This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 6
Making up for the previous episode’s stagnation, Timeless lets all the secrets out of the bag with the appropriate backdrop that was the mistrustful Watergate era. Just when the team was becoming closer and learning to rely on each other more and more, trust suddenly enters the picture adding a layer of conflict to the show just when it needed an infusion of fresh angles to pursue. Although the underlying mythology bears scrutiny, at least it’s unfolding, and its depths are worth plumbing.
Let’s start with the superficial: Abigail Spencer wears any era well, but she was particularly convincing in her 70s attire. Perhaps its the contrast to Matt Lanter, who sometimes appears to be like a boy wearing his father’s clothes, but it certainly helps with getting immersed into the time period being explored. By contrast, the flower children dancing about on the National Mall were a bit over the top, but whatever it takes to set the mood, right?
That’s what makes it so funny when Rufus chooses an alias when one is needed. In Lincoln’s Washington, he was Denzel, and in Nixon’s he’s Kanye, but the genius of the humor lies in getting the period characters to use the moniker in such a serious manner that the viewer may start to wonder how Rufus is keeping a straight face. The inside joke was extra effective this week because of Rufus’ stepped up usefulness in dealing with the BLA.
Speaking of which, it was nice to see Mustafa Shakir as Gregory Hayes this week, straight off his stint in Cinemax’s Quarry, another show set in the Nixon years. Rufus using his knowledge of Black Panther leader, Eldridge Cleaver, gave Timeless its signature little-known detail and helped further the mission at hand. And what a great touch to have the “doc” referred to in the Nixon tape be a woman rather than a document! A clever and unexpected turn.
The fact that she’s a historian working for Rittenhouse is not a parallel lost on Lucy or the audience, and there are plenty of clues like that to file away, such as the fact that the group was founded in 1778. Their early founding may arouse skepticism about the effectiveness of some of Flynn’s 20th century missions, but at least the mythology is being fleshed out. The re-emergence of the mysterious journal written by a future Lucy was also great to see.
Because, of course, that secret has now come out along with all the rest. In a bombshell that has fractured the burgeoning trust within the team, Rufus has been outed as a reluctant spy for Rittenhouse, and Lucy’s clandestine conversations with Flynn have been revealed, and as Lucy mentions, “How can we trust each other ever again?” Add to that details about the death of Flynn’s family and the circumstances surrounding the demise of Wyatt’s wife, and we’ve got ourselves quite a revelatory episode!
Perhaps, though, some viewers realized who Benjamin Cahill, the name Lucy’s mother wrote down as the identity of Lucy’s father, would finally end up being before it was actually revealed. The impact wasn’t any less, and now the fan theorizing can begin in earnest. How was Rittenhouse formed, and if membership is passed down by generation as the “doc” indicates, is that why Lucy was chosen for the mission?
Whatever the case may be, it was a nice touch to place the details about the shadow organization into the mysterious missing eighteen-and-a-half minutes of the Nixon tapes, even though the Deep Throat connection felt a little forced, especially given that it inscrutably led to the BLA. However, these are all elements of the Watergate scandal that viewers would expect to see, so the context for the story did feel complete.
Fortunately, Timeless returned from a week off, which could have diminished audience attention after the lackluster Alamo episode, to a strong installment that dropped a lot of answers to long-held questions. With a jump into the deeper past in the works for next week, viewers can hope for some solid follow-through on some of the mythology that unfolded in this week’s excellent offering.