I’m feeling a little lost and sad today. Last night my husband and I finished watching season 3 of Travelers on Netflix and I’m not sure what to do with my life now. We tried to make it last by rationing the three seasons of episodes to one a day, but it had to end eventually. Now we are back to our mundane lives of work, laundry, and analyzing the day’s fake news. But I figured I should write about Travelers while my memories were still fresh, so, you’re welcome.
This blog contains spoilers so only read as much as you’re willing to know.
What’s so great about Travelers? Well, for starters, the excellent acting, the beautiful photography, the futuristic plot and basic ideas for the storyline, the engaging characters that really grow on you, AND, there is very little profanity, no sex, and few unnecessary politically correct elements ( a couple were thrown into the last season, I’ll leave it to you to find them) It’s a Canadian production. Figures, huh? Those Canadians are so nice!
The story is fairly simple, the travelers are people from the future who have been specially trained to come back and alter history to prevent the events that lead to the terrible world that they were living in. Thanks to the advanced technology of the future, they are able to send the digitized ‘consciousness’ of a person back into the past and into the body of a person just before that person was going to die. They know who dies when because they have all the historical records in their computer. I’m still a little unclear on how they do it, must do more research. But anyway, the ‘dead person’ now has a person from the future inside their still living body. So that future person assumes the life and job and relationships of the dead person , but their family members don’t know they are actually a different person from the future! The traveler, who comes prepared with knowledge about the dead person, is now on a ‘mission’ to prevent or change certain historical events to alter the future.
The series focuses mostly on a group of five travelers that make up a team. They complete various missions together, but they each have a regular job and life in which they must pretend to be the dead person. Our five team members are Phillip, Carly, Grant (Mac), Marcy, and Trevor. Phillip is transplanted into the body of an overdosed young heroin addict and must deal with the repercussions of that. He is also the historian of the group, meaning that his brain contains downloads of all historical events. Carly is transplanted into the body of a young Black mother in an abusive relationship who was going to be murdered by her cop husband, Jeff. Jeff is a constant problem in the storyline. Grant takes over the body of a workaholic FBI agent who was going to die falling down an elevator shaft. Marcy’s actual story isn’t completely revealed into later, but it starts with her being shown as a mentally challenged woman who gets attacked and killed. Trevor is a young high school football player who dies in an MMA cage fight, but his traveler is actually the oldest person alive.
I really enjoyed all of the characters. Grant is the team leader who keeps them on mission with his dispassionate style. Kat is Grant’s ‘wife’ and she is a little annoying, but a good actress. Phillip makes you love him because he cares about everyone and he carries many burdens. Marcy is like a really smart friend that you can count on. Carly is feisty and pissed off and ready to fight. Trevor is dutiful and strong, but being super old in a young man’s body, he also provides a little comic relief to the mostly dramatic toned show. Later another character is added, Grace, who is also very funny. David , a non-traveler, who is Marcy’s friend and social worker who eventually becomes more than that, is the most endearing, funny, heroic, and lovable character.
There are also many other travelers in the world at this time. They mostly stick to their own missions, but sometimes they interact. Boyd is a blonde female cop that is quite bad-ass and has a recurring part. Regular (non-traveler) children are sometimes used to deliver messages from the ‘Director’.
As each traveler arrives, they are very pleased to be living in the 21st century with real food, animals, and the ability to live above ground, all things that have disappeared in the future. They are eager to prevent the terrible future from occurring, but they don’t realize that they may actually prevent their own existence if they change the current course of history.
As you might imagine, the team must prevent various threats to humanity, such as a meteorite, and the plans of various dangerous people. All of their missions are coordinated by the all-knowing ‘Director’ which is actually futuristic artificial intelligence that has created the Grand Plan, a fair and unbiased plan to save humanity. The travelers have certain rules to follow called the Protocols. However, unbeknownst to them, there is another threat out there, a traveler who is trying to prevent them from succeeding, as well as a group called the Faction that does not believe in the Grand Plan. The Faction believes that what the Travelers are doing is wrong and they are willing to kill to stop them. The Faction believes that the Director, being a computer, is incapable of making the best choices. They want to kill off millions of people because they believe that over-population is the cause of the future failure of the world, or something like that. Sometimes it’s all a little confusing.
Each episode contains elements of missions, personal relationship struggles, and often, ethical dilemmas. It’s easy to see that the writers were aware that the solution of altering history in this way would not be a simple one. Even though the travelers are sworn to certain protocols, each of them ends up doing things that they aren’t supposed to because they care too much about certain people. They prioritize people over the plan because they are human, not computers, and they have feelings. For example, they protect a child who was supposed to die and then later he becomes a serial killer, but they are able to fix it by altering his path before that happens. Every time they change history, the future changes, which the Director should have compensated for, but being a computer dealing with real live humans, things don’t always go as expected. Season three felt a little different than the other two, like they were trying to squeeze in a lot in each episode. Maybe they knew their time was short.
As a Christian, I noticed various religious parallels throughout the series with their dependence on the Director, the protocols, the grand Plan, and the moral and ethical dilemmas they faced. But the script only mentions “God’ a couple of times and the team doesn’t seem to consult God at all. They seemed to believe that the computer’s intelligence was capable of saving humanity from itself. I have held myself back from researching the writers until after I wrote this review so I would not be biased.
I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it was unexpected. I had no idea where the writers would go. It’s a shame that there is not another season, but I did feel some sense of closure at the end. I hope you will give it a watch !
Update: I discovered on Wikipedia that Brad Wright, the creator of Travelers, is the same guy who created Stargate SG-1 and the other Stargate shows, as well as many other popular science fiction show.