This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 2 Episode 7
This season of Timeless has delivered a very specific type of message, one which ties the historical period into what’s going on in the lives of the characters. In fact, the insidious goals of Rittenhouse are often only an implied reference point to get the action going with vague references to Nicholas Keynes’ grand plan, secondary to its relevance to the Time Team drama. However, “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” begins to emphasize the flaws surrounding the idea of having a WWI vet running the show by exploring the male-dominated era from which Keynes originates, providing an interesting wrinkle both in Emma’s temporary cooperation and in the larger implications for Lucy and her companions.
The episode also distinguishes itself by bringing not one but two prominent but lesser known women in history to the forefront along with a former president. And because Timeless is no longer afraid to make changes to history, the death of Alice Paul comes as quite a shock that forces the viewer to realize once again that no one is safe. Although the show took liberties with Grace Humiston’s nickname of Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by having her display instant deductive skills, a familiar Holmes trope, it was undeniably fun to watch her try to figure out the tension between Lucy and Wyatt, and her conversion to the suffragette cause, although rushed, was quite stirring.
Speaking of “Lyatt,” it was refreshing to have a TV couple acknowledge that one night of passion does not a relationship make, and Lucy having to assert herself as someone who can make her own decisions, specifically with regard to Flynn, mirrors nicely the women in 1919 who are fighting for their right to vote. Never mind that many viewers no doubt spent the entire episode thinking, with mixed reactions, that Lucy and Flynn had done the deed; the point is it’s no more our business than it is Wyatt’s. Despite a moment of truth from Lucy as she answered Wyatt’s “I’m not going to let you get hurt,” with, “Little late for that,” she seems perfectly capable of overcoming her emotional pain and moving on.
Emma, interestingly, seems reluctant to assert herself in the same fashion when dealing with Nicholas Keynes’ advances. Perhaps she recognizes his type given her history with an abusive father, but her offering Rufus and Flynn a deal of one-time cooperation both provides an interesting dynamic to the teamwork and introduces a fairly large flaw in the Rittenhouse mission. Underneath her altruism, however, is the thought that she may be preserving her own place in Rittenhouse by ensuring that her mother was strong enough to leave her father. Yes, Keynes’ goal of keeping women “in their place” is narrow-minded, but if he got his way, not only would it fail to protect his beloved Emma, it would likely erase her participation in his organization! An intriguing thought…
It was nice to be reminded that Emma had a previous working relationship with Flynn and Rufus in different capacities, and Flynn’s matter-of-fact brutality in telling Rufus that they need to find the sleeper so he can kill him is a refreshingly honest way to treat this season one villain as a necessary evil. The strange grouping was introduced with humor as Rufus notes, “Great, now both my enemies have guns,” and ended with a strange turn as Emma tries to introduce ideas for Rittenhouse’s next mission and is dismissed by a noticeably suspicious Keynes who tells her to tell him her thoughts later. Will the history between Rufus, Flynn, and Emma blossom into something more later?
Meanwhile there was the wonderful turnaround in Rufus’ attitude towards Jiya’s prophecy, starting with him sarcastically wondering to whom he should leave his Gobot collection and ending with the realization of his own invulnerability until such time as he encounters a man with yellow teeth and spurs at the beach. For those also watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, this reckless approach to knowing the future is familiar, and Rufus tests it to the extreme, leading Flynn to humorously observe, “Apparently invincible doesn’t mean what he thinks it means,” upon seeing him beaten by the NYPD of 1919.
This leads to the subtle explanation to Connor upon his return to the present which with a single word speaks to today’s political climate: “Cops.” Less subtle, of course, was Rufus’ speculation that Rittenhouse was going after Woodrow Wilson before he departed to sign the Treaty of Versailles so that they could “make Germany great again,” and the satire was heavier still when Agent Christopher, in verifying that history hadn’t changed significantly, asks if Donald Trump as president was supposed to happen and Lucy responds, “I don’t know, but it wasn’t us.” Cheeky, but effective.
Just as the historical context often provides a mirror to the characters’ experiences, Connor’s tireless effort to find something useful in the destroyed computer parts from Rittenhouse HQ clearly provide a life lesson for Jiya and may inform her attitude towards Rufus’ impending death moving forward. When she admires his ability to work all day on something he thought might be a complete waste of time, he tells her, “The grandest, most honorable battle is the losing one, but you’ve got to keep fighting!” That speaks not only to Jiya fighting to save Rufus, perhaps, but also to the larger battle to save history. Skillful writing, that!
And, of course, it provides the next big mystery: why Jessica’s picture shows up in the recovered data. Lucy may mourn history’s loss of Alice Paul, and we may applaud Grace Humiston’s stirring speech in her place (her “the time is now, now, now” could be felt deep in the gut), but that ending throws everything up in the air. Each small shift in the dynamic between the Time Team and Rittenhouse ups the ante, and as we head into the final three episodes of the season, the setup couldn’t be stronger, mostly because of how Timeless has begun framing its jumps through history in a much more complex way that speaks to its character and narrative development.