“Timeless – Season One” (2018)
Created by: Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke
Featuring: Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Malcolm Barrett, Sakina Jaffrey, Paterson Joseph, Claudia Doumit and Goran Višnjić
Connor Mason: “Our earliest prototype. She isn’t fancy, but she works, usually. Now, we kept her operational in case the crew of the mothership ever needed a rescue. We call this one the Lifeboat. Their CPUs are linked. But unfortunately, she can’t tell us exactly where the mothership has gone. But she can tell us when.”
Wyatt Logan: [sarcastic] “Naturally. Only tells you when. Time machine problems.”
Connor Mason: “Yes, we’re working on it, but for the moment, that’s the best we have.”
Released this week on both blu-ray and DVD is the relatively short lived science fantasy show “Timeless” (2016-2018), at least the first season anyway. It is easy to see why this show was a little lost in terms of finding an audience, it was on a major network in NBC, on the surface it seemed like a throwback to series from the 1980s and 1990s and the sheer competition in terms of scripted shows is huge, the year this was released it was one of over four hundred and fifty scripted series. Of course the most obvious comparison is to the 1960s series “The Time Tunnel” (1966-1967) which operated in a similar way albeit without the underlying conspiracy story cribbed from “The X-Files” (1993-2018). None of these elements are negatives, in fact in another era “Timeless” may have broken through and lasted much longer than two seasons but it did not have enough to seperate it from other new or exiting shows. One aspect that I believed did hurt it was its tone was very middle of the road so that it did not have any kind of edge to it, so it had to rely on the actors to provide that which because of the nature of the show they were unable to, which again cost the series in ratings as well as reviews.
The broad outline of the show is based around the idea of an experimental time machine which is stolen, a history professor, a soldier and an engineer are tasked with capturing the culprit. They soon learn, however, that the thief plans to rewrite American history, and that each of them has a connection to his plan, as well as the mysterious organization that funded the machine’s development.
It is not difficult to see why this show came into existence with two creators who have both has immense success with their own projects, Eric Kripke with the long running “Supernatural” (2004-2019) and Shaun Ryan who broke through with his genre busting “The Shield” (2002-2008), it may have seemed like an odd marriage but both had their strengths. The automatic reaction would be that they would bring their strengths to bear creating something with an edge, that was had a narrative set up over each week and would be original as well as within the zeitgeist. However what has occurred is that both their sensibilities have been run through the corporate machine as well as network television to offer a show that is actually a little dull and hardly noticeable apart from all the other network shows on air.
To combat this the producers have upped to elements within the show through casting as well as who directed the first two episodes. Firstly the show has cast up with new faces in lead roles as well as experienced character actors in support roles which assists giving the overall plot some kind of believability for the audience to hang onto in the more fantastic elements while exposing relatively new actors to events in the place of the audience. Secondly bringing in a director, Neil Marshall, who is a film director to set the show up with a look and feel that can be followed through on with other directors who have a blueprint. However, again where both of these elements have fallen down is that they have all been filtered through a network and in case you missed it the least relevant shows are on networks. Maybe this show should have gone to Netflix or another service, if only someone could go back in time and change that.
- Pilot: The team pursues Flynn to 1937, where he prevents the Hindenburg disaster in order to bomb the dirigible on its return flight to Europe, when it is carrying important Americans to the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Lucy theorizes that Flynn wants to destroy the United States of America “in the crib”. Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus hijack the Hindenburg and force it to land; as a result, all of the passengers survive despite the airship being destroyed by a stray gunshot from one of Flynn’s henchmen. During a confrontation with Lucy and Wyatt, Flynn shoots and kills reporter Kate Drummond, whom Lucy and Wyatt had befriended and who was supposed to die in the original crash. Flynn reveals to Lucy that he possesses a journal written in her handwriting which she has yet to create; he urges her to ask Agent Christopher about “Rittenhouse”. In the present, Agent Christopher denies knowledge of Rittenhouse and Rufus reluctantly gives Connor an audio recording from the mission. Lucy discovers that her mother, who had been suffering from advanced cancer, is now healthy, but her younger sister Amy no longer exists and Lucy herself is engaged.
