By: Alyssa Saunders
It’s important to note some shows aren’t true Netflix “Originals,” but are actually co-producing efforts by Netflix and an foreign entity for Netflix to exclusively stream. They are usually more cheaply made and a bit low on star wattage (except for one well-known actor/actress so you can say “Hey, I know that guy!”), but include an intriguing enough plot that is exciting on paper.
New show Travelers falls perfectly into that formula, using the affable Eric McCormack of Will and Grace and The Flash to draw the eye to this little Canadian show. But when Netflix releases a new series or two every week, why should you give any attention to Travelers?
In a nutshell, it’s a science fiction show that focuses more on its human element than almost any other sci-fi show I’ve seen. I’m sure many readers can give me other examples (before you mention the Stargate shows, showrunner Brad Wright created those as well). But the fun of watching Travelers is seeing the issues its characters face, not only due to choices they make but choices made by the people they jumped into.
Before I get further into the series, let’s explore the plot.
People from our rapidly approaching apocalyptic future time travel into the past in an attempt to change things. But they don’t take their own bodies. Instead, they jump into a person on the verge of death and use those bodies to complete missions.
We are introduced to Marcy, Philip, Trevor, Carly and MacLaren (their team leader), who are given instructions by the Director to try and fix the future. Based in Seattle, they use their own talents and the backgrounds of their new identities to try and save the world. Easy enough, right?
What rescues Travelers from becoming a paint-by- numbers sci-fi show is its body-snatcher element. It’s so much more interesting to see characters navigate lived in skin rather than being given shiny new meatsuits. The technology isn’t error-proof, and due to our own lies, the travelers end up in risky lives.
Marcy is placed in the body of a brain-damaged woman because of a social media mistake. Trevor is an old man in a teenager’s body. Carly has to contend with an abusive ex and a screaming baby. And poor Philip has to keep up his host body’s heroin addiction to stay sane.
MacLaren has a FBI career to uphold and a wife to placate, which often goes badly. They should feel lucky they made it at all- misfires occur occasionally, in which a traveler is lost in the static and doesn’t stick the landing, never to be heard from again. Add a healthy amount of bumbling mistakes made by the travelers while attempting to save others outside of the timeline, and you’ve got a recipe for a really fun series.
While it would be cool to see the future the team is trying to prevent, for now, seeing the effects on our present is enough, as long as the series focuses on its character development. My favorite episode so far is “Aleksander,” in which Philip attempts to save a little boy from death using his knowledge of the future, even though it has nothing to do with the prime directive.
Sure, it could drastically alter history, but if you had the skills and the information to save one kid, wouldn’t it be difficult to just ignore someone in need of your help? Travelers toys with the ethics of time travel in a natural way, and allows the audience to relate to these people. They might as well be aliens, but they are still very human.
Some of my favorite lines from the series…
“Can you find us a map of the Van Huizen compound?”
“Wouldn’t you rather I just hack into their main computer system?”
“Oh. Yes, please.”
“I’m a federal agent!”
“Well I’m a flight attendant! Go back to your seat! I’m not asking again.”
“How much alcohol would it take for someone to black out the previous day?”
“I don’t know. I only use heroin.”
What do you think of Travelers?