At first glance you’d be forgiven for writing off Travelers as another generic sci-fi show. After all, a collection of people coming together to try to stop the world from total annihilation is hardly the most original of ideas. Where Travelers stands out is the unique way it manages to weave its unique premise through a well written plot and believable, complex characters. With a plot firmly rooted in 2016, this modern-day slice of sci-fi thriller entertainment stands out among the mass of other sci-fi on the market.
The story begins with four ordinary, unconnected people on the verge of dying. They suddenly suffer a seizure moments before and take on alternate personas from the future. As we find out later on in the pilot episode, this occurs because the last surviving humans in the future discover how to send consciousness back in time to the 21st century. Once here, they work together to try to change past events to save the post apocalyptic future whence they came from. Travelers wisely steers clear of the science behind this and manages to successfully navigate through what could have been a messy incoherent time travel show by focusing on the characters and the struggles each of them go through to try to integrate into life in this century. It’s a unique idea and one that certainly helps become invested in each of the characters. We never see the future either, relying on exposition from characters to paint a picture of the bleak wasteland the future becomes gives an injection of much-needed mystery to keep the attention firmly rooted on the main plot line. Adding to this is a mysterious figure called “The Director” who lurks in the shadows, pulling the strings and giving the numerous characters tasks toward changing the future.
Despite the pretty exciting plot that ticks along at a decent pace, it’s the characters that ultimately help Travelers stand out from the mass of mediocre sci-fi. Each character is given enough screen time and interesting background to really flesh out their personas. It really helps Travelers seem like a much deeper show than it initially appears on the surface. Seeing the numerous fractured relationships and the ripples in lives caused by the future travelers and the actions they take makes the drama and conflicts between them realistic and unforced. Of course, some of this can be attributed to the acting which remains consistently good throughout and the well written script that cleverly manages to balance the expository chunks of dialogue about the past with the present day exchanges between characters.
For all the positives with the characters and the way the main cast stand out, its worth noting that the supporting cast are disappointingly lacklustre. That’s not to say they’re bad, far from it, but surrounded by the interesting, complex main cast, the caricature one-note supporting cast just don’t really match up and come across as bland and uninteresting. Whether it be a hot-headed, abusive beat cop, a suspicious wife or a concerned social worker who’s in love with his patient, all of these characters just slot neatly into their perceived cliché and never really grow out of this with the cast. The frustrating way Travelers ends on a massive cliffhanger certainly doesn’t help either and are two black clouds over an otherwise decent season of entertainment. It seems a staple in most sci-fi shows nowadays and thankfully a second season is greenlit but Travelers makes little to no effort to answer even the smallest of loose plot threads in the show which does hurt its integrity slightly. Thankfully, a second season has been greenlit which should rectify these issues but it’s still worth bringing up nonetheless.
If you like sci-fi or good drama, Travelers is well worth a watch. In a crowded mass of never-ending sci-fi, Travelers somehow manages to cut itself a unique slice of the pie with its unique premise and good execution. The show is certainly not without its problems and the way Travelers just ends dangling on a massive cliffhanger is a little disappointing but on the whole Travelers delivers a fine season of entertainment. The well written script help and toward the latter half of the 12 episodes there’s a conscious effort to inject some interesting camera angles and a bit more visual flair which is a welcome sight. Although Travelers does have a few issues, they’re easy to ignore and because of this, its hard not to recommend Travelers to anyone who’s a fan of well written sci-fi.