- The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln: Flynn travels to April 14, 1865, the date of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. He works with John Wilkes Booth, intending to ensure the success of the planned assassinations of Vice President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and General Ulysses S. Grant. Lucy meets Robert Todd Lincoln and attends the fateful performance at Ford’s Theatre as his guest; Flynn, frustrated with Booth’s refusal to use a modern firearm, takes his place and murders Lincoln himself, but Lucy saves Grant while Rufus and Wyatt save Johnson and Seward, respectively. In the present, Lucy learns that her parents never met because her father married the granddaughter of a Hindenburg passenger, which means the man who raised her was never really her biological father. Rufus refuses to make further recordings for Connor, but Connor forces him to continue on the basis of having financed his education; it is revealed that both are aware of “Rittenhouse”. Lucy arrives home, late for her own engagement party, where she confronts her mother over her father’s identity, but is interrupted by a greeting from her fiancé, whom she does not know.Pilot: The team pursues Flynn to 1937, where he prevents the Hindenburg disaster in order to bomb the dirigible on its return flight to Europe, when it is carrying important Americans to the Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Lucy theorizes that Flynn wants to destroy the United States of America “in the crib”. Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus hijack the Hindenburg and force it to land; as a result, all of the passengers survive despite the airship being destroyed by a stray gunshot from one of Flynn’s henchmen. During a confrontation with Lucy and Wyatt, Flynn shoots and kills reporter Kate Drummond, whom Lucy and Wyatt had befriended and who was supposed to die in the original crash. Flynn reveals to Lucy that he possesses a journal written in her handwriting which she has yet to create; he urges her to ask Agent Christopher about “Rittenhouse”. In the present, Agent Christopher denies knowledge of Rittenhouse and Rufus reluctantly gives Connor an audio recording from the mission. Lucy discovers that her mother, who had been suffering from advanced cancer, is now healthy, but her younger sister Amy no longer exists and Lucy herself is engaged.
- Atomic City: Agent Christopher orders Wyatt to eliminate Rufus’s coworker Anthony, whom Flynn abducted when he stole the time machine. In 1962 Las Vegas, when atomic tests are common near the city, Flynn uses intimate photographs to blackmail John F. Kennedy’s mistress, Judith Campbell, into helping him steal a plutonium core, as her relationship with a general enables her to access a secure nuclear facility. Rufus discovers that Anthony is Flynn’s willing collaborator; they are working to destroy Rittenhouse. Anthony seemingly relinquishes the core to Rufus, and Rufus prevents Wyatt from killing his former colleague. The team discovers the core is a decoy while Flynn successfully escapes with the real device. Wyatt arranges for a telegram to be delivered to his wife in fifty years, attempting to save her life in 2012. Upon their return to the present, Wyatt learns that his wife is still dead and he covers up Rufus’ protection of Anthony; Lucy tells her fiancé, Noah, that she needs to move to her mother’s to clear her head. In the Nevada desert, Flynn and Anthony dig up the plutonium core, which they had buried rather than risk transporting it through time.
- Party at Castle Valar: Jiya locates Flynn by tracking his usage of the power grid to charge the Mothership, but Flynn’s group escapes. In (Germany) during 1944, the team believes Flynn intends to give his nuclear weapon to the Nazis, but he is actually planning to abduct Wernher von Braun and deliver him to the Soviet Union. With help from Ian Fleming, the team secures von Braun’s defection to the Allies. Wyatt helps Lucy find “something to fight for” to overcome her fears during field work, while Ian and Rufus discuss the matter of trust among spies. Rufus confronts von Braun, who claims that moral considerations impede innovation. In the present, the team discovers that their adventure inspired a James Bond film that is new to the timeline. Lucy demands that Agent Christopher and Connor help her recover Amy as a condition of her continued cooperation. Rufus correctly theorizes that Anthony has used the plutonium to create a permanent battery for the time machine rather than a weapon. Rufus refuses to continue spying on his teammates, but a man from Rittenhouse threatens Rufus’s family if he does not cooperate.
- The Alamo: Flynn travels to March 2, 1836, and convinces Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna to attack the Alamo three days before the actual attack occurred. Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus follow suit and enter the Alamo Mission, but Flynn kills William B. Travis, preventing him from finishing his “Victory or Death” letter. Making matters worse is the Mexican Army waving the red flag to take no prisoners in their siege. Flynn is upset that the timeline is changing; in the original timeline, Santa Anna allowed the women and children to leave the Alamo before the final assault. Wyatt and Rufus dig an underground passageway to the aqueduct, while Lucy finishes Travis’s letter and entrusts it to John William Smith, who escapes with the women and children while James Bowie and Davy Crockett fend off against the invading Mexicans. Wyatt is told he will be replaced, but Lucy and Rufus convince Christopher to keep him on. Lucy’s letter, although substantially different from Travis’s original, preserves the timeline by rallying support for the Texas Revolution. Lucy reconciles with her mother, who writes down the name of Lucy’s father and gives it to her.
