This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 3
Kudos to Timeless for always giving its audience a nice selection of little known historical facts while still showing a clear motivation for each time jump even without specific underlying goals being revealed. This show is a delicate balancing act of exploring the historical adventures, dealing with Lucy’s altered history, unfolding a compelling conspiracy mythology, and creating believable conflicts and resolutions to personality differences within the team. So far, the writers have done an excellent job of hitting all the beats proportionately to their importance for moving the story forward.
Hitting a more obscure point in history this week was a nice way to introduce the problem of finding the mother ship’s physical location rather than just a time coordinate. Who knew this was even a problem? Jiya’s methodology may be mere technobabble, but it works both for the initial jump and for carrying the mission over into the present, details which were revealed exactly when they needed to be. Until Mason mentioned it, in fact, viewers likely never even knew that Flynn was returning to the present after each mission just like the good guys were.
But are they the good guys? Rufus is increasingly becoming the audience’s voice, wondering why his friend Anthony would give up his wife and kids to actually assist with Flynn’s mission. Even though Wyatt’s heavy-handed approach was center stage this week, when he told Rufus, “I don’t get trained in why; just what, where, and when,” viewers couldn’t help but cheer for Rufus’ response: “Without the why, how can we be sure we’re on the right side of things?” How indeed!
One could argue that Wyatt’s methods were no better than Flynn’s, no matter what the latter intends to do with a plutonium core from an A-bomb. Wyatt may accuse Rufus of interfering with the “solution” that killing Anthony would provide, but he is just as much to blame for using Judith Campbell, JFK’s mistress, as bait to draw out Flynn. Wyatt was quick to point out to Lucy that he’s there to take out Flynn, not to protect history, but he may need to rethink the orders he blindly follows — and perhaps that questioning process has begun.
Wyatt’s behavior is understandable given his desire to bring back his wife, though. Despite his tendency to go for his gun and treat the past and its native inhabitants indelicately, his attempt to send his wife a telegram, however futile, went a long way towards explaining his behavior beyond the soldier stereotypes, and these details are appreciated. Lucy and Rufus are cutting him a lot of slack; let’s hope he learns from his mistakes.
But as Judith and later Lucy point out, “No one has it all together,” and the character flaws are what really round out the personalities of the team. Lucy’s conversation with the surprisingly important historical figure of Judith helps her realize she can’t ignore her problems, and it was nice to see her deal with the fiancee issue as best she could. Noah is clearly a good guy, and this new life might even have its own appeal at some point, despite the missing sister.
The big question of what Flynn wants to do with the “Christy pit” is thankfully balanced by a revelation that speaks the supposed villain’s motivations. If Rittenhouse ends up being the true antagonist, apparently Flynn wants to erase the secretive organization from history, and he clearly believes his cause to be righteous. However, Anthony, just like his fellow pilot Rufus does with Wyatt, tempers Flynn’s brash approach by cautioning him about being so cavalier with people’s lives. Perhaps both time traveling teams will come to their own realizations about dealing with a common enemy!
All of this serves to create a solid picture of what Timeless aims to do each week: unveil a fun historical fact, get the team to gel, work on Lucy’s problem, and take tantalizing steps forward in the underlying mythology of Rittenhouse. So far, all of those points have been given exactly the right amount of attention each week, and the core audience is without a doubt firmly on board for the ride.