Timeless – Season 2 Episode 7

‘Timeless’ Takes History and Makes It Personal

Features, Timeless

Ahhhh! Fricken Clockblocker!

Timeless fans were, understandably, gutted at the announcement that the time travel drama had been canceled on June 22nd. They’d been down this road before when NBC canceled the time travel drama after the first season, and then uncanceled it four days later.

Upon news of the cancellation, fans have been fighting with the #SaveTimeless Twitter campaign to find the show another home on streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, and TV stations like STARZ, HBO, and even making a case for HISTORY Channel.

The fandom played a large part in how the show was saved the first time. They’ve even created the Lucy Preston Literary Society on Goodreads to further engage with the time periods these heroes travel to and created a book donation drive called #LifeboatLibrary.

Timeless – Season 2 Episode 7
TIMELESS — “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” Episode 207 — Pictured: Sarah Sokolovic as Grace Humiston — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

On June 29th, TV Line reported that the show had failed to find a home at another network, but the fans still aren’t giving up. Recently, they started a GoFundMe campaign to get a helicopter to fly over San Diego Comic-Con. They raised $23,000, enough for the helicopter, a 4,000 sq. ft. banner, and a live stream of the three-hour flight, that will take place on July 21st.

From the outside, the passion that these fans have for their favorite series may seem trivial. There will be other shows that center around time travel and viewers may like them just as much as we like Timeless, and there are certainly other shows with historical influence out there, but in the time travel genre this show stands out.

Let’s do a thought experiment. Perhaps you’ve had that moment where you feel nostalgic and you’re thinking about a crossroads in your life.

You start to wonder what would happen if you could go back and change it? What if you could go back and right what once went wrong on a personal level?

Timeless – Season 2 Episode 9
TIMELESS — “The General” Episode 209 — Pictured: (l-r) Annie Wersching as Emma, Kevin Sizemore as Colonel Reyerson — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

Now, what if you went bigger? What if you could go back and stop John Wilkes Booth from killing Lincoln or find out what happened in those missing eighteen minutes of Watergate Tape footage?

What effects would that have on the present day and what might that do our present? Sure, Lincoln staying alive would have changed history on a macro scale, but think about your personal life. What effect could big historical changes have on you?

This is the kind of question Timeless sets itself up to grapple with.

It follows historian Lucy Preston who has just been passed over for a tenured spot as a history professor. Lucy is, understandably, upset because this is the department that her mother built, and she has been working towards that job for her entire career.

But, things change for Lucy when Agent Kondo from Homeland Security shows up at her door ordering her to come with him.

TIMELESS — “Pilot” — Pictured: Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston — (Photo by: Joe Lederer/NBC)

She’s taken to Mason Industries, a tech company that feels a bit like a fictionalized Tesla. Founder Connor Mason built a time machine, called “The Mothership,” and chose not to tell the government about it until it was stolen by a terrorist named Garcia Flynn. Flynn has gone back to 1937 when the Hindenberg exploded due to deadly static electricity.

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Why? They don’t know, but Homeland Security Agent Denise Christopher and Connor Mason are worried about Flynn’s intentions. If Flynn goes back in time and kills people who aren’t supposed to die, they don’t have the kids they’re supposed to have or do the things they’re supposed to do, and history changes.

Lucy’s job is to follow Flynn in an earlier model of the time machine called “The Lifeboat,” along with Master Sergeant Wyatt Logan, Delta Force, and the Mason Industries employee Rufus Carlin, who pilots the ship.

Their objective: Don’t be noticed. Don’t change anything.

TIMELESS — “Party At Castle Varlar” Episode 103 — Pictured: (l-r) Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

I confess to being late to the party when it comes to Timeless. It was the 2016 show that I never got around to watching even though I meant to. From the trailers, it seemed like a perfect fit for me.

There was time travel, a mystery, and an excuse for people to wear vintage clothing and garb. What I didn’t get from the trailers was exactly how personal this show would get with its three main characters.

Yes, the show deals heavily with time travel, but beyond it being a method to get these people to the past and effect some change, that’s where the science-y technobabble stops.

The first few episodes of Timeless feel something like a blend of the wit of Doctor Who, and the calculated stratagems of Revenge, plus a little bit of Farscape without space flight, prosthetics, or puppets.

What initially presents itself as a science fiction story is later wrapped in a mystery as Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus find out about a skull and bones society called Rittenhouse. The introduction of Rittenhouse also puts Flynn’s allegiance into question because while it appears he wants to destroy history, he may actually be attempting to save it.

As proof, at the end of the pilot, Flynn shows Lucy a journal written in her handwriting. But, Lucy hasn’t written that journal yet and is skeptical of how Flynn tells her that it says they’ll eventually work together.

