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Timeless - The Red Scare - Review: "#RenewTimeless"

Timeless finished off what is hopefully its first (of many) season with “The Red Scare” written by Arika Lisanne Mittman and directed by Matt Earl Beesley, whose other credits include all the CSI shows, Criminal Minds, Jericho, and Lost among many others. I was more than a little disappointed not to have either show runner pen this final episode of the season. However, it’s a really solidly written episode that nicely dovetails with the first episode. There is the humor, action, and history lesson that all combine to make this such a special show.

The episode begins with Flynn (Goran Visnjic) either dreaming or remembering a sweet moment with his family. He clears the room of monsters for his daughter with a water pistol and tells her that he’ll always protect her. He’s interrupted by Emma (Annie Wersching) with bad news. They’ve lost two more followers who’ve lost faith in Flynn’s ability to get his mission done. She claims that she’s afraid of him and just doesn’t want to be killed like Anthony.

Lucy (Abigail Spencer) and Wyatt (Matt Lanter) make it back to the present with a wounded Rufus (Malcolm Barrett). It’s a bit harsh that Lucy calls her once-fiance Noah (Daniel DiTomasso) to come and save Rufus! Not unsurprisingly, Noah presses for an explanation. Lucy tells him it isn’t safe for him to be there. It’s interesting just how much Noah seemed to be working with Carol (Susanna Thompson) to track Lucy down.

Noah is convinced that Lucy isn’t acting like herself, but Lucy tells him that it was his fiancĂ© who was a different person. She tells him that she will never be that person – even though she can’t say why. Even Noah feels the chemistry between Lucy and Wyatt and wants to know if she’s saying all this because of him.

Denise (Sakina Jaffrey) shows up with Jiya (Claudia Doumit). Flynn jumps to the Rittenhouse Summitt in DC in 1954, thinking that our team is grounded – or worse – because of Rufus. Both Jiya and Lucy think that it might be better just to let Flynn stop Rittenhouse. But Wyatt insists that Flynn is a rabid dog who needs to be put down.

Rufus is still too weak to fly, but doesn’t want to add Jiya to the lifeboat because it’s never been calculated for 4 people. However, when Rittenhouse shows up, it’s out of their hands, and they have to jump with Jiya at the helm – even though she’s died a lot in the simulator! I loved the beautiful shots of Denise holding off the Rittenhouse army all by herself. She’s handcuffed while Connor (Paterson Joseph) taunts her and Neville (Jim Beaver) gloats.

The team arrives in 1954, and it doesn’t look like there have been any ill-effects – just the usually sea-sickness on arrival. Lucy immediately suggests that Flynn’s target has to be Joe McCarthy (Spencer Garrett). His communist witch hunt is like a gigantic sign on him saying Rittenhouse. Jiya and Rufus wait at the lifeboat. I loved Jiya saying, “I hate to sound like my Mom, but is that what you’re wearing?”

Flynn visits McCarthy – and Garrett delivers his usual fantastic performance. Kripke and Ryan have both cast Garrett to good effect before. McCarthy is clearly a paranoid coward and gives up the location of the meeting. In exchange, Flynn shows him Lucy and Wyatt’s pictures and tells him that they’re spies.

Wyatt takes a moment to enjoy the cars of the fifties just before the FBI arrests the two of them. Anybody else wonder where they got the new wardrobe? Flynn visits Lucy and tells her that he’s going to destroy Rittenhouse, including her grandfather. He’s not sure what that means – likely that she won’t be born – which goes unsaid. Lucy is sure that there is a human part to Flynn which wants her to stop him. She tells him that she doesn’t think he’s a monster anymore. Just sad, lonely – a broken person who misses the people they’ve lost – just as Lucy does. Lucy wants to work together to stop Rittenhouse – but she doesn’t have an alternative to what Flynn is doing, and he doesn’t think there is any other viable way.

Wyatt draws McCarthy as his interrogator. I loved the X-Files shout out – did you catch it? McCarthy says you have to root out communism, it’s like a cancer as he puts a cigarette in his mouth. Wyatt says it’s funny – because of course, in the fifties the link between cancer and smoking was actually suppressed (they knew about it, but the cigarette companies were able to keep it quiet). The tie-in to the X-Files is that the antagonist for the series was “Cancer-Man” – a name that was changed to “The Smoking-Man” amid many rumors about why – cigarette company conspiracy? It’s a nice link between the two characters.

