Travelers Season 1 Episode 6: Helios 685 Recap

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The foreshadowed Helios event is upon us. Or, the travelers’ solution to the event is, anyway. It turns out that the helios event that’s been mentioned a couple of times in previous episodes is an asteroid that will hit Earth in 18 months. It causes an apocalyptic level of disruption and natural disasters. 21st century scientists won’t detect the asteroid for 2 more months. By that time it will be too late to stop it, so the travelers have cooked up an elaborate scheme involving a cult of old people literally drinking the poisoned kool aid in Canada, a giant roof top laser, a stoned chief engineer, and a clueless antimatter scientist. What could possibly go wrong?

Almost everything, of course, or that would be the end of the series, as the characters helpfully point out, just in case you thought this might work. Because if this works, the timeline will be drastically altered, and most, if not all, of the travelers will never be born. Might be a reason to sabotage the plan, hmm? Or for warring factions to form amongst the future people, some of whom may have traveled back to our time to try to maintain the timeline as it was meant to be.

Let’s take a closer look at the episode.

The elderly religious suicide cult is about to drink the kool aid at a lovely spot by the shore when they are taken over by travelers. There are about 14 of them, and all of the travelers made it. The leader says, “Hallelujah, that’s got to be a record.” Definitely still a dangerous process.

The truck driver from the antimatter convoy in the pilot wakes from his coma. Major Gleason is there to question him. Unfortunately for McLaren and the team, the driver remembers everything.

McLaren has a loaded conversation with Kat.

Trevor’s parents are going away overnight. Trevor defends his mother against his father’s sexism. He quotes his gay humanities teacher at his dad. I love the way he insists on calling his father Gary. Trevor is quietly subversive. Trevor’s also quoted that humanities teacher more than once, if I’m not mistaken. Will the teacher become an important figure someday? I’m also starting to wonder if Trevor is gay, or would be an oppressed minority in some other way in his own body.

“Prevent Helios, and we prevent the beginning of the fall. That was the director’s calculation that started this whole thing.”- McLaren

Marcy gives the entire team an injection to protect them against poisonous gasses. McLaren tells them that they are staying until the very end of the op, if necessary, implying that would mean death.

Trevor leads the team in an oath before they leave for the mission:

“We, the last unbroken remnants, vow to undo the errors of our ancestors (?), to make the earth whole, the lost unlost, at peril of our own birth.”

The busload of suicide cultists is making its way to the mission,  enjoying the scenery, and also taking the injections for poisonous gasses. Meanwhile, Gleason kidnaps Dr Delaney and detains her in a secret facility to interrogate her about the antimatter, again. The bus ends up detained at the border because someone’s passport has expired. They’ll be late for the crucial mission.

 

McLaren and several other groups arrive at Delaney’s lab and begin to set up. The plan involves a laser mounted on the roof, powered by the antimatter. They discover that Delaney has locked the antimatter chamber with a retina scanner, which they can’t bypass in time. They’ll have to find Delaney and free her from Gleason. Philip traces Delaney and Gleason’s whereabouts, and McLaren goes to fetch her. The way he pulls rank on Gleason is totally hot.

We see another elderly woman at an assisted suicide facility. She is taken over by a traveler before she can go through with it. The traveler arrives at the lab and it turns out she’s an important engineer, and a friend of Trevor’s, traveler 117, or, Blue. She reminds the team that their oath includes the phrase “at peril of our own birth,” meaning if they’re successful in stopping the asteroid impact they might never be born in the future.

Blue tells the team that they are already famous in the future, and not in a good way. They’ve caused a lot of arguments in the project team, and she’s argued both sides. She knows who abducted the team in Room 101, and will only say that it wasn’t anyone on her team. That’s not the same as saying she wasn’t involved, or that the director didn’t have anything to do with it. It could also refer to rival factions with the travelers organization.

Gleason and his men follow McLaren and Delaney back to the lab. Gleason arrives shortly after the busload of elderly cultists. It turns out they’re combat reinforcements. A gunfight ensues. The director leaves Protocol 3 in place, meaning the travelers can’t kill, or even purposely wound, Gleason or his men. Gleason quickly figures this out, and kills almost everyone but the main characters. You have to wonder why the director would bother to send Becky the sniper, then only allow her to shoot at the ground around the soldiers. Seems like a waste of a sniper, and a busload of now dead travelers. Gleason’s men were going to die in 18 months if the mission failed, right? Wouldn’t the success of this crucial mission make them acceptable losses now? Was this fight TV logic meant to fill out the running time and add drama, or the writers deliberately showing the director making bad decisions? Only time will tell. (I’m sorry.)

