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Timeless - The King of the Delta Blues - Review

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Timeless “The King of the Delta Blues” written by Anselm Richardson and directed by Greg Beeman. The episode visits an historical figure that Eric Kripke also used on Supernatural ("Crossroad Blues")- Robert Johnson (Kamahl Naiqui) – who famously made a deal with the devil to become the best guitar player ever. In fact, in addition to a number of great shout outs to the Clockblockers – the fans of the show – there are a number of Supernatural echoes. I loved the history in this episode – and Paterson Joseph delivers a terrific performance in this episode!

The episode begins in San Antonio, Texas, on November 23, 1936. It’s the Crossroad Blues recording of Johnson with Don Law (Gavin Stenhouse). Check out at least the Wikipedia entry on Johnson, which confirms that he insisted on playing to the wall. There are so many cultural influences that stem from Johnson, making him a fantastic pick for the show.

At the bunker, Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) is sleeping – badly – on the couch. Jiya (Claudia Doumit) has another vision, which she initially decides to keep from Rufus. Rufus has given up sharing the room with Wyatt (Matt Lanter), so that Wyatt can share it with Jessica. I felt bad for Lucy (Abigail Spencer) when she interrupts Rufus and Wyatt giggling like schoolboys…

Rufus is working on putting a fourth seat in the Lifeboat. Jiya tells him she slept badly, and he reminds her he doesn’t want to hear about her visions. She tells him it was because she drank too much red wine. The math works and Rufus gives Jiya a big kiss – before they are interrupted by Connor (Paterson Joseph), who is drunk - Joseph does a great drunk! He’s been reading scathing articles about himself – “Icarus Descending” – and today is the day that he officially loses control of Mason Enterprises and all his holdings. Also? Nice Shakespeare delivery from Joseph…

Denise (Sakina Jaffrey) tells Wyatt that she wants to talk to him, but then the Mothership jumps. Lucy keys in on the Texas Exposition on that date – but that’s in Dallas. Garcia (Goran Visnjic) has no Rittenhouse intel on the date. It’s Connor who insists that it’s obviously got to be the Gunter Hotel! He knows that Johnson and Law recorded Crossroad Blues – and a series of albums – there on that day. Connor is the only one to realize Johnson’s importance to the development of music – including rock and roll!

The others want to simply dismiss Connor’s concerns about some Blues artist, but Lucy sees the bigger picture. It’s not just music that Rittenhouse would be killing, it would be the cultural revolution of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, the fall of Nixon, the end of the Vietnam War – the counter-culture as we know it! I love the way this show looks at history from such a holistic viewpoint. Let’s not forget how much Keynes disliked women’s pants and how much he liked Nixon!

Rufus suggests that Connor should take the new fourth seat in the Lifeboat, but Connor insists that he can simply debrief Lucy. And then Garcia realizes that Connor is afraid of riding in his own invention! And then Lucy accuses him of never riding in his own invention!

The decision is made that Connor will go, and then surprisingly, Denise pulls Wyatt from the mission. She assigns Garcia to go because it’s time that they start trusting him. She even gives him a gun. I was a little surprised that Wyatt didn’t protest more, but he simply tells Garcia to keep them safe – and Garcia, who is pleased with his new toy, tells Wyatt that he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Wyatt plays the good soldier, obediently following his orders before the Lifeboat jumps. Once it’s gone, he wants to know why Denise held him back – after all, she doesn’t trust Rittenhouse any more than he does. She asks him how he’d like to take Rittenhouse out for good!

Denise’s chip was pinging from the warehouse that Carol kept her in for 8 hours – really? How did no one notice this?!?! She’s sending Wyatt in alone because she doesn’t trust “the cavalry.” Wyatt is fine with the mission – after all modern weapons and equipment! Denise assures him that he’ll have helmet-cam and that she and Jiya will monitor his mission from there.

Denise notices that Jiya is troubled about something. Jiya asks if it’s ok to keep secrets from someone you love. I thought she was about to tell Denise about the visions, but she brushes the whole thing off as relationship issues, and Denise tells her to concentrate on the mission.

It’s hilarious when the team lands in 1936 and Connor waxes poetic about landing in the past and the time/space compression… and is then interrupted by having to throw up! It’s also hilarious when Connor asks how they begin and Rufus and Lucy answer in unison: “Get some clothes. Steal a car.”

Once again, Garcia bursts in and kills the sleeper agent just as he’s about to shoot the target. The aliases are now hilarious – another lift from Supernatural, and particularly apropos this episode. On Supernatural, the brothers almost always use rock aliases as their FBI covers. Here, Lucy claims Taylor Swift and dubs Garcia Agent Timberlake (ie Justin!!!). Connor goes right for Star Wars and introduces himself as Lando Calrissian! Which is utterly perfect as Han’s best friend who first betrays him to the evil empire and then helps to save him. He insists that he’s British Intelligence – Kenya station.

