This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 8
Although Timeless continues to present colorful backdrops for the unfolding drama between its characters, the luster is beginning to wear off of the central concept of visiting historical periods. “Space Race” contained the quintessential “little known fact” about the explored era, and it even had the signature pop culture nickname, this time for Wyatt a.k.a. “Agent Mulder,” and these are still hallmark elements of this enjoyable show. But at what point does the suspension of disbelief begin to falter with how the missions are carried out each week?
Perhaps viewers are willing to accept, for example, that Anthony was able to assume the identity of moon mission scientist in order to introduce a computer virus into Houston’s mainframe, stranding the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. But once communications went down, wouldn’t it be nearly impossible for a janitor and a secretary to infiltrate the affected server area, even with the help of unsung hero and basement mathematician, Katherine Johnson? It defies logic!
Speaking of Ms. Johnson, though, her inclusion in the story was a great way for Rufus to find a loophole in Anthony’s plan. In fact, his lack of remorse over shooting one of Flynn’s men not only provides a nice ending conversation with Lucy in which he wonders what he’s becoming; it also explains why Anthony underestimates his protege to Flynn when he asserts that “Rufus doesn’t perform well under pressure.” It seems that’s no longer true!
Besides Rufus (who’s always wonderful), the most tantalizing details centered around Flynn’s team this week. The fact that Anthony was laid up for 7 months after the initial Lifeboat missions provides a nice back story for the development of time travel. Likewise, the slow reveal of Flynn’s familial connection to the Lockman secretary and future engineer, Maria Tompkins, was satisfyingly unexpected, especially since he initially seemed to be flirting with — eww — his own mom.
Lucy is understandably frustrated when she sees how easily Flynn regains a brother while she is still missing a sister, but she must admit the administering of epinephrine is a bit easier than undoing the Hindenburg death that changed her family history. Lucy, in fact, was likely frustrated in general as evidenced by her brief but slightly contrived moment of putting the misogynist rocket scientist in his place. A nice touch, but unnecessary embellishment on the black female mathematician focus.
Admittedly, it was enjoyable to see recorded history changed so drastically compared to previous episodes; that at least upped the dramatic factor. Whether it was hearing Nixon give the speech about the astronauts’ fate, listening to Lucy relate the possible consequences of the failed landing on the cold war, or even cheering at the fact that in the new version of events Katherine Johnson was a recognized hero and had a movie produced about her life, this victory felt more substantial if a bit too easy.
But it’s like Flynn said to himself upon turning things over to Anthony while he went on his side mission: “I swear, why do I even delegate?” How many failed attempts at taking down America (and presumably Rittenhouse with it) is he — or the audience, for that matter — willing to tolerate? And if he was only at Lockman to influence his mother’s life, what was the jar labeled 690-01 that he took from the aerospace company’s inventory?
Timeless has a compelling mythology, undeniably sympathetic characters, and several great hooks to keep audience interest. However, the repetitive nature of the time jumps, the occasional unbelievable manner in which the team foils Flynn, and the incremental progress in revealing the nature of Rittenhouse is trying viewer patience. Here’s hoping the final few episodes of the season really deliver a big punch with the underlying conspiracy elements that anchor the show so well.