This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 5
For the first time since the season began, Timeless focused almost solely on the historical event in which it was set, and although “The Alamo” was still entertaining, the “time period of the week” syndrome has now revealed itself, which may be a problem if it repeats too often. Some conflicts and character moments were resolved a bit too patly even with the solid story foundation and strong chemistry the cast has built up very early in the season. It’s not a worrisome circumstance — in fact, it was expected — but it dulls the blade a little as this popular new show clears away the brush of its competition.
That being said, the Alamo was a great place for Flynn to try and derail the rise of America and, by extension, Rittenhouse. As a rallying cry of patriotism, they don’t get much more important than this key battle in the Texas Revolution. Timeless has really set the bar high with its immersive historical settings, which must cost a fortune in set design and costuming, and the backdrop was completely believable. The characters of James Bowie and Davey Crockett were particularly well-portrayed, deftly avoiding the danger of creating caricatures.
The biggest problem with Flynn that’s beginning to emerge is that he chooses great targets, is brutally efficient, and yet doesn’t always follow through. From a narrative standpoint, this makes sense, since Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus have to put things right again, but the character is weakened by his own oversights, such as taking out Colonel Travis but not Bowie or Crockett. On the other hand, humanizing him through his appeal to Santa Anna to spare the women and children went a long way towards smoothing over his mission flaws.
And speaking of humanizing, Wyatt took center stage by being reminded of a similar military encounter he undertook in modern times, bringing his guilt to the surface over having abandoned his men. Although his memories were a little shoehorned in, they did provide a nice parallel to the situation at the Alamo, especially when he had to follow Lucy and Wyatt through the aqueducts to return home. As foolish as it would be to stay with the doomed Texans, his reluctance to leave was understandable.
This is especially true given his replacement waiting back home. It was a nice change of pace to see someone like Wyatt perfectly willing to give up his spot due to his failure to take out Flynn. He has been pretty hard on himself on that score in previous episodes, so his acquiescence felt right. Rufus and Lucy’s insistence on keeping the soldier that they’d grown to trust was successful way too easily, to be honest, but it created further bonding for a group of leads whose chemistry has really carried the show.
It’s refreshing to see Rufus take such a key role in figuring out solutions that Lucy’s historical knowledge or Wyatt’s military might can’t uncover. With a quick nod to slavery being outlawed in Mexico (nice touch!) Rufus was able to hone in on the aqueducts as an escape route, giving his character something useful and noble to pursue. His eureka moment in using the grenades was a little obvious, but it’s still nice to see him win the day.
Lucy took a rare back seat this week but got her own emotional moment with her mother, who doesn’t like the toll her job at Mason is taking on her daughter. Fortunately, Lucy hasn’t had to push too hard for information on her real father, but it was oddly frustrating to end the episode with only a piece of paper with a name written on it. That detail may have been placed there to create suspense, but it mostly just felt strange that her mother would write it down rather than speak it aloud.
As for the main action of the episode, the Battle of the Alamo was well done and a wonderful spectacle. Timeless is particularly good at including obscure details that viewers might not have known about, and this week’s mention of John William Smith, the young boy who would become the first mayor of San Antonio, gave that additional spark to the historical tale. This history lesson of sorts is becoming the hallmark of the show, and hopefully that will be carried throughout the series.
It’s not that the episode failed in any way; it just has settled a bit and churned out what amounts to a filler episode this week. Nothing wrong with that, but it does make viewers start to wonder how quickly some of the mythology plots in Timeless will progress. With no additional details about Flynn, Lucy’s journal, Rittenhouse, the bit about Lucy’s father is almost a token gesture. It makes it hard to… well, remember the Alamo.