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Timeless - Space Race & The Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde - Review

My apologies for missing last week’s review of Timeless. I am really enjoying how the show is unfolding its mysteries and delving into history. A series of mildly unfortunate events and winter travel mean that this week you get two Timeless reviews for the price of one!

Timeless “Space Race” was written by Matt Whitney and was directed by John Terlesky. Whitney's credits include CSI:Cyber, Human Target and White Collar. This is another exciting look at history. This time – as the title tells us – the team travels to infiltrate NASA during the Apollo 11 moon landing – July 20, 1969. This episode really dives into Flynn’s (Goran Visnjic) motivations. Once again, the show takes the opportunity to take an event we are all really familiar with and shine a light on some aspects of that history that we may not be that familiar with. In this case it’s the importance of Katherine Johnson.

In the initial flashback, showing us the event before Flynn interferes, the NASA control room is men only. Johnson watches from the gallery, clearly just as enthralled as the men allowed the front row seats. The real history is fascinating. Johnson and a group of women did work on calculations in the basement, but they weren’t completely unrecognized. John Glen refused to fly unless Johnson was running the calculations. Everything Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) tells Lucy (Abigail Spencer) about her is true.

The first scene in the present shows Flynn preparing for his trip back to 1969 – something we haven’t seen before. He and Anthony (Matt Frewer) visit Ellis played by Robert Pine – Chris Pine’s dad! It’s hilarious to watch him wax poetic about his special ID tag with the magnetic strip – something we all take for granted now. Flynn acts suitably like a fanboy and asks to see it, but he doesn’t still have it. Ellis tells them that he was born in the house they’re standing in and he’s going to die there. Anthony looks unhappy because Ellis is right.

Just before getting into the mothership decked out for the late 60s, we get a glimpse of Flynn looking in Lucy’s journal at a clipping of the moon landing. Upon landing, Anthony and Flynn visit Ellis (Joel Berg) again in his home. I love all the vintage footage they get into the episodes and we see the inimitable Walter Cronkite reporting on Apollo 11 – an event that everyone remembers who was alive because we were all glued to our television sets. We also get a nice close up of that cutting edge technology ID badge.

Ellis notices his wind chimes going nuts and goes outside to investigate – just in time to see the mothership materialize! At least in his last moments he likely thought he’d seen alien life on earth. Flynn has a little fun with it by delivering the classic “we come in peace” after he pops the door. Of course, they don’t come in peace and Flynn’s goon shoots and kills Ellis. For once, even Flynn looks remorseful. Flynn and Anthony also exchange looks of regret and disgust when the goon kills the plumber (Bruce Bain) they need for their cover.

Anthony is going to use old-school punch tape to screw up the mission. But he’s also got information on the mysterious Maria Thompkins (Caitlin Carver). And it turns out, she is Flynn’s primary reason for going back. I loved how the episode teased out what his interest actually was in this woman. It turns out he went back to save the life of his brother Gabriel (Brenden Sunderland) by using an epi-pen on him for a bee sting allergy. The episode goes a long way to making us re-think Flynn as the bad guy in this scenario. Maria also commiserates with Flynn losing his wife and daughter. She tells him that if anything were to happen to Gabriel, she would go to the ends of the earth to fix it – steeling Flynn’s resolve to not only save Gabriel but also do anything he has to to get his wife and daughter back.

Wyatt (Matt Lanter) isn’t happy about having to wear polyester again so soon, but Lucy and Rufus  are more concerned about their covers. Denise’s (Sakina Jaffrey) hands are tied. It’s 1969, so the best she can to is secretary for Lucy and janitor for Rufus. Anything else, and they’d stand out like sore thumbs. I loved the episode taking on the plight of women and what they faced every day – something we take for granted today. I adored Lucy going off on the sexist boar. Even Maria is clearly a lot more talented than the position she currently holds. To quote a famous commercial – we’ve come a long way, baby! But it’s important to remember the length of that journey. This is also a recurring theme for Rufus – and is a continuing echo of his lament that there is almost no time in history that is going to be fun for a black man.

I loved the look on Barrett’s face as Rufus moves through mission control emptying ashtrays – he’s just so clearly in awe! “It’s like all of my heroes in one room and every Christmas and July 4th combined.” Ellis was the guidance officer and creates a huge problem by his absence.

Rufus intercepts Anthony and he’s pissed about Anthony stranding them in the past. But more importantly, he appeals to Anthony’s respect for the space program. It’s clear that Anthony is not happy about what he’s done – but he tells Rufus it’s too late. As the comms go down, Anthony takes the opportunity to escape – but he leaves his briefcase with Rufus. Flynn is pissed they weren’t stranded in 1742. Anthony tells Flynn that Rufus doesn’t perform well under pressure (lie!) and that Flynn’s mission is too important to abandon, but it’s clear Anthony is hoping Rufus will fix it.

Without help from mission control, the astronauts will be stranded and die on the moon. Lucy tells them that it’s about more than just the lunar landing. The space race was much closer than people realize. Russia had an unmanned probe circling the moon. After Apollo 11, Russia pretty much abandoned their space program. If they don’t do that, they could win the cold war. Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong are American heroes. The ripples of effect from this one event are huge!

        Wyatt follows the Maria lead from the briefcase, leaving Rufus and Lucy to save Apollo 11. I loved The X-Files shout out of Wyatt as Agent Mulder! I also loved Rufus freaking out about the ancient computer. Anthony has launched a modern day virus, and Rufus doesn’t have the computing power to fix it quickly enough. Rufus tells Lucy why he’s so angry at Anthony – Anthony was the first one to take out the lifeboat – it’s exactly like the men on the moon. Anthony must know exactly how the astronauts feel. The first trip was almost a disaster, landing Anthony in hospital for seven months. Rufus spent those months at his bedside – they were like brothers.

I loved that Rufus convinces Katherine that he’s not a janitor by doing math! Katherine wants to take it to Gene Kranz (John Brotherton) the flight director, but Lucy and Rufus convince her to keep it secret. There’s a terrific moment between Katherine and Rufus when he tells her how important she is to both him and others as an inspiration – she’s much, much more than a number cruncher in the basement.

Anthony shows up with the goon – and also tells Katherine it’s an honor to meet her. Anthony tells Rufus that he can’t live with Rittenhouse getting the time machine – and doing what they’re planning to do with it because he’s more responsible for the time machine than Connor. Rufus gets Anthony’s gun and threatens to shoot him. Anthony reminds him he couldn’t shoot him in Vegas and won’t do it now – but of course that was before Anthony was going to strand them. In the end, Rufus shoots the goon and Anthony gets away when the programmers come back. Lucy and Rufus also flee, but they’ve fixed the program.

Flynn manages to save his brother – and spare his mother the pain of losing a child – even though Wyatt is there at the time. He speeds away in a black 1969 Nova – which is a nice nod to the black ’67 Impala the Winchester brothers drive… Kripke and his cars!

Denise shows them Flynn’s un-redacted file. She tells them she shouldn’t show them – her boss will be pissed, but she’s showing them because they should have the information. Lucy is pissed that Flynn can just go back and save his loved ones. She reminds Denise of their deal, but Denise tells her getting Flynn is still the number one priority.

Lucy checks in with Rufus. He’s checking out what happened to Katherine – she was made the first female flight director at NASA and they even made a movie about her – instead of her not even being mentioned in Apollo 13! Rufus tells her that he’s fine – he doesn’t feel bad for shooting the guy. He just wants them to go back to their lives – but he’s also really worried about what he’s becoming. It’s a really nice moment between them to end the episode.

Timeless “The Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde” was written by Anslem Richardson and was directed by John Terlesky. Richardson may be better known as an actor, having appeared on NCIS: Los Angeles and several of the Law & Order shows. The big developments in the episode see Lucy and Wyatt grow closer, Denise step up as a real ally, and Flynn find a mysterious scroll.

Lucy has dinner with Noah (Daniel DiTomasso) in an attempt to be “normal,” but he tells her it feels like a first date. He’s trying to be patient but wants to know if they’re still engaged – she is still wearing the ring.

When Lucy tells Wyatt, he immediately tells her to cut him loose. Lucy worries that maybe they are supposed to be together, but Wyatt askes what if he’s meant to be with someone else? This is an interesting question – one that’s come up before and is examined in more detail later in the episode.

The team walks in on Denise on the phone with her daughter who has a ballet recital. They are clearly stunned to discover that Denise has a daughter – and a life at all! However, this is no doubt going to be significant as it will be a weakness that Rittenhouse can exploit. She tells the team that they are going back to May 22, 1934. She knows that Flynn went back for the Rittenhouse key but has no more information on Rittenhouse or what the key is even for. When Connor walks in, she immediately shuts things down so he can’t see what they are working on. He offers to help and she puts him off. He reiterates the offer at the end of the episode.

It’s hilarious that Lucy has become so comfortable with time travel that she jokes about them becoming hardened car thieves! Both Lucy and Wyatt tease Rufus about his budding romance with Jiya (Claudia Doumit) – also adorable! It’s a nice indication of them all being back on the same page.

This episode highlights the famed career of bank-robbing lovers Bonnie Parker (Jacqueline Byers) and Clyde Barrow (Sam Strike) but isn’t one of the more historically focused episodes. We do get a bit of time-jolt when Lucy tries to sweet talk the Bank Manager (Brendan Riggs) only to be told that she can only open an account if she has the permission of her husband or father! It makes the irony of Bonnie then robbing the bank even sweeter.

The past storyline really provides some nice parallels to the present. The team is split up again when Lucy and Wyatt go on the run with Bonnie and Clyde after the robbery. I did like Lucy using her knowledge of history and bank robberies attributed to Bonnie and Clyde to craft a cover for herself and Wyatt. Rufus meanwhile gets picked up by Ranger Frank Hamer (Chris Mulkey) who is working with Flynn – whose cover is lawman. I love Mulkey as a guest star, and he never disappoints - turning in another terrific performance here. Flynn tells Hamer that Rufus is Rufus Carlin and he’s their driver – but when Hamer checks Rufus’ license it says Wesley Snipes! Love it! Of course they aren’t stupid enough to use ID with their own names. This is another pop culture gimmick that Kripke started on Supernatural – and is so much fun!

Meanwhile, Lucy and Wyatt have to “sell” their relationship to Bonnie and Clyde. Lanter turns in one of his best performances to date as he uses the story of his own engagement as a substitute for how he proposed to Lucy – after all, she’s still wearing an engagement ring. And then he gives her a passionate kiss – which she returns, even if she is initially startled…

The two also learn the story behind the key. Clyde got it when he broke into Henry Ford’s office. Ford offered a $50,000 reward for its return. It’s very old, heavy, and made of gold with a Latin inscription which Lucy translates: “The key is the beginning of all time and the key to the end of all time.” They decide to wait until Bonnie and Clyde pass out to steal the key from around her neck.

We get a super awkward scene in which Bonnie and Clyde are having passionate sex, while Lucy and Wyatt are lying stiffly side by side on a small bed – separated from the other two only by a sheet! The two return to a discussion we’ve already seen them have several times about fate and destiny. Wyatt is surprised that Lucy is all about fate and destiny except when it comes to love. He maintains that sometimes it is a lightening bolt, that there is only one person for each of us – that it happened to him … or did it? Lucy asks, so if you lose that one, that’s it? She reminds him that he’s the one urging her to be “open to possibilities” – and the two exchange a very meaningful look – just before they hear snoring and the moment is broken.

Meanwhile, Hamer refuses to let Flynn have alone time with Rufus. We learn he is an honorable man who stopped a lynching – he’s not afraid of Flynn! Hamer has Henry Methvin (Billy Wickman) – the gang member who sells out Bonnie and Clyde. Henry tells them that Bonnie and Clyde are likely at the cabin. Hamer lets Rufus go and Rufus tells him that he’s a good man – and asks for a back way out of the station. Hamer tells him that he’s just trying to do the right thing.

Henry shows up just as Wyatt is about to get the key. Lucy and Wyatt flee out the back – and have a nice reunion with Rufus! Henry says Rufus is the rat, but for once, Rufus’s recording device comes in handy and he’s able to prove Henry is lying. In the end, Bonnie and Clyde are killed anyway – differently than we see in the first scene, of course, and Flynn gets the key. The poem voiced over the death is a poem that the real Bonnie Parker wrote! Check them out here.

In the present, Denise is busy investigating Connor and trails him to a meeting with Cahill (John Getz). Cahill tells Connor to dissuade Denise from looking into Rittenhouse. Connor tries to stand up to Cahill, telling him that he’s tired of the threats of violence, but Cahill is clear in threatening to take Denise right out of the picture – others have come before her.

When the team gets back, Wyatt apologizes for the kiss, saying it was just in the moment and what Bonnie and Clyde expected. Lucy says of course, she understands. The two laugh and go off in opposite directions from the costume department, but there’s a great shot of both their faces that tell exactly the opposite story of their words.

Denise goes to Rufus and asks if Connor is in trouble. She tells him that five years ago, Connor was bankrupt and then suddenly had $2.5M to finance the time travel project. Denise tells him that she used to be a cop – like Hamer! – and she knows how to read people. She knows that Rufus is a good guy and that Connor is hiding something. She echoes Hamer exactly by saying, “I’m just trying to do the right thing.”

Rufus tells her that if there’s anyone in the world she cares about – and we now know about her daughter – that she’ll stop looking into this. She asks if that’s a threat, and he tells her it’s a warning. She tells him to let her worry about her loved ones. Rufus decides to trust her and tell her everything he knows. She thinks he’s going to spill on Connor, but he’s going to tell her about Rittenhouse.

The final scene shows Flynn breaking into what looks to be a museum. He uses the key on a very unusual clock that then reveals an old scroll. He reads it, but we don’t see what it says!

So two more interesting episodes. I’m still loving the use of history in the episodes. I’m happy to see Denise coming on board, and I’m betting that before the end of the season, we may see everyone aligned against Rittenhouse – including Flynn and Connor. What did you think of the episode? Are you happy to see a budding romance between Wyatt and Lucy or do you foresee a problem if he does manage to save Jessica? What is Rittenhouse up to? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!