Wyatt is not intimidated by McCarthy and tells him to his face that he’s a loud-mouthed fraud. It’s SO much fun to watch an actor tear McCarthy down when McCarthy was responsible in real life for destroying so many Hollywood careers through rumor and innuendo. It’s just another example of how much fun this show has with time! Wyatt, of course, is baiting McCarthy so that he sends in his goons. Wyatt has already freed himself and takes the two guards out easily while a horrified McCarthy watches!

Wyatt frees Lucy and the two escape. The two decide to follow Lucy’s grandfather, Ethan Cahill (Johnathan Tchaikovsky), to the summit. Lucy knows he was a Whitehouse Aide and Flynn’s confirmed Ethan is going. I loved Lucy telling Wyatt that Rufus is better and faster than he is at hot-wiring cars.

Wyatt and Lucy follow Ethan to a gay bar – and I loved Wyatt’s reaction when he realizes that that means Ethan is gay. Lucy points out that in 1954 you’d be arrested for being gay. I also loved Wyatt being uncomfortable when someone looks at him like he’s a piece of meat and Lucy says she can’t imagine what that’s like. Again, I love how the show can comment on so many social levels – the treatment of the gay community and how women are still treated.

Lucy and Wyatt approach Ethan. He denies who he is and then thinks that they are there to blackmail him. They tell him that they want him to take them to the Rittenhouse summit. I loved the car ride as Ethan tells them that he loves his family – and he believes that his sexuality is a disease. He’s even tried shock therapy! Lucy assures him that there is nothing wrong with him. Her quiet acceptance is perfect and so is Wyatt’s jumping in to agree. As it turns out, Ethan is no fan of Rittenhouse.

Lucy and Wyatt arrive to find Flynn planting explosives. Wyatt is sure he can get the drop on him because Flynn is all alone. Lucy, however, jumps between the two and tells Flynn she wants to help him! Flynn and Wyatt continue to threaten each other over her head. Lucy tells them both to shut up. Lucy tells Flynn she knows he’s not a bad man. Flynn insists that he has to kill Rittenhouse to save his wife and daughter. Flynn points out that both of them would do the same, and Lucy agrees. They’re all so caught up in their past and grief that they can’t let go. But they’re just continuing to hurt more people.

Flynn admits he prayed for answers, and he was lead to this place. Lucy asks if God lead him to her. She wants to focus on fixing things in the present and asks Flynn to hear her out. Lucy brings up the journal – and this is a terrific link back to the first episode. Maybe this is the day when Lucy starts helping Flynn. As soon as Lucy asks Wyatt if he trusts her, he lowers her gun.

Back at the lifeboat, Jiya is clearly not ok. She first ends up with blood in one eye. Rufus immediately suspects it’s because they put 4 people in the lifeboat. Rufus tries frantically to get Wyatt on the walkie-talkie with no luck, and then Jiya’s eyes roll back in her head and she collapses.

Rufus cradles an unconscious Jiya in his arms and confesses his feelings for her. He tells her that he thinks of her on every mission, but if she hangs on, he promises to stop holding back. It’s a terrific scene for Barrett. Rufus thinks that Jiya is waking up, but she actually goes into a seizure.

Rufus is relieved to see Lucy and Wyatt back but is not happy to see Flynn. Rufus is frantic to get Jiya back to the present to get help for her. They’ve also brought Ethan – I love how confused he looks when Rufus complains that Flynn had Al Capone shoot him. Lucy tells Ethan that they are from 2017.

Wyatt is frantic not to let Lucy go back with Flynn – he lost her once and he doesn’t want to lose her again. The two share a long look as he proves he trusts her again – but I have to say, I really wanted him to kiss her good bye! Watching the time machine flash out does convince Ethan though.

Lucy then confesses to Ethan that she’s his granddaughter, and he immediately believes her because she’s the spitting image of his mother when she was young. She warns him that his son Ben will grow up to do horrible things. Flynn tells him that Rittenhouse wants the time machine to do horrible things. Lucy then tells him that in order to take down Rittenhouse, Ethan will have to stay inside and lead a double life – but of course, he’s had plenty of practice at that, right? He just asks what she wants him to do.

