‘Traveler’ Tries Desperately to Keep Our Attention

Courtesy of ABC

Is silly better than bland? It is if you’re a recapper for Vulture! The sophomore episode of ABC’s Traveler breaks out of the formulaic rut of the pilot by introducing a few delightfully ridiculous (and desperate) new editing techniques to amp up an uninteresting story with post-production flash.

Technique No. 1: The Insta-Recap! Just before each commercial break, Traveler flashes a bunch of quick shots of the most violent or action-y moments of the preceding four minutes. “See!” the message seems to be. “This is exciting, right! Can you believe all that crazy shit you just saw several seconds ago? You should talk about this in the office tomorrow morning!”

Technique No. 2: The Flash-Flashback! In the spirit of Lost, only way less interesting, Traveler features flashbacks to the lives of the main fugitives, Jay and Tyler, before they were set up to take the fall for a museum bombing by their grad-school buddy Will Traveler. In last night’s episode, each flashback ended on a cryptic (and maybe someday important) line of dialogue, such as Will’s saying, of Tyler’s father, “If it weren’t for Carlton, Tyler wouldn’t be here.” Cut to the face of the character remembering the flashback, looking intensely thoughtful as we hear an audio flashback of the same line we just heard less than a second ago: “If it weren’t for Carlton, Tyler wouldn’t be here (be here … be here …)” This goes beyond playing down to the audience. Traveler seems to be targeted at goldfish.

Content-wise, episode two doesn’t really advance anything. Jay and Tyler hide out at Tyler’s father’s house, and Dad proves to be just as untrustworthy as you'd expect a William Sadler character to be. The hapless CTU staffers continue to fail to make any progress, Steven Culp’s Agent Chambers continues to ignore the advice of Viola Davis’s put-upon Agent Marlow, and Jay’s girlfriend continues to be worried. At one point Tyler and Jay have a bad guy hostage but get less info out of him than Jack Bauer routinely gets out of small dogs or rocks. —Mac Rogers