The team tells them that they’ll just remove the body, and Johnson and Law can go back to “whatever” they were doing. However, the damage is already done. Law assumes that the man was there to kill Johnson, and he’s been warned that Johnson is cursed. Garcia tries to maintain that the whole thing is a misunderstanding – that the dead man is simply a confused bootlegger. While they are arguing with Law to keep recording – by ending up lamely saying that it’s important because they are big fans, Johnson disappears. But of course, that isn’t a lame reason, is it??? It’s yet another shout out to the Clockblockers who changed the history of the show!!! It’s us again!

While they are convincing Law to give Johnson another chance, Johnson disappears. And he’s famous for his disappearance acts. Connor and Rufus go after Johnson while Garcia and Lucy stay with Law. In fact, Law is still ready to give up on Johnson. He’s convinced that his father was right about him and that he’s just a three-time loser. I loved that Lucy uses her FBI cover to account for her knowing that Law was a bookkeeper – and to help prove that she knows that Johnson is important and will be the next big thing. Law knows she’s manipulating him – but it works anyway! I liked that they wrote him as being clever enough to figure it out!

Rufus and Connor find Johnson walking along the road to visit his sister. He’s convinced that the man who came to kill him is an agent of the Devil – who he made a deal with for his talent. Connor pretends he knows Johnson’s sister, Carrie (Niketa Calame) – and has drunk at her Jukebar many times – she’s very lively! Rufus is upset that Connor isn’t following the plan when he offers to take Johnson to his sister’s rather than back to Law. Connor points out that they can have Garcia and Lucy bring Law to them.

Meanwhile, in the present, Wyatt infiltrates the warehouse and is immediately attacked by a Rittenhouse agent. Jiya and Denise are poor backup as they simply keep calling Wyatt??? Not much help, distracting, and is he really going to take time to talk to them while fighting for his life??? However, this was a really cool way to shoot the scene! I loved the shot of the gun pointing directly at the camera from the helmet-cam on Wyatt’s helmet. The only thing Wyatt finds on the Agent is a key fob. Jiya needs a couple of hours to crack the firewall to find out where the location is to what it opens.

In the past, they stop for Rufus to use a phone booth – that clearly says “Whites only – No dogs, Mexicans or Negroes.” I also like when the show just subtley integrates historical content. Johnson is concerned that Rufus make the call quickly or they will all be in big trouble. Connor asks if they’ll hear Johnson play at his sister’s – he’s clearly dying to hear Johnson play! Fanboy! But Johnson insists that he’ll only be there long enough to say goodbye. He’s going to just disappear. Connor tells him that he’s a poet and he can be truly great. Johnson has been followed by death his whole life – made a widower at 18 and again at 21 – because of his deal with the Devil. Rufus can’t believe they are talking about it like it really happened. Whether it did or not is immaterial as Johnson himself believes it. Johnson says to Connor – if you’ve ever struck a deal with the Devil, you know what I’m talking about. And of course, that beautifully strikes a chord with Connor. Rittenhouse was his Devil – and it cost him everything he had. Rufus listens to the exchange and it resonates with him too.

While Law is out getting the equipment to fix the recording machine, Garcia wants to have a frank conversation with Lucy. Garcia knows that it’s awkward for Lucy to have Wyatt and Rufus giggling like schoolboys over Jessica – and he knows that Connor isn’t the only one drowning their sorrows – Lucy has a bottle of vodka under her bed. Garcia doesn’t know these things because he’s been spying on her, but because of the journal! I loved how they brought back the importance of the journal here. It’s allowed Garcia to feel like he knows Lucy. And it’s not preposterous that he knows her better than she knows herself at this moment because the journal will have Lucy’s own understanding of what’s happened to her from the future. Lucy insists that he doesn’t know her. They’re interrupted by the bellhop (Dustin Ryder Jones) delivering Rufus’ message. This is hilarious because of the Star Wars connection – Harrison Ford’s (Han Solo – and really, I shouldn’t have to add this) first known role in a film was as an uncredited bellhop in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round!

Connor is absolutely thrilled to find himself in an actual Jukejoint – and it only gets better as he meets legends Muddy Waters (Wiley B Oscar), Eddie Son House Jr (Keith Machekanyanga), and Miss Bessy Smith (Radha Blank). Joseph is fabulous in this scene. Rufus isn’t sure what to do as Connor declares the drinks are on me (how IS he going to pay?) and sits down with his idols. Johnson’s sister isn’t there, so Johnson is likely not going anywhere in the immediate future.

As Garcia and Lucy are leaving the hotel, they stop Law on the way up with the equipment, telling him they’re going to meet Johnson at Carrie’s bar. However, his assistant – Betty (Natasha Marc) – turns out to be another sleeper agent, who shoots and kills Law before taking off to Carrie’s herself.

As Garcia and Lucy chase after her, music brings them together too. Garcia starts humming a song on the radio and mentions that his wife used to sing it. It’s important to remember that he too has lost family and loved ones to Rittenhouse. He also tries to explain that he wants to get to know Lucy, but understands if she doesn’t want that. She offers an olive branch by sharing that her mother used to sing the song to her. The two also share details about their loved ones – his wife and her sister. Garcia apologizes for her sister – he never wanted to hurt her, and he’s sure that if they don’t give up hope that they will get their loved ones back somehow. Just as Law knew when Lucy was manipulating him, Lucy knows Garcia knew about her mother singing the song from the journal. Garcia doesn’t deny it – and he tells her that she should know the Lucy from the journal. She’s very impressive. I know the Lyatt people are going crazy – but I love these two together! In that they have great chemistry – they don’t have to be a couple – after all, there’s that wife thing again, right???

I loved how entranced Connor is by simply being in the past. I also loved the group discussing why Johnson faced the wall – all good theories that have been floated: so no one could steal the secrets of how he played, stage-fright or for the acoustics as the music bounced off the walls. Meanwhile, Rufus has been gathering information – no one knows when Carrie is coming back, and he’s worried that Lucy and Garcia didn’t get the message. Connor has decided that he’s leaving when they get back to the present. He’s taking his cue from Johnson. He doesn’t feel he’s contributing to the team, so he’s just going to start over. Rufus tells him they don’t have time for his mid-life crisis – he needs to focus on the mission! And then Carrie shows up, and they are out of time.

In the present, Wyatt arrives at what they hope is the Rittenhouse headquarters. Jiya wants to call in back up now, but Denise again refuses because she doesn’t trust the military. Wyatt is clearly outmanned, and Keynes (Michael Rady) hits the switch to set everything on fire to burn down the evidence. When Wyatt comes upon Carol (Susanna Thompson), Denise orders him to shoot, but he can’t do it. Keynes has no hesitation to shoot around Carol and then use her as a human shield to get to the Mothership – which he’s told Emma (Annie Wersching) to fire up – and they escape. Wyatt’s body armor saves him.

At the bar, everything happens quickly. Rufus tells Connor they have to act quickly to convince Johnson to stay and record. Johnson is on his way out when Betty arrives and is about to shoot him. Rufus tackles Johnson just as Garcia comes in apparently in the nick of time yet again and takes her out. I loved how they’ve set us up to just expect that this is what has happened by having Garcia do it twice in the last two episodes – but it’s Connor who has shot her.

Connor is devastated, but he’s also possibly the only one who can work the equipment and convince Johnson to record the music. Lucy and Garcia leave it to Rufus to convince him. Connor is sure that he can’t do it – inferior equipment, inferior producer, it won’t have the same impact. But Rufus points out that Connor was the one obsessed with Johnson’s music. Connor is the one who knows how it’s supposed to sound. And yet another shoutout to the Clockblockers! Connor maintains that fanboys don’t save the world – BUT THEY DO!!!

I loved this scene between Joseph and Barrett. They are both terrific in it. Rufus points out that he was Connor’s fanboy. In his senior year at MIT he was the prodigy, but 2 weeks before finals, Rufus cracked – and Connor came to his rescue. Rufus tells him this is him returning the favor.

Connor stops Johnson on the way out the door. He asks him why he picked up the guitar to begin with, and Johnson says to become the greatest blues guitarist. Connor assures him he is, but no one will ever know it if he doesn’t show a little backbone and make the recording. Connor tells Johnson that he’s at the same crossroads that he is – does he walk away or fight back? It works and Johnson does the recording – complete with a whoop from Connor!

Denise and Wyatt sort through the wreckage. Denise reprimands Wyatt for not taking out Carol. She knows it’s because of Lucy and she tells him to sort out whatever it is that’s going on between them.

The team returns – and clearly had fun on the mission. They are relieved to find out that Jiya knows all about Led Zepplin! Connor grabs Rufus into a hug and thanks him for everything. Rufus asks if Robert Johnson ever told Connor what really happened at the crossroad, but Connor isn’t giving up that secret!

Wyatt and Lucy catch each other up. Wyatt tells Lucy that her mother got away – Spencer is great here as she subtly conveys that Lucy is glad that her mother got away. Wyatt asks after Garcia, and isn’t quite so happy with Lucy’s declaration that he was great on the mission. Wyatt wants details, but Lucy pushes him away, telling him she’ll tell him tomorrow, but he should go to Jessica who’s likely worried sick.

Connor returns to his room and immediately puts on his copy of Johnson’s record – and is thrilled to hear his own “yeah!” Even better is that the album jacket identifies Lando Calrissian as the engineer!

Lucy brings her bottle to Garcia’s room. Jiya and Rufus are crammed onto her single bed. And the episode ends with her telling Rufus her latest – and most devastating vision. She’s seen his death – near the ocean and trapped by what appear to be cowboys. Honestly, this is the best way that I’ve ever seen previews for the next episode for any show!!

I loved this episode pretty much from start to finish. There were great parallels between Johnson and Connor and enough history to even satisfy me. I loved how the importance of music was woven into the episode as well. It’s also great to see Connor really back on the team. I don’t see Lucy necessarily falling for Garcia, so I’m happy to see him more integrated into the team as I’m really enjoying Visnjic. Peterson Joseph gets performance of the week. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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