In tonight’s season finale of Syfy’s hit drama Continuum the stakes are immeasurably raised, the death toll explodes, and jawdropping connections are revealed as Keira races time to stop Liber8’s attack on downtown Vancouver.
Continuum‘s creator Simon Barry joined series leads Rachel Nichols and Victor Webster to answer questions last week in a conference-call, hosted by Syfy, in which the pilot season was celebrated and discussed. A wide variety of topics were raised during the engaging call including some enticing hints of what’s to come in Season Two.
Tonight’s ticking-clock driven episode highlights the dichotomy between Liber8’s intentions, to save us from a corporate-owned dystopia, versus their terror tactics and was thoughtfully addressed by Simon when considering whether or not they could ever be seen as heroic. “It’s an interesting question,” admitted Barry. “I think we’re keeping that perspective alive in the show. I’m not editorializing necessarily what anyone should think about these guys, their direction or their purpose and we try to bring two sides of every argument to bear if we can. Although we are telling the story predominantly through the eyes of Keira and Keira’s experience, which is what grounds the show and makes the show relatable, we’re always trying to tackle arguments from different points of view and be intelligent about our neutrality instead of just being lazy about it. I think at a certain point I may not be the person that decides how Liber8 is regarded. I think that’s kind of the goal of the show, to allow people to take sides and see the truth and the meaning that is relevant to them. I’ll try to stay out of the way of that if I can.”
A pervasive theme throughout Season One has been the oppressive loneliness and isolation felt by Continuum‘s main characters which Simon and Rachel were keen to elaborate on. “We always talked about the idea that there’s a certain amount of a cast away vibe for Keira as well as it being a mission driven thing for her,” conveyed Barry. “She is stranded, abandoned and cut off and all those things that someone who’s been cast away on a desert island feels and it opens up a lot of possibilities to look at isolation. In Season Two we’re going to delve a little more into that. It’s about finding your place in the universe, finding your place in destiny, finding your place in the time continuum and asking, what is destiny? What is fate? What can and can’t you control? We’re looking at characters who are examining themselves in ways that are unusual, mainly because they’re not making normal connections. We’re going to see more connections develop in Season Two in a way that will make it more fun. We’ll see where what we’ve set up in Season One can go in Season Two because we now know these characters so well on their own, it’ll be fun to see how they relate when they’re not.”
“There is that lone wolf sense of loneliness,” Rachel proffered in describing Keira. “It’s something that inhabits her, for obvious reasons, because she is alone. She’s separated from everything she knows, everything she’s familiar with and she’s been thrown into this new environment now where it’s really sink or swim. There are very few people, clearly Alec and also Kellog [played by Stephen Lobo] when they’re becoming friends at the end of the season, but there are very few people that really know who she is, where she’s from, why she’s there and how she got there. And there’s a real loneliness in not being able to be honest with people like Carlos. I mean, even if Keira’s surrounded by people she still feels completely alone because there’s no one there who really knows who she is. And to lie to your best friend, who you truly respect and admire and appreciate, on a daily basis is excruciating and it’s very, very lonely. She frequently feels like she’s a one woman army. I think that’s why Alec and Keira get along so well, because they know the truth about each other and they both know what it’s like to be and feel completely alone. That you can be surrounded by people and still feel completely alone, or conversely, be completely alone and yet feel like you’re not. At the end of the day she relies heavily on his friendship for her own sanity. Keira finds great comfort in the fact that Alec’s in her head and a part of her. I think that that’s really important for the show,” adding, “we’ll get to see Alec blossom a little more in Season Two.”
Tasked to divulge the hardest part of portraying Det. Carlos Fonnegra, Victor Webster shared, “The hardest thing for me is just playing that balance of trusting Keira while knowing there’s so many things about her that he doesn’t trust, and keeping that interesting without making Carlos look like an idiot, so to speak. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good partner but not acting on a lot of these signals and signs is challenging. She may not be completely truthful but Carlos believes that she’s doing it for confidentiality reasons and that she’s not allowed to disclose information because of Section 6. He may not agree with the means by which she does some of what she does but her results speak for themselves. She gets the job done and does what she says she’s gonna do. So to some degree he has no reason not to trust her because she makes stuff happen. Still, he’s kind of collecting all this data and eventually may figure it out.” I asked if he thinks it’ll be harder for Carlos to forgive her if the lying continues much longer? “Yeah,” he pondered, “and I also think it depends on if he knows he’s being lied to. At present I think he doesn’t know of a lot of Keira’s lies, he might suspect things but for him to be able to ascertain whether those are lies or not he would have to get a lot more information. I definitely think the more water that passes under the bridge will only make it more difficult. If Carlos was ever to find out what’s happening I think it’d be such a mind-blowing event for him, I don’t really know how he’d feel about it. I guess we’d have to cross that bridge when Simon writes it and then we’ll see what happens. But I definitely think, under normal circumstances, the more lies that one is told the harder it is to forgive, but this is definitely not an ordinary show.”
