-This article contains spoilers for Seasons 1 & 2-
Genre: Time Travel
In the 25th century, humanity is on the brink of extinction. War, disease and climate change have taken their toll, and the future looks bleak.
The Director, the AI that guides humanity, has a plan to save the species. Send agents back in time to avert crises before they can spiral out of control. These agents, known as Travelers, overwrite the minds of people in the 21st century and work covertly for a better future. Their actions restricted by a set of rigid Protocols, and unable to return to the future, the Travelers must balance their mandate with maintaining the facade of their hosts’ lives.
Season 3 sees the government made aware of the Traveler programme, and the emergence of deadly new foes. . .
Travelers is very much a show of two halves. The better half is a gripping, conspiracy-laden time travel thriller. In some ways the natural successor to Quantum Leap, there are few shows that have handled time travel as innovatively as travelers. Season 2 had a particularly brilliant not-quite-time loop episode, a favourite trope of mine.
The second half is a character-led drama, and this is where the show loses me. Every piece of casting is spot on, but character beats soon become repetitive, and drawn out. There are stand-out moments. Episode 8 is a stellar performance from Jared Abrahamson’s Trevor, Patrick Gilmore finally gets material worthy of his David later on, and Jennifer Spence steals every scene she appears in as Grace. But the rest of the cast is less well served.
Plotwise, season 3 continues the trend to swap plotlines around and has the same tendency to abandon story arcs for long periods at a time. Anyone expecting to see Traveler 001 as the new big bad will likely be disappointed. The Faction remains present, and some of their motivations are explained here, but they never materialise as a real threat until later on in the series.
It’s hard to discuss the ending without spoilers, but suffice to say it invoked one of my least favourite time travel tropes, though does cleverly employ the rules set out in season 1. The final scene, however, redeems everything that has gone before, and season 3 becomes that rarest of beasts: a finale that could serve for the entire series, or as the springboard for season 4 equally effectively.
All told, Travelers is definitely worth catching. Frustrating at times, brilliant at others, there’s no other show quite like it.