It's safe to say that Science Fiction is my favorite genre by far. It has so many different facets, from highly unrealistic utopias to somewhat believable projections of where our society could be standing in a century or hundred centuries. Either way, I love all kinds of science fiction as long as their respective world is properly crafted. One of the more pleasant surprises in terms of SciFi TV-Shows has been Netflix's original series "Travelers". While it was sadly canceled after 3 seasons, there's still a lot to see and love during that time frame.
Before we get into more detail, please be advised that the article will contain heavy spoilers for the first few episodes but I'm not going to spoil anything that you wouldn't see in your first sitting.
First things first, here are the key facts for the show:
Number of seasons: 3
Number of episodes: 34
Originally Aired: 2016 - 2018
Travelers comes with a somewhat unique twist on an already known setting. Mankind managed to all but destroy planet earth and is now clinging on the verge of total annihilation. The last survivors are living in a huge dome complex and as the present can't be redeemed any longer, they try to change the past instead. So yes, at first glance it's your classical time travel show, but it comes with a nice twist. The people of the future don't have any means to transport themselves back to the past. Instead, they can only send their mind. Because of that, they need a host for themselves in the past. To achieve that, they need a T.E.L.L.. That's short for Time, Elevation, Latitude, and Longitude of a person close to it's historical death. So the first thing they need to do after they travel back to the past is prevent the death of their host. After that, they continue to live their life but also actively work towards changing the future to prevent mankind's certain doom.
Now all of this obviously sounds somewhat crazy (and it is) but it's Science Fiction after all. The cool thing to me is that they don't over-explain all of this. This kind of time travel is possible, they are doing it, and that's all you really need to know. Since they don't bother giving (pseudo-)scientific explanations, it's a lot easier for the viewer to just accept that it's all possible. So instead of trying to make something that's completely implausible look plausible, the show focuses on the implications of said possibilities.
The show follows the story of a team of 5 travelers operating in present day America. Especially in the beginning, the show mostly focuses on an issue of the week style where each week there's a new mission the team needs to complete. At the same time, the show starts to build bigger story arks which over time replace the issue of the week style, changing into a more modern story telling. At the same time, the show takes an amazing amount of time to develop it's characters. Yes, they are out to safe the (future) world, but they are also humans living a human life in a past that's oddly alien to them. They have to interact with their hosts life, the people he knew, the decisions he made. This creates an extremely engaging setting and is really beautiful to watch.
There's also a good share of moral dilemmas. The Travelers receive their missions from the Director, who is communicating with them from the future. He usually doesn't explain why something has to be done but instead just orders something to be executed exactly as ordered. This creates a lot of scary situations where the Travelers are asked to kill a minor, blow up a building and much more. Always trusting that the Director has the good of all mankind at heart, they still start to question whether there are better options available to them. This is where the show really shines as it allows the viewer enough time to pause for a second and question what he would do in that situation. That's the beauty of it all really, in these moments you don't care at all that it's totally implausible to have time travel like that, you just accept it and start to ponder the consequences.
Obviously, not everything is golden for travelers. There's a reason it was canceled after 3 seasons after all. As the story progresses, there are more and more holes in the whole story. The power and ability of the future seems to vary a lot depending on what serves the current story line best. There's one episode in the second season that portraits the possibilities of the Director as being almost endless and that really kills a lot of the suspense. On top of that, with the ever escalating scenario, the whole world becomes a bit unbelievable towards the end and one can't help but feel like the show wasn't launched with a clear roadmap of what should happen during its run.
This becomes blatantly obvious during the last episodes. There's still a lot of character development which is all made moot by the fact that the show is going to end soon after. It feels like they had still seasons worth of ideas for their characters but they simply lacked the time to finish them. While the shows grand final is satisfying and fitting for the whole show, it leaves you feeling like they could have done more with the whole concept.
Nevertheless, Travelers is an excellent show with a lot of interesting concepts and some of the best moral dilemmas you'll see in any Science Fiction show. It's really cool to watch the show alongside somebody else as there's a lot of room for discussion after every single episode. To me, the first season is close to perfect. Season 2 is decent as well but it's also where the world starts to feel a bit off. Season 3 is really good as well, but you can tell that they were running out of time and in the end only focused on delivering a satisfying ending.
All things considered, I'd rate the show at 7 of 10, with the missing points mostly coming from the fact that the show could have been a lot better with more seasons and less escalation early on. Anyway, if you haven't seen the show and like Science Fiction, I'd say it's a must watch. It certainly is one of the best SciFi shows running on Netflix right now!
And that's all from me for today, thank you all for reading and see you next time!