(SPOILERS FOR S1 EPISODES 15-16 OF NBC’S ‘TIMELESS’ ARE BELOW!)
Well that was a lot of twists. The final two episodes of Timeless definitely left more loose ends than were tied up, leaving me with fingers crossed for Season 2. This show is very well cast and I thoroughly enjoyed nearly every minute of it, in spite of some of the hiccups in the writing.
‘Public Enemy No. 1’ has Wyatt busting out of jail to rejoin his team in yet another isolated, empty warehouse. Of course, this is after Lucy and Rufus tranq-dart their next replacement soldier (a swarthy goon with about as much personality and charm as a robot stormtrooper) and hijack the lifeboat, with Rufus planting a computer virus at Mason Industries to throw the NSA off their trail. Despite their intent to make things right for Lucy’s sister Amy, they are immediately alerted that Flynn has timejumped with the mothership yet again, this time to 1931 Chicago. Our favorite rogue NSA agent helps Al Capone evade prosecution for tax evasion, then assassinates Elliot Ness in his not-so-safehouse during his meeting with the team, forcing Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus to turn for help to Capone’s long-lost brother Jimmy, who is, of all things, a Prohibition agent.
Jiya quickly finds herself in hot water on account of being Rufus’ girlfriend, with both Mason and Mr. NSA creepazoid grilling her after catching her with a burner phone. She and Mason in particular get into it as she compares him to a phony wizard (‘the man behind the curtain’) while he coldly asks her if she really thinks that childish snark will help her. A defiant nerd to the end, however, she honors Rufus’ request to keep the team’s tail clear, assembling a hacking laptop from spare parts and reversing Mason’s efforts to bypass the virus.
Flynn uses his influence with Capone to get his hands on crooked Chicago mayor Willy Hale Thompson, member of Rittenhouse, who spills the beans on the upcoming once-in-a-lifetime, all hands on deck Rittenhouse retreat, which will apparently not happen until 1954. Lucy - who apparently should be a U.N. negotiator, with how persuasive she is, honestly - manages to convince Jimmy Capone to bring in his own brother, thus gaining the team access to Al Capone’s well-guarded suite. Of course, the more they try to preserve history, the more they end up changing it (time travel is clearly just as susceptible to the Heisenberg Principle as anything else) and Flynn (surprise, surprise) has set them up for yet another trap. Al’s last favor to Flynn is to take out Rufus, leaving them without a pilot; a gunfight ensues, with Jimmy and Wyatt taking out Capone and his bodyguard, but with Rufus catching a round in the gut. Taking him to a segregated hospital in 1931 is not an option - Lucy and wyatt struggle to get him back to the time machine and it’s a race to get back to the present before their friend bleeds out.
I feel like the show takes advantage of our emotions to get away with a cheap cliffhanger by having Rufus pass out at the controls mid-jump, then cutting to the team safe and sound in their hideout the next episode. Lucy has called in her medical doctor fiancee Noah to perform surgery on Rufus, cloak and dagger style, then cuts him loose, finally showing him the door but still without being able to tell him why. Agent Christopher has somehow managed to get Jiya out of Mason Industries (how she does that is handwaved away) but Rittenhouse is now fast on their trail. Despite being extremely lucky that no serious damage was inflicted, Rufus is still in no shape to fly through space & time on his own, forcing the team to drag Jiya along with them as co-pilot, even though she’s clearly not up to snuff yet (“I’ve been logging alot of time in the simulator, but I’ve…died - alot.”) The team +1 makes their escape just as the NSA/Rittenhouse busts inside, leaving Agent Christopher to face off with a very smug Connor Mason.
‘The Red Scare’ lands the team squarely in the midst of the McCarthy Era, circa 1954. Flynn blackmails Senator McCarthy for the location of the Rittenhouse summit, then sets up Lucy and Wyatt for the FBI by framing them as Russian spies. (Gee, this seems oddly familiar…haven’t I seen something about this in the news lately?) Rufus and Jiya are left to hang out with the time machine, where she suddenly falls ill with mysterious seizures. Apparently, bad things happen if you send more than three people through a wormhole (odd, since Stargate Command routinely sends four or more people through a wormhole on a regular basis with no ill effects…guess it’s the kind of thing that only happens when you try it without a Stargate.)
