CONTINUUM: Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster and Simon Barry Talk The Challenges of Season 2 (2013)


Taking a successful sci-fi series from its first season to its second is not easy and yet the Syfy series CONTINUUM managed the transition seamlessly. The series explores the modern day challenges of suddenly having travelers from our future thrust into our midst with opposing agendas: one wants to change the future and the other wants to maintain the status quo to ensure that she has a future to return to one day.  But in the world on CONTINUUM there are layers upon layers of mystery as to who is really controlling the fate of the future and what their true motives are.  At the end of the first season, it was revealed that Kiera Cameron’s (Rachel Nichols) mentor Alex Sadler (Erik Knudsen) had purposely sent her back in time and yet we are still unclear if he wants the future preserved as badly as Kiera does. In a press conference call, stars Rachel Nichols, Victor Webster and executive producer Simon Barry gave some insight into the conflicting motivations and how it effects the relationships of the characters this season.

What should fans be looking forward to in Season 2 of CONTINUUM?
RACHEL:  One of the episodes that’s my favorite, there’s sort of a new piece of technology is introduce and it’s one that Kiera has never really seen or experienced before. It’s a piece of future technology that appears in the present day to help her deal with kind of a very emotional situation she’d going through.  I think that mechanism was used extremely, extremely well. There’s also an interesting relationship change for Kiera and Carlos.  I think their journey this season is extremely important. It really sets up future seasons of the show. Episode 5 and Episode 6 are two that I would highlight in Season 2. Then, wow, I’m covered from head to toe in bruises and can barely move because I was doing a fight scene for 15 hours yesterday. That season finale is going to be epic, to say the least!
VICTOR:  I just have to echo some of the things that Rachel said. I think the relationship between her and my characters really goes through a big rollercoaster this year. Their friendship is tested. It’s validated. I mean, it goes through the whole gambit of different trials and tribulations. The fight scene that Rachel’s talking about that she did, I’m actually really looking forward to. I read it in the script. I don’t know how they’re going to pull this off, so I can’t wait to see that.  I think that’s going to be pretty epic. I’d have to say the biggest thing is relationship and that last fight scene. It sounds like it’s going to be awesome.
SIMON: There’s so many things to look forward to this season. For me, it sort of encapsulates what I’m most excited about in seeing is really the show I think taking on its own identity in a way that we didn’t have a chance to do in Season 1 because it was a new show and we were still kind of finding our way. But I think in Season 2 the show really owns its place in terms of storytelling and how important the mythology of the show is to the storytelling and also how connected and interconnected the characters are. So I think, for me it’s really just the show settling in to knowing exactly what it is and how the show should be. And I imagine that the fans will respond to that as well.

Can you talk more about kind of the changes in the Kiera/Carlos relationship this season?
RACHEL: At the end of Season 1 and the beginning of Season 2, Kiera’s very much a lone wolf. She’s kind of alienated Carlos and Alec in a certain way. As far as her relationship with Carlos goes, he’s like her best friend, whether he knows it or not, and she’s really dependent on him.Getting them through Season 2 so that they can continue on together essentially as partners is extremely important. What transpires in Season 2 will only lend itself to them being able to continue the path that they’re on together. His understanding of her definitely grows because it has to, and essentially she’s not working for the VPD at the beginning of the season and she needs to get back in to continue the fight, and Carlos is her biggest supporter. He’s the only person that has never let her down, and that is defined this season.
SIMON:  I think all the relationships on the show in one way or another get redefined in an interesting way. And Rachel’s right, I think that Kiera’s relationship with Carlos becomes much more complex. But that doesn’t mean that it’s just those two. I think that the level of complexity and the challenges of relationships actually across the board, whether it’s Alec, whether it’s Kellog, the members of Liber8, the police department. Everyone seems to have an opportunity to sort of redefine their role on the show in a way. It’s interesting to see where they all land by the end of Season 2 in terms of those definitions. So, for me, that’s a really fun part of the show is allowing a lot of our characters to interact and to also change positions in a way that I think is not expected.

Are we going to see why Alec sent Kiera back? Because it seems like he sent Liber8 back to kind of undo some of what he did, but then he sent her back it seems like to stop them.
SIMON: Yeah. We do open the door to that question and that mystery a little bit more than we have in Season 1. I think a lot of it goes to paying off sort of the conspiracy of how Kiera got involved in the first place in this time travel experiment. So one thing we are leading to  as far as Season 2 is not only exploring how older Alec Sadler was thinking and why, but also the machinations of manifesting this experiment and how it came to be. So that by the end of Season 2 a lot of those questions are completely cleared up and we know where we are in the universe.

