A collaboration between Netflix and Showcase, Travelers looks on the surface Altered Carbon meets time travel. The consciousness of the special operatives’ travel back in time and transfer to present time bodies from subjects who are about to die. The operatives’ mission is to try and avoid the downfall of society (which is not yet explained precisely how and when has happened but becomes a bit clearer after each episode) as they try to prevent the existence of the future from where they come.
It sounds like the usual time-travel story, where time travelers need to change the past to save the future.Some may claim it’s a bit of a recurring theme in the genre, but it isn’t specifically the story that makes this show great. From the first episode, viewers realize the story is a puzzle and each episode is a piece that makes the picture a bit clearer.
Throughout the story, different teams of travelers are sent back in time. Each group is composed of five individuals with different and specific skills. The roles in the units are the leader, the medic (positions which are pretty self-explanatory), engineer (who has to build future artifacts in the present), tactician (plans the missions) and historian (who knows the whole history of time and provides the information necessary for their tasks). The story focuses on a specific team: Grant MacLaren, the leader (Eric McCormack), Marcy Wharton, the medic (MacKenzie Porter), Carly Shannon, the tactician (Nesta Cooper), Trevor Holden, the engineer (Jared Abrahamson) and Philip Pearson, the historian (Reilly Dolman).
These characters are what truly make the story special. It’s interesting to watch how the travelers adapt to their hosts’ life. They come from a destroyed world, and the contrast between their past lives and the present sometimes proves to be a bit much. The viewer sees how these characters struggle to find their place and to leave behind who they were and become who they must. A fascinating case is Trevor’s. He is the oldest human being in the future and his host in the present is a teenager. There are moments which are pure bliss to watch as his behavior contrasts those of the original Trevor. Other cases are the opposite and not everyone adjusts as well to this new life, as the case of MacLaren and Carly, who were together in the future, but in the present timeline, they live as different human entities. Consequently, at several times, their past life clashes with their current selves, and at moments it even becomes a nuisance that hinders their missions.
These experiences inevitably lead us to beg the question of what makes us who we are as people. What is it that defines a person, their skills, their environment? The changes they are living through pull these characters apart and then puts them back up, and these changes are so visible, that one can’t help but wonder, what if?
The series also navigates through the territory of humanity, precisely human error, as it questions whether emotions exert a much more prominent influence in the decision-making process that we really think, which also leads towards the question of whether humanity would eventually bring its undoing. I highly recommend this show, not specifically for the sci-fi and time travel aspect of it, but for the vast intricacies in the characters’ lives where future and present juxtapose now and then and the thought-provoking essence of the show, as it brings so many questions as to our existence and our future as humanity.
Written by: Cecilia López Closs