Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC
TIMELESS: 2.02 “The Darlington 500”
Timeless went racing back to 1955 in another high-powered episode, this time chasing a Rittenhouse sleeper agent that has already changed history: Ryan Millerson.
While the show has done a relatively good job so far avoiding head-scratching time-paradox moments, this is really the first episode where we need to step back and understand what’s happened. We already knew that Rittenhouse was sending agents back in time, so they could influence history. In this particular case, we have race car hero Ryan Millerson, who Wyatt idolized as a child. Except he didn’t. Ryan was placed in 1946 only a few weeks ago and his impact there made such an impression that it rewrote history. Wyatt’s memories are not from when he was six years old. They’re actually new.
If that makes you get a headache and a panic attack at the same time, let’s take this a step further to try to understand Rittenhouse’s plan. Given that Emma and her lackeys then went back in time to meet up with Ryan in 1955, this means that it’s not simple enough for Rittenhouse to simply place someone in time and say, “Ok, when you get to the Darlington 500 in 1955, place a bomb in your car and kill the important auto executives.” Clearly, they need to see what effect their sleeper had on time, in order to then go back and execute their plan. After all, what if Ryan crashed his car in his first race, destroying any chance to be a famous race car driver? What if he was good, but never good enough to make it to Darlington? They need to know what could really happen. Which means, they essentially told Ryan, “We’re placing you in 1946. At some point, we’ll be back so you can take on this suicide mission, but in the meantime, become as successful as a race car driver as possible.”
This seems a little convenient for the show—otherwise, what’s the point of having anyone go back in time? We’d never know what Rittenhouse did or didn’t plan in our dark times of history—and a little overly complicated for Rittenhouse. And since good ol’ grandpappy Nicolas was the one who came up with this plan way back in the early 20th century, I think we’re starting to see exactly how crazy and/or brilliant he really is. And that was long before he painted a manifesto mural on a wall.
Is your head spinning? Because mine is a little. But let’s focus on a few other things that happened in this episode, beyond these big picture, world-changing, history-changing sleepers.