About Tyler F.M. Edwards

Freelance writer, fantasy novelist, and nerd of the highest order.

Retro Review: Continuum Season Three, Episodes 10-13

I think we all know how this works. As usual, there are spoilers ahead.

“Revolutions Per Minute”:

The official logo for ContinuumThis episode felt a little odd. It’s not really filler, but it sort of felt like it at times. It’s another episode where a lot is happening, but not all of it is particularly compelling.

The main plot deals with Liber8 taking an interest in a pharmaceutical company which is currently small, but will be a major player in the future. They’re testing a new drug to treat Alzheimer’s, which immediately reminds Kiera of Flash.

Further complicating matters is that Dillon’s daughter has succeeded in infiltrating Liber8, and they’re using her to infiltrate the pharmaceutical company.

Flash may also hold the answer to John Doe’s identity, if Kiera can get him some.

Meanwhile, Alec 1.0 makes a breakthrough with the aid of Kiera 1.0’s stolen CMR, but when he tests his new device on Jason, it has unexpected results. As Jason experiences a welcome jolt of lucidity, Alec is already moving on to other plans, hiring Julian of all people to help improve Piron’s image.

The most interesting part of this episode in my view was the continued effort to learn John Doe’s identity. I’m now thinking perhaps he comes from a future that has been changed by Kiera’s actions in the past (where Kellogg became emperor of everything instead of Alec?), and is even worse than Kiera’s soulless dystopia. Unfortunately, this also got the least attention of all the episode’s story arcs.

Ryan Robbins as John Doe in ContinuumOn the other hand, the plot surrounding Dillon’s daughter wasn’t interesting at all, and I’m left wondering what the point of it was. I guess just an attempt to humanize Dillon? Didn’t work very well, regardless.

Something else I feel strange about is how the attitudes toward altering history have changed so much. Kiera has spent most of the series trying desperately to preserve her future, but she went out of her way to shut down Flash before it started, which will undoubtedly have consequences. It’s somewhat understandable considering what happened to her sister, but still…

Also, in the season premiere, we saw all of time and space collapse because of Alec’s meddling. Now things have changed even more despite Kiera’s best efforts, but the continuum remains un-kerploded. Maybe there’s an explanation for this, but if so, I missed it.

“Revolutions Per Minute” was still a decent episode overall. I enjoyed how the plans of Alec, Liber8, Kellogg, and Kiera all converged in such an odd yet effective way, and pretty much everyone on the cast gave strong performances.

Overall rating: 7.4/10

“3 Minutes to Midnight”:

Where do I even begin? Phrases like “mind-blowing,” “earth-shattering,” and “game-changing” come to mind.

An advertisement for Alec's Halo technology from Continuum“3 Minutes to Midnight” is an episode full of answers and revelations, with the potential to turn everything about Continuum on its head.

Having regained his memories, John Doe — or Brad Tonkin — flees, unable to face Kiera due to his guilt over killing her other self.

Meanwhile, Jason experiences a violent psychotic break. The evidence points to Halo’s involvement, and he might not be the only one having problems, though Alec is quick to downplay the issue.

Carlos seeks the aid of Julian in getting to the truth surrounding Halo, and for perhaps the first time, Julian really is on the right side of things.

But it’s an ambush by Liber8 halfway through the episode that takes “3 Minutes to Minute” from interesting to incredible.

When Kiera and Brad are captured, what starts as an interrogation becomes a tense stand-off, and that leads in to possibly the biggest burst of revelation in Continuum’s history, and I don’t think the show will ever be the same.

Kiera holds Sonya hostage in "3 Minutes to Midnight" from Continuum's third seasonAll through Continuum’s run, there has been one question hanging over everything: Can the future be changed?

Now, we have our answer.

Yes.

Kiera’s future is gone. Brad hails from an equally but differently ruinous future, where Liber8’s actions have led to blood-soaked anarchy.

But that’s just the start, as everyone laid their cards on the table.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching Liber8 learn the truth behind their mission, that they are and always have been pawns of Alec Sadler. Lucas may have hammed it up a bit, but overall, seeing everything they ever believed in shattered was very satisfying.

Everything is changed now, and no one knows what they’re fighting for anymore, or if it’s even worth fighting. The future Kiera fought to protect is gone. Liber8’s mission is a lie, and they now know their cause leads only to death and ruin.

