Travelers: 17 Minutes
December 27, 2017 3:39 PM - Season 2, Episode 7 - Subscribe

When the team is wiped out during a mission to a remote lake, a traveler repeatedly transfers into a nearby skydiver to make a frantic rescue attempt.

*MacLaren sends Kat a text that he won't be home tonight because of work, and the team assembles for a mission road trip.
*Kat receives the text, then accepts a delivery of happy anniversary flowers that turn out to be from her mother.
*At a lake, the team teases MacLaren for forgetting his host's 10th anniversary and prepares to take a motorboat out in preparation for a mission related to a meteor strike due in 22 minutes, 51 seconds, when suddenly men in scuba gear with machine guns arise from the lake and kill them all.

*A sky diver (Carrie) is taken over by Traveler 5001. She calls MacLaren but gets only voicemail, then calls Traveler Wakefield at the FBI, on protocol alpha, requesting armed air support to a set of coordinates within 17 minutes but he has nothing closer than 25-30 minutes. She lands, takes the car from her waiting friend & driver (Lars), and continues trying to get through to MacLaren's phone. She drives past a pickup truck with a motorcycle in the back.

*We get a Groundhog's Day repeat of the team's anniversary talk.

*5001 Carrie's car is stopped by Vincent's mute Asian security guy motioning her to turn back. She stalls a bit, drives forward as if to turn around, then makes a run for it and gets shot in the leg.

*At the FBI, Traveler Wakefield calls in Traveler Callahan and tells him about the alpha protocol, and that the location she wanted support for is where the Fraser Meteor hits, which is discovered in 2068 by Robert Fraser and contains an element which leads to the creation of the Director and consciousness transfer technology.

*5001 Carrie runs past a logging trucker and makes it to the lake moments too late to warn the team, and sees them gunned down. The failure is registered, and Traveler 5002 is sent into Carrie moments after the first transfer. She and the other skydiver (Carrie's brother, Wayne) collide in midair, and he is knocked out and falls to the ground without opening his chute. 5002 Carrie runs to the pickup truck instead of taking Lar's car from the field, but when she opens the driver door to steal it a dog jumps out and mauls her to death (presumably).

*Traveler 5003 is sent into Carrie. This time she opens unconscious Wayne's chute for him in midair, steals Lar's sandwich from the car, uses it to lure the dog out of the pickup and steals it (knowing from the previous attempt's GoPro footage that there's a knife in the truck). When she reaches Vincent's mute security guy, she pretends to be lost and signs for help, then stabs him in the shoulder when he gets close and makes a run for it. The security guy gets back to his car and follows, but is delayed by the logging truck crossing the road.

*Kat calls MacLaren's phone leaves him a message, telling him he better come back tonight no matter the time.

*5003 Carrie runs to the lake shouting for MacLaren to run. He sees her, and recognizes her as Carrie for some reason, but as she continues to shout that the team is in danger, the scuba team arises and kills them all again.

*Retry 5004 Carrie lands and staggers towards the car but collapses.
*Retry 5005 Carrie lands and can't get up at all, tells Lars that there has been too much strain in the host, that the future is at stake and he has to go save the team at the coordinates, but he has no idea what she's talking about. She dies and we see the scuba team kill everyone at the lake again.
*Retry 5006 Carrie dies in the air before she can open the chute.
*Retry 5007 registered on computer screen as failure.
*Retry 5008 - the Traveler enters Wayne this time. He takes the car keys from Lars (who is sobbing over dead Carrie) and races to the pickup, then takes the motorcycle from the back. He goes off-road when he sees Vincent's security guy, who pursues. When the security guy's car is blocked by the logging truck, he shoots the trucker. 5008 Wayne runs through the woods, having ditched the scooter at some point.

