‘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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‘Trading Spaces’ Is Back — And Still Unwilling to Compromise

TRADING SPACES: 9.01 “Not Our First Rodeo”

There’s always room for compromise but not in this situation.

Trading Spaces is back on the scene after a ten-year break, and very little has changed. Paige is back as our host. Many of our designers and carpenters have returned. And neighbors still swap houses for two days, so they can redo a room in each other’s houses.

What has changed? The budget has doubled—they now have $2,000—and Wayfair has sponsored a tent, so couples can choose one item that must go in the room, whether the designer likes it or not. (At least, I don’t recall this freebie tent from the show of yore, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

But what makes a show like this entertaining (or annoying) is the one thing that will likely never change: The designers have a design in mind, and they’re unlikely to ever compromise that vision. It doesn’t matter if the couple balks, refuses, or simply runs out of time, the vision comes first.

In this particular case, we have Hildi, one of the original series designers, who—no matter what—will have a hideous design painted on a ceiling. Similar to how some of the designers operated on the original series, she came in with one piece of fabric as a focal point that leads the design for the entire series. The black, white, yellow, and blue design wasn’t terrible…until it was described as a “deconstructed penguin” and she said they’ll  be a painting the design on three out of four walls, as well as the ceiling. While my mind was screaming “accent wall!” they went on to paint it all, despite the homeowner’s sister’s reservations, creating what appeared in the end to be a clown’s worse nightmare. Certainly, if you visited that a guest room, you’d have your own set of circus dreams.

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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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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Nathaniel is Irrelevant.”

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.13 “Nathaniel is Irrelevant.”

Wow. What a way to end a season. When the episode started, I had no idea where it was going. And even as I was watching, I was mildly skeptical about where it was headed. But for a show that always has a pretty epic cliffhanger for Rebecca, this episode didn’t disappoint.

But before we get to some of the big moments of the finale, let’s talk about some of the clever subleties. A lot has happened in the third season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, so it should be no surprise that we’d draw on that. But the way the show was shot also reminded us of some key moments from past episodes, right from the start.

If Rebecca’s content look in the mirror while she brushed her turning to horror as Trent appeared behind her looked familiar, it’s because we saw an eerily similar scene in the last season finale. At the end of season two, Rebecca tries her veil on in a mirror, right before one of her dissociative episodes, only to realize that Josh is looking at her through the mirror, asking who Robert was. But that wasn’t the only scene that drew on scenes of old. In Rebecca’s attempt to make sure Trent wasn’t actually stalking her, she runs to the window and looks through sheer curtains. Just like Josh did when he looked out his own window when Rebecca was stalking him. She desperately looks under her bed—much the same way Josh did when he looked for that ringing phone. Both were callbacks to the epic episode earlier this season.

But the real subtlety came in two long shots of Rebecca, both from this episode. One, as we headed into commercial while Rebecca looked uncertain and nervous, about to confess all of her bad deeds to Paula, Nathaniel, and Josh. And the other, the final look after her monologue. To see the real differences here, let’s look back at the plot.

After last week’s episode, Rebecca is filled with guilt—not just guilt about what she’s done to her friends recently, but everything she’s done since she moved to West Covina. Turning to her group therapy members, they suggest she confess to get this guilt off her chest. So she does. She invites Paula, Nathaniel, and Josh into a room to hand them a list of every bad thing she’s ever done. It was her way of confessing. To just get it out in the open. Of course, based on the lingering shot of her very nervous, this-will-be-bad expression as we head into commercial, you can tell that Rebecca isn’t looking forward to it. And by their reactions once they read through the lists, you can tell that this didn’t give her the release of her guilt that she was looking for.

And there’s a good reason for that. Even though she technically told them everything she did, she took the easy way out. She typed it all out, point by point, and then expected to feel better. Needless to say, she didn’t. Especially after seeing Paula’s reaction.

In her zeal to fix things with Paula, she runs into Trent and discovers that he’s actually stalking her and planning on killing Nathaniel. Long story short, Trent attempts to kill Nathaniel at his own party, and Rebecca pushes him off the roof (shattering every bone in his body—a callback to Trent’s story last week). Now, she’s facing criminal charges for attempted second-degree murder.

Nathaniel suggests pleading not guilty, claiming insanity. After all, it’s not her fault. It’s how she was raised. It’s her BPD. It’s how the entire world operates. (How the writers interweaves this idea into a romantic duet is fantastic. Video at the top.)

But here we get that other subtle brilliance. In the courtroom, Rebecca sees Paula, who she has lied to failed time and time again. And she realizes the easy way out isn’t for her. She may have BPD, but she chose her actions. It’s all her fault. And it’s time to take responsibility.

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: “Trent?!”

CRAZY EX-GIRLFRIEND: 3.12 “Trent?!”

I’m more than a little late with this recap and review, but with only one episode left in the season, I felt like I had to get some quick thoughts on Friday’s episode. After all, when the show opens with a musical number involving singing puppet cats, how could you not at least offer a few words?

We start with Rebecca’s total acceptance that she will be single forever. So accepting, in fact, that she’s moving on to getting a buttload of cats. Enter song, which left me laughing the entire three minutes (See the video above, and yes, there is an explicit version). Of course, all plans for said cats are ruined by a coyote. Well, someone who spent a lot of time with them: Trent.

The more Trent is in this show, the more I love him. Since we last saw him—when he was destroying Rebecca’s wedding—he’s been distracted by a train (you know how he feels about trains and clowns), hit by a bus, accosted by an inspiring comedian/doctor, broken out of a cast, eaten a lizard, hung out with coyotes, made his way to an outlet store, and returned to hide out in Rebecca’s room. Why? To blackmail her to being his girlfriend again, of course!

Trent has another one of his devious envelopes (this one’s just of printed email), threatening to tell the police about Rebecca’s attempts to hire someone on the dark web to take out Mona. Naturally, Rebecca goes along with it—long enough to get Paula involved.

Here’s where the story goes a little south. Paula has given up her stealth ways. She’s done sneaking around, tracking people, and doing anything that could hurt her chances of being a lawyer. But when Rebecca hears this, she sees only her own selfish needs. And she lies to Paula, telling her that Trent has dirt on her, too.

This is yet another reminder that no matter how hard Rebecca works against it, sometimes she falls into her own patterns. Rebecca is aware that what she’s doing is wrong. In fact, you can even see guilt cross over her face. But she just can’t pull away from it. She needs Paula’s help, and she’ll do whatever she can to get it.

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