This Timeless review contains spoilers.
Timeless Season 1, Episode 2
It’s a relief to see that Timeless will not be erasing people from the timeline each week. As with the Lincoln assassination in this week’s episode, viewers can likely expect history to play out close enough to its original path to avoid having a discernible effect on other members of the team. Meanwhile, Lucy’s unknown fiance, the details of her parentage, and the desire to bring back her missing sister are the perfect spice to add to the base provided by another historical time period in which Flynn reveals more about why he has set this conflict in motion.
Flynn is not your typical antagonist, and that’s becoming very clear after only two episodes. Lucy’s interesting choice to withhold from her team what she learned from her conversation with their supposed enemy proves that she’s having doubts, too. The focus may soon shift to the mysterious Rittenhouse, which this week is revealed to be the organization for which Rufus and Connor Mason are conspiring to record the missions into the past.
But of course, Rufus is now an unwilling participant since the three time travelers are quickly forming a bond that inspires loyalty and friendship. There’s nothing like a good bullet extraction to make Rufus trust his ability to be useful beyond piloting the time machine prototype! Rufus’ interactions with the black Union soldiers felt much deeper and more real than his Hindenburg jail speech, and his development as a character is progressing nicely.
Lucy is also gaining depth at an admirable rate for a new series. Abigail Spencer has really mastered the art of adding gravitas to a scene in which historical figures appear. Her reactions to meeting the Lincoln family and even garnering the affections of Robert Todd Lincoln were appropriately awed and fraught with conflict. Her emotions followed a very logical path from wanting to preserve known history to feeling the irresistible urge to save the great president from being shot in the head.
Timeless thankfully did not ignore a central and powerful conflict now that Lucy has seen her present change as a direct result of their meddling with the past: does the danger of changing a known history, as troubled as it may be, outweigh the motivation to make a change that could save the lives of good people? Rufus and Wyatt each have their own unique reasons for wanting to save Lincoln despite the risks, but Lucy’s fear and humanity and love of history can’t help but come into play.
Wyatt has the potentially game-changing motivation centered on the death of his wife, which begs the question how he was selected for Denise Christopher’s team based on that sort of psych profile, but it lends a softness to his otherwise sterotypical “soldier” character that is quite welcome. He may want to shoot and ask questions later, but at least he’s willing to question the core mission goals and offer encouragement to Rufus as a bonus.
There were some nice comedic moments in this episode as well that will hopefully become the hallmark of this show. Rufus’ choice of “Sergeant Denzel Washington” as a pseudonym produced particularly hilarious results, and Lucy’s invented name, Juliet Shakesman, was also cleverly awkward. But just as Lucy’s knowledge of history helps her find the nuances that Flynn may be trying to manipulate, the inexperience of her colleagues, such as when Rufus is called out on the veracity of his military credentials, creates a nice contrast with the danger it presents.
And on top of all that, Lucy can’t even get a break when she returns to the present! On top of all of the problems presented by having a healthy mother and a non-existent sister, now she has to contend with Jiya’s revelation that the father she grew up with was never her real father. And, as if that weren’t enough, she’s engaged to a complete stranger! Both as a subplot of sorts and as a backstory that may become essential to why she creates the journal Flynn is working from, Lucy’s life before and after the change could provide a perfect anchor for the disorientation of the weekly time jumps.
And there are plenty of historical time periods to explore in the first season! According to revelations made at New York Comic Con, Timeless will be visiting the Alamo, the moon landing, World War II, and 1960’s Las Vegas, among other locations. As a result of the solid foundation the show has laid for its characters and its mythology, the time jumps have gone from being a “too episodic” concern to being a great basis for adding adventure and action to the character driven story. As a result, the show has become an early favorite in the fall season for both hardcore genre fans and more casual viewers.