Delaney needs to be convinced to unlock the antimatter chamber, so the team spills the details of the plan. In the original timeline, the Helios asteroid hit the Atlantic Ocean in 18 months time, causing an apocalypse from which the world never recovered. The laser is meant to alter the course of the asteroid. Delaney is convinced and gives them access to the antimatter.

Blue then convinces the rest of the team to leave to save Delaney and themselves, even though Gleason’s entire squad is outside killing travelers. She assumes the director will step in to make sure the plan works. Sure enough, Gleason and his men rush in and shoot her before she can turn the key to fire the laser that has been her life’s work. The director is kind of an asshole. Travelers then possess each soldier, one by one. Gleason kills each one as soon as they are turned. When he is the last one left, he tries to shoot himself in the head, rather than be turned into a traveler, but he’s out of bullets. The traveler takes over, and turns the key.

I hate to be nitpicky about this, but there were two different scenes in this episode where they deliberately drew out fights that should have been over as soon as they started. Why on earth would Protocol 3 be in force when the entire traveler program has been geared toward this moment? Why point out, twice, that you have a sniper on the roof, and then not let her shoot people? Why waste time possessing one body after another in the lab when you have a limited time to turn that key? Why not have the first traveler turn around and shoot every other soldier in the room? Everyone is going to die in the blast anyway, that was said multiple times. It’s not even breaking Protocol 3. Why not do it before they even get in the lab, so Blue could turn the key on time? I have a really hard time with science fiction shows that don’t make logical sense. Show writers, don’t use plot holes, hand waving, or sudden character stupidity to cover up creative laziness. Better yet, don’t write yourself into a box where you need stupid, hand wavey mistakes to happen, or your main charactes won’t exist any more.

McLaren, Delaney, and the team see the antimatter explosion from miles away in the van. Delaney asks how they’ll know if it worked. McLaren says he’s not sure it did, because the travelers are all still there.

Clues and Obsrvations:

  • Carly is worried that she’ll never see her baby again and won’t be able to protect him. McLaren tells her to stay in the present. Carly responds by asking him if he’s bothered that he might never see his wife again. He says that she’s not exactly talking about the present. More ominous music. It sounds as though he has a wife in the future, too. Does the guy cheat in every century? Will future wife be showing up as a traveler soon? Or am I reading too much into this, and Carly is just jealous of Kat?
  • Traveler 117 asks Marcy, “How are you coping with your situation, dear?” We’ve never been told the results of Marcy’s MRI, so we don’t know just how dire Marcy’s situation might be. She still has a seizure disorder, and a body that has trouble keeping up with the traveler’s demands on it, but they haven’t told us whether she also has a fatal brain tumor or disease.
  • “the last unbroken remnants”- Remnants of what? Broken how? Has most of humanity been affected genetically? Is there a class system involved?
  • Blue is traveler 117, a low, 3 digit number, while the other travelers have 4 digit numbers. Trevor also says she’s “been this way for 100 years,” implying they are both much older than that. Does she have a low traveler number because she’s traveled to other bodies within her own time, before coming to the past for her final transfer? That would be a way to keep valuable minds alive long term, such as her and Trevor.
  • Delaney is delightfully snarky in the face of Gleason’s ridiculous questions. She also now knows the truth about the travelers.
  • “There’s an asteroid on a collision course with Earth called Helios 685. It hasn’t been detected yet, but when it strikes the Atlantic Ocean in 18 months time, the wave will knock out most of the Eastern Seaboard, resulting in environmental effects, shortages, and wars from which there will be no recovery.”
  • “Helios will be detected in 2 months time.”
  • The director could be deliberately sabotaging missions that they think will wipe out the existence of the travelers. Or, the laser may have worked, but because the travelers are in the 21st century, they weren’t erased. (Doubtful, but a theoretical possibility)
  • Was the key turned too late? Will the asteroid’s trajectory be unaltered? Or only slightly altered, so that the disaster isn’t as bad as it would have been?
  • There’s always the option for the show to prevent one apocalypse, but cause a different one. As soon as changes are made to the timeline/historical record, the director should know those changes, and have a standard way to send word of important events back to the travelers in the 21st century. News bulletins on the deep web chat room, for example. Easy enough to let McLaren and the other travelers know if the plan worked. Just exploit another kid.

 

Travelers Protocols:

Protocol 1: The mission comes first.

Protocol 2: Leave the future in the past. Don’t jeopardize your cover.

Protocol 3: Don’t take a life. Don’t save a life. Unless otherwise directed.

Protocol 4: Do not reproduce.

Protocol 5: In the absence of direction, resume your host’s life.

Protocol 6: Traveler teams should stay apart unless instructed otherwise.

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