TIMELESS -- "The Capture of Benedict Arnold" Episode 109 -- Pictured: (l-r) Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn, Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston, Matt Lanter as Wyatt Logan -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)
TIMELESS — “The Capture of Benedict Arnold” Episode 109 — Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

Timeless is interested in the past, with very little of the story taking place in our current timeline. But it doesn’t isolate historical events in its storytelling. Throughout the series, it delves into the common time travel theme of cause and effect, where one event causes something else to happen and can sometimes be a catalyst for change.

The difference is that Timeless makes it personal!

Other shows have dealt with this theme before. Doctor Who has “fixed points” in time where what happens in certain wheres and whens must always happen.

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The 4400 dealt with human beings being abducted from the past and then returned to the present with supernatural gifts that would spark “ripple effects,” things that would have otherwise not occurred had these people not been anachronistically placed in the future.

Continuum places City Protective Services officer Kiera Cameron in 2012 where she has to be very careful of her movements to make sure her family still exists in 2077.  Even when Captain Janeway of Star Trek: Voyager “did her best to avoid time travel” the crew still had to deal with the “temporal prime directive” whenever they found themselves in the past.

TIMELESS — “The Alamo” Episode 104 — Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

Similarly, when Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus go back into the past they are not supposed to change history, and sometimes, actually most of the time, they fail epically. They don’t manage to save big historical figures, sorry Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, but their presence modifies the past in small but subtle ways that impact the history books and sometimes the character’s personal lives.

For example, on the pilot episode, during The Hindenburg disaster, Flynn changes history by giving the ground crew warning about static electricity generated by dragging the ropes through the mud so that the airship can land safely.

Lucy is understandably panicked by these events because while killing people who shouldn’t be killed in the past is bad, having people alive who were supposed to die will also present wildcards in the timeline. And their existence has personal consequences for the team in the present day.

At the end of the pilot, Lucy returns home to find her world radically altered. Her mother was dying of cancer before she left for 1937, but now she’s healthy, and her younger sister Amy doesn’t exist.

TIMELESS -- "Atomic City" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)
TIMELESS — “Atomic City” Episode 102 — Pictured: Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

On the next episode, Timeless Season 1 Episode 2, “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln,” Lucy finds out that her father married a descendant of someone who survived the Hindenburg. Since her father and mother never met, and he got her mother smoking, Lucy’s mom never gets lung cancer. While that might be a good thing, it also means that her mother never had Amy.

It also unearths a buried family secret: the man Lucy thought was her father, really wasn’t.

But the idea of time travel affecting our present day lives goes beyond just Lucy and her sister. When viewers first meet Wyatt Logan, he is haunted by the death of his wife Jessica, who was killed one night after they had a fight. Wyatt regrets the events of that night, but thanks to some time travel rules the time team can’t go back to anywhere or anywhen that they might run into themselves.

TIMELESS -- "The Capture of Benedict Arnold" Episode 109 -- Pictured: Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)
TIMELESS — “The Capture of Benedict Arnold” Episode 109 — Pictured: Goran Visnjic as Garcia Flynn — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

In short, saving Jessica directly is a non-starter. This forces Wyatt to get creative in the first season, forming a plan in Timeless, Season 1 Episode 13, “Karma Chameleon,” to stop her supposed killer’s parents from meeting and having the one-night stand that would conceive a serial killer.

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We also learn in the first few episodes that Flynn stole The Mothership so that he could get his wife and daughter back, by taking out Rittenhouse and eliminating the organization from the timeline in its entirety.

With this one rule, Timeless solved the classic rut of “If I had a time machine I would just go back in time and make sure [insert terrible thing] never happened.”

Instead of allowing these characters to take the time machine back to change a specific event they need to engage with history. They have to put a puzzle together and figure out what they can manipulate to achieve the desired result–or stop Rittenhouse’s desired result.

Timeless – Season 2
TIMELESS — “Hollywoodland” Episode 203 — Pictured: (l-r) Malcolm Barrett as Rufus Carlin, Alyssa Sutherland as Hedy Lamar — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

And while doing this, Timeless has introduced its viewers to historical figures like Ian Fleming, Hedy Lamarr, Alice Paul, and Harriet Tubman. They’ve taken their viewers to 19th Century Chinatown in San Francisco, and the Darlington 500, and a World War I battlefield, all rich with historical detail that provokes fascination from both the characters and the fans alike.

Timeless takes the history from our textbooks and immerses the viewer in it, and by making it personal for Wyatt Logan, Garcia Flynn, and Lucy Preston, the past resonates with the viewers as the characters attempt to bring the people they love back throughout time.

Did you love Timeless? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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Abigail Spencer on ‘Timeless’ and the Importance of Exploring the Past [Exclusive Interview]

Lauren Busser is a senior writer at Tell-Tale TV. Her work has also appeared on Bitch Media and The Hartford Courant. She has also been a dog sitter, worked front end at a bakery, and helped out in a kindergarten classroom. She learned to knit when she was five-years-old and thus, can now complete sweaters at a superhuman speed. She’s currently nursing a novel she’s been making slow progress on for the last six years.