*Back at the lake, MacLaren has a talk with Marcy about her reset. She says she found out about Marcy 1.0 not wanting to do it, and says she feels like when Grace sent her consciousness to the future and back, she may have left out some of the parts that made her her. MacLaren tells her about how he found refuge in the real Grant MacLaren's memories when he was dying last season.

*Vincent's security guy makes it to MacLaren's car, and shoots 5008 Wayne before he can alert the team, and the scuba team kills them all.

*We jump back to earlier in the morning, at a gas station where Carrie and MacLaren are both at the pumps filling up. Carly shows MacLaren his happy anniversary text from Kat, and Carrie, Wayne, and Lars drive off in blissful ignorance of their impending collision and deaths.

*On the computer screen, we see the mission status of 5008 as still active, with a new mission initialized for Traveler 5009, sending him into the logging truck driver. As 5008 Wayne runs through the woods he hears gunfire from behind him but keeps running. He makes it to the lake and yells for MacLaren, and is shot by one of the scuba team, but then MacLaren and team and the 5009 Trucker Traveler return fire and kill all of the scuba team. Wounded 5008 Wayne warns them about Vincent's security guy, but the trucker says he's already killed him.
*The meteor lands in the lake, and the team goes to the boat to complete their mission of locating and securing it from the Faction so it can be found by Fraser at the appropriate time and place in the future. Marcy stays behind to patch up 5008 Wayne, and 5009 Trucker tells MacLaren that he has his next mission.
posted by oh yeah! (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I always love a good Groundhog's Day episode, so, this was a nice twist. I don't want to think too hard about how the Director could keep getting a new retry if the failure of the mission meant there would be no Director though.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:46 PM on December 27, 2017 [4 favorites]


Wow, that was the most suspenseful episode of television I have seen in quite awhile.

And yes, you could drive a logging truck through that plot hole.
posted by AFABulous at 5:34 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


(aside: every time I see Wakefield I think it's Dr. Bashir from Deep Space Nine)
posted by AFABulous at 5:45 PM on December 27, 2017


If you subscribe to Legends of Tomorrow time travel theory, changes to history like that takes time to ripple through. And since The Director operates at near instant thoughts, it was basically beaming new travelers continuously into Carrie as soon as the historical record showed that they failed but the changes hasn't caught up to their timeline yet.

I mean, timey-wimey stuff!
posted by numaner at 7:33 PM on December 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think it was more of a preemptive acquisition to ensure that the Faction or 001 (squee!) don't later prevent The Director's development. Obviously, it happened the first time around and while the changes they have effected have caused significant changes in the timeline they clearly can't have already made changes that prevent the element's discovery and The Director's eventual existence at the time the mission was ordered.

Remember, these are 001's goons, so he could just have been conveniently eliminating Travelers, as he does in his paranoid style, not actually trying to keep The Director from ever existing. I don't get the sense he disagrees with that so much as he's afraid of being punished for not carrying out his mission and having a child. Besides, he isn't a historian, so he doesn't know exactly where the meteor ends up, if he even knew about it at all and didn't just happen to find out they would be there without knowing why. With the team dead he doesn't have the exact coordinates and so can't recover it until after the lake dries up in "less than 50 years," by which time he's already dead.
posted by wierdo at 4:30 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't want to think too hard

Yeah. But I find the show still fun, and most of the characters entertaining. I wonder if it'll finally go full 12 Monkeys (TV) or if we'll see a resolution of some kind.

But... you've got to be wondering what the Faction are thinking. So, future doesn't serendipitously discover the MacGuffin that allows room temperature superconductors to be developed, so no The Director (who was used to send that spam of Faction members back into the 21st). So, er...

Unless time travel really is a shard thing; in the frame of the person sending engrams back in time doesn't affect that person, but the act of doing so creates a splinter that benefits from a different causality chain. But, then why keep sending engrams back unless its the new shard that sends the next engram/batch-of-engrams back. But that doesn't make a lick of sense.

