Continuum Creator Simon Barry Talks Characters, Conclusions, and What’s Next [Exclusive Interview]
[Warning: spoilers for the series finale ahead.]
When you close out four seasons of an intricately woven show about time travel, it’s easy to get a little fuzzy on the details, which is why it was tremendously helpful to jump on the phone with Continuum creator Simon Barry yesterday to talk about the mind bender finale, the run of the series, and whatâ€™s next.
Barry was grateful to have had the fourth season to wrap up, but he did have to truncate a few things to conclude the story in six episodes. “We were always on a road trip, and we knew where we were going to end up. With the shorter season, we took a more direct route to get there. We didn’t take as many side roads as I had hoped, but we still ended up taking the same journey,â€ he says. â€œThe ending was always going to be the ending we shot and we knew that from early on. The challenge was an opportunity to tell the side stories of the small roads as opposed to the freeway, and we probably had to jump on the freeway the last little bit there.â€
One of the arcs that took a hit was the Traveler, who had a build-up in season three but had to be backburnered in season four due to time constraints. â€œWe did have a plan to show the Travelerâ€™s story and branch out and tell his story in much more detail and [explore] how his journey connected to the larger Continuum mythology,â€ Barry explains. â€œUnfortunately, the time to play that out just wasnâ€™t available to us in the last season, so we had to shortcut it and see what we could use as opposed to building a backstory [that would take up] real estate we needed for our main characters.â€
â€œHopefully, there will be an opportunity to tell some of the story of the Continuum universe in other formats, whether that’s a novel or graphic novel or other forms of storytelling that haven’t been invented yet. I think at a certain point other components will get their due, but we couldn’t squeeze it into our last six episodes. I would have loved to, but there wasn’t time.â€
Barry says nothing is set yet for a follow-on, especially since theyâ€™ve just come off the conclusion of the series. â€œI think that will depend on a bit of time passing. No one has approached me directly yet. I’m sure part of that process is up to me,â€ he says. â€œI would still like to keep writing stories about this world and these characters. I think there are other stories to tell and I think it would be great to continue the mythology. It’s so fresh coming off the show that it’s hard to put your mind in a place where that becomes the most immediate thing.â€
As the fourth season unfolded, Liber8 was less a villain than another side of the argument about altering the future from which they and Kiera had come. Barry explains that it was important not shade them as opposites. â€œI think that we’d always wanted to play both sides of every argument as much as possible. We were always conscious that we didn’t want specific good guys and bad guys,â€ he says. â€œWe wanted people in arguments that they believed in, which is more or less how the real world works. That was always part of our process as writers.â€
An early scene this season that was a Moment of Goodness for me was the dinner table scene in “Rush Hour,” and Barry says that scene was meant to frame where the season would go from that point on. â€œThe intent of the dinner table scene, when we broke the season, was to have something that was going to be taken away. We really liked the idea that Alec had accomplished at some point a resolve–that he had fixed his relationships with almost everyone, and this was the representation of that, only to have it all go away in the next episode,â€ he says.
â€œWe weren’t aiming to make a point to the whole show with that scene. We were trying to be contextual to the season. We were aware that we had earned that moment to have everyone at the table. We were aware that we could get away with it and use it as a way to focus Alec’s energy. We were thinking this would be the last normal moment before everything in the season started to turn. It does seem like everything is possible, and then it all falls apart.â€
Kellog gets an extreme comeuppance in the Continuum finale,Â when he is finally undone byÂ all of his planning and manipulation. I asked Barry if Kellog was always intended to have such a defining role, and he said yes. â€œWe always knew that Kellog was going to be the wildcard from early in. In the pilot, Curtis knows this about him, when he throws the knife at the dummyÂ [and] almost hits Kellog. I feel like he walked into the show with the reputation of someone who couldn’t be trusted, which didn’t fit well with Liber8,â€ he explains.
â€œ[He] was going to have a Kellog agenda. I don’t think we ever really betrayed that. The idea that he was taking advantage of things around him…he was like the Murphy’s Law of every character. He would find a way to screw things up. He was an opportunist, driven by survival He’s the one person, who even at the beginning, he’s trying to get out of it. He was about survival, and he had no dogma or agenda.â€
Brad was a character who experienced a bit of a disconnect between season three and four, so I asked whether Brad knew Marcellusâ€™s whole plan all along and had forgotten it with the amnesia. Barry says Brad was operating from minimal information. â€œWhen Brad first arrived, he was a diligent soldier who was given orders to go back in time and clean up a mess that they thought was something that was going to come back later and haunt them,â€ he says. â€œIt was a more strategic move to allow Kellog in his time to make better moves and better decisions. Brad didn’t need to be given all the information. A little bit of information would still result in a lot of change.â€
â€œWhen he has does have this amnesia, and he re-evaluates his position when he meets Kiera and has a new perspective on what the situation is, that changes him as it would change anyone. A lot of what our show has been about is how your decisions change when your perspective changes. And Brad is kind of a mini, micro version of that. He comes in [with a specific idea of] right and wrong and what [he] stands for and his perspective is radically shifted.â€
â€œThat’s true for all the characters, and he’s an accelerated version of that. He’s been told one thingâ€¦and because of what happened to him, he can assess it on his own, and it changes him as a person. It would be very hard for him to follow through [on the plan with what he now knows]. The bill of goods that he was sold is different [than the truth], which happens a lot when you find out that what you’re fightingÂ [is] something different, after the fact. He’s kind of the victim of that.â€
In last weekâ€™s episode, VPD went down in a massive battle that blew the building apart. The scene also allowed Travis to die a hero. Barry says those two things came together serendipitously. â€œWe definitely came into the season knowing we had the chance to take that set and kick the shit out of it,â€ he laughs. â€œWe were taking advantage of a resource we had. The decision to destroy it was a no-brainer because we owned it and we knew we’d never use it again. I felt like it was a scene we hadn’t shown in season one that we could show this time.
As for the epic battle with Travis, he says, “we always saw that as an opportunity for Travis to redeem himself and what he believed in, in very physical and direct terms, and that was sacrifice and fighting for something you believe in, even if you were going to die. It dovetailed into a lot of opportunities that we as writers were looking for.â€
The way the series ends, with Kiera returned to a different 2077, was conceived by Barry back in season one, with the caveat that if a better alternative had come along, they would have embraced it. â€œAs a philosophical choice, we knew from very early on that she would get back, but that it would not be the same future that she left,â€ he says. â€œThat was the only thing I’d said at the beginning of season one, but you always plan these things with an idea toward coming up with something better later.â€
â€œAs the showrunner, I’m the first person to say the best idea will win, even if it’s someone else’s. We were always open to a better ending. You never lock into anything specific because you want the flexibility over years of writing and thinking about a show to have better ideas come up, but it’s always a good idea to have a bit of a plan. We always had the plan that she’d get home, but it wouldn’t necessarily be to the one she left. We would never have rejected anything that might have improved upon that.â€
Barry says they intentionally endedÂ without a clear resolution for Kiera, so the audience can explore it. â€œWe always thought the question of what would happened after Kiera realized her sacrifice was more interesting than any conclusion we could attach to it.Â We would much rather have the audience participate in that speculation than guide them,â€ he says. â€œWe didn’t want an easy ending, because nothing in the show has ever been easy, and we thought that this was the ending that represented what the show had been about.â€
The Continuum finale repeats tonight and next Friday at 1 am/midnight c on Syfy. Check back over the weekend for my final recap.
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