This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 9
As the characters and their backstories deepen with each episode of Timeless, the time travel plot starts to show its flaws by comparison, especially in an episode like “Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde” where Flynn wasn’t even trying to change history. Do viewers care about the accuracy of the historical elements presented each week? Probably not, but when the solid character moments are built on such a shaky foundation, the cracks start to show.
That being said, what really worked well in this episode was the chemistry between Lucy and Wyatt, and there’s no denying it: that really carried the episode. Preceding their adventure with an awkward “first date” between Lucy and her stranger of a fiancé, Noah, underscored the closeness of the bond Lucy and Wyatt have formed. Abigail Spencer’s wistfulness and Matt Lanter’s broodiness match perfectly.
Their undercover performance as a bank-robbing couple colluding with Bonnie and Clyde was really the only reason to use this particular moment in history; the necklace Flynn sought could have honestly been around anyone’s neck. But the warped love affair of the ’30s natives not only forced Wyatt and Lucy to examine their relationship; it gave viewers the heartfelt tale of Wyatt’s proposal to his deceased wife, Jessica, both strengthening his character and pulling Lucy closer.
It’s a shame Rufus had to miss out, but his displacement always makes sense in pre-Civil Rights eras. There was also a nice subtlety to the way in which Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger responsible for ending Bonnie and Clyde’s murder spree, was set up as a hero that stood between Flynn and his attempt to discredit a “colored” innocent bystander (named Wesley Snipes – nice one). The young girl at the segregated water fountain was a nice touch, too.
The only problem is that the Bonnie and Clyde story is flat, like a set piece rather than a true setting, as though most of the Barrow gang’s brutality were being glossed over in order to serve the romantic stirrings between Lucy and Wyatt. Bonnie Parker’s poetry for example, although certainly part of her legend, romanticizes the historical figure such that our time travelers might as well have been visiting the set of the Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway film.
The Rittenhouse key also feels straight out of a movie, perhaps National Treasure, but here it’s much more effective. When Flynn unlocks the antique clock causing it to come alive like a steampunk creature to reveal the aged scroll, viewers can’t help but wonder what secrets are written there. The Rittenhouse mythology’s fantastical elements, however, also serve to heighten the unrealistic aspects of the Hollywood version of history.
At least Agent Christopher’s in the mix now. Starting the episode with a family phone call was a brilliant way to accentuate the danger she’s putting herself and her loved ones in by scrutinizing Mason’s activities. Kudos to Rufus, then, for both warning her about the threat and for reading her into the secret despite the danger. It would not have been enjoyable to see the team lie to their boss for too long. Now, maybe the conspiracy can really start to reveal itself.
So the episode does succeed in the end, mostly because of the strong character building and mythology reveals. Even Rufus and Jiya got their moment! But as wonderful as the set designs and costumes have been in Timeless, the historical settings are in danger of either making or breaking the effectiveness of the storytelling, and that was nowhere more clear than in this week’s choice of Bonnie and Clyde. Will viewers start pre-judging the episodes based on where the team is headed next? It may have already started happening.