Season 3 Episode 11 Spoilers Ahead
“3 Minutes to Midnight”
Written by Jonathan Lloyd Walker
Directed by David Frazee
I’m done with the philosophical analyses for now, at least in terms of the in-depth extent of the last two posts. There was a lot to pick apart in this episode and I was so please to find some clarity come just by virtue of writing this blog. What you will find within are some predictions about what’s coming for the young, ambitious Alec, how Kellogg being a Big Deal in the future might effect the mission Brad was sent back with, the irony of Liber8’s eyes being opened to the truth and now becoming pawns in someone else’s game, and then finally the mysterious text message Dillon receives from Julian.
One of my questions over the last couple weeks has been about Alec and why he’s motivated to go in the direction he’s going. I’ve encountered clients, professionally, where the need to go farther faster overrules direction-driven purpose and as they barrel toward the finish line they realize that even though they’ve come to the end, they don’t have much with which to move forward. Alec is in the midst of a game-changing innovation and if he fails, or if he introduces the future faster than it is ready to arrive, then he is going to stall. Not just professionally, but personally. If Halo fails and he drives Piron into the ground, he will be a laughingstock and will find it difficult, if not impossible, to recover the ground he lost that will turn him into the Alec Sadler Kiera knew in the future.
Based on the allusions made to the future from whence Brad Tonkin hails, this might be exactly the road Alec is barreling down. And the warning signs are all there.
Warning Sign #1: The desperation to legitimize Halo has a trickle down effect. Alec wants it to work and goes to extreme measures in order to reverse engineer a solution to the product’s primary problem. But then his leadership style encourages those around him to do the same after faking the potential of Halo’s capabilities. To deliver, Alec must at least match what he demonstrated in the meeting of Piron’s Board of Important People, but that also means laying on the pressure to his science team and continually pressing for more. He’s desperate.
Warning Sign #2: Alec is resorting to menial, elementary pleas for leniency. He might not be in charge of the Public Safety or Public Relations divisions of Piron, but he certainly isn’t ignorant to the fact that some degree of cover up needed to be performed after some ill side effects of human test subjects. When he is explaining to Julian the “heart” of the machine that is Halo and explaining the improvements of the new chip, Julian doesn’t want to talk about where Halo is going, only where it has been. He asks about the former beta-tester records and Alec says: “Why do you want to stop Halo in its tracks? With all the good it can do, what good would you be doing?” By this simple statement, Alec is pooh-poohing the fact that Dillon had to help get the charges dropped in several cases of malfunctioning Halo testers, that Julian was almost strangled to death by a psychotic Jason, and that in its first phase of testing, several human beings were violated, then tossed aside, by the corporation’s desperation to make it to the top. Alec doesn’t want to play by the rules, and if he keeps tossing them aside without addressing their implications, he’s going to make it to the finish line and realize he forgot to register for the race. When it’s all about innovation, where is the analysis of the modern state of Now?
Warning Sign #3: The only way to say this one is that Alec is too close to the initial beta tester. The weird father-son relationship that Alec and Jason have forged is a terrible ego-trip for Alec, a terrible need-fulfillment for Jason, and an even worse influence on the direction of Alec’s modern-day innovations. Alec isn’t able to ask the hard questions, he isn’t able to see the effects that Halo has on Jason, and Jason isn’t telling the whole truth (which is entirely to be expected, but made worse in this situation by the fact that he is—technically—the son of an Alec Sadler). Alec has a terrible primary test subject who is also too close to the product’s development and therefore unwilling to be completely transparent (who is going to say, “Yeah, the product is a dud.” in Jason’s situation?). And who, for a minute, believes Alec is actually testing a real Halo wristband? I don’t trust for a second that the one he is wearing is a working one!
Warning Sign #4: Jason wants to win, whatever that means. Possibly his unharnessed insanity creates a heightened state of fixation on his young father, but compounded with warning number three and Jason’s withholding of the truth, there is recursion in the desire to get ahead here. Alec has ideas, Alec’s ideas are validated by Jason, Jason wants his father to like him, Jason wants Alec to succeed, Alec wants to impress and please Jason, Jason fixates on pleasing his father, and they both strive, in parallel, for bringing about the future faster than it should arrive.