--

So, I never saw a good explanation of traveleration - but this episode seems to imply that a person "dies" when they're sent back in time to occupy another host.

If that's the case, does that mean that Trevor ("oldest human being" or words to that effect) - in the original timeline - was a previous traveler who manages to survive until the creation of time travel and this is his second time around as a traveler?

--

It's explicitly stated that they can only send people back later than the last time someone was sent back. Is there a scenario that makes sense for someone to sabotage the time traveling program by sending someone back 1 second... back into themselves?

This would block further mucking around with the past past.
posted by porpoise at 5:41 PM on January 1


Remember, these are 001's goons

Not disagreeing with you, but are we (the viewers) sure about this? I admit I haven't been paying very close attention this season but aren't Faction just Shelter 41 survivors/non-casualties?

Or is this shown by the hard-of-hearing guy having shown up in the show before?

I'm pretty sure that 001 just didn't feel like dying and figured that he could live a pretty good life with his broad future foreknowledge (until he realizes that his coworkers from the future are pretty pissed at him and would very much like him to no longer exist)?

His goons, they're just hirelings from this frame/shard.
posted by porpoise at 5:45 PM on January 1


changes to history like that takes time to ripple through

That's legit.

The speed of light (propagation of light quanta/waves) in a vacuum is not infinite. The speed of gravity (propagation of gravitational waves) is also not infinite and somewhere in the vicinity of the speed of light.

I can buy that the speed of time, for whatever that's worth, might also not be infinite.

But... the results of the past has to produce causality before The Director knows that the previous attempt failed.
posted by porpoise at 5:49 PM on January 1


Limiting the speed of forward causality means that past effects propagate forward only slightly faster than it does for us here on Earth. Our spacetime velocity vector is already almost entirely forward in the dimension of time at very close to light speed.

While one could postulate a speed of causality in the sense that past changes propagate forward in time at some rate rather than instantly, for it to make any sense whatsoever the effective speed would necessarily be superluminal. I think it far more likely to be (nearly) instantaneous as has been measured for the quantum wave function collapse, assuming for the moment that the universe in question is not a many-worlds universe.

Trevor's consciousness is old because he has had several consciousness transfers of the non-temporal kind in his past. Since the show takes place in the 21st before the technology exists we haven't seen any of those happen on screen, it has only been talked about as a thing that becomes possible prior to temporal transfers being worked out. (late in S1, IIRC)
posted by wierdo at 11:51 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


I love a good Groundhog Day episode.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:12 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Haven't finished the season yet, but so far, I refuse to accept any timey-wimey explanations because they take away from the otherwise great work that the show's ruleset has done in making time travel interesting but not so handwavey.

My explanation for how the director can exist even if the meteorite is stolen: it Just Does, because if the director didn't exist we wouldn't be watching this episode of TV. Any amendment to the timeline that causes the director not to exist doesn't produce an episode of Travelers.

Even though the director would prefer that 001 didn't take control of the meteorite, the consequences are somehow still just not quite bad enough to prevent the director from existing.

I don't know if that's the actual roadmap that Wright & co use when writing for the show, but it's what I'm choosing to believe at this point. Because if you allow "the time waves took longer to propogate!!" without saying it, then your ruleset doesn't really add up to anything interesting.
posted by tjgrathwell at 10:06 PM on January 6


...remote lake, a traveler repeatedly transfers...

Respectfully, I believe this is incorrect. Each new iteration made a point of bumping up the Traveler number assigned to the mission. They were each different travelers. Seven future people died to save the meteorite and MacLaren's team. Trucker traveler confirms this when he calls himself the ninth volunteer. I feel most bad for the traveler who transferred into Carrie and then immediately lost consciousness and impacted the ground without waking up.