- The Watergate Tape: The team follows Flynn to the start of the Watergate scandal in 1972 to prevent him from finding the missing gap in the Watergate tapes, but Flynn captures them and reveals he already has the tape. He plays a recording of Richard Nixon talking about Rittenhouse and blackmails Lucy and Rufus to find a missing “doc” Nixon mentioned to save Wyatt’s life. Rufus is threatened by a Rittenhouse agent in the present day to contact someone in 1972; his contact orders him to “destroy the doc”. Flynn reveals to Wyatt that he learned Rittenhouse was bankrolling Mason Industries but, when he reported this to his superiors in the NSA, Rittenhouse murdered his wife and daughter. Using intelligence obtained from “Deep Throat”, Lucy and Rufus are led to a Black Liberation Army safe house and discover that “Doc” is a former Rittenhouse member who knows the organization’s entire roster. Lucy and Rufus manage to rescue Wyatt and help Doc escape. Lucy intends to visit her biological father, Benjamin Cahill (who is revealed to be the Rittenhouse agent threatening Rufus), but leaves without introducing herself, unaware of who Cahill really is.
- Stranded: The team follows Flynn to 1754, the beginning of the French and Indian War. Flynn’s henchmen sabotage the Lifeboat, stranding the trio. With no technological means to repair their time machine, Rufus buries a message in a bottle for Mason to dig up. The trio are captured by the Shawnee tribe and they meet chieftain Nonhelema. Nonhelema orders Lucy and Wyatt be executed, but chooses to spare Rufus’s life. After Rufus convinces the chieftain to let his teammates go, the trio proceeds to Fort Duquesne, where Rufus collects items to repair the Lifeboat. Mason’s team recovers the bottle, but the message is almost completely faded. Jiya deduces the message from the sparse wording recovered, helping the Lifeboat navigate back to present day after the group repairs it. Jiya reveals her true feelings for Rufus, while Agent Christopher requests that Mason to be placed under surveillance. The trio repairs their strained relationship and Wyatt convinces Lucy to choose her own path, rather than letting it be determined by the journal Flynn possesses.
- Space Race: Flynn and his team travel to July 20, 1969, to infiltrate the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston and disrupt the Apollo 11 mission. Shortly after entering the timeline, Rufus confronts Anthony over his involvement in the 1754 stranding, but Anthony escapes when Mission Control loses communication with Apollo 11. Rufus discovers through a local computer that Anthony has inserted a DoS attack into the center’s mainframe. As 1960s technology is unable to counter the virus, Rufus and Lucy get help from mathematician Katherine Johnson, who gets them into the mainframe. Just as they are deleting the virus, they are confronted by Anthony and one of Flynn’s henchmen. Rufus kills the henchman before Anthony escapes while communication with Apollo 11 is restored by Rufus and Katherine’s computer fix. Meanwhile, Flynn meets Lockman Aerospace secretary Maria Thompkins and her son Gabriel at a park before disappearing from Wyatt’s sight. Wyatt explains to Maria that Flynn is a Russian spy, but Flynn sneaks into her home and injects Gabriel with a shot of epinephrine to counter an anaphylactic reaction before getting away from Wyatt. Back in the present, the team discovers through a secret file that Maria was Flynn’s mother and Gabriel was his half-brother.
- Last ride of Bonnie & Clyde: The trio travels to 1934 in Arkansas as Flynn tries to find a necklace key related to Rittenhouse. Upon their arrival, they encounter Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow during a bank robbery and discover that Bonnie is wearing the key. Lucy and Wyatt help Bonnie and Clyde escape from a gunfight with the police and Flynn. Meanwhile, Rufus is arrested and interrogated by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, but he is released. Hamer gets Barrow Gang member Henry Methvin to reveal Bonnie and Clyde’s location. At their hideout, Bonnie reveals that Clyde gave her the key as an engagement gift after stealing it from Henry Ford. Methvin shows up at the hideout, as well as Rufus, but Methvin is killed by Clyde after Rufus reveals his betrayal. Meanwhile, Hamer’s posse and Flynn close in and a shootout occurs. Flynn grabs the key and escapes before both Bonnie and Clyde are shot dead by Hamer. Back in the present day, Mason warns Cahill that Agent Christopher is coming close to discovering Rittenhouse, unaware that she has him on surveillance. Upon the trio’s return, Rufus agrees to ally with Agent Christopher. Elsewhere, Flynn uses the key to open a clock, revealing a secret letter.
