Time (travel) is on their side, yes it is
Main Cast: Eric McCormack, MacKenzie Porter
Creator: Brad Wright
Time travel is so pesky. All the mind bending questions that pop up when someone tries to change the past or see the future can bog down a movie or series in a heartbeat. But I never stop trying them, because you never know when one is going to hit just the right beat. Finally, my persistence paid off, because I FOUND IT. It is called Travelers, a new Netflix series. And it is glorious.
Travelers puts a new spin on time travel by having its travelers occupy bodies that already exist in this time period. Using historical records, the Travelers are able to pinpoint the time of death of potential hosts and jump in right after the terminal moment. The deaths are the sorts that are unwitnessed and/or unexpected, so they aren’t popping up in someone who is surrounded by family or is 120 years old. Our main characters are Grant MacLaren (Eric McCormack), hosted by an FBI agent (that comes in super handy); Marcy Warton (MacKenzie Porter), hosted by a cognitively disabled young woman whose historical record was not quite accurate; Carly Shannon (Nesta Cooper), hosted by a single mother with an abusive ex; Trevor Holden (Jared Abrahamson), hosted by a surly teenager; and Philip Pearson (Reilly Dolman), hosted by a young heroin addict. Each has to continue the host’s life in a manner as uninterrupted and inconspicuous as possible, while carrying out their mission as a team.
But what is their mission? Where (more accurately when) have they come from? You’ll find out a lot in the first episode, so I won’t give it away. The only thing that’s really important is that their missions need to make sense – and they do, in a grand scheme way. Their communication with those in charge (in the future) can be, understandably, a little spotty – and tricky as hell – but they have a system and their orders are clear.
So what makes this a show worth watching (and binge watching – it’s absolutely worthy)? First and foremost, the character interaction. I like this team, how they deal with missions, how they react to being in the past, and how they work together as a group. I particularly like how each handles the very human issues of their host’s lives. Some of them are far older and wiser than their hosts, others find themselves ill-equipped to deal with 21st century problems, and still others have to make complicated interpersonal relationships function in a reasonable fashion. Secondly, the concept (which in reality is probably more important). It takes time travel and makes it seem almost feasible. There is little blatant technobabble, and what there is gets couched in complicated computer coding that none of us expects to understand anyway. We all know that computers are filled with unknowable magic – as long as it sounds good, I’ll accept that they can get messages from the future on the dark net. I’m okay with the technical advances that allow this travel to be possible and appreciate that it isn’t perfect or completely reliable.
Overall, Travelers is a terrific addition to the stable of Netflix Original Series. It’s incredibly binge-able, with each episode ending on a note that makes you want to see what’s next. The cast has great chemistry, the writers have made the story lines complicated enough to appeal to sci-fi lovers but not so obscure or vague as to lose the viewer. They’ve left a lot of great material to come back to in the second season, which I wish was coming out tomorrow instead of some unknown date in the future. It has been very well received, so I would be surprised if it wasn’t picked up for a season 2. I will absolutely let you know when I find out any details – keep an eye on Everything Netflix. In the meantime, you can own this Will & Grace era autographed picture of Eric McCormack to tide you over.