22 comments

  • Hello,
    I loved the article, but, a head’s up. Most of the pictures have the wrong episode number underneath them. Like ep0102 is Lincoln, not Atomic City. 0103 is Atomic City, not Party at the Castle, etc.

  • So upset Timeless cancelled. Best show on TV. So many bad shows renewed but this special show is not. I am so disappointed.

  • I LOVE history. But, there’s so MUCH I don’t know about it! Although time travel facinates me, and I’d love to to live in the 1920’s & ’30’s; every time I watch an episode, I am compelled to do research on the historical figure(s) featured, and find that Timeless’ facts are SPOT-ON accurate!! Every episode builds upon another, leaving the viewer longing for the next! Please save this show! It’s a gem!

    • I once had a history teacher who said that it was impossible for one person to know absolutely everything in American history. The fact that Timeless is concerned ONLY with the past and how it shapes our present is one of the things that sucked me into the show. I felt like I could relax and watch these stories play out, and yet I was engaged enough to want to look up certain things. One happy accident was when I got to “Party at Castle Varlar” and I had been listening to an audiobook for a novel I am working on where Warner von Braun was a major player.

  • Timeless was a favorite of our family. TV is becoming so “vanilla” with newer shows and reality TV? A big fat joke. I guess I’ll get more reading in. Thanks a lot Hollywood.

    • Usually, in a new TV season, I tend to gravitate towards what strikes me as the most original, and I am starting to feel like the truly amazing original content that dares to really push boundaries isn’t getting the audience it deserves.

  • Timeless is one of THE best shows on TV, I sure hope they keep it on. Not only is it a good TV show, but very educational.

    • Definitely educational! I really loved how they never went for the obvious, and when it was a well-known figure they brought in other details of their personality that really made them shine.

  • Timeless is a great show, scheduled on at 10:00 Sunday night. Due to work/school, many did not watch live. I always watched, on demand. It belongs on Netflix or Sling, where it could be watched at leisure. Teachers should advocate in hopes of getting young folks interested.

    • This is exactly one of the points I bring up in conversation with people when they asked why it was canceled a second time. It deserves to find a new home somewhere and I think Netflix or Amazon are perfect outlets for it because it does let you set your own schedule for it.

      I’ve heard of some teachers using this in their classrooms. It’s a brilliant tool. Plus, it’s still appropriate for a school-age setting despite giving you both the light and dark of history.

  • Such a shame they (NBC) sacrificed this intelligent, thought-provoking series for the crap they think appeals to the “masses” = $$. I too would research after each episode and verify what I’d just learned, and then in turn learn some more. I guess a thinking persons’ series is too difficult to make adequate corporate dollars to keep around. Such an awful shame.

    • Sadly this hasn’t been in the first time I’ve been here with a show. It’s maddening every time it happens and it a shame where ‘Timeless’ is concerned because it did present an amazing narrative with relevant themes!

  • Timeless is very entertaining as well as educational. Our family loves it. It should not be cancelled. So much better than most of what’s on TV.

  • Karen says, Please leave Timeless on. It’s on of the few shows NBC has on its schedule we like. It’s funny, educational, has drama, romance, excitement all in one show and I can feel passionate about all the characters. Won’t you please reconsider please NBC?

  • Please keep writing articles and helping the others learn how great “Timeless” is. You said it perfectly, it was a great blend of history, sci-fi, suspense, drama and of course a little bit of romance. It’s the kind of show we need more of. The characters are perfect, so other series won’t do. Bring back Timeless!

    • I’ll definitely keep trying. Timeless is a great show, and I’m sad to see it go. I know that even though I was late to the game, I was live-tweeting my reactions to things. The show never went for the obvious and I like that.

  • I loved TIMELESS. I loved that it wasn’t dumbed down and I could discuss the epsisodes with my kids. Frequently after watching an episode one if not both of my kids would look into the event or era covered, it made them think and learn! And to paraphrase “those you don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” so if it makes one person/child realize how much women gave to get the vote or what ignorance or bigotry can do to a group of people whether a minority or in Salem during the trials so much the better than who is dancing with who, or who is voted off an island or who is willing to embarrass themselves for 2 seconds of fame. But like others have said that’s where the money is because they are cheaper to produce. Any wonder why people aren’t watching “network” tv like they used to?

    • Hi Amy, thank you for commenting! It really was a show that made you think critically about stuff while also giving you an engaging narrative that wasn’t watered down. I’ve loved seeing people share that their kids are interested in the events on the show, and to me that’s one of the many reasons to keep it on the air.

      Sadly, this isn’t the first show I’ve liked like this that got sacrificed in favor of reality TV, but unlike in the past, I do have hope that someone might consider picking it up.

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