Timeless 1×03 Review: The Right Side?

In just three episodes, NBC’s Timeless has managed to capture my heart and mind as it weaves a character-driven time travel story that delivers twist after twist each week. Every week is essentially a new mini movie where audiences are transported back in time to historically important times and our trio is tasked with preventing our antagonist Garcia Flynn from destroying history.

But after Timeless’ most recent episode, “Atomic City,” suddenly we’re left asking: Is Flynn really the antagonist? And which side is the right side?

On top of Timeless’ sensational sets that recapture the look and feel of significant moments and time periods in history, there is a conspiracy and mystery that befalls our lead heroine, Lucy, as well as our presumed antagonist, Flynn. The mysterious organization, known as Rittenhouse, is the center of this controversy as we’ve gotten glimpses at those on both sides.

But most importantly, we finally learned Flynn’s endgame, which may indicate that perhaps he’s not the villain we’ve assumed him to be. His goal isn’t world domination or controlling time, it’s merely to prevent Rittenhouse from being created.

It really makes you think about how certain people are presented through biased eyes. What we’ve learned about Flynn, up to this point, has come from people who may or may not be in bed with Rittenhouse. They’re paining him as this villain. But maybe they’re the real villains?

What we do know about Flynn and his history with Rittenhouse is that he supposedly went off the rails and killed his family. But Flynn’s story is much different. According to him, Rittenhouse are the ones responsible for their deaths. And Flynn’s coming after them full-force.

While Flynn’s methods are far from appropriate or acceptable, we’ve perhaps been led astray when it comes to what his ultimate outcome is. But when it comes down to it, our trio of Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus are responsible for preserving history and taking Flynn out.

Timeless is so brilliant in how it constantly encourages you to think outside of your own headspace in terms of morality and what’s right. Whether it was thinking about weighing the consequences of saving Abraham Lincoln versus preserving history or considering warning a loved one from the past of their future demise, Timeless really encourages you to put yourself in these characters’ shoes and weigh the options.

After a run-in with someone who he once – and still – considers a friend, Rufus suddenly started thinking about both sides in this conflict: the side they were one, the one they considered good, and the side with Flynn, which they considered the enemy. But Rufus asked an all-too important question that still has me thinking:

“Without the why, how can we be sure we’re on the right side?”

Basically, Rufus wants some answers. They’ve been thrown into this crusade and told that the side they’re fighting on is the right one. But what if it’s not? They don’t really understand everything that’s happening other than the fact that every few days they’re thrown into a time machine, travel back to a foreign time, and told to protect history. What is the real endgame of this?

Timeless has already raised several intriguing questions – What is Rittenhouse? How did Flynn come into possession of Lucy’s journal? Could Lucy end up being the villain? Add on: which side is the right side, to the list.


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It’s all subjective, I guess, when it comes to determining what side is right and which is wrong. On the trio’s side, they believe they’re in the right. But in Flynn’s eyes, his side is right. He’s trying to save the world by preventing Rittenhouse from being created. It really begs the question: is there something greater at play in the future? Or is this merely Flynn’s selfish journey? Something tells me that Flynn wouldn’t go through all of this trouble for only himself. Something larger might be at play.

An Atomic Problem

Every week presents our trio with a new problem as Garcia Flynn sets his sights on acquiring or carrying out certain things in history. It’s always the question – What is he after this time? – that really drives the first half of the hour. With an episode title like “Atomic City,” is it any wonder what Flynn’s intentions were?

Our trio traveled back in time to 1962 Vegas, where John F. Kennedy was making an appearance, along with the Rat Pack. That thrill masked Flynn’s true intentions, which wasn’t to kill JFK earlier, like we’d all assumed, but rather to acquire something atomic. As in an atomic bomb.

Typically you’d expect it to play out like this: bad guy seeks out bomb, acquires bomb, and heroes manage to recover it and save the day. But not on Timeless. Timeless actually explores the possibility of “what now?” when our antagonist maintains possession of an atomic bomb and his intentions with this bomb remain unclear.

It certainly doesn’t help matters now that Flynn is headed to Nazi Germany in next week’s episode and now is in possession of an atomic bomb. Flynn is all about changing history in a way that ensures that Rittenhouse is never created. So what does a bomb have to do with that? Could Flynn’s intention be to give the Germans an atomic bomb? Goodness. History will never be the same.

Wyatt’s Grief

Wyatt is a somewhat mysterious character and yet he’s one whose grief he wears clear on his face at times. While Lucy is still discovering her “why,” Wyatt’s is very clear: he’s avenging history. While it might not be the history that he’s aiming to protect, Wyatt is someone who has been held captive by fate – which he chooses not to accept – after his wife’s passing in 2012. It’s something he revealed in the pilot and something that we’ve seen follows him in everything that he does.

One of the appeals of time travel is watching a character be presented with the opportunity to save someone they love that dies in the future. It’s an issue that was briefly touched upon in “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” as Wyatt took offense to Lucy’s declaration that they can’t save anyone who dies because of the potential effects in could have on history. Wyatt took it personally like, my wife isn’t worth saving? It served to show – and foreshadow – that Wyatt definitely has an ulterior motive to strictly taking out Flynn. Wyatt is hoping that he can somehow save his wife from the past.

We saw his first attempt (I’m not convinced it’ll be his last) when he ran into a telegram service in 1962, as he attempted to send a message to his wife from 1962 to 2012, in hopes of saving her life. Only when he returned to the present he saw that it didn’t work.

Wyatt’s grief is nothing new. It’s something that he’s carried with him since that fateful day in 2012. Only he’s wallowed in his grief instead of talking through it. This new opportunity – being a part of this team – can help him move past that. But it’s still a long road ahead. We’ve already begun to see how Wyatt has taken to Lucy, and vice versa, and it’s evident from everything from the way promos are cut together to the eye sex every week that Timeless is certainly headed in that direction. Eventually.

But it’ll serve a purpose. Lucy – and even Rufus – will help Wyatt through this grief and ultimately help him find a new “why.” Maybe instead of avenging history it’ll be to preserve it.

Gelling as a Team

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the show – despite the history of it all – is the dynamic between our time-travelling trio, who is slowing beginning to gel as a team. Each member brings something unique to the table and the time travel aspect of the show. There’s Lucy, a historian who is determined to protect history; Wyatt, a soldier who is avenging history; and Rufus, the pilot who is secretly being blackmailed into taping everything. Each of them has secrets from the other – and rightly so given that they’re practically strangers. But with each passing week and each passing time travel adventure that possesses high stakes, we’re watching these three begin to really grow as a team and as a family.

There are different elements to their dynamic. You have the overall dynamic between the three of them, and then you have the individual relationships between each of them. There’s a constant sense of evolution between these dynamics that adds a fresh and emotional element to this time travel adventure.

There’s just something magical that happens when we get the shot of all three of them – decked out in period attire – stand side by side in this time as they take it all in. It really drives home the fact that this story centers around these three.

In “Atomic City,” we saw the team really defend each other. When Wyatt had the opportunity to sell Rufus out for protecting his mentor who had betrayed them, Wyatt lied and said that he didn’t have a clear shot. Slowly but surely we’re watching these people grow to care about each other and they’ll eventually realize that the only ones they can trust are each other. If even that.

Timeless airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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