Continuum Review: “Wasted Minute”

(Episode 3.06)

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<i>Continuum</i> Review: &#8220;Wasted Minute&#8221;

If season three of Continuum has done anything with Kiera, it’s chipped away at her ideas of loyalty. She’s gamed both Alecs. In “Wasted Minute,” she condemns one of them to Plexiglass hell. She’s a Freelancer. Carlos has quarantined her to the colleague-zone. Not even Kellog’s yacht offers dubious sanctuary. She’s grasping at so many straws and watching them all tumble between her fingers. To steal from young Sadler, “Scratch that loyalty and it’s subterfuge underneath.”

Catherine declares Alec A’s visa expired. Kiera doesn’t have you thinking his death is entirely unreasonable plan of action. But she does argue for her priority to keep him alive. When she overhears the Alecs arguing about our Alec breaking into the Piron office, she bolts. She later classifies him as dangerous. He’s holding the other him at gunpoint, demanding Emily’s freedom from blackmail as Kiera bursts in. She should’ve seen him with a keyboard. Our Alec may have lost Kiera’s trust, but he’d remained the show’s most sympathetic character, further dramatizing the tragedy of Kiera’s decision. She stuns him and hauls him back to the Freelancers.

“Wasted Minute” warns us of the dangers to come with the cold open. There’s a warehouse of dying people. Kiera’s one of them, her veins inky and bulbous. The vaccine arrives just in time to interrupt her plea for lead euthanasia. In the present, Liber8 is concocting the poisonous cocktail with stolen bio-waste and toilet cleaner. Their lawyer shows off a truck-bed-sized chemical bomb to the media. Why? To prove it can be made. This is how you play politics: with attack ads.

Somantos’s corporate lawyer Richardson has had quite the successful run with dick-ish deflection. Matthew Harrison’s played it with nothing underneath. This guy is all smarminess and insincerity. He can’t actually think the police department is this stupid or his clients that invulnerable. But he is that TV lawyer. Hopefully he stays gone. (Which is a pat on the back to Harrison—his pages may not have been Saul Goodman-pumpernickel, but he crumpled them up and swallowed them whole.) Liber8’s lawyer, on the other hand, was a throwaway and Continuum did just that with him. Carlos gets to explain Bizarro World this week, but there’s no confusion over who the baddies are.

The company excreting this weaponizable sludge, Somantos, is a future member of the Corporate Congress. They’re the ones who vaccinated the sick—who saved Kiera. That these businesses in the present are “still competing” is a minor revelation to Kiera. That future-Somantos stuck everyone with a dirty needle then happily sold them the cure is seismic. It’s not just naiveté on her part. The public face of her world has turned out to be an incredibly fragile one. Half a day’s investigative work dismantles the pretense of public interest. How to prevent that? Layers of intimidation and obfuscation.

These are relatively weak strategies. But with a monopoly on power, the Corporate Congress would have made themselves impervious to truth: anyone seeking it could be crushed. It’s arrogant and lazy, which indicts the public’s compliance even more than the governing entity’s corruption. These aren’t granules of salt but buckets being dumped onto Kiera’s wound. Being conflicted is different than coming to realize you’ve been a sheep. There’s no deliberation in being herded.

Kiera’s always seemed an agent of her world. Literally, she is. She’s a soldier. But the times when she’s seemed most strange to us—as an artifact—are the points at which her moral compass twitches closest to her South. Her sympathies for order and collective sacrifice (even when a lack of volunteered participation dilutes the line between “sacrifice” and oppression) ring militant. She trumpets a freedom that’s actually allowance. “You have freedom of speech,” Dillon scolds Carlos late in the episode. “Just don’t exercise it in front of the cameras.” His aren’t the politics you want to find yourself echoing.

Stray Observation
—So, the super-secret-prisoner is an amateur prophet. The window glows blue.… Dr. Manhattan?
—Two and a half seasons in and the writers can still mine you-don’t-belong-here jokes. Who needs Kevlar when you have a suit spliced with Superman’s DNA?
—“Liber8 yourselves!” They must teach suicide bombers about sign offs the same day as reporters.
—Alec’s jump on his sharkier self was delightful, and director Amanda Tapping knew it. The camera lingers for a half-beat on Alec standing over young Sadler, dislodged keys still rattling on the tile.
—Curtis has had about two lines and eight seconds of meaningful screen time this season. The real cliffhanger: On what tension this will retroactively capitalize?

Kyle Burton is a freelance critic and an inaugural recipient of Indiewire and Sundance’s Roger Ebert Fellowship. You can follow him on Twitter.