Could you talk about the balancing of the future story and conspiracy with the current story line and how much of that is mapped out?
SIMON: We have the luxury of having most of our season mapped out before we start shooting. So we had a very good idea of how we were going to breakdown the beats from the future into the season so that we were not kind of overwhelming the audience with too much information too quickly.  So we kind of tried to create a series of story lines that at first glance may not seem connected, but by the end of the season you realize that they are. Some of them are definitely rooted in the present, and some of them are connected to the future.  So it’s it’s one of those things when you’re looking at a whole season in advance you’re trying to approach it so that you balance all of those gems of information of reveal throughout the season instead of being forced to show everything at once.

What new characters or locations we’ll see this season?
SIMON: We are carrying over two important characters from Season 1, those being Gardiner, the federal agent, and Jason, who is the other time-traveler that Kiera encounters, who’s come 20 years ahead of her.  So those characters play a large role in Season 2. We’re also bringing in a love-interest for Alec because he is after all an 18-year-old boy and it would be a little weird for him to not have someone in his life  as he gets closer to 19. So we’re bringing in a character named Emily. And also we’re introducing the character that we mentioned last season at the end of the season, Escher, who we’ll be bringing in about mid-point during the season.

Can you tell us a little bit about Kiera’s resolve to get home? It seemed like it was waning a little toward the end of the first season. Is that still her ultimate goal or has things changed and now maybe she’s a little bit leery about going back to her timeline?
RACHEL:  I think towards the end there seemed to be a lot of other things that were coming in to play. There’s a very important question that Alec asks Kiera at the beginning of Season 2 and he says, “If you had prevented that building from going down in the finale of Season 1, did it ever occur to you what that act might have done to your future?” And it’s something that she has to think about — and crazy Jason says something else very important to her which is, “After you’ve been here for a certain period of time your memory of the future starts to fade and you begin to question if you were ever there.” That is also something that Kiera finds extremely terrifying. Her resolve to get home is still very much intact, but Season 2 is very defined by the idea that she realizes that she was sent here for a reason, and she doesn’t have a shot to get back until she completes this mission that she doesn’t know anything about. Going home and her son is the most important thing to her. He remains the most important thing to her and he will remain the most important thing to her. But she is here and she does have a job to do. We all know Kiera Cameron isn’t going to stick her head in the sand like an ostrich and wait for someone to tap her on the back and say, “Oh, here’s your time travel device, you can go home.” So for all the time that’s she spends working here in the present to try to get back to the future, she is aware that she may indeed be changing the future and preventing the birth of her son, her marriage, everybody she knows and loves from existing. But she’s the kind of person who is going to do her job while she is here because that’s what she was sent to do and that’s her purpose. And it’s the idea that she can’t get home without doing it, so she’s got to do it.

What in Season 2 did you find that you were able to do with the character that maybe you couldn’t do in Season 1?
RACHEL: The writing is fantastic on this show. Season 2 there are a lot of sort of deeper emotional points. There’s more of a definition between her relationship with Carlos and that gets obviously deeper, and her relationship with Alec this year they have their highs and they have their lows and that’s something that was not really present in Season 1.  He was her Number One guy, so to speak and she was his Number One girl, and that relationship suffers this season. There was a lot there to intervene as well.  Just the finding out sort of more about who she is and where she comes from and the state of the world at the time that she left and what she’s discovered about the present day is constantly changing her impression of the battle versus good and evil, right versus wrong. It’s just that there was a lot of setting up to do in Season 1, so Season 2 definitely has the moments of more sort of more discovery for her character and how she dealt with her life in the future and how she’s doing with the life in the present day.

