“So Do Our Minutes Hasten” is the sort of title around which you build a season of television. You don’t pluck it out of coincidental air. (And if you do: My god.) Immediately we out it as a reference. We’re right. It’s a truncation of the second line in Shakespeare’s haunting Sonnet 60. The sonnet is a meditation on mortality. Read it. This episode—the decline into the season’s final act—will open up. It transfixes us on the final image of “Hasten.” If last week’s effective title bore mood, this one elevates theme.
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end.
Oceans appear infinite. Lives do not. Everything mortal will one day die, creating a wavelike repetition of life and death. Both the beauty and the horror are in the steady rhythm. Shakespeare uses the contrast to tantalize, then devastate. “Hasten” ends in contrast as well. For the first time all season, we see genuine camaraderie. Betty makes Kiera and Carlos’s damaged work-mance a threesome of hodge-podgery. There’s history here, enough to charm, but the yarn that leads each colleague to the others is in a sort of Gordian Knot. Director Pat Williams achieves the blasé between Kiera and Carlos, despite the warm light and stomachs. Betty’s the lynchpin. That’s not good news for Betty.
Her ascent of fortune is itself foreshadowing. The character doesn’t have a neat place. She’s had too many roles: romantically jealous of Kiera and Carlos, professionally jealous, the Acer to Alec’s Apple, and a mole. The show integrated her dynamic clumsily. Sometimes she was intended to be awkward. Other times, you just have to know when to pack it in. Good writers know how to get value out of shedding dead weight. After a classic turnaround episode, Betty’s killed. Her murderer is some sort of upcoming Liber8 rival. We don’t know much about him beyond his brand of menace. But Betty’s exit is only one motion of the current.
We’re unsure Carlos can handle it. To be clear—he shouldn’t be able to. If bearing your soul to your friend’s frozen corpse says anything about you, it’s that you are not prepared for more death. Director Pat Williams nudges the episode in that direction. A fake informant seduces Carlos with less effort than required to put a leash on a dog. Carlos introduces the booze. Williams lingers on Carlos’s first gulp. Carlos takes it with one extra slurp. You wonder if those two locks of hair are disheveled or a continuity oversight. Williams inserts a half second of the fake informant watching Carlos drink. They’d just talked about secrets. The scene’s more a reminder of Carlos’s instability than a building block for furthering it.
That leaves Carlos’s sickliness in “Hasten”’s final moments up in the air. It could be the low angle. It could be the low key light. Or it could be Williams paying it forward. Two things keep this episode from receiving higher marks. First, it’s a fairly typical episode of Continuum. Its beats and tensions are familiar, its mystery not exactly Hitchcock-ian. But the second is Carlos’s half-measure handling. Who’s confident Barry and crew are actually going to decimate Carlos Fonnegra? “Hasten” says that’s exactly what they’re gearing up to do. But it says so softly. The net’s beneath Carlos. There’s still time to yank it away.
Things seem to be blending. The cold open flashback isn’t cutoff by the title sequence. Williams uses a time-swipe, the city’s skyline devolving as the camera pans to present Kiera. Yet, both Dillon and Betty note Kiera’s evolving philosophy. “You’re starting to turn,” Betty says. Doomsday seems to be ever upon the station and Dillon—that’s how he wants it. His power increases with his foes. Who that foe is, is less clear. A poison gas attack kills twelve businessmen. The gas registers as a cousin to the waste Liber8 stole in “Wasted Minute.” They refute it. Dillon refutes them, but is the liar. That’s a clear win for Liber8. Perhaps doomsday is coming.
—Continuum likes to launch into the abstract with its Big Endings. That’s fine. This week’s final moments do indeed feel big when external context is taken into account. Sharpen the buildup and you have great TV.
—Next time on Continuum: Curtis teaches Kellog the art of resurrection.
—A Breaking Bad-esque post-attack shot: A close up on a dead body in the right third of the frame’s foreground, Dillon in a hazmat suit, framed in full from a low angle. It looks good, but that’s about it. Dillon going through a crisis of self connects this episode to the pop culture iconography. The ideas just don’t persist. His crisis is not internal; he just wants people to fold.
Kyle Burton is a freelance critic and an inaugural recipient of Indiewire and Sundance’s Roger Ebert Fellowship. You can follow him on Twitter.