TV review:  Travelers

Publicity still of the cast of the TV series Travelers.
Toronto born Eric McCormack leads a group of fashionably dressed time travelers with a vague mission in the TV series Travelers. Publicity still courtesy of Showcase/Netflix.

The 'body snatchers' are back and this time they're polite. 

by Garry Murdock

 

In the first episode of Travelers, we meet up with five strangers who we are told, via on screen text, are about to die.  Do they die? We're not sure, because at the last moment their bodies are taken over by time travelers.  Who exactly are these people? What is their mission? If they're here, where are their real bodies?

 

Five episodes in and we're no less the wiser.  We know they're here to change the future, with missions from "the Director" but little else.  We know that FBI Agent Grant MacLaren (played by Eric McCormack) and abused housewife/mother Carly Shannon (Nesta Cooper) were an item back in the future, and are continuing the relationship here in present day.  That's bound to cause a problem with MacLaren's wife, but the series hasn't gotten there yet.  We also know that high school student Trevor Holden (Jared Abrahamson) is very, very old.  And that drug addict Philip Pearson (Reilly Dolman) has a heart of gold, demonstrated by the fact that he (and he alone) is willing to break the rules and try to save people he knows are about to die.

Image of Travelers star MacKenzie Porter, who hails from Medicine Hat, Alberta.
Marcy is played by Medicine Hat native MacKenzie Porter. Traveler publicity still courtesy of Showcase/Netflix.

I like the show, and had been looking forward to it since it was announced last spring.  But I have some problems with the story.  When our group of time travelers meet other time travelers (apparently there are lots of them here already and more of them arriving all the time), they greet each other not by name, but as "Agent" with a long string of numbers after, like "478235".  Does everyone in the future do that?  Do they have all these numbers memorized, so they can put 'a face to the name', so to speak?  Is that even possible or do they all have fantastic memories?

As well, the whole process of taking over the bodies of people in present day needs some scrutiny.   Let's start with Philip.  His body was snatched just as history had recorded he died of a drug overdose. Carly was 'taken' just as she had suffered a fatal blow from her abusive husband. Another character - Marcy (played by MacKenzie Porter), fell on a stairway and also suffered head trauma.  The moment these people are taken over, their physical injuries seem to heal instantly.  How did the people of the future do that?  And if that's possible, why does weeks later Philip still suffer from heroin withdrawal? Why not just clear that up too at the same time?

 

I also have an issue with the ethics displayed by this team.  The original Grant MacLaren is saved by Philip moments before he would have dropped down an elevator shaft.  Then, screaming in agony, his body is taken over.  Unlike the others, it's clear he was alive when this transfer took place!  Where did his consciousness go? Is he dead?  Or is he just in for a long sleep and we'll catch up with him in the very final episode of the series?

 

Each week this team has a new mission, but the relevancy of that mission to future events is never fully explained.  Nor do we know what the future disaster is that they are here trying to prevent.  I feel at this point they should start giving us some more clues, because it's getting hard to sympathize with this group of time travelers.  They know when a lot of people are going to die, but with the exception of Philip, they are not going to interfere with any of that.  Why not? I would (and kudos to Philip for trying). 

 

I'll keep watching.  The casting and acting is excellent.  It's very well produced and extremely well shot.  I hope the series succeeds, but we need some more information about where and when these time travelers are from and why they are here. Since there are hints that "the Director" is not a nice person, and would kill them all if need be, a little more information might go a long way in keeping our faith in these characters - to ensure that the future is safe, at least for this series. 


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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Tara Murphy (Monday, 21 November 2016 11:44)

    Your synopsis on Travelers is excellent. I will be tuning in as a result!