Last night's Continuum finally dropped the bombshell we've been waiting for, about what all this time travel has done to the dystopian future that Kiera and company came from. And it was just as dark, and demented, as you could have expected. Spoilers ahead...
To be honest, I'm still not sure what to make of "3 Minutes to Midnight" — like a lot of Continuum episodes, it contains some pretty rushed plot points and some hand-wavy dialogue. Kiera and Lukas jump to some pretty wild conclusions in the final scenes of the episode, and Kiera seems to be delivering a sermon direct from the writers when she says that the future is "an ever-evolving organism, free to change and adapt as it sees fit." Plus Kiera seems to be deliberately trying to sow dissension among the Liber8 ranks by throwing in random and irrelevant stuff like the fact that Garza had a secret deal with Future Alec into the conversation — which has the effect of making the whole thing a bit more confusing.
But here's what I think we're supposed to take away from all this: The Liber8 crew came back in time to change the evil corporate future of 2077, with Future Alec's blessing. (Although we still don't know what his plan was, and why he also sent his son and Kiera.) And maybe Liber8 actually succeeded in creating the future they wanted — we'll never know now.
Because present-day Alec screwed everything up when he went back in time to save his girlfriend Emily. In the process, he created a timeline where Kellog kills Escher, Alec Prime becomes the head of Piron and turns into a corporate scumbag early, and then Alec Prime unleashes dystopian future technology before anyone's ready for it. Plus, with Kellog pulling the strings, Alec Prime destroys the nascent Corporate Congress, so corporations will never be able to work together to rule the world.
The result is the dystopian future that Brad Tonkin comes from, in which Vancouver is a crater, cats and dogs are living together, and Kellog is one of a few "clan leaders" who created a plan to send Tonkin back in time to change history again. (Kellog is trying to change a timeline that he had a large part in creating, by killing Escher and turning the corporations against each other, but never mind.)
And Tonkin has teamed up with Curtis Chen, who was a Freelancer but went undercover as part of the Liber8 gang, and is now apparently playing his own game. They teamed up to kill Kiera Prime, but now Brad's bout of amnesia, and his time with Kiera, have changed him and he's no longer willing to go through with completing his mission.
All of this leaves me feeling as though trying to change the past is ultimately futile in the Continuum universe — there's the fact that you'll just create a brand new timeline, so the people who don't travel back in time will never even know if they succeeded. But also, as soon as you travel back, you'd better destroy your time-travel device before someone else finds it and decides to screw up the timeline you created. But most of all, you can never predict the consequences when you start screwing around with time — things are bound to get weird, and unpredictable.
None of the above explains why everybody starts talking about being "pawns in someone else's game." When Alec went back in time, his only goal was to save Emily's life — there was no game, other than that. Whatever Future Alec's plan was, you have to assume it's as borked as Liber8's agenda thanks to the younger Alec. Curtis seems to have some plan of his own, and Future Kellog had some plan that he sent Brad Tonkin back for, but those are both super-unclear.
In any case, I'm not sure how you leap from "Alec traveled back in time to save his dead girlfriend" to "we're all pawns in someone else's game" — although see above: I think Kiera is deliberately trying to confuse and disorient the Liber8 crew, even if she also confuses and disorients the viewer in the process. (I'm starting to think that a rule of thumb on Continuum is, "If it comes out of Kiera's mouth, disregard it." On most shows, the main character is often a mouthpiece for the writers, but here it's almost the opposite.)
Meanwhile, the episode's "B" plot gives us more of a hint as to how Brad's darkest timeline takes shape. Alec is pushing forward with the Halo device even though some percentage of users will go nuts and become ultra-violent. (Gotta love his corporate counsel saying that it's like shipping a first-generation product that's a "brick," because you can fix it in the second generation. Also gotta love Alec using his tech to trick Kiera's lie-detector apparatus.)
And it turns out that Alec's tech won't just turn some percentage of the population into psychos — it will also send "biometric and psychoanalytical" data to the Piron servers, as Dillon tells Carlos. This will enable the cops to catch "warning signs of aberrant behavior" and prevent terrorism and crimes before they happen.
Carlos spends a lot of the episode looking into the violent attacks by Halo test subjects, and he enlists the aid of Julian, who's already become fully ensconced at Piron as a "brand ambassador." Alec insists to Julian that he's already fixed the problems with Halo, and the new chips are "pure" — and that all Julian will be doing if he fights against it will be preventing people from being saved from cancer. How can that be wrong?
In any case, things just got really, really complicated — enough to make you want to clutch your head and shoot a few holes in the wall, just like Lukas does. Speaking of which, where are the Lukas GIFs? Here, I'll start: