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Timeless - The Kennedy Curse - Review

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Timeless “The Kennedy Curse” was written by Lana Cho and directed by Holly Dale whose other credits include The X-Files, all of the Chicago shows, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Dale’s direction is terrific and helps to underscore the writing. We get lots more discussion of the fate/free will debate and a really outstanding guest performance from Grant Jordan.

The episode begins in Wallingford, Connecticut on September 17, 1934. It seems like we’re going to get another episode full of lovely old cars and period fashion, but this episode doesn’t play out that way at all. Instead of our team being the fish out of water, it’s John F Kennedy (Grant Jordan)! We get to see a side of JFK that is likely unknown to most people who only remember him as one of the greatest US Presidents who was assassinated – hence the curse.

A young JFK is pulled into Mr Greer’s (Adam Pilver) office, and his friend Lem (Adam Cropper) wants to know what else Jack has been up to. He tells his friend he’s about to find out – and this is really nice foreshadowing by the writers as JFK is actually about to learn a lot more about what he’s been up to (from OUR perspective) when he gets filled in on his entire life. In the immediate future, of course, Greer pulls a gun on JFK, and Garcia (Goran Visnjic) burst in guns blazing to save JFK’s life.

We cut to discover that Lucy (Abigail Spencer) has been very sick from an infection from being injured in Salem in the last episode. Jiya (Claudia Doumit) has been looking after her. Jiya tells Lucy that the others have gone on a mission when Lucy asks about Wyatt (Matt Lanter). Jiya says she’s sure they’re ok, and it might have been weird for Lucy to be going on a mission with Wyatt… after Hollywood. She tells Lucy that Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) told her and she thought it sounded pretty romantic. Lucy points out that she didn’t know Jessica (Tonya Glanz) was alive, but Jiya assures her that she’s not judging. I really liked this scene between the two because you could see that they’ve developed a friendship. Because most of the episodes are centered on the missions, we don’t really get to see these friendships developing.

Lucy gets up from her sick bed – promising Jiya no heroics – to get some tea, only to find Jessica in the kitchen. Lucy is about to beat a hasty retreat, but her desire for tea wins out. It’s pretty clear that Jessica has no idea about Lucy. Jessica makes small talk about Lucy being an historian and then says that Wyatt told her that he wouldn’t survive the missions without Lucy. Lucy insists it’s more the other way around. Lucy asks Jessica about being a bartender. Jessica tells Lucy that she and Wyatt have been together since senior year of High school – where they met. Ouch. High school sweethearts… Jessica also tells Lucy that she and Wyatt have been in counselling for two years… at least in her reality…

When Wyatt and Rufus return, they aren’t very happy about how the mission went with Garcia. Wyatt tells Denise (Sakina Jaffrey) that without Lucy, they were scrambling until they could figure out the target… and they left Garcia behind. Wyatt assures Denise that they’ll go back for him – but first they have a situation to deal with… Apparently there was more than one sleeper agent, and Wyatt and Rufus were chased all the way back to the Lifeboat with an unconscious JFK. At least he has no idea where or when he is – or how he got there…

When JFK wakes up, he’s freaked out, but Wyatt quickly covers that they are private security, hired by JFK’s father. He wants to know why his English teacher would try to kill him, and Lucy tells him that it was a kidnapping attempt. When JFK wants to speak to his father, Lucy again steps in and says she just talked to him on the phone and he’s on his way.

Despite what Lucy said to Jiya about being fine with the Wyatt/Jessica situation – that she was happy for him, we get a particularly awkward moment between the two when Wyatt comments that it’s hard to believe that this “skinny kid” grows up to bang Marilyn Monroe. Lucy tells him that Mimi Ofred – Kennedy’s intern and mistress – said that Kennedy had a way of making her feel like she was the only one who mattered – even when he was married to someone else… Ouch! Lucy is clearly not happy, and Wyatt tries to sympathize saying he knows it’s difficult for her – and to make it even more awkward, of course, Jessica is suddenly there, interrupting their conversation. Awkward…

Lucy excuses herself to go and make John something to eat. Denise checks in with her in the kitchen, commenting that their “secret” bunker is getting really crowded. She also remarks that Lucy’s had a tough week. Lucy insists that she’s on the mend, but Denise knows it’s more than that. Lucy looks a little startled – but Denise doesn’t know about Wyatt, but she does know that Carol (Susanna Thompson) tried to have her hanged as a witch. And of course, that has to be weighing on Lucy too – though maybe not as much as the Jessica-situation. It’s also clear that Lucy isn’t much of a cook – or again, maybe she’s just distracted, but who likes that much mustard on their sandwich?!?!?

When she goes to deliver the sandwich, Lucy discovers that JFK has escaped out the tiniest ventilation shaft! Lucy is freaking out – if they don’t get JKF back, there will be no Peace Corps, no civil rights act, no immigration reform, but there is nuclear war with Cuba!

Wyatt steps up to organize everyone. Rufus and Jiya are set to monitor security and traffic cameras. Denise doesn’t want to give him a car, but Wyatt points out that Rittenhouse will go after JFK. Denise leaves to run point from her office. Wyatt tries to tell Lucy to stay back and rest because she’s injured, and Jessica volunteers to go in her place. Denise jumps in to say the missions are ones of national security and they’re dangerous. I loved the look on Abigail Spencer’s face when Jessica says that Lucy is just a teacher! She is SO not impressed! In fact, the whole team isn’t impressed! But then Wyatt steps in and says “the more eyes the better…”

Denise agrees, and then Lucy jumps up and says she’ll go too! I loved the look between Rufus and Jiya – those two are too cute! Denise tries to suggest that Lucy is still recovering, and Wyatt looks uncomfortable – and Jiya and Rufus are almost laughing! Jiya offers that the nearest building to them is a gas station.

JFK arrives at the station, and Jordan does a good job registering the shock of going from 1934 to 2018! I loved him thinking the guy at the pumps on his Bluetooth was talking to him: “Hey, baby!” It’s actually pretty impressive that he figures out that he’s not in his own time – and doesn’t freak out completely. And it really is in character for JFK to be distracted by a pretty girl… So off her goes to Palo Alto with Sara (Tyler Clark), Kayla (Reina Hardesty), and Brandon (Michael R Fitzgerald).

I loved that Jiya figured out that if they still knew that JFK became President in 1961, they must find him and put him back! Connor (Paterson Joseph) is suitably impressed. And then Rufus points out if anything does happen to JFK, they won’t even know it because they won’t know who he is! And then Jiya brings up her visions – she saw a man die and then he died. Rufus wants to call it a self-fulling prophecy and Jiya just wants to call it a prophecy. Meanwhile, Connor is all – visions? What visions???

At the gas station, Lucy, Jessica and Wyatt arrive, and Lucy takes the lead. She says that they’ll say John is her brother and he’s off his meds. Wyatt wants to know who he should be. Lucy says a friend. Jessica wants to know why they don’t just tell the truth. Lucy ask – what, that we’re looking for JFK? And then Jessica insists that if Wyatt is military, they’ll answer his questions. She clearly thinks that Wyatt should be in charge. Lucy tells her that they usually try to keep a lower profiled than that, and Jessica wants to know why. Lucy’s only answer is a very lame – though hilariously delivered! – “because!”

The Gas Station Clerk (Jared Wernick) refuses to answer Wyatt and isn’t at all impressed by his military credentials. Interesting that Wyatt did take the lead when Jessica clearly expected it. Lucy steps in to plead for her “brother.” Lucy tells the Clerk that he suffers from delusions and paranoia, but that he’ll be fine once they get him his meds. The Clerk wants to know what meds, and Jessica actually jumps in and helps by naming an anti-psychotic (how did she know that!), and offering to call his doctor to verify! The Clerk tells them he left 40 minutes ago with some kids in a red BMW heading for Palo Alto.

JFK is curious as to how they all know each other and is impressed when they say they all go to the same school. He explains that his school is very boring – very white. It’s also clear that he’s in pain, though he denies it. He confides in them that he’s been kidnapped but can’t go to the police. When his discomfort gets worse, he tells them he needs to get to a doctor. They take him to a hospital.

Jiya and Rufus have tracked them to an area with a bar and a hospital. Jessica jumps right in to say she doesn’t know much about JFK, but is positive he’d go to the bar. Lucy, of course, actually knows all there is to know about JFK and that he suffered from health issues his whole life. Wyatt is skeptical, but Jessica says she thinks he should go with the historian on this one – after all, she’s kept him alive this long – and then she smiles at Lucy. She’s clearly trying to be friends.

Meanwhile, at Rittenhouse, it was fun to see Emma (Annie Wersching) have to admit that her mission also didn’t go well, and they too Kennedy in the Lifeboat. Keynes (Michael Rady) wants to know if Lucy got involved. Keynes wants to prevent Kennedy from getting in the White House – he prefers Nixon’s politics as being more in sync with Rittenhouse goals. Carol, who has been physically melting into the background, steps forward to announce that she knows where they can find JFK. She also knows about Kennedy’s health issues – and more specifically too. Emma offers to take care of Kennedy herself. Keynes tells her that if she runs into Lucy and her pals, she should take them out too! Carol looks concerned.

It’s actually a nice segue to Denise being carjacked at a stop light as it’s Carol kidnapping her. Denise – Jaffrey – is hilarious when Carol says she wanted to talk to her – one mother to another – and Denise asks “You couldn’t just text, Carol?” She confides that she was young when she got pregnant and wasn’t planning on keeping her child. Unlike Lucy, Carol knew about her legacy from the time she was 15 and it was a burden. Carol tells Denise that Rittenhouse now wants Lucy dead, and she wants Denise to make sure that Lucy stays off any missions. Denise just laughs and suggests that Carol doesn’t know her own daughter if she thinks that’s an option! And just when we might have felt some sympathy for Carol, she threatens Denise, telling her it would be a shame if Denise’s kids had to grow up without a mother – it could also be Denise’s wife she’s threatening too!

It’s hilarious to watch Connor get fed up with searching using computers – and stomp off to get drones – when Rufus points out what they usually have to settle for. Jiya and Rufus have another discussion about faith. She asks Rufus if he believes in something bigger out there. I loved them both agreeing that of course, there are extraterrestrials! Jiya feels like her visions are from a higher power – she has to be having them for a reason. Rufus insists that they are simply side effects of time travel. Rufus doesn’t believe in a higher power, and if everything happens for a reason, what’s the reason for JFK being assassinated? Jiya has no answer for that.

Rufus tells Jiya that when he was a kid, that his mother would thank God for every good thing and when anything bad happen, it was because God had a reason and God has a plan. He watched his mother pray every night for God to take them out of their crappy neighborhood, but in the end, it was Rufus who got her out of there. He doesn’t believe God exists. For Supernatural fans, this is the same existential discussion that Dean and Sam Winchester have all the time – Dean on Rufus’ position and Sam on Jiya’s. Of course, on Supernatural, they’ve both actually met God know…

Connor returns saying he can’t get hold of Agent Christopher.

As Lucy, Wyatt and Jessica arrive at the hospital, Wyatt and Jessica reminisce about a surfing trip to Hawaii they took when Wyatt ended up in the hospital with a concussion. This is a nicely blocked scene as they go from three across on the sidewalk, to Lucy having to fall behind when Wyatt doesn’t leave enough room between him and a tree. In fact, if Lucy had kept going she would have slammed into the tree with her wounded arm – the arm she hurt on the mission he wasn’t on to protect her. She is physically pushed out of the conversation – and verbally pushed out right from the start as she didn’t even know Wyatt surfed and certainly doesn’t share this memory with them. The camera zooms in on Wyatt and Jessica as he remembers that she never left his side for days. The camera than pans back out to include Lucy who is now much farther away from Wyatt.

John is really impressed with modern medicine – it worked almost immediately! And then he actually tells Kayla the truth. He also proves he’s as smart as he supposed to be by figuring out that there must be a time machine – and it’s likely at the bunker. He enlists Kayla’s help to get him back to the bunker.

When they check at the desk, they find out that John’s “Aunt” has already asked to see him. JFK has already left, but we get a really good fight scene with Emma and Wyatt. Lucy and Jessica rush in, and Lucy pushes Jessica out of the way, using a serving tray to beat on Emma. However, Emma gets a knife to Lucy’s throat – she’s still wounded after all! Emma taunts Wyatt, wondering if Lucy is still as important now that he’s got his wife back – and the penny starts to drop for Jessica. It drops all the way when Wyatt can’t shoot – even though Lucy reminds him that Emma is Rittenhouse’s only pilot. And the penny drops all the way as Wyatt checks to make sure Lucy is ok when Emma pushes her into his arms instead of running directly after Emma.

Hospital security (Freedom Bridgewater) takes Wyatt into custody, and Lucy slips him a paperclip. While they wait for him to escape, Jessica tells Lucy she saw how Wyatt looked at Lucy – and she knows. She tells her that she understands, he thought that she was dead – and he wasn’t faithful to her before, so why would he be now? She also tells Lucy that she believes Wyatt has changed. Jessica was ready to divorce him, but seeing how he is now, she was ready to give him a second change – but she thinks he deserves that with Lucy – and she tells Lucy to say goodbye to him for her… and Lucy stops her!

Lucy tells Jessica about the telegram Wyatt sent in 1962 and stealing the Lifeboat to stop her killer from ever being born – and he even got Court Martialed! He risked his job, his freedom – everything – because he never stopped loving her – and all he wants is a chance to show her that. It’s fun when Jessica is surprised to see Wyatt pull up and Lucy reminds her that she told her they’d been doing this awhile! Lucy is clearly her own worst enemy as her face is devastated when Jessica jumps into the car after Lucy herself has convinced her to.

At the party, it’s clear that Kayla may not believe JFK – she tells her friends that her mother – a shrink – will be back the next day and she treats troubled kids like John all the time. She uses the excuse of it being dark – and hard to find a secret bunker. John manages to end up in a selfie before this, which makes it easy for Rufus and Jiya to find him through social media.

Carol asks Denise if she’s reconsidered. Denise says she has. She tells Carol about yanking her kids out of school after 911. There was no discussion, she just did it. Her son was angry. Carol says she gets it. She had to do whatever it took to make sure her kids were safe. But Denise tells her that she did what was right for her, not the kids. At some point, you have to let go… Carol realizes that she’s stalling and discovers that Denise has been chipped.

Kayla looks John up on Wikipedia on her iPad, and John gets filled in on the Kennedy Curse. We, of course, also get filled in and a quick history lesson on the Kennedys. Jordan is simply excellent as he learns about his family members’ deaths and his eyes slowly fill with tears. Here’s an actor to watch!

Connor finds Denise unconscious – and with a gigantic bruise on her face – outside her own home. They did track her chip. She tells him about Carol – and that Carol’s point was to remind her that they both have families to lose.

Kayla brings JFK a quarter – which has his face on it. He’s distraught over the knowledge of his brother Joe’s death – feeling unworthy to pick up the torch that his brother should have carried.

I loved when Lucy realized that if they split up at the party, they could simply call each other on their cell phones! Wyatt finds JFK with Kayla. John is still suspicious, and Wyatt admits that they lied. When John says he just wants to go home, Wyatt says that they can do that – but then John runs. And the face on the coin turns into Nixon!

Why John would appeal to Emma to help him is a mystery, but in the firefight that ensues, John covers Kayla with his own body, and Emma gets away in the confusion. Why not just gun down Lucy and JFK? Regardless, Kayla now believes JFK, and JFK tells her that she gives him hope for the future – inspiration for the Civil Rights Act perhaps.

Rufus and Wyatt are ready to take John back. Rufus tells him that he can’t tell anyone about the time machine – ever. But John is still shaken by the knowledge of his siblings deaths – and his own assassination. Rufus then tries to change fate again. He tells him not to go to Dallas on November 22, 1963. Lucy tells him that he might not be able to save everybody, but he is going to make the world a much better place. Lucy tells him he was one of the greatest Presidents of all time.

Denise takes Lucy aside to talk to her. Lucy apologizes for her mother, and then asks if Denise thinks Carol was telling the truth. Denise asks if she means about her love or that Lucy has a target on her back. Denise says yes to both, and is very adamant about the danger from Rittenhouse. Lucy refuses to sit in the bunker while everyone else risks their lives. Denise tells her that she’d be proud of her if she were her daughter. Lucy isn’t quite sure how to take it – but she seems pleased.

Garcia is not happy when he gets off the Lifeboat – they need to fix the seating problem! And of course he took out all three sleeper agents!

Rufus is beyond eager to see if Kennedy served a second term, had more children, changed the world! Denise tells him that Kennedy was assassinate 2 years into office, and Rufus is aghast – he told him NOT to go to Dallas – but he didn’t. He was assassinated in Austin. (And OK Supernatural fans  -this is funny because Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) grew up in Dallas – and now lives in Austin) Jiya just shrugs and says it was meant to be – but Rufus is clearly unhappy that he was made to hope – and you still can’t change fate.

Wyatt thanks Lucy for convincing Jessica to give him a second chance. They both say that they have no regrets about what happened. They essentially agree to be friends. Both seem wistful as they part, however. More sinisterly, we see Garcia lurking around the corner eavesdropping. Garcia seems to be taking his opening. He joins Lucy watching an old movie and offers her a beer, which she takes.

I liked this twist on the regular fish out of time. This also provided some nicely subtle insights into JFK – his devastation over the loss of his sibling – all of whom he was close to – his love of reading and literature, his ill health, and his way with the ladies. I’m still not sure what to think of the Jessica-Lucy-Wyatt triangle. I did like Denise taking Lucy under her wing – and I wonder what other lengths Carol will go to. I’m really looking forward to Emma losing favor with Keynes. And of course, we have more of the fate/free will debate. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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