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Continuum 2.12 "Second Last" REVIEW

TV REVIEW A Mata Hari Of Life And Death

Continuum 2.12 "Second Last" TV REVIEW

Episode 2.12
Writers: Shelley Eriksen, Jonathan Lloyd Walker
Director: Amanda Tapping

THE ONE WHERE Gardiner's body is found and Kiera is blamed for his death. She goes on the run from the cops and Carlos goes renegade to join her (who needs a police pension anyway?). Meanwhile, Travis has a plan to nab his own super-suit, the Freelancers want the time-travel device and Emily comes clean with Alec... before being shot and killed.

VERDICT Well, I'm not sure about you, but I have a lot of issues with “Second Last” – although, funnily enough, I still enjoyed it (hence the three stars). Its biggest success is the epic gunfight at the end, which goes on for ages and features all sorts of feats of derring-do, including Carlos kicking a Freelancer's arse like he's channelling Bruce Lee and Kiera leaping off a building and jumping from roof to roof like a cat. Additionally, there's the lovely scene in which Alec lets Jason know that he realises he's his father. Their father/son bonding simply consists of Jason offering his son crackers. Not many family reunions go this way!

Sadly, however, other things just don't work, which is a crying shame in what should have been a solid episode. Kiera takes the news that she's wanted by the police and FBI so in her stride that the tension from the situation is leached away. Carlos decides to follow her, but you don't really get the sense that it's a huge, life-changing decision for him (which it is!) – he just seems to go along with Kiera because the plot tells him to. Kellog is used mainly for cheap laughs (see below for my rant about that). The fight scene may be huge but it's also rather confusing at times, with too many fast cuts and a few camera set-ups that leave you feeling rather confused about who's doing what. And there are occasional logic holes that make you grit your teeth. For instance, Alec zaps Travis and leaves him semi-conscious on the floor of the lab while he makes a hasty escape. Why the hell didn't he hit him with something? Knock him out for good? Tie him up and wait for Kiera? Oh, and there's also the fact that he agrees to run away with Emily to Thailand without a second thought for Kiera, who was literally just sitting in his lab talking about the time machine and going home to her kid. Some friend he is!

The biggest problem, however, is with Emily's death. It's not that it isn't affecting; hell, we've come to like her, and Erik Knudsen gives good weep. It's just that it's such a bloody cliché! How many times in popular culture have we seen a woman – usually a spy or traitor of some sort – wronging her man while also falling in love with him, then nobly sacrificing herself to save him at the end of the story? It's been happening since the golden age of Hollywood (Greta Garbo in Mata Hari , for example). No matter how well it's handled here, it just seems very predictable. And if there's one thing that Continuum isn't most of the time, it's predictable. What a pity.

Still, my griping aside, this is still an enjoyable watch and – as ever – the show appears to be building up to something fantastic. What will Alec say to Escher? How will Kiera prove her innocence? What will Travis do now that he's got an invincible suit? Exciting!

BUMPS AND BRUISES Now to my other complaint about this episode. Please don't get me wrong: I'm a big fan of Continuum 's sublime fight scenes in all their bone-cracking glory. However, there are two moments of violence here that really troubled me. The first was when Travis picked up Kellog and slammed him down onto a table, not once but twice. He did it with such immense force that Kellog would have been left with a broken back in real life; let's not forget that Travis has super-strength, and the sound effects alone hinted that Kellog hit those tables hard . So how was he able to walk away from that? Similarly, in a later scene Kiera also punches the unfortunate chap right in the face – a punch so hard that he would've been left with either a broken nose or missing teeth. Yet all we see is a tiny nosebleed.

Both scenes are played for laughs, which is fair enough, but still... when a show is set in the “real” world, sometimes it pays not to show violence in that “real” world which would have left the recipients with horrible injuries. You can just about get away with things like that in the adrenaline rush of a fight scene, but it's tough to pull off violence for violence's sake, with no repercussions, in moments that don't really need it.

Also, everybody really needs to stop picking on Kellog. Just sayin'.

AW, POOR CHAP Nicholas Lea's name was in this week's opening credits. “Ooh, maybe Gardiner isn't dead after all!” I thought (as many others did, too, I'm sure). And then he appeared... as a fly-ridden corpse. Still, at least he took home a paycheque, eh?

TURN ON THE AIR-CON There's a fan sitting on a shelf in Dillon's office that is, quite honestly, the weediest fan we've ever seen in our lives. Is it just there as a decoration? It wouldn't blow a fly off course, would it?

ESCHER OUTED Last week's episode ended with Escher sitting in front of a wall of TV screens, rather reminiscent of the Architect in The Matrix films. This week he's coming out with po-faced lines such as: “I am not doubting your sincerity, but you carry destruction in your wake. You're the time bomb.” It's only a short journey from here to the Architect's pompous double-talk, isn't it? Let's hope next week he's not going on about “the moment of truth, wherein the fundamental flaw is ultimately expressed, and the anomaly revealed as both beginning and end...”

DID YOU SPOT? This episode of Continuum was directed by Amanda Tapping, who also starred in the TV movie Stargate Continuum in 2008.

COOL TECH There's an interesting future-sequence opening this week's episode which sees a crime recreated in a plaza by transmitters – only the murderer is hidden with interference. What's all that about, eh? Later, Travis uses his super-suit powers to send Sonya flying (she isn't amused). Oh, and the time-travel slice device is looking very pretty!

SEEMS FAMILIAR The gunfight on the roof seems very reminiscent of this classic Hollywood scene...

BEST LINES
Alec: “Pick a date. An hour. With this interface, it looks like I can trigger the device to create that moment in time.”
Kiera [stunned]: “You're saying I could go home?”

Jayne Nelson

Continuum season two is currently airing in the UK on Syfy, Thursdays at 10pm

• Read our Continuum season two reviews
• Check out the new SFX TV Reviews Index

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