I want to tell you all about a show that I’ve literally heard no one talking about, but I don’t want to spoil it. So please bare with me.
The Netflix show Travelers, has some of the most compelling time-travel I’ve seen in a long time. The premise, is that people are coming back from some far off, terrible future, in hopes of fixing it. In that regard it’s pretty standard, but everything else really stands out for me.
The travelers have their consciousness placed in the heads of ordinary people in 2016-2017 (there have been 2 seasons so far), at the moments before they were going to die. The point of this being, that they’re not killing someone to make room, they’re just borrowing what would otherwise be an empty shell. Without getting too into spoiler territory, this process doesn’t always workout for them, and that creates a lot of the interesting aspects of the show. (I really want to tell you, but if I do I’ll be doing you a disservice).
The plot about saving the future, really takes a back seat, to the stories of the characters, who have to adapt not only to a world that they don’t recognize, but to roles and relationships they are thrust into by means of their “host’s” previous life. One thing I will tell you, is that these characters come from a future in which famine has ravaged their food supply, and so any time a new ‘Traveler’ is brought into the show, they really explore their relationship with food. It might not sound that interesting, but food, both the experience of tasting, as well as all of the addictive nature of modern food and sugar, show how they aren’t ready for, or able to adjust while eating in front of non-travelers. It’s a small weakness in their ‘act’ that they all have to perform.
The show focuses on one team of ‘travelers,’ who work toward individual missions as they are assigned. One of the things that I find really cool about the team, is that you have a leader, an engineer, a weapons expert, a medic, but also a historian, who has one of the coolest functions. Essentially, the historian is in charge of remembering all the deaths and events in the area, so that they can go help new traveler’s transition, or look for differences that they may make in the time-line. Philip, the historian, also has to face the idea that as they change the time-line he becomes less essential, and less helpful to their missions, which creates something of an existential crisis for him.
Ultimately, the characters learning that they can’t just travel back and accomplish their missions without lives interfering becomes the meat of the show. Each character ends up with a particular set of challenges that were unforeseen from the future, and they have to adjust and keep going.
I’m only a few episodes into season 2, but the show remains really interesting in this perfect fusion of character and device. What I would suggest to you, is that you watch the first episode, which I consider to be one of the best first episodes I’ve ever seen. It had me instantly hooked and wanting more. That being said, I can’t really tell you anything about why I was hooked from the start without spoiling it for you. I hope you enjoy.
Also, as a side note, and a shameless plug, if you’re looking for time-travel fiction, check out my new time-travel blog, which I’ve been working on since October.