With so many revelations and such a powerful ending, “3 Minutes to Midnight” easily could have been an excellent season finale. But there’s still two more episodes!

Overall rating: 9/10

“The Dying Minutes”:

Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron in ContinuumHere we have another episode spectacular and climactic enough to easily serve as a season finale, but again, it’s still not over.

As with the last episode, the theme here is everyone losing faith in what they once believed in. Due to Brad’s revelations, it has become clear that the future cannot be predicted, or controlled.

As a result, Liber8 has disbanded, but Sonya still believes in the cause. She forms a last ditch plan to sabotage Piron on the eve of Halo’s launch, but forced to go it alone, things don’t work out well for her.

Kiera, also, has had to abandon that which she once believed in. With her own future now out of reach, she can only hope to create the best possible future, and it’s clear she picked the wrong Alec for that. With Brad’s aid, she sets out to rescue Alec 2.0, who is being tortured by the Freelancers.

As all this is unfolding, Curtis is hatching his own scheme. He believes the other Freelancers have lost their way, and he seeks to free the heart of their power: the Traveler, an ancient being who founded their order more than a thousand years ago.

The end result is an explosive, cinematic, action-packed episode that is a glowing example of Continuum at its finest.

Alec Sadler being tortured by the Freelancers in ContinuumWith a major cast member dead, another clinging to life, and the Freelancers all but eradicated, this is another episode that will likely shape the face of the series for a long time to come. Continuum has pulled off some crazy twists in the past, but this might just take the cake. This is some Battlestar Galactica grade crazy.

I am going to miss Sonya. As an idealist driven too far by a corrupt world, I think she may ultimately have been the most interesting member of Liber8. Travis was more frightening, and Garza more entertaining, but Sonya had the most depth as a character.

My one very minor complaint is that they seem to be setting up Brad and Kiera as a couple, which I don’t much care for. True, expecting her to hold to her marriage vows at this point is unrealistic at best — and Greg was a cheating bastard anyway — but it feels a little forced, a little predictable, and I just don’t care for it.

On the plus side, if it means more of Ryan Robbins going forward, it’s probably a good thing.

Overall rating: 9/10

“Last Minute” (season finale):

The final episode of Continuum’s third season begins with everything in a fairly peaceful state. Kiera and Brad have retired to a peaceful life in the country, and Alec 2.0 and Emily are in the process of riding into the sunset.

That doesn’t last.

Kiera and Liber8 united against Alec Sadler in the third season finale of "Continuum"It soon becomes clear that there can never be peace as long as Alec 1.0 is around. He has gone too far, and the future he envisions will bring nothing but doom. Everyone is in agreement: Alec Sadler must fall.

And I do mean everyone. Including Liber8.

The lines are drawn, and the fight to define the future has begun.

Everything about this episode was brilliant. Absolutely stellar. Action, emotion, suspense, intensity. This is everything you could possibly want in a sci-fi season finale.

I think my favourite part was how Kiera’s character arc has evolved. She went to some very dark places, did some terrible things, to preserve her future, but now, she has let go of it. She has been awakened to the terrible truth of her future, and she now knows she cannot allow it to come to pass. Though it pains her terribly, she has decided to change the future for the better, even if it costs her everything she once held dear.

It’s a fantastically powerful evolution, and it gives me a totally new appreciation for her character.

I’m sorry if this review is a bit vague, but it would feel redundant to go through and talk about how I loved every single thing. “Last Minute” was just an excellent episode all around.

Alec destroys the Piron antimatter lab in Continuum's third season finaleThe one thing I have somewhat mixed feelings on is the ending.

I say this mainly because — minus the last five minutes — this could have done beautifully as the series finale. Pretty much every story arc was wrapped in a satisfying way, and it was all excellently done.

I don’t want to be in the position of wishing death on one of my favourite shows, but the future of sci-fi television shows is always shaky. I’m tempted to say they maybe should have just quit while they were ahead. Even if they do get the opportunity to end things on their own terms, I doubt they could do much better than this.

On the other hand, if there is a fourth season, and if this latest new direction turns out well, I suppose it will all be for the best.

Overall rating: 9.3/10

* * *

And that’s it. I am now caught up on Continuum. I am very glad I took a chance on this show; it’s far-exceeded my expectations.

OMGWTFBBQThere was never a time when Continuum wasn’t worth watching, but it’s only gotten better, with each season improving significantly on the previous. What started as a fairly basic action-adventure has evolved into a surprisingly smart, intense, and powerful sci-fi epic, and some of the best speculative fiction I’ve seen on TV in quite a while.

It carries a pretty powerful message, as well. I can’t help but worry its vision of a future in the thrall of corporations will prove prophetic, and we’ll all be slaves to corporate interests, toiling endlessly to pay off a Life Debt that serves as an eternal shackle.

Hell. Is that any different from now?

Whether there will be a fourth season or not is still up in the air. There seems to be strong arguments for either possibility. Apparently the show-runner has plans for at least seven seasons — which seems a bit over ambitious — but the continued silence on the matter is worrying.

I hope there will be another season. Continuum deserves it. But it’s best to prepare for the worst where sci-fi TV is concerned.

Well, damn. Now what am I going to watch?

WoW: Patch 6.0.2 Thoughts

It’s finally here. At long last, the pre-expansion patch for Warlords of Draenor has arrived, signifying the first significant patch for World of Warcraft in over a year. It’s not really that big a deal, but after the longest content drought in the game’s history, it feels like manna from Heaven.

A cinematic of the Iron Tide invading during World of Warcraft's pre-expansion eventAt least at first. It’s turned out to be something of a rough ride.

New looks:

The most obvious change in patch 6.0 is the new character models for all pre-Cataclysm races except Blood Elves.

I have long been vocally critical of the idea of new character models, and I was very worried Blizzard was going to botch them horribly, but against all odds, I actually kind of like them.

It’s a huge change, to be sure, and I’m still making up my mind. There’s a lot of mixed feelings going on.

Supposedly, these updates were meant to capture the spirit of the original models — our characters should look the same, but better. Not sure what happened to that idea, because most models bear little or no resemblance to the originals. Human females, near and dear to my heart because of my rogue, are almost unrecognizable compared to their past selves.

This is how my rogue used to look:

My rogue and her "srs" faceThis is how she looked after the patch:

My rogue's updated face in World of WarcraftNot very inspiring.

I would view this as a disaster if not for them adding the option to change your face for free in the barbershop. While I wasn’t happy with my new old face, I was able to find another that seems decent to me. This is Maigraith’s final look:

The new face I chose for my rogue after World of Warcraft's character model updatesStill not perfect. I miss her predatory glare. On the plus side, the new facial expressions help make up for that loss. She looks a lot like her old self while fighting, running, or stealthed. Just not while idling.

I wound up changing faces for pretty much all of my affected characters. It’s not good that none of them looked like the originals, but since I was able to find faces I’m reasonably happy with, it works out in the end.

It’s still a very odd transition. I’m still making up my mind on exactly how I feel about things. I find my rogue’s new run animation entirely too bouncy, and her talk animation makes it impossible to imagine her saying anything other than, “Oh, no you di’int!”

But I do like how fluid the animations are now. I like how animated hair has become. I love her sprint animation — she’s gone full-Batman.

The change doesn’t seem quite so dramatic with the other races/genders that I play, and I’m largely okay with how they turned out — aside from having to change all their faces. My shaman looks so badass now I’m tempted to start playing him again.

My shaman's updated face (after a trip to the barbershop) in World of WarcraftThere is, of course, a huge outcry about how much the models have changed.

It’s a bit ironic. Going in, I seemed to be the only one who didn’t want new models. Now I feel like the only one who likes them.

I can’t blame people for being upset, though. This is a huge change, not at all the faithful recreation Blizzard promised. The new models look good, but they don’t look like the originals.

This is exactly the sort of trainwreck I’ve been predicting since the idea of new models was first floated.

For my part, I find myself wondering why, if a complete overhaul was the plan after all, they didn’t fix issues like Orc males having hunchbacks for no reason?

A related issue is that many races have also received new combat grunts. The most bizarre thing about that is they also kept the old ones, so my character now calls out with two separate voices in combat. It’s very distracting, and I can’t imagine why they thought this was necessary. I guess somebody needed to justify a pay cheque.

They done broked it:

My low level Blood Elf paladin in World of WarcraftThen there’s the item squish. I rather like the idea of compressing numbers down to a more reasonable level, and I find it quite refreshing to be critting for a mere ten thousand damage, instead of a quarter of a million.

