This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 14
More Rittenhouse is good. Maybe the characters in Timeless would disagree with that statement, but it’s true for the audience. Why the secretive group would want Charles Lindbergh to become famous just so he could make anti-simetic speeches is a question for another time, but for now, Lucy’s family connection and the takeover of Mason Industries provides just the kind of shake-up one would expect of a lead-up to the finale. And then, of course, there’s the journal…
The historical setting this week, as usual, was gorgeous. The costume design alone is a huge ingredient in making the story immersive, and Abigail Spencer always does her part to highlight the fashion of the era. “The Lost Generation,” a label popularized by Hemingway, was another rich time period to explore with plenty of colorful figures from history to assist in the mission. Using Josephine Baker’s time with the French Resistance to explain her investigative skills, for example, was a particularly effective narrative device.
Likewise, Hemingway served as the perfect catalyst in a mission that didn’t include Wyatt. The death of Master Sergeant David Baumgartner notwithstanding, it wasn’t Hemingway’s experience as a soldier (really an ambulance driver) in The Great War that brought him into the team in a useful way, although like Baker’s spy background, it helped with believability. Instead, like Houdini helped with Lucy’s fear of enclosed spaces in a previous episode, Hemingway used his straightforward language style to motivate Rufus: “Drink, fight, and screw on behalf of those who can’t.”
This philosophy not only fits well with the fact that the team is down a member; it also provides the core of what the team must do moving forward. Once Agent Christopher effected Wyatt’s escape from military custody, in fact, the soldier’s advice is similar to Hemingway’s when asked what they should do now that Rittenhouse has taken over the Mason Industries project: “We fight.” A nice little bit of parallel narrative.
There were a couple of big surprises that really upped the ante for the coming fight. The first was that Charles Lindbergh was about to relinquish his fame and seek a quiet life in Bordeaux, but for some reason history was unchanged. The conversation between Lucy and Lindbergh about their Rittenhouse legacy was illuminating, to be sure, but apparently the Rittenhouse organization was persuasive in getting the famed pilot to continue the course laid out for him.
The second big surprise was more subtle, and that was the introduction of the journal. Lucy’s mother, viewers will recall, was seriously ill in the original timeline before the Hindenburg incident changed things. Yet the journal in which Lucy will write her Rittenhouse observations, the one that guides Flynn’s actions, was given to her by her healthy mother as well. This indicates a certain amount of inevitability to Lucy’s future actions, seemingly robbing her of free will.
But with Wyatt’s ideas about fate, perhaps that’s exactly where things are headed. Lucy persuaded Lindbergh to go against his father’s wishes by saying, “Nobody gets to decide our futures except us,” but Wyatt thinks the universe wants Jessica’s death, that she was fated to die. While viewers may want to believe Lucy, the journal seems to show the veracity of Wyatt’s point of view.
There were some exciting moments worth mentioning from other characters as well this week. Agent Christopher immediately became ten times more likable when she left Wyatt a paper clip to help him escape. Emma Whitmore seems less impressionable than Anthony as Flynn’s pilot, schooling him on Napoleon and allowing Rufus to run off with Lindbergh. And Flynn himself is headed to chat with a French automaker named Charvet, whatever that may entail. Plenty of intrigue for everyone!
Timeless has been consistently entertaining, and its episodic nature has rarely made it seem like a “time period of the week” show: a credit to good writing. The Rittenhouse mystery has unfolded at exactly the right rate; the development of each character has been evenly distributed; and the stakes have been raised as the series has progressed. With two episodes to go, anticipation for a killer finale is definitely at its peak, and Timeless is right where it wants to be.