The case of the body snatchers continued! But not without an interruption from everyone’s favorite psycho Liber8 operative, Garza, who we learned in flashbacks was tight with 2077 Alec in the delightfully apprehensive way everyone from back in the future seems to be. She was sent by Kagame to end Alec and he countered by banking on the time-travel shtick, asking her to make the call in the past and only waste his younger self if he failed to change his ways. So she essentially became an insurance policy.
Like a nice, sane person, Garza slaughtered Alec’s geeky roommates and took Alec hostage, forcing Kiera to abandon the quest for the missing corpses and come to the rescue. Gardiner continued the search without her and found his way to a shady law firm that seemed to specialize in clients with stolen identities and weird finger tattoos. He also found his way to a bullet in the face because I really liked the Kiera-and-Gardiner-manage-to-play-nice-for-like-five-seconds storyline and I’m not allowed to have nice things. Bye Gardiner, we'll miss you forever. (Well, not really.)
"Second Listen" managed to address an issue with Continuum that I didn't even realize I had—or rather, an issue that I previously couldn't entirely define or put a name to—and that's the importance of Alec's autonomy in the present. I was never completely comfortable with the control that Kiera, Kellog, and now Garza have sought to hold over Alec's head. The revelation that the Alec of 2077 had a hand in orchestrating the whole time-travel thing and seemed to want these various parties to influence his life and change his future (okay, except for Kellog) added greatly to our understanding of why it's essential to allow some level of control, but the fact remains that the Alec of 2013 is not yet the Alec of 2077—and at this point may never become the Alec we see in the future. Even with the order to tamper with young Alec coming from an older and seemingly wiser Alec, those two Alecs are still unique individuals with different feelings, motivations, and responses. That the Alec of 2013 is so horrified by the idea of the man he could become simply reaffirms this. Our Alec has no connection to 2077 Alec beyond their matching DNA, and while Old Alec's warning was certainly weighty given the source, for Alec himself, if was also probably a lot like getting a cryptic warning from a stranger.
Alec has gone along with the status quo for almost two seasons now. Currently, he sincerely doesn't want to become that bad guy he hears so much about, and that fear has allowed various different people to influence and control him to some extent. Alec isn't a dumb kid, though—that point has been made abundantly clear on numerous occasions—and he knows that not everyone wants what's best for him, and that everyone, even Kiera and our "good guys" have their own goals in mind.
Alec's drive to change the future for the better and to be "good" because he chooses to be and not because anyone makes him goes hand in hand with his constant quest for independence. Despite being the "geeky guy" on a show full of brawn, Alec is hardly helpless. He regularly utilizes the tools around him to eke out a win—whether that tool is a crappy retail job, a piece of shattered time machine, or his partnership with Kellog. Alec is innovative, and even though he's needed Kiera to come save his ass more than once, she's needed him, too. If you examine the situation with a brutally honest lens, she needs him a lot more than he needs her. That time machine ain't gonna rebuild itself... as far as we know.
First with leaving home, then with the decision to partner with Kellog, and now with his mission to figure out whether or not Jason really is Papa Sadler in the Crazypants Flesh, Alec has grown increasingly proactive this season; everything finally culminated in "Second Listen," while Garza held him over a railing, arguing with Kiera about who really knows the guy.
In truth, they both know Alec—or rather, a part of him. Garza probably knows the future Alec much better than Kiera ever could, but while Kiera gets credit for her relationship with young Alec, the reality of that relationship is that it's largely based on Kiera's understanding of who she thinks 2077 Alec is and who Alec may become. Her concern is almost entirely dedicated to shaping Alec into what she needs him to be so that she can return home, and when Alec finally broke down and confronted both women with that reality, it became clear to her.
When Garza described Kiera to Alec in 2077, she emphasized Kiera's "motherly" traits—which in 2013 actually coincide with Kiera's treatment of Alec up until this point. Sure, he's her ally and her tech guru and her one true hope to get back home, but that's all been filtered through the context of what Kiera knows about the future. She needs Alec to evolve a certain way and she's made no secret of it, acting like a stern mother to him numerous times by dictating who he should associate with, the types of jobs he should work, and so on. It's the sort of sentiment a mother would have. After all, no one wants their kid to grow up to be an ax murderer.
Still, even moms have to step aside at some point and let their kids become whoever they'll become. That doesn't mean they can't offer guidance, support, and opinions, but eventually that autonomy is going to kick in and there will be a pink-hair-and-piercings phase, and possibly an I'm-eloping-with-Mick-Jagger phase, or, in Alec's case, an I-just-want-to-be-normal-dammit phase. Alec has all (okay, most) of the tools he needs to make the right decisions. No one else can make them for him.
– “He’s a loose cannon and the woman in the coffin was a friend of mine.” And yet despite being the ‘loose cannon,’ Gardiner was totally, weirdly the ‘good cop’ in this situation because Kiera is scary.
– Aww, Kiera made a 2001 reference. So proud. I also loved the dig that Alec just didn't get her pop culture references because she's the ultimate hipster. She liked that band before it was even invented.
– Yeah, the CMR dead-cam was pretty creepy.
– Elena encouraged Kiera to make a life for herself in 2013. Now Alec has his "we chart ouf own course here and now" monologue. Pretty prophetic, methinks. How about you?
– What do you think Gardiner's death means for Kiera's future?
– So Escher totally has the "freelancer" tattoos. Thoughts? He said they don't like people like Kiera, but then he helped her. Did he defect or something?