There is a beautiful fade shot from young Ethan to old Ethan (Bruce Gray) in the present. He’s still alive in a nursing home, and Lucy and Wyatt come to visit him. Ethan had almost given up that they would come. I loved that we had another secret clock! Ethan did what he asked her to do – it’s only a single piece of paper – but it leads to a room full of records – in fact, he’s built the entire case.

Meanwhile, in the present, Connor comes to Denise – and YEAH!! – he’s not a bad guy!!!! Jaffrey is terrific as she tries to decide whether or not to trust Connor. Ultimately she does and Connor fills her in on what he’s really been up to. He shows her the servers that Rittenhouse has given him access to – so much better than the government servers which are hacked by the Russians on a regular basis – hmmmm. Ripped from the headlines much? I loved Connor’s disgust here.

I also loved Joseph’s delighted smile when he tells Denise she can thank him later for hacking the NSA’s immoral and illegal servers. Connor has enough information on Cahill (John Getz) to convict him many times over. He tells Denise that he was playing the long game to her crusading cop. Denise wants to know why Connor is telling her this and why she should believe him. He tells her she’s dull – but honest! – and can take the information to the dull, but honest, authorities. And Connor is doing it to save Rufus! Connor thinks he deserves what he gets, but Rufus deserves better.

As Lucy and Wyatt sift through the evidence that Ethan has assembled, Denise and Connor burst in. Denise fills them in, and Connor immediately says that his software can sort through it within hours to provide all the evidence they need.

Rufus visit Jiya in the hospital. She seems to be fine – and Rufus has brought her the entire second season of The A-Team – and we know how much he loves that. Jiya tells Rufus that she heard everything he said in 1954 – and she’s been waiting 60 years to tell him – that she loves him too. They kiss, and then Jiya has another episode.

The bridge outside her hospital room flashes to another time – there are cranes on it, making it look like it is under construction, so a flash to the past rather than to some apocalyptic time in the future. Has she been left with the ability to travel in time without a machine? The scene ends before Jiya can answer Rufus’ question about where she went.

Denise thoroughly enjoys “re-assigning” Neville and Cahill, and they are taken away in handcuffs.

Lucy brings Flynn the information that Ethan gathered on who killed his family. He’s going on one last mission and then he’ll either surrender or destroy the mother ship. In return, Flynn gives her the journal. She asks how he got it, and he tells her that he got it from her. She denies it, and he tells her that she ages surprisingly well – suggesting that a much older Lucy time travelled back to the past to give the diary to Flynn. Of course, that raises many other questions! What about not being in a time where you already exist? The two are interrupted by Denise going back on their deal and arresting Flynn.

Denise tells Lucy and Wyatt that they’ve arrested 150 Rittenhouse agents. Denise promises that Flynn will get a fair, private, military trial. They are on the way to pick up the mothership. Denise won’t help Flynn, but she’s onboard to let Lucy take one final trip to get her sister back.

Wyatt will return to Pendleton to pick up another mission – that’s how it works. Lucy thanks him for helping and the two share a moment, but end it with a hug. Wyatt offers to come help get Amy back, and Lucy says she’s sorry he won’t be able to get Jessica back. Wyatt tells her maybe they do need to start looking at the present. He needs to start considering possibilities, and he’s not ready to say good bye yet. Connor interrupts them from saying more – and Lucy has one errand to run first.

Lucy goes to see Carol and tells her the truth about what she’s been doing. I loved that she basically summarizes the entire series – she reminds us of where we started. Lucy insists that she has to get Amy back, and she also tells Carol that the consequence of that will likely mean that Carol will be sick or dying. And then Carol drops the bomb that Rittenhouse would never allow Lucy to take the lifeboat and make her sick. Carol is also Rittenhouse!!

The final scene is Emma taking the mothership: “Soon they will control everything. The past and the present. The future. And together, we will change history.” AND THAT’S WHERE THE EPISODE LEFT US!!!!

And now we wait. Will the show be renewed? If this show was on cable, there’s no question in my mind that it would be renewed, but unfortunately, network television is still playing by the old rules. It will be a real loss if we lose this show just as it’s getting started. The writing is above average and the core cast have all delivered solid and above average performances. The show is entertaining, but it also carries with it some thoughtful social commentary and some decent history lessons! That’s not an easy balance to maintain.

I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed, and I’ll be tweeting #RenewTimeless to NBC. What about you? Do you want more of the show? Did you love this episode? Could you live with the cliffhanger if you had to? What would you like to see happen next? I think we all need a hug now...Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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