But it has had some odd side-effects.

Lower level content has been made vastly harder, and many people are finding it difficult if not impossible to progress.

I tried to do the revamped Blackfathom Deeps on a lowbie protection paladin, and even the smallest trash packs — where many mobs are not elite — were absolutely demolishing me. With a reasonably well-geared (by lowbie content standards) group, we wiped about half a dozen times before the first boss, and the boss itself butchered us like a hog.

So that was that.

Now, I’m all for making the lower levels a bit more challenging. I’m not a fan of just facerolling through everything with no effort at all. But I’m pretty sure a level twenty dungeon shouldn’t feel like doing heroic dungeons in quest greens back in Cataclysm. There’s a difference between challenging and broken.

This has also reminded me that the WoW community doesn’t really have the maturity to handle hard content. If something goes wrong, the group just turns on itself, and the insults start flying. Nothing is ever hard, and if you think it is, you’re a ****ing retard who should delete the game. People don’t look for solutions; they just look for someone to blame.

My rogue and Khadgar during the Iron Tide pre-expansion eventThis is one reason I don’t make much of a stink about how easy WoW is, even though it’s a situation I’m really not happy with. I don’t want to be associated with the “L2P noob” crowd that is eager to attack anyone who ever admits to finding anything difficult.

If your only reaction to a struggling player is to tell them to learn to play, but not how to play, then you don’t deserve to play a game with challenging content.

Er, sorry, little off-topic there.

Anyway, the item squish. Aside from the low level issues, current content is also having some hiccups. I haven’t done any raids or dungeons beyond the new Upper Blackrock Spire since the patch, but I’m told many are suffering from boss abilities that were not squished and now one-shot entire raids. Terrace of the Endless Spring, for instance, is reported to be completely unplayable at the time of this writing.

I’m also hearing it reported that many outdated legendary weapons have suddenly become best in slot.

Did someone say, [Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker]?

It’s kind of baffling that problems this big and this numerous could slip through to the live game. I understand that the item squish is a massive and overwhelmingly complex task, but they had roughly half a year in beta and more resources than any other MMO developer out there. This shouldn’t have happened.

My warlock soloing Bastion of Twilight in World of WarcraftIt is worth noting that, according to the latest hotfixes posted on Blizzard’s site, many of these issues have now been fixed, but I won’t have time to check for myself between now and when this post goes live.

On the other hand, the item squish has also had the odd effect of making lower level content ludicrously easy for max level players. This, at least, is intentional, though it still feels odd.

Before the patch, I could not solo Dragon Soul at all. Since the patch, my rogue was able to clear up to Spine of Deathwing with little trouble, and I only had to stop there because I couldn’t get the roll mechanic right.

I tried Bastion of Twilight and Firelands on my warlock, and they’re now as easy as Burning Crusade raids were before the patch. As for Burning Crusade raids, I’m practically one-shotting the bosses.

It’s all down to a new tech that vastly inflates player power versus stuff they outlevel. Crits for half a million damage from basic abilities without cooldowns. This also has the impact of making self-heals based on damage, like leeching poison, insanely overpowered.

My monk's updated face (after a trip to the barbershop) in World of WarcraftIt all feels quite strange. I like that I can solo so much more now, but it’s a bit of a shame there’s no longer any challenge in soloing.

Oh, right, there’s new content:

In the end, the least memorable part of patch 6.0 is the pre-expansion event: The Iron Tide. I wasn’t expecting much, so I’m not disappointed, but there really isn’t much to it.

The quest chain is so short and so dull it makes me wonder they bothered including it at all. It offers no story to speak of beyond, “A bunch of Orcs showed up out of nowhere and started killing people because reasons.” Even by WoW standards, the quest design is generic in the extreme. And they’re aren’t really any decent rewards.

The preview of the new Upper Blackrock Spire was a bit more fun, even if we only get to kill the first three bosses. This says more about how long it’s been since we got any new five-man content than about the quality of the dungeon itself, but after so long, new content is very refreshing.

On the downside, it really should have had a achievement, or some kind of unique reward.

The Hero of Orgrimmar:

Of course, the best part of this patch is that Gamon is finally getting the recognition he deserves.At last, things are going Gamon's way