Warning Sign #5: The upstanding man of the law that was once Inspector Dillon has turned into a man willing to take shortcuts in order to achieve the end of Halo he wants. He’s making professional sacrifices in order to slip Halo into society because he wants the analysis services and resources the device will offer law enforcement. Dillon says essentially the same thing to Carlos as Alec said to Julian! This product will change the face of crime fighting, what good would you be doing to press charges against the beta testers?
I foresee a crash and burn in Alec’s near future. I see him taking a frantic Dillon down with him. But I don’t see, yet, how Kellogg winds up on top. Kellogg is the sweet-talker, though, and I don’t doubt that there is an interjection he makes at some point that clearly separates himself from Alec in such a way that it makes him appear as though he tried to put a muzzle on Alec’s ambitions, and when Alec crashes and burns, Kellogg will be left at the top, shaking his head as he subversively tells Alec, “I warned you.”
Speaking of Kellogg, I was sure glad we didn’t have to wait long to hear about why Tonkin had this feeling that Kellogg was a Big Deal in the future he comes from. At the beginning of the episode, Brad realizes who he (himself) is and removes himself from the situation (which is to say, Kiera’s flat) because he knows he was the one who killed Kiera. But broken glass + missing house guest = Kiera believes he was snatched. She trespasses on the Freelancers to see if they grabbed him, but doesn’t find him.
Meanwhile, out on his own, Brad remembers what occurred right before he was hit by a truck. The memory shown to us reveals a couple subtle hints. Curtis makes a phone call, berating the person on the other end for letting Alec out of his or her sight. This seems to tell me two things: 1) neither Brad nor Curtis know that there are two Alecs in this timeline, and 2) there is at least one more person on their team. The memory also seems to imply that, apparently, Kiera wasn’t supposed to be in the lab when Brad and Curtis went in. That murder was a byproduct of circumstance. Interesting. And yet, they killed her anyway. If Brad believes Kellogg is the Big Deal, then Kiera is small beans. But so small that she is disposable? I would assume they were looking for Kellogg in the lab, but was it to kill him or to extract him?
These subtle hints propose two immediate problems (if my analysis or guesses are correct, that is). First, (and this might depend on whether Curtis was recruited after Brad came back or whether he came back through with Brad) Brad would have to know at least who Alec Sadler is on his coming back. It makes sense that he wouldn’t be most prominent in Brad’s otherwise empty mind, but if Kellogg was part of the team that organized this plan to come back, wouldn’t Alec be part of the solution? If not the solution, then at least a component? Second, if Kellogg was, indeed, the one who sent them back, then why were they not warned about the two Alecs and two Kieras? The only thing that comes to mind right away is that this future is not a result of double vision, that the future Kellogg that sent, at least, Brad back did not experience a double Alec world. However, now that I think on it, the elder 2077 Alec was privy to and orchestrated certain details of Liber8’s return to 2012 and neglected to tell them pieces of the puzzle as well. So perhaps future Kellogg did know, but felt that by revealing this detail he might be providing too much information. Information that was meaningless to the plan.
One of my strongest memories of the series premiere of Continuum is of Liber8 in that military outlet store when Curtis throws a knife at Kellogg’s head and narrowly misses. Misses on purpose, according to Curtis. By far the strangest, most interestingly involved character, Curtis went from that guy who threw a knife at Kellogg’s head to working for a future version of Kellogg and, by initial accounts, bringing in present day Kellogg in on the plan. It seems more likely that Curtis was recruited by Brad on his return, just based off that final scene with Liber8. Kellogg was interested to hear more about the future Brad comes from, and I would guess that if Curtis had come through with Brad he’d already have brought Kellogg up to speed before rejoining the band.
