This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 7
At one point during this week’s episode of Timeless, Rufus says to his team, “I’m just going to say it: 1754 sucks,” and he’s not wrong; as a backdrop, the French and Indian War was lacking. However, the exposition and character building that came out of “Stranded” made up for the historical interest deficit. As a turning point for the team having just lost a bit of trust in each other, the slower pace was narratively necessary, and each character, as usual, had his or her chance to shine.
Credit must be given for getting right to the heart of the conflict as Flynn’s soldiers sabotage the Lifeboat, which not only provided variety for this episode but also made the villains more credible — why wouldn’t they try that at some point? Rufus’ repair job didn’t seem quite as difficult as he expressed it might be, and his easy theft of French metal and uninterrupted amateur blacksmithing were a bit of a stretch. But it’s always nice to see Rufus win the day.
His use of “the Protocol” was particularly impressive. Calling for help across time by burying a message to be dug up is always a great time travel trick. Was it a tad oblique to have the words “death” and “millennium” be the guiding force to bring the stranded travelers home? Sure, but the narrative path that the episode took in order to get to that Star Wars pop culture reference (along with the flux capacitor nod and the Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman joke) was where most of the enjoyment came from, thanks to geek chick extraordinaire, Jiya.
I mean, let’s face it. Jiya has been an underutilized character who thus far has only served as the object of Rufus’ infatuation and only briefly popped out from the background when she discovered the changes in Lucy’s personal history and when she developed a method to track Flynn’s stolen time machine. Now she has not only reciprocated Rufus’ feelings (great chemistry there!) but she navigated the Lifeboat home without the assistance of the mathematical scribblings included on the Protocol note. Really glad to see this character emerge from the supporting cast.
In fact, it was the heartfelt conversations such as the one between Jiya and Connor Mason that really redeemed the lackluster historical setting this week. For example, when Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus were captured by the Shawnee, they were forced to reconcile their trust issues in what they thought were their final moments. It didn’t matter that Nonhelema set them free in a rather contrived connection to her role in history and Rufus’ race; everything detail from the “chocodile” Twinkies to the children’s biographies had a purpose that strengthened each character.
Timeless always does a great job of spreading out the important dialogue and developing each of the time travelers. Even Wyatt, who sometimes lags behind his fellow team members with characterization, had his moment of talking about the importance of working with a team he can trust as he has in the military. He was also quite good at parsing Lucy’s spiritual dilemma with regard to her supposed fate of, at some point in her future, writing the journal that helps Flynn. And even his own motivations are encapsulated quite nicely by Rufus: “What’s the fun of having a time machine if you can’t fix your regrets?”
But will it all make a difference? Wyatt chucked Rufus’ recorder in the water, and Connor shared his heartfelt reasons for bringing his protege into the company and hung up on the Rittenhouse man, but does that mean things will change? Will Lucy take Wyatt’s advice and not allow the journal to haunt her decisions moving forward? And will the fact that their enemies think they’re stranded in 1754 give them an advantage next week?
The fact that these questions arise in viewers’ minds is always a good sign that Timeless is inviting speculation and interest in the story’s direction. It has avoided being a stale episode-of-the-week tale, even when the historical context for the adventure falls flat. The characters are people viewers care about, and the drama of their situation is mostly independent of the use of time travel. Mostly. As long as the Rittenhouse conspiracy and Flynn’s story start receiving attention soon, the first half of the season has undoubtedly provided a solid foundation for this enjoyable series.