Simon jumped in to comment, “We obviously want to get to a place at some point where we’ve mined him not knowing and sort of dealing with their relationship based on trust and faith to the point where it makes sense for them to move on from that point, but I can’t tell you exactly when that’s going to happen. I like to think that when this happens, if it happens, it’ll be driven by all the forces we can bring to bear in the show. I think we’re all in agreement that it’s best for their relationship to evolve at a certain point, we’re just not locked into when that’s going to happen. And it won’t just be random, it’ll hopefully be driven by character, emotion, plot, circumstance and necessity. I think we owe it to all involved to do it the right way. It will be a complex emotional moment that will ideally operate on many levels, not just one emotion. There will be very complex feelings attached to it.”
Was it the weight of her lies or a haunting sense of loneliness that led Keira to Kellog’s boat at the end of last week’s episode (‘Family Time”)? Nichols disclosed her thoughts on the subject. “Their relationship is an interesting thing, There’s safety and security and comfort in the fact that he knows who she is and what she’s fighting, and, he knows who he is and he knows Liber8. There’s also an ambiguity there which you’ll learn a little bit more about in the season finale. There’s an aspect of did they or didn’t they and there are many, many, many different opinions, thoughts and theories about that. What is this relationship going to be? Is he winning her over? Is she using him to get what she wants? It’s extremely complicated and that last sort of cliffhanger in Episode 9 is met with an interesting response in Episode 10 which leaves a lot up to interpretation. However it ends up working out, I think the Kellog mechanism is important because there’s a level of security there and also a level of not trusting him as far as I could kick him but I still need him to do things for me like he needs me to do things for him. So it’s a very complicated relationship with no finite definition.” “I agree with Rachel,” added Simon, “I think the great thing that Kellog presents to Keira is a way to be bad, in a way, without compromising her goals. She can be flawed, she can be human and she can be vulnerable in a way. Her pursuit of Liber8 and pursuit of returning home doesn’t often allow her to be complicated in a way that is human and I just wanted to make sure that when the season ended the audience understood that Keira was like anybody else, had doubts, had complicated feelings about things and that in essence Kellog was someone who really did understand her and there was an attachment there that may not have been intellectual. It might just be convenient and comforting, in a way, but it’s much more like real life than a movie or TV version of a relationship. We’re just trying to open the door to that.”
A different kind of relationship fans really responded to was Carlos’ friendship with Jim, played by Tahmoh Penikett (Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse). When asked if Tahmoh might reprise that role anytime soon Rachel said, “Good lord, I hope so.” Simon concurred, “We love Tahmoh and when he’s available we’d certainly like to get him back on the show so we’re gonna make efforts to do that. I can’t promise it’ll happen because a lot of it has to do with other things that he’s doing, but we’ll try.” As it happens, Penikett is a personal friend of Victor’s who proclaimed, “I’d love it. Tahmoh is one of my best friends in real life and it just worked out organically that we got to play these characters. There’s such a good relationship between us and it was written so well. It was such a powerful kind of breaking point to a friendship and a change of perspective, seeing somebody one way and then having that whole vision shattered. It was powerful. I’d definitely like to explore that a little bit more and I think we could really delve into some great character stuff with those two characters.”
In the last conference-call I participated in with Simon he briefly mentioned the fact that Keira had originally been conceived of as a male character, this time he expounded on the topic more thoroughly. “The very earliest pitch for the show had a male character in Keira’s role but as soon as I entered the development process with Canadian broadcaster Showcase and met with their executives the idea of converting Kyle, as it was originally, to Keira made complete sense and was actually a great network contribution early on. At a certain point you go into the process with just an idea driving everything forward and the broadcasters responded to what the idea of the show was. But then you get into the nitty gritty of the details and you have additional conversations about those details. The option to make Keira a mom came up very quickly and I immediately knew it was the right decision. It was just a no brainer and it opened up the show in so many ways. So, we actually never got to the script phase with the male version and it’s probably just as well.”
Other issues touched upon the last time I interviewed the trio included the show’s storytelling format and matters concerning the stars’ stunt work. Both were further elucidated this time starting with the dual format of the show, being equal parts serialized sci-fi thriller and episodic police procedural. “Well, it’s actually handy to have both because they both drive each other,” explained Barry. “The sci-fi mythology is the fabric of all the characters’ connections to each other and sets up a lot of the dynamics. The police world provides a structure to build certain stories around, so, I actually think it’s a really great balance of supporting the episodic and the serialized storytelling forms in the same hour. And having Keira integrate with a police department makes sense. It’s not like she is a time traveler working to solve a huge insurmountable problem all on her own, she did the smart thing which was to integrate with local law enforcement and use them. By the way, they’d have a vested interest in these guys being brought down anyway so I think that what we got out of that was an ability to justify how Keira can have an impact using her relationship with Carlos and the police department, and, it also allows the storytelling to be a little bit more in the domain of police cases which brings up that familiar structure of crime stories in police shows. But we obviously try to weave in as many of our serialized mythology components into those crimes as possible so that they’re not outside our universe. I think it works well.”
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