‘Timeless’ Visits a Dark Place in ‘The Salem Witch Hunt’

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Photo by Patrick Wymore/NBC

TIMELESS: 3.04 “The Salem Witch Hunt”

Ever since I heard Timeless would be visiting Salem during the witch trials, I’ve been waiting for this episode. This is a time period I’ve been especially interested in, and boy did they set up the atmosphere. From the moment they stepped into those deserted, foggy woods, you knew this would be a dark episode. And let’s be honest, I was sure Lucy would somehow be called out for witchcraft (she is a time traveler from the future, after all).

But I had no idea that the person to accuse her would be her own mother. Or that she’d be on the list of the eight—or as it turned out, nine—to be hanged on the darkest day. Add in the fact that Benjamin Franklin’s mother was also added to that list, thanks to Carol, and you have the setup for a really intense episode that has a lot riding on it.

As far as Rittenhouse plans go, this one feels like it’s the first that made sense. The last three episodes, with their sleeper agents, felt like lower stakes, compared to taking Benjamin Franklin out before he even had the chance to be born. That would truly change the shape of America. (I’d also argue that we’d run into a little bit of trouble technology-wise, since he was the man who also discovered electricity, but perhaps our WWI Rittenhouse guru doesn’t care about something as trivial as electricity.)

But let’s talk about Carol’s plan. Despite the fact that Carol was one of two existing Rittenhouse members who saved Nicholas Keynes from his death in the early 20th century, it seemed odd that she’d have to “earn her stripes” by knocking out Franklin. And her plan to “save” Lucy by essentially threatening her with hanging in order to get her to join Rittenhouse. That was harsh. Clearly, Carol isn’t thinking straight with this plan. And her desperation as Lucy declined, with her cold, “I’d rather be hanged”…wow.

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‘Timeless’ Finds Romance And Surprises in ‘Hollywoodland’

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Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC

TIMELESS: 2.03 “Hollywoodland”

There was no new episode of Timeless this week, which finally gave me some time to wrap my head around what became a game-changing episode. Just to recap, what happened? We met legendary actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr. Rufus pretended to be Langston Hughes in order to save Citizen Kane. Jiya saw a doctor and turns out to be healthier than she’s ever been, despite her seizures and visions. And Flynn found his way out of jail. Anything else?

Oh yeah. Lucy and Wyatt finally got together, and JESSICA IS BACK.

Talk about a shocking ending (though, honestly, I predicted this result long before the season began). But we’ll get there. Let’s start back in 1941, where Rittenhouse has  another sleeper agent (played by one of my favorites, Teddy Sears), who is out to steal Citizen Kane in order to secure a column in the Hearst papers. It’s a little bit of an overcomplicated plan, but if the publication was as influential as Lucy claims, I suppose Rittenhouse can do a lot of damage with a few inches on paper. Like Wyatt, I have never seen Citizen Kane, nor do I know its sordid, secretive backstory, so I did feel like I was playing a game of catchup as the main plot details were being shared. But let’s be honest: Everything else in this episode was so much more interesting than the Rittenhouse plot that it didn’t really matter.

Starting with Hedy Lamarr. I ask this much too often when watching this show, but how have I never heard of this person before? She sounds amazing. One of the reasons I love Timeless is the fact that they bring these lesser-known historical figures to life, so it’s both educational and entertaining. She truly stole every scene, and I loved the dynamic between her and Rufus (particularly her curt response to his poorly shared riff of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme—though her explanation to Lucy about how anyone can be glamorous as long as they stand still and look stupid was also great). She was a divine addition to this episode. But now on to what everyone is talking about…

Lyatt fans were overjoyed to see Wyatt and Lucy finally get together. Starting with her adorable musical number. She was so playful and it was nice to see that side of Lucy again (and it was fun to see that side of Abigail Spencer, too). Not sure that final long look between Wyatt and Lucy really landed for me at the end (sorry), but it did lead to their cute banter before they finally kissed and slept together. Happy, happy fans everywhere.

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‘Timeless’ Has a Need for Speed in “The Darlington 500”

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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.

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‘Timeless’ Is Back — And Off to a Great Start

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Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC

TIMELESS: 2.01 “The War to End All Wars”

I’ve spent the entire day thinking about Timeless.

To say season 2 packed a punch would be an understatement. The last season ended on a shocking revelation: Lucy’s mother is part of Rittenhouse. But that was just the start of what would change the lives of the entire Time Team. Moments after Carol confessed her true role, Lucy is taken, and Mason Industries blows up.

Let’s just say it was an explosive beginning to what appears to be a thrilling season already.

