This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 2 Episode 2
Okay, Timeless, we need to talk. The burgeoning concept of the Rittenhouse sleeper agents is great, but why set up a suicide mission that takes years of preparation when the job could just as easily have been done by a lone bomber placed near the VIP stage? Overly elaborate evil plans aside, the wonderful character development for Wyatt and the inspirational moments between Rufus and the first black NASCAR driver were spot on, and the conflict for Connor Mason in the present was satisfying comeuppance with just a tinge of sympathy for the fallen genius.
Speaking of “overly elaborate” and “genius,” this Nicholas Keynes guy is a real piece of work. It’s a nice bit of deception to make Emma, Carolyn, and even the viewers themselves think that this WWI soldier removed from time is just an eccentric philosopher who demands a Victrola and pickled eggs in order to acclimate to 2018. Don’t ask how he’s able to compose a massive painting/map reminiscent of 12 Monkeys’ Word of the Witness based on Wikipedia research without anyone noticing; just nod and listen to his rousing speech about perfection everlasting and “We few will save the world.” The moment was inarguably cool but honestly a bit over the top.
Thankfully, the historical plot was much more realistically composed. Kudos to Timeless for fooling those of us NASCAR neophytes who thought Ryan Millerson really was the first winner of the Daytona 500 (it was Lee Petty) in the first example of the Time Team not realizing that history had already been changed in the weeks when the lifeboat wasn’t working. Wyatt is quite believable as a car geek, and the fact that he remembers having a poster of Millerson on his bedroom wall as a child is even more chilling than Keynes’ posturing in its implications for what Rittenhouse is capable of doing without anyone being the wiser.
The fact that Wyatt bonded more with Wendell Scott (an actual historical figure who did indeed win a Grand National race in 1961 without receiving credit) more than Rufus did initially was a nice reversal of expectations. The stories of Wyatt’s abusive father built on some vague mentions in season one of his troubled upbringing, and the shared history of bootlegging was a great touch. This left Rufus with the more understated and comedic head nod greeting and the admirably subtle aphorism from Scott: “What’s too tough for everyone else is just right enough for us.”
Who knows if Scott actually believes the “commie hunter” cover story, but his assistance is invaluable in defusing the bomb that would have killed auto company CEOs that stood in Rittenhouse’s way of infiltrating all corners of American society. That end goal was suitably devious and innovative, and the doubt surrounding Millerson’s devotion to the cause based on the life he built with his pregnant wife created interesting tension. However, Emma’s presence in ensuring his compliance shows the ineffectiveness of this particular long-term mission versus just bombing the race the old fashioned way. It’s a narratively very interesting but needlessly complex example of Rittenhouse’s new methodology.
The side plot involving Connor Mason added a bit more depth to the ex-CEO’s despair that was introduced last week with his rusty engineering skills. Timeless succeeds in making Connor both a sympathetic character who wishes to reclaim his former status and a deservedly punished ex-lackey of Rittenhouse. It will be interesting to see how Connor deals with humility; he could either accept being knocked down a peg and come out stronger or flounder about trying to regain what was lost. Either way, it will be enjoyable to watch his journey unfold.
The story arc that remains both the smallest and simultaneously the most interesting is that of Jiya and her prophetic visions. Ever since her troubled jump in the lifeboat at the end of last season, viewers have wondered what effect the time stream has had on her mind. The foreknowledge of the burn Rufus suffered on this trip to the past was one of the most thrillingly mysterious secrets of this episode, much better than Flynn’s fortuitous memory of an address in Darlington, South Carolina.
The seeds are planted for an intriguing path forward for Timeless — no doubt about that. Flynn, Connor, and Jiya all have potential for better storylines, and the Rittenhouse mission has been amped up much higher (perhaps a bit too flamboyantly high) than last season. The historical missions of the first two episodes were definitely on point despite the shakiness of the embedded Rittenhouse agent aspect of it, and as long as the character building and storytelling continue to be strong, we can overlook the small hiccups in believability.