Timeless 1×08 Review: We Live Weird Lives

Every time we think we’ve got this show figured out, every time we say, oh, this is what they’re doing, this is who these people are, we get them now, we know what’s coming, Timeless flips the script and shows us that this show – these characters – are not as easy to predict.

And that’s what makes them easy to love. That’s what makes us connect, relate. Lucy is more than just a daughter, a sister, a possible romantic partner for Wyatt; she is, in this episode, first and foremost, a friend to Rufus.

Same goes for the other two main characters – Wyatt is a though soldier, he’s a husband who lost his wife, but he’s also a man who looks at the bad guy and thinks …is he really the bad guy? Can I fault him for going back and trying to fix his family?

And Rufus, our brilliant, wonderful Rufus, is anything but a stereotype, even if he lives his life within the confines of expectations. It’s easier for me to relate to Lucy most of the time, because I understand what being a woman in a field dominated by men is, but Rufus’s journey has probably been as complicated, if not more.

It’s near to impossible for people to fully relate to experiences they haven’t gone through, or experiences that feel alien to them – and yet, we all have compassion within us. We all have the capacity for empathy. I don’t love Rufus because I can fully understand the challenges he’s gone through, I love him despite the fact that I can’t.

Timeless could have easy gone for the focus on the ship, made Rufus Carlin the sidekick, taken the easy route. They’ve done anything but that. They’ve made this diverse cast of characters – one that includes Agent Christopher, Connor Mason, and Jiya, all get their moments in the spotlight. They’ve made a team of three an actual team of three. And they should be commended for that.

(And hey, if for some reason you’re reading this review and not watching the show, I implore you, watch. Watch live. Shows that do it right deserve our support)

AGENT MULDER

Oh, the pop culture references. THE POP CULTURE REFERENCES. I’m almost tempted to make a Scully joke here, but this episode wasn’t about Mulder and Scully. If anything, Wyatt’s journey in “Space Race” was that of the man who suddenly realizes that his enemy isn’t really that different from him, after all.

What would Wyatt do to save his wife? What would Lucy do to save her sister? With eight episodes to go I assume they’ll both have a chance to do something, but for now the important thing is that they see where Flynn is coming from. And that we see it.

Because Garcia Flynn didn’t go back to save his brother to change HIS life. Remember, since he was in a time loop of sorts as the changes took place, he won’t remember them. His memories will be the same. But his mother’s wont. His mother’s life will be different, and that was enough for him.

What does that tell us about our villain’s motivations, his character? Can we truly call him a villain anymore? And can we afford to call him anything else when he’s taken the ends justify the means to the extent he has?

I KNOW RUFUS

Anthony remarks, but the thing is, he doesn’t. Not really. He thinks of Rufus as a shy, smart kid who doesn’t perform well under pressure. We know Rufus as a brilliant, funny and determined guy who will not give up.

Thing is, people change. Stuff happens and people change. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but they never stay static. Anthony hasn’t been gone for that long, but Rufus’ experiences in the time he has been gone have transformed him into a different person. A stronger person.

One who would do things he could have never considered before. One who believes in something. One who’s part of a team of people who depend on him, who trust him. One who’s definitively not a sidekick.

Now the question is – is Rufus right to believe in what he does? I’m going to go with a soft no on this one, but I’m pretty sure we’ll find out.

LETTING GO

This episode was as much about Flynn as it was about Rufus. Sometimes, he says, sometimes he considers just letting go. Revenge is a hard mistress; it takes over your life, makes you do things you never thought you were capable of. And if you take your eyes of your target, you can get lost in the minutia of what you’re doing, what you’re willing to sacrifice.

Because Flynn went into this looking for revenge and knowing that, even if he got it, he was putting everything on the line. He’s not thinking he’s going to change the past and his life is going to be just fine – he’s thinking that even if he saves his wife and kid, he might not get to enjoy time with them. Thing is, he doesn’t care. That’s his goal. That’s the endgame.

Can he stay on track, or will he take his eyes of the goal enough for some of his good instincts to come into play? A few episodes ago I would have said no, now I’m not so sure. And that makes him an infinitely more interesting villain.

FEMINISM

The not-so-subtle feminist message in this episode was a joy to watch. Mostly because I think we all wanted each and every one of those brilliant women who were forced to work as secretaries because in those days no one thought their little female brains could work as well as the men’s, yell out just what Lucy had to say. And also because, in a way, watching from the here and now, where these problems are a thing of the past and a thing of the present, at the same time, is, sometimes, well-needed perspective.

Yes, we’ve come a long way. And yes, we still have a long way to go. Let’s keep both things in mind as we try to make this world as fair for Lucy and Rufus as it is for Wyatt.

Other things to note:

  • But WHY is Anthony helping Garcia Flynn? Why?
  • Hey, Flynn, when you stealing stuff that you’re not supposed to have, close the drawer, okay? It’s not that hard.
  • You know what I would have liked and I hope they give us in a subsequent episode? A conversation between Rufus and Wyatt about killing that guy. Wyatt is, after all, the one with the experience in that regard.

Timeless airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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