We jump back in six weeks later, where the remaining members of the Time Team are hunkering down in a bunker, hiding from Rittenhouse, who assumes they all died in the explosion. Rufus is trying to fix the life boat, while Wyatt is brooding and itching to get out and find Lucy. And everyone—Jiya, Connor Mason, and Agent Christopher—are all getting used to their new lives and new digs.

Wyatt’s reaction was especially interesting (and not only because I’m a Wyatt and Lucy shipper). Her disappearance hit all the same buttons that his late wife did. Lucy disappears into thin air, presumed dead. But Wyatt refuses to believe it, insisting that Rittenhouse has her, and he needs to find her and bring her home. He’s overly angry and overly emotional, but it’s all fitting when you consider his past.

Meanwhile, we find Lucy dressed up for WWI, ready to go change history with her mother. You have to be impressed with Abigail Spencer, who from the moment we see her, seems like a very different Lucy. Gone is the light in her eyes, her animated excitement, and general passion. Instead, she seems focused, if distanced, and ready to do what’s next. At this point, though, it’s uncertain what that is.

From the get-go, I never doubted Lucy. I didn’t think she’d willingly turn and become part of Rittenhouse. I could see how hard it was for her to shoot an innocent man, and that she was doing it against her better judgment. It wasn’t to prove loyalty; it was to play a part. But I also didn’t think she’d go as far as to take on a suicide mission, a mission where she’d either be left behind in 1918 or get blown up in the mother ship during a jump. And to hear it so soon after being reunited with her fellow Time Teamers, who she had long believed were dead. It was heartbreaking to realize how far she’d go to stop Rittenhouse when she thought she was alone in the war.

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Raked Rewatch: The ‘Timeless’ Pilot

4506353A-7499-4EA9-9EA9-F848C8556D59This week, we heard the great news that Timeless is back on March 11 for season two. For anyone who follows me on Twitter, you know I’ve been a fan of the show since the start. I was so disappointed when it was cancelled and elated when it was uncancelled. So to say that I’m excited for season two is an understatement.

In honor of the forthcoming premiere, I decided to go back and rewatch the show’s pilot (again—I’ve already rewatched the series once, now that I own the DVD set). It’s fun to go back to the beginning after you know key plot points. For instance, in my initial watch of the show, who knew how important that last look Lucy gave Amy as she left the house was. Now, in rewatching it, it’s suddenly a very sad scene.

It’s a really fun episode. Centering around the Hindenburg, our three main characters went back to 1937 to stop Garcia Flynn from changing history after he stole Connor Mason’s time machine. The Time Team, made up of Lucy (the historian), Wyatt (the soldier), and Rufus (the pilot), are of course using what we call the Lifeboat, an early version of the time machine that was only kept operational in case of emergency. Which this just so happens to be. (By the way, the design of these machines is great. And not a Delorean in sight.)

Shows about time travel can be overly complicated. Just look at a show like The Flash. If you don’t establish rules early, things get ugly pretty quick. And I’m impressed by the ease of which Timeless establishes such rules: Mason Industries can track the date that Flynn takes the time machine, but not the place, hence the need for a historian. Also, you can’t go back to a time that you’ve already existed, which means no going back to your past—and no correcting any mistakes or changes you make on missions.

This becomes especially important for the series. First, it means that when Lucy’s sister disappears at the end of the episode because they’ve changed the fate of folks on the Hindenburg, there’s no going back to make sure the survivors who were supposed to die actually died (and yes, we could argue whether anyone is “supposed” to die—and actual question that’s often debated in the series). It also means that Wyatt can’t go back to save his wife, who died years earlier. (To be honest, how they didn’t do a background check on Wyatt to see if he had any major life tragedies he might want to “fix” via time travel seems like a mistake, but I like Wyatt and they were probably trying to find a soldier quickly, so it works.)

What the show also gets right is the ugly parts of America’s history in the pilot. Rufus calls out the obvious rather quickly, when asked to pilot the Lifeboat: “I am black. There’s literally no place in American history that would be awesome for me.” He’s also given angry stares when he walks into a 1930s bar, forced to stand outside. The writers didn’t shy away from this. What’s more, they made Rufus someone to root for, as he creates a distraction in a jail cell, citing all the accomplishments black people make in the future: “The future is not on your side, boy.” Powerful.

Overall, the pilot balances the right amount of action, sci-fi, and just plain fun in a show that draws you in. Sure, this particular episode doesn’t delve into some of the more philosophical questions about time travel (like if you could go back in time and save someone who could make the world a better place, would you—something that’s in the Abraham Lincoln episode), but it does lay everything out on the table. And it even gives us some intrigue: What does Flynn want with the time machine? Who—or what?—is Rittenhouse? And how do we get Amy back?

There’s a lot more to happen after just the one episode, but the Time Team shows its skills. It’s fun. And certainly worth the rewatch.