PD to verify her identity. That may have been necessary to establish Kiera’s cover as a cop in the present, but it was definitely a sloppy twist in an otherwise solid episode.
By the end, Liber8 stage a massive bank robbery as a distraction while off-screen, they shoot up the Vancouver PD to free Lucas. Unfortunately, the characters in Liber8 are not as impressive as their actions. I recognized a few familiar faces in that group, like Lexa Doig and Tony Amendola from “Stargate SG-1” as well as Roger Cross from “24.” But none of them really registered as memorable individuals. So far, only Kiera and Alec seem like characters worth following.
Regardless of its faults, the first episode of “Continuum” was surprisingly strong and it’s one of the best series that Syfy has added in a while. I want to see where this story goes, so I’m willing to give it some leeway on its weaker aspects.