What doesn't work so well for Traveler is almost high-school the level of the writing, which stops to remind audiences at every turn of what just happened on-screen. The audience is granted a quick montage of events that just occurred, or that occurred recently, in case a viewer left the television for a potty break or something. Worse, the flashbacks all end with an important turn of phrase, like "what was Will doing down here?" Then, as we return to the present, that very phrase is repeated, just in case audiences missed it the first time. Short attention span is a problem, certainly, for some people. But for the rest of the audience, this constant rehashing of obvious plot points is not only unnecessary, but somewhat insulting. Traveler isn't the only serial this season that has resorted to this device: the canceled Kidnapped starring Jeremey Sisto utilized the exact same technique. And it was just as annoying there.
Secondly, the two series leads on Traveler - Matthew Bomer and Logan Marshall-Green - virtually redefine the term callow for modern audiences. They are impossibly good-looking, buff and heroic. But they don't register as real people...more like fraternity jocks. At times, when Traveler isn't very, very careful, it plays like the CW's Supernatural: two good-looking guys on the road dealing with "monsters," there real ones, here governmental ones.
The two-dimensionality of the leads on Traveler creates other problems for the series. For instance, it is virtually impossible to believe that agent Marlow, who positively exudes competence and intelligence, would not be able to catch these guys, especially given the resources of the FBI. I mentioned before "the hapless pursuer" cliche, and that's exactly what it is; and Traveler already suffers from it. By allowing the heroes to escape captivity each and every week, the writers of the series only succeed in making the villains look stupid and incompetent. The problem with that is that after a few instances of good guys evading the bad guys, the audience will start to take that victory for granted, and characters like Chambers and Marlow will lose their, teeth, looking ridiculous in the process.
Still, there's much potential to appreciate in Traveler. There's an interesting subplot about Jay's girlfriend, Kim Doherty (Pascale Hutton) and how she is forced to deal with the unwanted celebrity of being a terrorist's girlfriend. Remember how after (the still-unsolved...) Anthrax attacks following 9/11, John Ashcroft and his Justice Department named a professor at some college a "person of interest" in the case and then never bothered to clear him, or charge him? Kim lives in much the same pickle here, and again, it dovetails nicely with current events. This is the terrain where Traveler succeeds beyond expectations: in plucking elements of our national uncertainty about "War on Terror" tactics to generate a real conspiracy, suspense-trip. I hasten to add, it looks like the conspiracy here originates at the Department of Homeland Security.
At this point, it's too early to know for certain if Traveler is merely an action-packed summer treat, or a series that - between the action scenes - speaks importantly and cogently to our times, and will ultimately serve as a cultural time capsule.