This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 2 Episode 1
Timeless has returned, and the immediate changes we’re presented with are all for the better. Although the show kept some of its signature moves, such as little known facts about key historical figures, humorously anachronistic pseudonyms, and well-timed Rufus zingers, it successfully shifted the setting from Mason Industries to an abandoned military bunker, transformed Rittenhouse into network of sleeper agents, and flipped Flynn Garcia’s role from main antagonist to imprisoned mission advisor. It all makes for a wonderfully refreshing premiere, long awaited by fans.
The most successful historical contexts in Timeless are the ones that directly affect the mission rather than being tangentially related, and the involvement of the Curies was superbly played. Showing Marie and Irene in their lesser known World War I roles was a nice history lesson by itself, but the fact that Lucy revered the famous woman scientist because of her own mother’s teachings created a nice bit of irony as Lucy sought a petite curie to help the wounded soldier, who turned out to be much more than that.
Plus the threat to the Curie’s lives when they spotted the mother ship posed a compelling question: what do you do when your secrets are discovered by people who are important to the course of history? Even a Rittenhouse agent like Emma Whitmore can’t argue that nothing would change if the double-Nobel-prize-winning Marie Curie was killed before completing her most important, life-saving work. And besides changing the timeline, this moment gives Lucy a moment to reflect on her mother’s true nature and solidify her plans to destroy the machine.
Lucy’s willingness to sacrifice herself or strand herself in the past also allowed the moment of her reunion with Rufus and Wyatt to be that much more triumphant, even though it’s only been six weeks since they last saw each other. The near kiss between Wyatt and Lucy could easily have been a distraction or something held until later in the season, but it was well placed here in the season opener, nicely framed by Rufus goading Wyatt to admit that he loves Lucy. The most powerful realization, though, was Lucy theorizing that if she had gone through with it, including having killed an innocent soldier, they might actually have succeeded in stopping Rittenhouse.
The idea of sleeper agents planted throughout history sets up a terrific new mission parameter for the Time Team, and the fact that Nicholas Keynes wrote the manifesto that inspired Rittenhouse is deliciously timey-wimey for more hardcore time travel fans. The fact that Captain Albright kept his copy of the document on a smartphone seems a bit contrived, but showing a WWI officer with a modern device must have been too tempting an image for the Timeless writers to pass up. But the whole concept of long-term Rittenhouse assignments makes you wonder how much they’ve changed already without Lucy and company noticing. Is Trump Rittenhouse?
The changes in the present are also notable, even if the key elements are only set up or re-introduced in this season two premiere. We’re reminded that Jiya is having seizures, for example, although we don’t get to see what she’s seeing this time the way we did in the season one finale. And a welcome new turn for Connor Mason comes in taking the tech CEO down a peg. The more humble take on his character having to relearn his engineering skills is perfect for having him earn his place on the team after the betrayals of last season.
Timeless excels at placing plot twists in the final moments of the episode, and “The War to End All Wars” has more than one to give the season premiere all that much more oomph. First, there’s the fact that Nicholas Keynes, as Carolyn’s grandfather and Lucy’s great-grandfather, came up with the idea of what could be done to history if time travel were possible. Then theres Emma’s confession that she took measures to assure that Lucy’s sister could never be rescued. And lastly, there’s Flynn, who may be coaxed to assist, but only if he can speak to Lucy directly.
These last minute surprises along with the different setting and conflict get Timeless season 2 off to a great start. The show appears to have kept the ingredients that work, such as the chemistry between characters and the historical hijinx, and switched up the elements that needed tweaking, namely the nature of the antagonist and the framework of how the battle is fought. If the rest of the season follows this episode’s example, we could be in for a wild ride.