OPEN THEIR EYES
In light of Kiera’s awakening not three episodes ago, I found it so ironic that Curtis instructed Brad to open the eyes of the enlightened, human purists that make up the Liber8 team. Despite Sonya’s reluctance to see that the changes affected on the future from whence Brad comes is not a result of Liber8’s actions, Lucas, Garza and Travis are more willing to see the truth in Brad’s story. Like Kiera, there were things that Liber8 just didn’t know about this timeline (particularly, the double Kieras/Alecs) that would of course change the way they see the world.
Remember Kagame’s line to Alec? “A pebble tossed from a beach can become a tsunami on the other side of the world.” Liber8’s minor tweaks and nudges were all for naught, because before their tsunami could gain traction, the tidal wave they created was wrapped in a giant storm originating nearby and lost to its raging winds.
The story that unraveled during the standoff in the last, oh, fourth of the episode feels like exactly what I’ve been waiting for all season. Not so that I wish it would have occurred earlier on, but it was a satisfying explanation and development for all that this season seemed to be building toward. And to think this is only episode 11 of 13 means that something else is going to happen, probably to top this!
How sweet it was when Kiera got to tell Liber8: “If only you people knew what you don’t know.” It reminds me of the line uttered by the captured Observer in season five of Fringe: “You don’t even know what you don’t know.” Kiera’s interesting factor doubled for me in this episode. I’ve always found her a unique combination of a protagonist and an antagonist, depending on whose perspective we’re looking through. But in this situation, having the knowledge of an alternative timeline, she has Liber8 beat and there is nothing they can do about it, nothing they can correct, no platform to take against it. And that is way more interesting to me than both sides thinking they know a definite course of action. Seeing Lucas, Garza and Travis react a bit helplessly made them, for the first time, real people to me. Garza says she’s tired, Lucas goes crazy again, and Travis just seems beaten. Before this awakening they were like characters in a video game, given specific missions and unable to deviate from their course without GAME OVER appearing across the screen. Now that they’ve entered free play, they realize this video game wasn’t all they were promised it would be.
It is Lucas who begins to freak out after Kiera’s reveal of two Alec Sadlers in this timeline and of Garza’s secondary mission from 2077 Alec. “Don’t you see? If this timeline has been altered then we are just pawns in someone else’s game!”
And cue psychotic break! Lucas demands to know from Brad what the future is like he comes from, and Brad complies. Corporations versus governments. People chose sides, then switched sides to protect their family. Life became about survival, and survival became a life sentence. In less than 30 years, this city is a lifeless crater. But, interestingly, he blamed it on Liber8 and their useless rhetoric. And then Kiera chimes in: “Since Alec and I traveled to this timeline, you have all been pawns in someone else’s game.” Essentially, I see this comment to mean that the future Brad comes from is different from the future they all came from, and so while the field of play initially looks the same, the game being played on the field has changed without Liber8 being the wiser to it.
Now, when Curtis and Kellogg enter, Curtis’s words are: “I remember how it feels thinking you are leading change, then to realize someone is playing a deeper game than you can imagine.” This comment is what ultimately made me backtrack from supposing Curtis came through the time portal with Brad. Curtis and Brad seemed so well synced in their mission that I had originally just assumed they’d came back together. But Curtis was ingrained with the Freelancers, and with this comment about a deeper game I feel like Curtis had been made to see the truth.
And yet, how could Brad speak of the terrible future he comes from, but still abandon his mission in favor of Kiera? Why would he not try to recruit her help, as opposed to abandoning it altogether? Maybe he hasn’t abandoned it, we don’t know what action they take next, I guess. Perhaps, if he was not aware of the two Kieras and two Alecs, he believes that some other affect can be made on the current era and they can still bring about a change strong enough to swing the future off its course.
THE TEXT MESSAGE
Correction: I must’ve looked down from the screen when it was revealed who looked at the text message! I really didn’t know what to do with it if Dillon had been in communique with Julian, but it makes more sense that Julian would tell Carlos that he’d been denied access to the former beta tester data.