The final episode of Continuum doesn’t air on Syfy until tonight—so if you haven’t seen it yet, please skip the rest of this recap and just know that there actually is a decent ending in store for you. Everybody else, read on.

Spoilers ahead...

I have severely mixed feelings about the final shortened season of Continuum, which is just wrapping up. They clearly rushed through a lot of plot points that they thought they were going to have more time to develop—the Traveler, anyone?—and at the same time, it seems pretty obvious that they were driving further and further into the weeds with all the various subplots, and this was never going to come together perfectly.

At the same time, these final six episodes did give us some closure on the characters we care about most—chiefly, Alec, Julian, Kiera and to some extent Carlos. The sendoffs for Alec and Julian seemed especially good and the show did put a lot of energy into showing the two stepbrothers growing up and taking control of their own destinies.

Advertisement

So what happens in the final episodes of Continuum? In a nutshell, the commando squad from the evil alternate future attacks the Vancouver PD and kills a ton of people to get back Kellogg (who has been arrested) and the key to their time portal machine. Once they have both those things, they’re ready to fire up the portal and bring their army back to 2015 and try to win their future war before it starts.

In the end, Kiera and the remains of the VPD have to attack the soldiers’ facility and put a stop to the time portal. Dillon (who’s become a good guy again) is killed, and the portal is futzed up, partly thanks to some sabotage from Alec. Kellogg tries to do something sneaky and hack the time machine so he can go back to 2012 and kill Kiera and the Liber8 crew when they arrive from 2077—but Alec has outsmarted him and he gets zapped into the distant past instead.

Advertisement

And then, we get that ending I mentioned—the one that actually works pretty well as an ending. Kiera gets to go home to 2077, and discovers that it’s a better future. There’s no Corporate Congress, no evil dystopian police force, etc. She did it! She fixed everything!

But what makes this a good ending is that there’s a catch—Kiera gets to go live in the happier version of the future she came from, and her son Sam is there. But she can never meet Sam, because there’s another version of Kiera in this future (one who didn’t go back in time) and she’s Sam’s mother. So Kiera can only stare at her son from across the playground. That’s the perfect sort of bittersweet note that keeps this ending from being too good to be true, and also feels, in a weird way, like justice.

Because one thought kept coming to mind as I watched the last few episodes of Continuum: This show had the most unlikable, self-centered, horrible protagonist ever. Kiera really is the worst. She’s just the worst. People point it out a bit in those final episodes—Kellogg even basically says that she’s just like him, because they both chose themselves over others. Carlos also gives her a slew of dirty looks.

But nobody calls Kiera on her shit quite enough. Especially after her selfishness gets a whole police station full of good cops killed—she had the chance to destroy that machine but didn’t, because she wanted to go home. And she could have brought the VPD to attack that building weeks ago, but didn’t, partly to avoid bloodshed but mostly because she wanted to go home.

Advertisement

After the VPD carnage, the show seems to realize just how terrible a person Kiera is, and so we get an endless succession of scenes where people look at the camera and tell us how great she is. Carlos, who has been correctly accusing her of being a lying jerk, suddenly starts saying that it’s all just because he doesn’t want to lose her. Alec makes a big speech about how Kiera made him a better person. Even Curtis—whom Kiera killed, and who helped kill an alternate Kiera—gives a weirdly long and portentous speech about how Kiera did more to fix the future than everybody else put together, and how she’s the greatest thing since whipped cream and hot fudge. You know that a show’s main character has no redeeming qualities, when everybody has to pause in the middle of the action to list their redeeming qualities.

Kiera is just the worst. She constantly misunderstands every situation she’s in, and no matter how many times people explain time travel to her, she never gets it. To some extent, this is her being the audience surrogate, but after a while it’s just bonkers. Like, the fact that she spends this whole final miniseason thinking she can go home because she got hit on the head and had a medically induced hallucination about her son—when she knows full well that the future she came from is gone and never existed.

Advertisement

Also the worst: Brad, Kiera’s love interest, who keeps changing sides and is the last person to realize that the time portal isn’t bringing through refugees, but an invading army. Brad was actually more clued-in when he had amnesia.

Meanwhile, the Traveler, whose deal we only got a cursory explanation of, gets to go back to his utopian future that he was cut off from after he screwed something up—because Kiera fixed everything.

Advertisement

But anyway. It was nice to see Future Alec seeming all happy and mellow, palling around with Kagame, in the nice shiny version of 2077. And I’m glad that we get to hear that Alec ended up with Emily, instead of the dystopian-future wife that Jason wanted him to hook up with. And Carlos gets a square named after him! Yay! (Also great: the bit in the finale where Young Alec throws a stone at the water and says he’s making a tsunami, referring back to what Kagame told him in season one.)

All in all, Continuum never stopped being a highly entertaining show with moments of brilliance. In retrospect, the penchant for adding more and more layers of mythos (such as more time travelers and more tangled backstories) was less of a problem than the show’s refusal to admit that its main character is a selfish, short-sighted monster who ruins everything. Also, I still think this show had amazing potential to be a really deep exploration of the subjective nature of dystopia, and the costs of trying to make a better world, which it didn’t always achieve, but did achieve on a pretty regular basis. At its best, Continuum was among the strongest and most thought-provoking science fiction TV shows ever made.

Episode screencaps via SpringfieldSpringfield


Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming in January from Tor Books.Follow her on Twitter, and email her.

Advertisement