It was clear that they were separate individuals also because of the mission order to always turn on the GoPro camera. That camera was recovered in the future, and it was the only way the Director learned about the outcome of each mission. It wasn't Groundhog Day-- learning from your mistakes over and over again. It was seven people, each with a tiny bit more information recovered from the GoPro, tackling the mission in their individual ways. The only Groundhog Day individual was the Director, who had to keep sending people back to try the same mission, with just a tiny bit of information each time from the last iteration.

To me this makes it more horrifying.
posted by seasparrow at 4:37 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


They were each different travelers.

Yes, of course, that was never in dispute. I took the 'above the fold' plot summaries for these posts verbatim from the Netflix episode blurbs (except for the finale, where I hid the second half of the blurb in the 'more inside', since I thought it was too spoiler-y to leave on the front page).

While none of the Travelers were the Phil Connors of this Groundhog Day, it's still very much a Groundhog's Day episode. It's a genre staple now; if a genre show is on the air for long enough, it is inevitable that it will find a way to do a Groundhog's Day episode, a body-swap episode, and maybe a Christmas Carol episode. Heck, even 'Castle' found a way to do a Groundhog's Day episode, and 'White Collar' managed to pull off a non sci-fi variation on the body swap.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:29 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


The only Groundhog Day individual was the Director

You're absolutely correct.

I think using 'Groundhog Day' is a shorthand for the trope - of which this episode was a variant of. Run Lola Run comes to mind, a bunch of Star Trek episodes, that Community episode, and I'd even say Memento is a variant (although extreme)

Was Groundhog Day the first to do this trope? I have no idea.

To me this makes it more horrifying.

Oh, totally. On at least a couple of levels. I've been curious about the motivations of people who choose to travel, but I've been a bit of a dummy - S1 made it clear that the future sucks and a chance to go to (and survive) in the 21st is like winning a lottery ticket. The 001/Vincent thing is just idiotball on behalf of the people sending him back.
posted by porpoise at 7:54 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Sorry, yeah - I used “Groundhog Day” as a shorthand. It’s more incremental than that as each time the new traveler shows up with more info.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:34 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


Ugh, this was not very well done in my opinion.
* While I enjoyed the versions of Carrie trying to combat all of this stuff, that just got worse and worse to the point where they should have tried stopping wasting people after a while.
* How the hell did they finally save the team at the end? We literally don't see how suddenly the team knows to shoot the guys in the water--did Traveler Trucker get there in time to warn them or something?

On the one hand, the whole anniversary thing was kind of lulzy and I enjoyed the razzing on MacLaren for "forgetting" and how screwed he is. On the other hand, I am not interested in Kat and their anniversary and since obviously they weren't going to do anything with that anyway...why was that in there?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:15 AM on January 28


While I enjoyed the versions of Carrie trying to combat all of this stuff, that just got worse and worse to the point where they should have tried stopping wasting people after a while.

If the mission was just saving the lives of MacLaren & team, I guess it would count as a waste of people, but it seems like this was another 'fate of the future/all of humanity' crises, where there would be no Director or time travel without the discovery of the meteor.

How the hell did they finally save the team at the end? We literally don't see how suddenly the team knows to shoot the guys in the water--did Traveler Trucker get there in time to warn them or something?

Yes, Trucker Traveler 5009 got to the lake in time to warn them, while 5008 Wayne was still running through the woods.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:06 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


I think I would have liked this episode better if the repeated dialogue weren’t falling so flat, though. I get that New Marcy is supposed to have lost a part of her emotion-soul, but the way the actress is portraying it I just find totally uninteresting.

I do find 001 working with the Faction to be interesting though.
posted by corb at 7:00 AM on March 7


I love a good Groundhog Day episode.

(Just popping in because I finally got around to mainlining this show! See you all in season three! #teamDavid #teamnotsomuchMarcy #teamohyeah! )
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:31 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


It's explicitly stated that they can only send people back later than the last time someone was sent back.

If the Faction really wanted to mess up the Grand Plan, the last Traveler they sent should have gone back in time five minutes. No more reinforcements from the Director.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:52 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


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