This phrase from “The Kite Runner,” by Khaled Hosseini kept playing in my mind over and over again as I watched the episode. It’s not a romantic phrase, or at least, it’s not used in that context in the book and the way it applies to the show is not romantic either.
Instead, it’s about three people who went from strangers, to friends, to family – and not the dysfunctional type of family we often see on TV, but the type that communicates, that shares joys, sorrows and doubts. People who would give up, not just their lives for each other, but a piece of their soul.
The time team is floundering in “The Murder of Jesse James,” and not like they were before, when they were at war with each other. Now they’re at war, not exactly with Rittenhouse, but with the circumstances.
And the only way to win this war is to rely on each other.
So, let’s discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of “The Murder of Jesse James.”
If you’ve ever had a sister – or a brother – you understand what Lucy’s going through right now. Siblings are a complicated thing. You don’t always love them – in fact, half the time you probably want to strangle them, but if anyone ever dares to touch a hair on their heads, you go crazy.
Especially if you’re the older sibling. You didn’t ask for the responsibility, you probably didn’t even want it, but the responsibility is there, it’s yours. Your brother/sister is the constant companion, the one person you couldn’t get rid of, the one who knows you better than you know yourself, even when you don’t like to admit it.
Lucy might have been trying to avoid feeling the loss, because, well, avoidance is easier, especially when you can’t do anything to change your circumstances; but avoidance only takes you so far. And this is the end of the road for Lucy.
When you lose a loved one, there’s a terrible and often needed catharsis in talking about that person, in remembering the good things and the little quirks, in doing a thing you loved to do together. Lucy, however, hasn’t just lost her sister; she’s lost even the possibility to mourn her properly, because for everyone else, she never had a sister.
But Lucy did have one. And now she’s gone. A part of Lucy is gone, and though she’s been good at masking the pain, it was only a matter of time before she broke. After all, how long can you go on with business as usual when a part of your heart is missing?
ANOTHER WORD FOR EXCUSE
When you’re getting lessons from a psychopath, you know you’re carefully close to straddling a line that you should not cross. Problem is, as morally ambiguous as Flynn has always been, he’s never truly wavered from his objective – and that’s ending Rittenhouse, once and for all.
Is he a bad guy? That’s hard to say. He has good reasons, for sure. If this were an action movie, he might be our hero and we might feel sympathetic, even if he kills everyone in his way. But this is not an action movie, and the way this show frames the action makes it clear that Flynn is not black and white, no, but he might be closer to the black that he is the white.
Why? Because he’s made a choice. His cause, as Jesse James calls him out, is just another word for excuse. Fact is, at this point, Flynn just can’t stop. If he doesn’t have his revenge, he has nothing. He’s not doing this just to defeat Rittenhouse or to save his family, he’s doing this to fill the void in his heart with something.
Sadly, revenge isn’t really the satisfying option he might have thought it was.
But, if this episode makes anything clear is that, for all we might be sympathetic to Flynn’s reasons, we can’t ever expect him to make the right choice. We’re way past that.
He’s way past that.
Timeless has been, from the start, a very surprising show in that they’ve avoided going for the cliché in most scenarios. Focus on a budding romance between Lucy and Wyatt? Nope. Let’s develop the OT3 in a way that feels organic. Make Rufus the sidekick and comedic relief? Nope, Rufus is just as important as the other two, and he actually gets to save the day from time to time. Have all the morally ambiguous characters; from Flynn to Mason make the right choices again and again? Nope. People sometimes make wrong choices for the right reasons, and the show doesn’t shy away from that.
It also doesn’t shy away from a real and mature representation of what a friendship is supposed to be like, without all the added drama that TV sometimes adds, just for the sake of making “good television.”
Rufus, Lucy and Wyatt are three completely different people. They don’t agree on everything, and they probably never will. But they’ve reached the point where they can be honest with each other about the place where they stand, and that’s not just a beautiful thing, it’s a surprising thing.
Yes, Lucy wants to quit. Wyatt is a the end justifies the means kind of guy. Rufus has tons of doubts about whether they’re doing the right thing or not. Compromise seems not just hard, but almost impossible. And yet that doesn’t mean they’re trying to hide their doubts and fears from one another.
They have other people, yes (well, not Wyatt), but in a sobering way, Wyatt, Lucy and Rufus only have themselves. No one else understands what they’re going through, the choices they’re forced to make day in and day out. No one else ever could. And talking to your friends doesn’t mean a solution will magically appear, no.