Could talk about the comparisons and the contrasts between filming Seasons 1 and 2?
VICTOR: I think that there was a feeling out process. Obviously people coming together, working for a common goal in Season 1. I think there are a lot of question marks. I feel in like Season 2 they’ve gotten to know each other really, really well. I think Carlos trusts Kiera tremendously. She’s always got his back. But there is that lingering cloud of questions hanging over top and that’s what is really going on. Because it’s not everything that it seems. So the relationship has not reached its full potential because of that. So I think that in Season 1 they have grown to trust each other and Season 2 they’ve now gotten to that point and I think Carlos is getting close to needing answers and wanting to know what the hell’s going on. So I think that there’s an evolution that is at some point, it could be either this season or next season, has to come to a head at one point. And that’s it.
RACHEL: And for me it was revealed of Episode 9 of last year when we were out at the farm and Carlos was wounded and incoherent and losing a lot of blood and Kiera said, “You’re my best friend and I lie to you every day and it kills me.”  She tells him, “I have a son.” Obviously he doesn’t really absorb any of this. But Kiera is in a very painful position when it comes to Carlos. Because he is her partner, he is her best friend. He trusts her. He sticks his neck out for her. He defends her. And she’s lying to him on a daily basis. And if she can’t say hey, what’s up, I’m from the future. That doesn’t work. That’s a sure fire way to get him to go running in the other direction. So Season 1 was a lot of sort of setting up that relationship and using Alec to help navigate that relationship, and help create answers when answers needed to be created. But it’s something that’s very, very painful for Kiera.  I think in Season 2 you see how those complications have to be fleshed out in the best way possible for the situation, which inevitably does bring Kiera and Carlos closer. Although, the reality is — especially for Kiera — the reality of it is sort of more painful. You’ll see a lot in Season 2 with Kiera and Carlos becoming closer, and they’re still doing that dance. That dance still exists. It changes a little bit, but it still exits.

How do you make sure that CONTINUUM stays relatable and believable to those of us who are watching?
SIMON: I think that we’ve tried to create a bit of a relatability in CONTINUUM with our future terrorists/freedom fighters in that they are zeroing in on the problems of today to avoid larger problems tomorrow. I think that that’s one sort of device that will never go out of style because I imagine the things in the news that we perceive as being these challenging conflicts of right and wrong, and I think we’ll forever be debating whether these hard decisions that we make in the world politically or otherwise are necessarily the right thing.  The show can take a stab at those things in a way that other shows can’t. Because with our characters’ perspective of the future we can make a judgment call on things where the jury is still out on. And I think that what science fiction does well is it takes controversial notions and explores them and tears them apart. Instead of actually finding a solution, maybe it just creates a debate.  We’ve really worked hard to keep our gray area gray on the show, and  keep the struggle alive in their challenges as opposed to making things very easy and simple from a moral point of view. I know that myself and the writers on CONTINUUM will always do is look to the world today to find those challenging ideas that are something we can bring a debate to as opposed to a solution to and just allow people to talk about things. I mean, I think we’ve already done it with Season 1. Our fans have certainly engaged each other and are having a very lively conversation about what is the right thing and what isn’t the right thing.
RACHEL: Simon’s so eloquent; it’s hard. This is my first true sci-fi show. I think if you can get the fans interacting — obviously we do live tweets and we do all that  — I think if you get the fans interacting and they’re always so fascinated and they always have all these questions and they want to know. The reason I love sci-fi fantasy so much: we have such great fans.  And if you do sci-fi well, they love you. They tell their friends. They watch your show. They get their whole family to watch your show. That’s the most rewarding thing. If you do something half-assed, they’ll have your head on a stake and they’ll march it through town and they absolutely deserve to do so. So I think if you’re going to do a sci-fi show, you need to do it well and you need to pay respects to whatever mythology it is that you create. And if you’re true to that mythology, people will get on the wagon with you.
VICTOR: (Laughs) There isn’t anything I could possibly add. Everything was said so perfectly.

Why do you think your series with a time-travel focus has caught on? What about the show and the time-travel emphasis is catching on with viewers?
SIMON: I think that there’s this litmus test with any show that has a big gimmick, and I think the litmus test is would the show work if you didn’t have the gimmick. If you just had your characters and you just had a situation that you could count on for dramatic purposes, would you still watch the show? And as much as we needed the gimmick to get our show launched and off the ground, I have to say that we have such a great group of actors and we have such a great group of writers and directors pushing through that I think that we feel very confident that there’s an opportunity to tell great stories now that really aren’t hung on the gimmick of time-travel necessarily. That aren’t hung on necessarily the science fiction element instead of grounded in the characters and the characters relationships with each other. So, for me, I think we’ll always embrace our connection to sci-fi and also our gimmick, which is arguably, time-travel concept. But because we don’t have to time-travel every week, because we don’t have to physically use that trope, I think we have to create a show that would survive without it. And therefore we’ve been able to engineer the components of a good TV show that are driven by characters and relationships that really can allow a show to continue beyond what its set up was. That’s what we’re always trying to do is balance those things. And it’s a production concept because also if we were to time-travel every week it would be a huge cost towards the show. It would be very complicated. So I think that because our actors are so grounded and believable in the roles that they play we can really mind that and those relationships in a way that other sci-fi shows maybe don’t have that luxury.