Wyatt, shoved in a room with McCarthy and a pair of MPs, pulls no punches in calling out the phony Senator as the paranoid bully that he is, then proceeds to lay a very thorough, 21st-century special forces beat down on the guards with their own nightsticks before putting ol’ Joe down for a nap. Lucy recalls from her convo with her father, Benjamin (aka creepy Rittenhouse guy) that her grandpa Ethan is a White House staffer, whom they tail that night, following him to a gay bar. Turns out grandpa is deep in the closet, as being gay is not only illegal in 1954, but also apparently against the rules in good ol’ fascist Rittenhouse. The three of them share a car ride to the Rittenhouse summit, where Lucy’s grandpa recounts the harrowing tale of how he learned about his heritage, following a brutal beating by his father after being ‘found with a friend’. It’s heartbreaking to hear Lucy tell him there’s nothing wrong with him after he tries to dismiss his sexual orientation as some sort of sick habit, and she pokes at his obvious discomfort and apparent reluctance to be involved with Rittenhouse.
I have to admit to being very surprised with Mason’s arc in this episode. After going the bad guy route for most of the season and acting like an especial dick in the last two episodes, he seems to top it off by offering Lucy’s Dad an electronic skeleton key to accessing all the personal info and surveillance data that Rittenhouse would ever want or need. Turns out, he’s been playing a very long long game this whole time. Neither he nor Agent christopher like each other at all; however, he reveals to her that he’s used the program as bait to fool Rittenhouse into revealing all their secrets - he’s assembled a full dossier on Benjamin Cahill, enough for the government to build a case against him and, by extension, Rittenhouse. He trusts her, a ‘dull, boring’ person, to bring the info to the dull, boring authorities. Mason claims no illusions about who he is or that he doesn’t deserve what he has coming to him; however, he’s not willing to allow Rittenhouse to eliminate Rufus.
Flynn is busy in the basement of the Rittenhouse retreat, setting up enough C4 to turn the whole place into a smoking crater. Yet again, Wyatt and Lucy sneak up on him in another underground setting; yet again Lucy interferes with Wyatt shooting him. Against all odds, she once again manages to appeal to Flynn’s inner demons, convincing him that they can beat Rittenhouse without killing. They bring Ethan back to the lifeboat, where he gets to watch firsthand as Wyatt, Rufus, and Jiya blink back to 2017. Lucy reveals to him that she’s his granddaughter from the future; he realizes that he recognizes her because she looks like his own mother. Once again, she hitches a ride with Flynn in the mothership, willingly this time, and goes to retrieve a motherload of recordings and documents from what seems to be every Rittenhouse-related anything since 1954; she’s enlisted her grandpa as a double agent to stay in and provide evidence over the course of the last sixty-three years. Agent Christopher shows up to clean house at Mason Industries, as all of the Rittenhouse/NSA spooks are placed under arrest, along with countless other Rittenhouse members around the world.
Lucy meets with Flynn one last time, letting him know that the plan worked and Rittenhouse is being taken down; he is all set to take out the mothership one last time to save his wife and daughter, but never gets the chance. Lucy’s been followed and Flynn is arrested by Agent Christopher and a tac team; yes, they’ve captured a ‘terrorist’ (as they call him) but have also condemned two innocent people to death. Good job, U.S. government. Jiya, meanwhile, is in the hospital and seems to be experiencing some sort of bizarre temporal flux; she literally watches the Golden Gate Bridge deteriorate into some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland in the blink of an eye. (Somebody get that girl a time stabilizer, quick.)
Lucy finally decides to come clean with her mom about the time machine and Amy…only to get slammed with the revelation that her dear old mother is also in Rittenhouse (‘how do you think your father and I met?’) and doesn’t really seem to give a damn about her daughter’s sister. We then get to find out that Emma, who we (and Flynn) were lead to believe was a Rittenhouse-fleeing time refugee, has actually been a secret Rittenhouse agent all along…and she now has control of the still-intact mothership. In spite of everyone’s efforts, the bad guys are already throwing their Hail Mary pass. (Son of a bitch. I hate time travel. And cliffhangers.)