It just means you’re not alone. They’re not alone.
EASY OR RIGHT
Lucy’s decision to kill Jesse James was less about Wyatt than it was about her. What does Lucy want? Who is Lucy? What is she willing to do to get back her sister, to save history, to make the world a better place? Before this, we weren’t sure. She wasn’t sure. Now it feels like we’re getting closer to an answer.
Rufus has always been the kindest of the trio. Wyatt and Lucy, in a surprising way that shouldn’t really be so surprising, have been hardened by loss. The smiling woman intent on saving history has given way to a determined woman intent on saving people that sort of resembles Wyatt more than she probably ever wanted to.
Can they get Jessica back? What about Amy? Is changing the past as easy as it seems? The answer to this is probably not – and yet, knowing Timeless, the question is less about whether it’s possible (it is), than it is about whether these people are willing to give up everything to get what they want.
That’s where I think we’re heading. Wyatt is willing to give up a lot to get his wife, but would he give up Rufus, for example? Lucy is willing to do anything to get her sister back, but would she sacrifice Wyatt? Timeless doesn’t ask simple questions and doesn’t provide simple answers, and with just four more episodes till the end of the season, it’s time to buckle our seat-belts.
It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
CHOICES, CHOICES, CHOICES
There’s a joke to be made here about the bonds of fellowship and all of that, but fact is, we all know Rufus will help Wyatt. The cliffhanger is not a cliffhanger because we think he’ll say no, it’s a cliffhanger because we’re wondering if they’ll involve Lucy in what they’re going to do, and, of course, what the consequences of this choice will be.
Before Lucy, Rufus and Wyatt met their lives were set up in a way that, adding a time-travel machine to the mix, meant they would make some specific choices. The only thing that’s changed from then to now, other than their losses, is that now, when they get on the lifeboat, they’re not only concerned with themselves or with not changing history, they’re concerned with each other.
Choices become much more complicated when you add many variables to a situation. Yes, Lucy killed Jesse James because she thought that was right, because she’d been mourning her sister and she didn’t want anyone to suffer the pain that she’s suffering, but she also, in a way, did it because she could and she wanted to spare Wyatt from having to do it.
Rufus is going to help Wyatt not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because Wyatt’s his friend. Same with Lucy. Now the only question is – if you change the circumstances these characters are in, how will that change their relationships?
THE BREAKING POINT
I know it defeats the purpose, but I feel like these people should all go to a therapist. But, with Rittenhouse around, mental health is probably very low in the list of things to worry about. Either way, the things being asked of Wyatt, Lucy and Rufus are things beyond what any human should be able to take without feeling more than a little out-of-sorts.
But in this, and in many other things, Timeless is doing a great job with the show, not tell. I can see these people struggling, just as I have been witness to the shift from people who work together to friends and then, to family. Expected or not, everything this show has thrown at me has not only made sense, it’s been executed in a way that makes me think that was really the only narrative choice to make.
Which is why I want to end my review with a plea. If you haven’t watched this show, do it. Catch up. You have time. Join us in watching live, join us in tweeting about it, join us in asking for more of the good television out there. These characters still have a lot more to give; these writers have many more aces up their sleeve. And, I, for one, can’t wait to see more.
NEXT, ON TIMELESS
Other things to note:
- I can’t believe Wyatt’s “You owe me that” crap worked. This is legit stuff that only works in TV/Movies. If I were in that guy’s position, I’d be like, hell no, I ain’t saying shit.
- Rufus and Jiya are adorable. I fear getting attached because …yes. BAD THINGS ARE COMING.
- MASON, I’M TRYING TO GIVE YOU THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, BUT I’M RUNNING OUT OF DOUBT HERE.
- Pretty soon we’re going to have to stop calling Lucy a “Historian” and start calling her an “Expert in Alternate Reality” – they’ve changed A LOT of stuff.
- Although she does know a lot of shit about a lot of shit.
- The way Flynn says “make you an offer” I half expect him to end the line with “you can’t refuse”
- Jesse James is a psychopath.
- The Lone Ranger looking at Wyatt like: Control your woman, son, and Wyatt looking back like: She does what she wants. That’s what I like about her is why I ship Lyatt.
- Wyatt maybe, but where would Rufus have learned how to ride a horse? Where?
Timeless airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.