Time travel is a subject matter that has been explored time and time again, not just in literature, but in television shows as well. In fact, this television season has seen an unprecedented number of time traveling shows, all the way from veterans such as “Doctor Who” and “12 Monkeys” (whose current seasons are still yet to air), all the way to new shows such as “Timeless”, “Time After Time” and “Making History”. With so many time traveling shows on our radar, it is imperative that show creators make sure that their show’s take on things is different and refreshing each time, so that veteran viewers of time travelling themed shows, like myself, will stick around for a long time. Thankfully, this is something that Netflix’s and Showcase’s binge-worthy show, “Travelers”, pulls off well.
“Travelers”, which aired all twelve of its episodes on December 23, 2016, follows a team of “Travelers” from a dystopic future version of Earth, who are given missions to fulfill in order to prevent the horrible future that they all live in. Each member of any given team has particularly roles that they have to fulfill, and a particular set of rules that they all operate by. However, instead of using a time machine to get to the 21st century, their consciousness’ enter a host’s body right before that particular person’s historical record of time of death.
The show’s main team consists of FBI Agent Grant MacLaren (Eric McCormack), the leader; Marcy Wharton (MacKenzie Porter), the medic; Philip Pearson (Reilly Dolman), the historian; Trevor Holden (Jared Abrahamson), the engineer and Carly Shannon (Nesta Cooper), the tactician. They are given missions that lead up to their prime directive of correcting several things that happened in the present day so that all of the horrible things that happened in their timeline will not happen.
From the get go, it does sound like another run of the mill “change the past, change the future” kind of show, but what makes this show different is that it puts more emphasis on the characters themselves, and some of the moral and ethical dilemmas that come with that, and with their method of time travel. Because of this, they do not dwell too much on the science-y portion of things, but showcase it only when needed, making the entire thing more of an action adventure thing than a science fiction show. Think of it as “Quantum Leap” meets “Battlestar Galactica”.
If you still have any doubts about delving into this show, just know that you are in capable hands, as the creator of the show is Brad Wright, who created and co-created the “Stargate” franchise shows, from “Stargate-SG 1”, to “Stargate Atlantis” and “Stargate Universe”.
All in all, if you have time on your hands and you are waiting to pass the time until other time traveling shows go on or come back on air, give “Travelers” a go.
Just take note, that sometimes, some of the characters do show a lot of skin, (not surprising, as it is a Netflix show), and that there are some “sexytimes”, as I call it, but it isn’t too gratuitous, and some of the sexytime parts can be skipped. However, it isn’t as much as what was in “The O.A.”. (If you want the exact time for these things so you can skip it without missing anything important, just message me here directly.)
From this moment on, I will be delving into spoiler territory, so if you have not seen the first season of “Travelers” yet, turn away now.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the things that makes this show stand out is the fact that it is more character driven, as jumping into the body of someone from the 21st Century means that they have to assume the lives of their host bodies, while trying to accomplish the missions given to them. For some, it becomes hard to balance family life, work and their missions, and for others, they have to deal with the imperfections that their host body has.
Among all of the travelers, Marcy and Philip got the short end of the stick, as whoever did the research on their host bodies did not dig deep enough into their hosts actual background, as they only relied on their social media and computerized records, and they ended up in the bodies of an intellectually disabled woman and a heroin junkie, respectively.
For Marcy, she ended up with the burden of the fact that there are moments in which she might be a liability to the team, while relying on her social worker David Miller (Patrick Gilmore), especially as she now can miraculously do things that she couldn’t do before.
For Philip, being a heroin addict is a liability as his head is supposed to be clear always as he is the team’s historian.
For Carly, it’s the fact that she is a struggling single mother, and that her real romantic interest, MacLaren, is in the body of someone who, at times, has marital issues with his wife.
For Trevor, it’s the fact that even though he looks like the youngest of the bunch, he is actually the oldest among them all. This fact makes it even more funny that he has to struggle with academics, his host body’s reputation in school, as well as deal with his parents, who do have the ability to ground him as punishment.
Along the way, lines begin to blur, and at certain points, it becomes an interesting discussion of what their new existence is, and where that line or distinction between them and their host is drawn.
Underlying everything, with the missions and other teams that they encounter, the team ends up discovering that their actions did have a profound and not so good change in the future.
They managed to prevent some bad things from happening, but the consequence was far worse- humanity divided into two factions. One that is loyal to the plan, and to the Director, their big boss, who, as it turns out, is an intelligent and sentient AI; and a faction that champions that decisions should be made by humans and not by a machine.
That revelation floored me, I must confess, as I did not expect that the Director would be an AI.
However, because of this, some of the members of the team, such as Philip, although loyal to his team, question the agenda of the director, especially with the host he ended up with, while others remained loyal no matter what.
However, it does pose an interesting question, as one can see the merits of a world run by an AI, and the pitfalls of that as well.
The series also doles out some great performances by the actors, and the script is evenly paced, from the humor, to the world-building, all the way to the action sequences.
Also, they managed to pull it off without anything coming off as too chunky, or too campy, or too ambitious.
This show, all in all, is a fun show to watch, especially if you love time travel and character driven shows that present ethical and moral dilemmas all throughout the series, and yet, still manage to surprise you when you least expect it.
[Note: “Travelers” has already been renewed for a second season, and production for that will start in March 2016.]
- The opening sequence in which all of the Travelers, minus MacLaren, come to the 21st Century.
- Philip and Trevor trying their best not to betray their teams in their own ways in Episode 5.
- The discovery that Trevor is older than all of them combined.
- Philip imagining himself saying what he really feels about everything in the Narcotics Anonymous session in Episode 7, only not to say it at all.
- Philip and his turtle.
- MacLaren saving his “wife” and the guy he was supposed to save with the device he had on him in Episode 9.
- The reboot to Marcy 2.0 in Episode 11-12.
- Discovering that the Director as an AI
- The Travelers’ chant in Episode 6.
- Episode 5- Room 101
- Episode 7- Protocol 5
- Episode 11- Marcy
- Episode 12- Grace