Continuum reveals the most unexpected drawback of changing the futureS

In Continuum, at this point, almost everybody seems to accept that traveling back in time from 2077 to 2012 will allow them to change the past, creating a new and different version of 2077. So at this point, everybody's just trying to put his or her own stamp on the future. Except there's one major problem.

Spoilers ahead...

The trouble with going back in time and trying to change the future is, you won't know if you've succeeded — and you can't predict how things will turn out if you do make some changes. You don't get a realtime information feed to let you know how the future is shifting in response to whatever actions you take.

So people keep telling Kiera that there's no point in her trying to change the timeline, because it's already been changed. Even apart from whatever the Liber8 gang has or hasn't accomplished, Kiera's probably made some pretty big shifts just by interacting with Alec, who's kind of a big deal in the future. Is it true? Has Kiera, just by herself, changed the future to the point where the world she came from doesn't even exist any more? There's no way of knowing. All we see are flashbacks to before Kiera and the others time-traveled, which is presumably the
"original" future.

And meanwhile, Alec also points out this week that nothing is certain — Kellog tells him that by trying to go into business with him, he's betting on a sure thing. But Alec responds that nothing is ever a sure thing. After all, even if Alec managed to create a huge fortune and become Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett all rolled into one in the original timeline, he could still be a washout in this universe.

So nobody really knows if, or how, they're changing the timeline. And that's on top of the uncertainty about the morality of changing the timeline — is it wrong to erase people who haven't been born yet? Is Kiera's responsibility to preserve law and order in 2077, meaning the rule of the corporations, or to help the people in 2012 however she can? As Alec points out, she already faced that choice with the bombing in the first season finale — and she chose to save lives in 2012, even at the cost of radically altering the world of 2077. (And I'm so glad someone points that out to her.)

At this point, there seem to be four different groups in 2012 trying to influence the future — if you don't count the "freelancers" or Escher or whoever. There's Kiera, who wants to keep the future the same, except when she doesn't. There's Sonya, who's acting under instructions from Kagame that involved shooting Travis and taking over leadership — and presumably, carrying out whatever plan Kagame and Future Alec hatched together, before Kagame went back in time. There are Travis and Garza, who've gone rogue and share the Liber8 goals, but aren't in on Kagame's plans. And then there's Kellog, who just wants to go into business with Alec, so they can create an empire even larger and more powerful than the one Future Alec already ruled.

Last night's episode, "Split Second," was a pretty zippy outing, in which Sonya manipulates Travis into murdering half a dozen Aryan Nation prisoners, so he'll be transferred to a new prison. During the prisoner transfer, Sonya tries to kill Travis while Garza tries to rescue him, and Travis tries to screw with Carlos' head. In the end, Garza wins and she and Travis form their own little splinter group, stealing all of Sonya's guns. And in a flashback, we learn that Sonya was a scientist who helped turn Travis into a super-soldier, and when she was ordered to terminate the project (and him), she killed her boss and went on the run with him instead.

And meanwhile, Alec is finding his hard-won job at the Buy-More less thrilling than he'd hoped, when his boss rejects all of his upgrades to their computer systems and customers don't understand the difference between a gigabyte and a terabyte. So when Kellog comes to Alec and offers him the chance to start his own company, with unlimited resources and hot babes on a yacht, the choice is sort of a no-brainer. (At this point, I'm wondering why Kellog ever hooked up with Liber8, since he appears to be a pure capitalist shark. I guess he was just a sociopath who found Liber8 useful, but you have to wonder why they ever wanted him on the team.)

Alec signs on with Kellog, maybe because he's wowed by the speeches about feeling no fear and inspiring maximum fear — but maybe also because he's trying to figure out what his future self actually wanted, and why his future self sent these terrorists and one cop back in time. And also, whether he ought to trust his own future self. In that maddenly vague recorded message we heard last week, Future Alec claims he took the world down a "dark path" and wants to change things — but Kellog insists that Future Alec actually just wanted to alter the timeline so he could become even more powerful than just a plain old mega-oligarch.

So which is it? Did Future Alec want to avert the rise of the plutocracy, or propel himself to an even higher position on top of the heap? And once again, will we even know how Alec's actions in 2012 are affecting the circumstances of his future self?

Meanwhile, there are hints that some time travelers from 2077 are already working to bring about the rise of corporatocracy earlier than before — Agent Gardiner talks to his superior about Kiera, and she reiterates that "Escher" has vouched for Kiera. To which he responds, "The CEO of a corporation giving orders to our intelligence services? That just doesn't add up." And she responds, "My superior vouches for him. For all we know, Pylon is Section-6," meaning the fictional agency that Kiera supposedly comes from. So Escher, whoever he or she is, is the CEO of a major company who's already got undue influence in the government. This could get interesting.