Review of Travelers 2
Chess Match of the Centuries
I had high praise for the first season Travelers (on Netflix) a year ago. I have even higher praise for the second season (of 12 episodes, like the first). I'll try to talk about it with a minimum of spoilers.
First, my favorite episode was almost a standalone—though each episode follows closely from the previous one—and amounts to one of the best takes I've ever seen on the genre of do-over time traveling, probably most known in the Groundhog Day movie. In Travelers, the hour begins with a massacre of our team. The rest of the episode details the Director's (AI from the distant future usually in control of most things) painstaking attempts to reverse that massacre. It's played out beautifully, like a chess match in which the superior opponent has the opportunity of redoing each of her/his movies until a win is obtained.
Chess match is a good metaphor for the most significant parts of this season, and indeed most of the season, in general. Although there's plenty of action, the peak moves involve MacLaren and his team matching wits with the Faction (the group from the future who oppose the Director), and a new villain, Vincent.
Vincent was the very first traveler. He was supposed to die in the Towers on September 11—a daring beginning—but defies the Director and survives, and thrives. He's played by Enrico Colantoni, whom I first noticed in Flashpoint (an excellent Canadian swat-team drama), and he projects a worthy bad guy in Travelers (which, by the way, is also a Canadian production). The acting is top-notch throughout, with MacKenzie Porter (Hell on Wheels) even better than last year as Marcy. In fact, everyone was stronger than last year, likely because the plot was more advanced. Eric McCormack as MacLaren, Reilly Dolman as Philip, Nesta Cooper as Carly, and Jared Abrahamson as Trevor all put in memorable performances. Even Patrick Gilmore as David was excellent.
I say "even" because you don't often see secondary characters who play such important roles in a fast-moving story like this. But they're there, in and out, throughout the twelves episodes, especially McLaren and wife Cat, Marcy and David, and Philip with a Factor agent, and then the beginning of something with Carly. And the families and friends and relations really come into their own in the finale, which changes everything—though you never know, given the possibility of do-overs.
And that's all I say—other than see this. If you enjoy a time-travel story with all the trimmings—intellect, action, humor, culture class—you'll love it.
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About the author
Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; his LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context, The Soft Edge, & Digital McLuhan have been translated into 15 languages.