In the first season, you brought in sort of the subtle politics of the difference between a modern democracy and a futuristic corporate takeover the world situation. Is that something that’s going to continue in Season 2? Is it going to be explored even more?
SIMON: We certainly explore because we do draw links between characters in the present and some of these designs that these movements that will result in this possible future. I think that our 2077 that Kiera comes from has its roots in what a lot of people perceive to be either something that could happen or actually is already happening — and are public politics really just masked? There’s so many different points of view about this that I would hate to limit the scope of what people perceive as the future as being anything specific. I love providing details but I’m not sort of here to say this is the worst thing in the world or the best thing in the world, or this is my definition of dystopic or whatever.  I think that the ideas of a corporate-controlled future don’t need to be necessarily that extreme to be believable. That was one of the things that attracted it to me as a possible model for a future was that it’s not a huge leap in terms of where we are today. So we’re not really in the business of sort of trying to politic our way out of this situation or show a pathway to a different system. The future of 2077 is that future. I think we’ve established it and it is something that Kiera knows as being her version of reality. There’s really no other point to comment on or de-shift it because I don’t think it serves the show to be arguing whether or not things are going to get better or worse or what. It’s really about individual characters’ assessment. So Liber8 has point of view. Kiera has her point of view but that could change because of the things she learns as she goes, and vice versa with Liber8. There are characters in Liber8 who may see that the present isn’t all as bad as they thought. So maybe those extreme measures aren’t required that they thought. So that for me is much more interesting than kind of taking some political science approach to the whole thing. I think I just want the audience to feel like it’s a believable future and that’s the intent.

What has been the biggest challenge going into the second season of CONTINUUM?
SIMON:  I think it’s really just keeping the foot on the accelerator. It’s keeping the level of interest from the fans high, but also trying to make the show appealing to a new audience and allow the show to grow. I think because the show is becoming much more owning its personality, we run the risk of being maybe too specific in some areas that we haven’t been in the past. So I hope that I think that good television tends to do a good job of declaring its space — if you will, declaring its shelf space. And there’s always an uncertainty about that. But I think that Season 2 for CONTINUUM is really much closer to the show than I had envisioned when I first created it.  So I’m expecting that that will reward the fans and will also provide us with more incentive to keep going.
RACHEL: For me, I’ve done TV before.  I’ve been on shows for full seasons before. I’d never done a Season 2 of anything ever. So when we found out we got picked up there’s that amazing sort of, “Oh my gosh, we’ve got a Season 2 and the numbers are great and the fans really love the show. How exciting is this?!”  And we get to do it all over again. Then that fear sets in of, “Oh God, I hope we don’t disappoint.” That’s one of those things where you, as a team, between writers, directors, executive producers, actors, everybody comes back for Season 2 and we just want to put the best product out there because we know that people are anticipating it. And having that anticipation is the most wonderful thing and also the most frightening. Because you don’t want to let these people down once they’ve invested so much in your show and supporting it and talking about it. You’ve really got to start a second season, a third season, a fourth season, whatever season you’re starting after Season 1, you’ve got to really start strong so that you don’t let the people down that have supported you. That for me was an intimidating idea.  But I can honestly say that I don’t think anybody will be let down with Season 2.
VICTOR: I have to agree with that. I think one of the things is that we set such a precedent from the first Season.  Something that was such a well-rounded show, great performances by people. The writing was fantastic. It’s such an intelligent, smart show. Like Simon said, there are so many shades of gray and the show can go in so many different directions.  I think because Season 1 came off so well, that coming back saying, “Well, what we can do now is the opportunity.”  The different paths that we can take are endless. And how do we do that without disappointing the fans that loved Season 1 so much?  How do we take it up to another level? How do we grow and continue to expand them when we’ve introduced already? I think it’s kind of a daunting feeling, but I think now that we’ve done Season 2, looking back in retrospect, I think that we brought it up to a whole different level.  I don’t know how Simon and the writing staff are going to step up to the challenge of Season 3 because now it seems so huge because we’ve gone so far in Season 2. So it’s just something to be so proud of.

To see how the remainder of the second season of CONTINUUM plays out, tune in for all new episodes Friday nights at 10:00 p.m. on Syfy.

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