- The capture of Benedict Arnold: Agent Christopher entrusts a thumb drive containing details of her family to Lucy to carry in the Lifeboat in case history changes again. The Lifeboat team pursues Flynn to New York on September 25, 1780, the day Benedict Arnold planned to surrender West Point to the British Army. The trio are captured by George Washington’s forces and confronted by Flynn, who reveals that the secret letter shows Arnold was a founding member of Rittenhouse. He offers them the Mothership and the identity of Wyatt’s wife’s killer in exchange for them helping Flynn capture Arnold. The trio and Flynn rush to the British border acting as defectors and capture Arnold, who reveals that Rittenhouse was founded by David Rittenhouse. The group gets Arnold to bring them to meet Rittenhouse, who quickly foils their plot to kill him. Rittenhouse murders Arnold, but Rufus saves Wyatt and Flynn from being executed as well. Flynn kills Rittenhouse, but Rittenhouse’s son, John, escapes from the scene. Flynn finds John and prepares to kill him, only to be interrupted by Lucy. When John disappears, Flynn takes Lucy with him aboard the Mothership and they disappear before Wyatt and Rufus can save her.
- The Worlds Columbian Exposition: Wyatt and Rufus are desperate to rescue Lucy, who has been kidnapped by Flynn. Flynn takes Lucy to 1893 during the Chicago World’s Fair with the intent to kill Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and J. P. Morgan. Wyatt and Rufus follow them, but get trapped with architect Sophia Hayden and a guest named George Henry in the World’s Fair Hotel, run by serial killer H. H. Holmes. At the fair, Lucy and Flynn apprehend Harry Houdini and have him break into Edison’s office to plant a bomb, but Houdini prevents Flynn from killing them. Houdini then helps Lucy save Wyatt and Rufus at the hotel. Lucy realizes that “George” is Holmes just as she is captured, but Wyatt saves her and kills Holmes. The trio bids farewell to Houdini and Sophia before returning to the present day. Rufus records a threat to Rittenhouse and hands it to Mason. Wyatt gets a phone call from Flynn, who reveals the identity of Jessica’s killer and suggests that Wyatt try and erase the killer’s existence.
- The Murder of Jesse James: Wyatt visits Wes Gilliam at San Quentin to know if he really is Jessica’s killer, while Lucy has a nightmare about Amy and Rufus finds out that Jiya will replace him as the Lifeboat’s pilot in six months. The team travels to April 3, 1882, where Flynn saves famous outlaw Jesse James from being murdered by Charley and Robert Ford in order to get his cooperation in finding a person deep within Indian territory. To track Flynn and James, the trio enlists the help of U.S. Marshals Bass Reeves and Grant Johnson, but Rufus discovers that Wyatt plans to kill James himself. Flynn and James arrive at the home of Emma Whitmore, a former time machine pilot who avoided Rittenhouse by stranding herself in the 19th century. After Flynn and Emma leave the premises, James uses Flynn’s assault rifle to ambush the Lifeboat team and Reeves, killing Johnson. Wyatt wounds James but, as Reeves tries to defuse the situation, Lucy kills James. Back in the present timeline, Rufus informs Mason and Agent Christopher that Emma is alive. Mason confronts Jiya over hacking secret video logs about Emma. At a bar, Wyatt asks Rufus to help him steal the Lifeboat to save Jessica.
- Karma Chameleon: Wyatt and Rufus steal the Lifeboat and travel to Toledo, Ohio, in 1983 to circumvent the one-night stand between the parents of Jessica’s killer, a bartender and a stewardess. After several unsuccessful attempts, Wyatt chases the bartender outside in the midst of a tornado. The bartender trips over debris, resulting in a fatal fall. Meanwhile, Emma tells Flynn and Anthony about Rittenhouse’s real intentions for the time machines. Flynn wants to continue eradicating Rittenhouse, but Anthony thinks they should destroy both machines. Anthony confides in Lucy about his plans for sabotage. Lucy tells this information to Agent Christopher and they agree to keep it to themselves just before Lucy learns of Mason’s dealings with her biological father, Benjamin Cahill. When Wyatt and Rufus return to the present, they discover Jessica was still killed but the other two women were saved, as Wyatt is taken into custody. There is an explosion at the Mothership’s location, but there is a lack of debris from the machine and Anthony’s body is discovered in the rubble with close-range gunshot wounds. Agent Christopher and Rufus realize that Flynn discovered Anthony’s betrayal and escaped in the Mothership. Lucy confronts Cahill about Rittenhouse.
