After four seasons and countless attempts to manipulate the future and/or past, Continuum finally comes to a close with ‘Final Hour.’
Let’s bitch it out….
To say that the finale left me with mixed feelings is a bit of an understatement. I’ve been hot and cold on this final season for a variety of reasons, chief among them the priority status it has imbued on Brad Tonkins (Ryan Robbins) and the mercenaries at the expense of Liber8 and Theseus. It is hard to shake the feeling that this is a storyline that series creator (and finale writer) Simon Barry had on tap for season 6 or 7. Instead he was forced to introduce it several seasons early and in half of the usual episodes.
While I don’t regret that Continuum had a send-off instead of simply disappearing, this finale reminds me of everything that we won’t get to experience as a result of the abbreviated episode order. Six episodes to introduce the mercenaries, develop their time travel plan and successfully execute a number of double-crosses simply isn’t enough and it shows in the episode’s final moments when old Alec Sadler (William Sadler) has to sum up sixty years of history in approximately two minutes to Kiera (Rachel Nichols) before Simon Barry drops an anvil on the goodwill the series has earned from audiences with an “ironic” twist of fate (more on that below).
What’s missing in ‘Final Hour’? We don’t see Emily, or Julian in this finale (both are given lip service by old Alec). Liber8 and Theseus are barely mentioned, although there is a final appearance by Kagame (Tony Amendola). Garza (Luvia Petersen) and Curtis (Terry Chen) are basically sidelined except for a random scene when they reassure each other of Kiera’s importance. None of this really works because it is either a) discussed, not seen b) barely glimpsed and/or c) immaterial to the series’ main interest, which is primary concerned with the mercs, the machine and the portal.
Alas there aren’t too many surprises in that area. There was never really a chance that Kiera would fail to thwart the mercenaries, whose plans to open the portal is confirmed here as an invasion (shocking no one except apparently Brad). There is some good FX in the scenes involving the machine & the portal and the damage caused by the power suit remains suitably impressive. On one hand, we can celebrate the appropriately scaled action sequence that dominates nearly half the episode; on the other hand, all of the random gunfire detracts from the emotional centerpiece, which is nicely embodied by the standoff when Kiera holds Kellog (Stephen Lobo) hostage and Zorin (Michael Eklund) holds Alec (Erik Knudsen) at gunpoint*. This scene reinforces the stakes and is far more meaningful than watching random cops get their heads blown off (an act that feels more than a bit unnecessary and egregious).
*I’ll admit that I’m uncertain why the mercs keep Alec alive after he’s repaired the machine part needed to stabilize the wormhole, or how an accomplished policeman like Dillon (Brian Markinson) is shot roughly eighteen times by Kellog, a man who in the early seasons of the show admitted that he was basically a white collar criminal.
The biggest issue that I have with the machine/portal piece of the episode is that the inevitable resolution ends up being too predictable. Although it affords Kellog one final opportunity to doublecross* everyone (this and his penance are both enjoyable), the visuals accompanying the destruction of Kellog’s future timeline are paltry. Zorin simply keels over (it’s unclear if he’s just upset or if he is dying) and the army in the portal just disappears. It’s actually quite underwhelming.
*Kellog’s fate is fitting for a man who backstabbed everyone over the course of the series. In his final act, Kellog attempts once again to do right by himself, declaring “I choose me!” to Kiera before he walks into what he believes is a bright future (in the past) that will allow him to reset the board. The reversal of expectations that finds Kellog transported back in time is telegraphed by the appearance of two time balls – one stolen by Jason (Ian Tracey), the other by Curtis – but anticipating Kellog’s comeuppance doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Arguably the best moments of the finale are those that pay off the emotional investment that fans have made over the years. Following the explosion that leveled the VPD last episode, Kiera and Carlos (Victor Webster) share a highly emotional moment (they both cry! It’s so uncomfortable!). It feels like a solid payoff to their partnership over the years, though in many ways it makes me wish that the writers hadn’t kept them apart and at odds for so much of this final season. A similar event occurs before the mayhem at the factory begins when Alec confesses that knowing Kiera has effectively changed his future and made him into a better person. These quiet moments interspersed among the showier action pieces are really meaningful to those of us who have spent nearly 45 hours watching these characters negotiate, collaborate and lie to each other.
This kind of investment is one of the reasons that the final moments of the series are so controversial. With the Traveler (no comment) returned to his appropriate spot in the timeline and Kellog and the mercs dealt with, Kiera is free to walk her (correctly adjusted) time ball into the portal and jump back to 2077. There she meets up with old friends and finds out what happened in the sixty odd years she just missed (Carlos became commissioner and has a park named after him! Alec and Emily built a life together! Alec, Julian and Kagame built a bright future!). Then Simon Barry twists the knife and reveals that Kiera already exists in this Kellog/Liber8/Corporation-free future. What a complete clusterf*ck betrayal!
Look, I don’t actually have any kind of investment in whether or not Kiera connects with Sam (Sean Michael Kyer). Sam has long been a narrative cipher for Continuum: he’s the impetus for Kiera to struggle to preserve the future and try to get back to it. But it’s not like we know him and we’ve have raging debates about whether Kiera has selfishly done bad (or murky) things in order to ensure the future with her son exists. In this sense Sam is important solely because we accept that he is (the writers deem it so), and we buy into Kiera’s desire to reunite with him as a result. In this final season, the entire drive of the narrative has been to bring them back together (we have had to endure SO. MANY. CONVERSATIONS about this!) so for Barry to then turn it around and throw our Kiera under the bus in this way feels like a huge betrayal. Kiera has overcome insurmountable obstacles and timelines over four years, and her happy ending puts her on the outside of her idealized life, looking in. What a bitter pill to swallow for the series’ final act! For the camera to then pull out over a bright, sunny horizon and end with a thank you note to fans feels incredibly disingenuous. So, umm, eff you right back, Simon Barry.
- The special effects used to tether the device and open the portal are really fun. Guess now we know where the FX budget went – certainly not on the CGI for the merc suit later because that thing looks as fake as it did when they first showed up in last season’s finale. Still, the damage that that suit can do is impressive.
- Dillon finally learns the truth about time travel, though the moment is essentially cut short when Kiera drives away before he can process what she says. It’s another missed opportunity. Sure he joins their movement, but we never really see how he deals with the knowledge that he’s been lied to the whole series.
- Ugh ugh UGH: Kellog tries to put the moves on Vasquez (Kyra Zagorsky) in a bid to get her to renounce his old, future self. When she denies him, he stabs her…which is kind of a surprising development, though not her dying admission that he is her father. Stupid Kellog is always jumping to conclusions and making hasty plans so murdering his daughter from the future feels like karmic retribution before he gets his other comeuppance.
- Alec (when Kiera reminds him it is time to go): “That has a number of meanings at this point.”
- Kiera (when Kellog asks if she has anything nice to say to him): “Not really, no.”
- Kellog: “Goodbye Kiera. It’s been…well…never mind.”
Your turn: what did you think of the finale? Are you happy that Kellog’s backstabbing finally landed him in trouble? Did the destruction of the mercs’ plan feel anticlimactic? Upset that Garza barely appears in the finale? Sad that Dillon died? Feel betrayed by Kiera’s ending? Sound off below.
Continuum has finished airing its fourth and final season on Syfy and Showcase.