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Protocol 3:

Don’t take a life; don’t save a life, unless otherwise directed. Do not interfere.

That’s not what you’re here for. Changing the past can have dire consequences to the future, and the mission is the only change that has been mandated. Refrain from putting yourself in a position where you have to take or save a life. The lives of others are not your concern, do not interfere.

The entire premise of the third episode of season three is wrapped up in one of the most intense of The Director’s protocols. The second part of protocol 3 is the stickler for travelers that are expected to live as their hosts, love as their hosts, feel as their hosts. We’ve already seen protocol 3 subverted by Philip in season one (saving foster kid Aleksander when The director demanded his death). In “Protocol 3,” that decision made many moons ago by Philip comes back around in a big way.

As MacLaren awakes and finds himself with a sense of forgotten time, he begins to suspect that his memory has been wiped. Usually with a memory wipe, the reasonings behind it are…not pleasant. It’s rare that a traveler-let alone a team leader like Traveler 3468-would have need of it. The episode is a descent into MacLaren’s paranoia as to why his memories are unclear.

Courtesy of Netflix

As MacLaren is retracing his steps from the past 24 hours, his team is busy keeping him off the scent (not suspicious at all, *eyeroll*). Marcy and Philip attend his support group meeting and it does not go well. Carly continues to stake out the family that is fostering Jeff Jr. Trevor takes the short end and babysits Grant through his personal investigation of his last 24 hours.

Everything comes back to Aleksander, the youngster that Philip wouldn’t let die 2 seasons ago. The preteen’s life has been exceptionally awful: physically, emotionally and psychologically abused at every turn, The Director decreed that Aleksander be terminated. The reasoning was simple: the kid would grow up to be a monster himself. This is where Travelers truly shines, in the ethics of what it means to have certain (terrible) knowledge, what do you do? The Director has been proven wrong in the past, so what makes this time any different?

Courtesy of Netflix

In the end, MacLaren gets his answers. Taking Aleksander out of another abusive foster home, Grant revisits their day. In a tender exchange, he sees Aleksander for what he is: a damaged child with loads of potential. He also still has his directive: termination. Back in the present, MacLaren sees a shallow grave and begins to dread what he’ll find. Trevor helps him dig and Marcy explains that he (Grant) ordered his own mind wipe. In the grave is a coyote-the same coyote he and Aleksander found mortally wounded. As Grant’s memories continue to resurface, he sees himself pulling his gun on Aleksander but Trevor draws him back to present by saying he didn’t do it. By defending Aleksander from a mean diner owner and spending time with him, Grant changed the course of his future. In changing that future, The Director aborted the mission. It’s completely effed but the fact that MacLaren won’t have the memories of killing a child on his conscious is still huge.

You can binge seasons 1-3 of Travelers on Netflix.