“Continuum”: Freedom of the Will, the Ethics of Force, and Action-Packed Time Travel

This Monday saw the American premiere of Continuum, a new science fiction series that has already run its first season in Canada.  Indeed, a second season has already been ordered, and Continuum has thus far received generally favorable reviews.  The show follows Kiera Cameron (played by Rachel Nichols), a Vancouver cop from the year 2077 as she is inadvertently thrust back in time to our present with Liber8, a group of freedom-fighter terrorists slated to be executed by the corporate-run government.  Now in the early twenty-first century, decades away from her family and friends, Cameron seeks to prevent the terrorist group from affecting the timeline.

Thus far, Continuum seems self-conscious enough about the possibilities intrinsic in time travel to play nicely with the standard questions of determinism and free will; and, of course, these are questions of interest to the theologically-minded Christian as much as to the science-savvy television viewer.  The premiere episode’s final big reveal particularly opens up some nice avenues to explore regarding the nature of human identity and whether or not we are predestined to become who and what we do become. Additionally, the conflict between a law-enforcement official of what may be an oppressive corporate regime and a terrorist cell that pursues liberty through violence promises to raise some intriguing ethical questions.

Whether Continuum lives up to its early promise right now can only be answered by time travelers (or Canadians), but it seems off to a good start.

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  • Steve

    love the last sentence (there’s got to be a good Canadian’s-are-backwards joke in there somewhere)

    do you think there is anything here for the Christian regarding submission to authority?

    Patheos, make Dr Reiter your chief editor.

  • Geoffrey Reiter

    Steve,

    I think I’ve got plenty on plate ast a Patheos contributor. And as to my last sentence, if anything, it would seem to suggest that Canadians are father forward (in time, anyway…?).

    Continuum seems poised to set up an ethical dilemma that Christians must certainly face as well: at what point do decisions go from Romans 13 (submission to authorities established by God) to Acts 5 (“We must obey God rather than men”)? If the show follows the arc one would expect, Kiera will eventually uncover more and more dirty little secrets in the government she has served; but the Liber8 group is too wantonly violent to make them a viable option either. She is thus isolated, not only from her time and her relationships, but also from the authority structure to which she had adhered. I’m interested to see what that leads to.