- The Lost Generation: With Wyatt arrested for stealing the Lifeboat, Lucy and Rufus travel with Master Sergeant Dave Baumgardner to Paris on May 21, 1927, the day Charles Lindbergh made the first solo transatlantic flight. There, Flynn shoots down the Spirit of St. Louis and takes Lindbergh hostage. The Lifeboat team meets journalist Ernest Hemingway, who helps them search for Flynn and Lindbergh. The trio chase after Emma and Karl outside a night club headlined by Josephine Baker, but Dave is killed in the ensuing gunfight. With Dave gone, a drunk Hemingway offers to be the team’s muscle, much to Lucy’s chagrin. Lucy is captured by Flynn, who plans to kill Lindbergh unless she convinces him to leave Rittenhouse. Rufus and Hemingway enter the city’s catacombs and rescue Lucy and Lindbergh, who decides to go in hiding. Meanwhile, NSA Agent Jake Neville takes over the time machine project from Agent Christopher. Wyatt escapes after being secretly handed a paper clip by Agent Christopher. Lucy and Rufus are shocked to meet Neville upon their return. Lucy discovers in a history book that Lindbergh went underground for a few weeks before resuming his life of fame and fortune. At a warehouse in Oakland, Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, and Agent Christopher meet to discuss their next plan of action.
- Public Enemy No.1: Agent Neville orders Rufus, Lucy, and a soldier to travel to 1962 Houston to erase Flynn from existence by killing his mother, but Rufus and Lucy steal the time machine and reunite with Wyatt. Although they had planned to save Lucy’s sister, they jump to 1931 Chicago to pursue Flynn. There, Flynn helps Al Capone avoid jail in exchange for a meeting with Chicago mayor and Rittenhouse member William Hale Thompson. The team joins forces with Eliot Ness to bring the mobster to justice, but Ness is gunned down by one of Capone’s hitmen. With Ness eliminated, the trio seeks help from Capone’s elder brother who is living as a Prohibition agent under the name of Richard Hart. They gain access to Capone and the mobster reveals that Flynn has learned about a Rittenhouse meeting in 1954 before Hart announces that he is bringing him in. Capone shoots Rufus as a favor to Flynn before he is killed by Hart. Jiya is questioned by Mason and Agent Neville as to the team’s whereabouts. Mason asks Cahill for access to NSA data to track not only the Lifeboat but virtually anyone globally. Just as the Lifeboat is about to jump, Rufus loses consciousness from his gunshot wound.
- The Red Square: The Lifeboat returns to the present, where Lucy has Noah treat Rufus before she breaks up with him. The team and Jiya jump to Washington, D.C., in 1954, where Flynn blackmails Joseph McCarthy into giving him the address of the Rittenhouse summit. After being arrested on suspicion of being Soviet spies, Lucy and Wyatt escape and coerce Ethan Cahill, Lucy’s grandfather, into taking them to the summit. Upon their arrival, Lucy convinces Flynn of another way to stop Rittenhouse. When Jiya suffers a seizure, Wyatt and Rufus accompany her back to the present while Lucy stays with Flynn and Ethan. Meanwhile, Mason reveals Cahill’s activities to Agent Christopher and expresses remorse for endangering Rufus. Back in the present, Lucy, accompanied by Wyatt, visits an elderly Ethan, who gives them decades’ worth of records on Rittenhouse activities. Mason and the team begin using the documents to systematically topple the organization. Lucy gives Flynn the name of the person who ordered the assassination of his family, but he is immediately arrested by Agent Christopher, who agrees to fulfill her promise to help Lucy restore her sister Amy to the timeline. Lucy tells her mother about time travel and Amy, but her mother then reveals, to Lucy’s horror, that she, too, is a Rittenhouse member. Meanwhile, Emma is seen stealing the Mothership.