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Performers Of The Month - Readers' Choice Most Outstanding Performer of December - Goran Visnjic

30 Jan 2019

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This article was written by Donna J. Cromeans, Jessica Lerner, Bex Wright, and Claire Serowinski. Article Edited by Donna J. Cromeans. Article prepared for publication by Donna J. Cromeans.

Every story needs a villain. Someone to torment the heroes and heroines of a story, someone to put obstacles in the path of the good guys. A good villain also has many layers that ultimately help drive a good story. Such is the case of Garcia Flynn of Timeless. From the beginning Flynn seemed a ruthless, determined, single-minded villain capable of just about anything to achieve his goal. However, with solid storytelling the writers and producers placed this character into the talented hands of actor Goran Višnjić and through his work in the show’s two short seasons we watched this character transform. His many layers began to be peeled back and he went from hated villain, to reluctant team member and finally in the show’s finale “The Miracle of Christmas, Part II", (2x12) (brought about by the dedication of devoted fans) his transformation was complete from villain to the ultimate hero of the Timeless story. For his moving work in this episode, Višnjić was selected SpoilerTV’s Readers’ Choice Performer of the Month for December.

There’s a stark difference between the Garcia Flynn the audience met in the pilot and the Flynn in "The Miracle of Christmas, Part II" and it’s a difference that Višnjić played with a quiet subtleness through most of season one as Flynn’s motives were slowly revealed, and then at a faster yet still organic pace through season two. It culminates in this two-hour finale so that the Flynn onscreen is a man concluding his arc of redemption. Višnjić plays Flynn now with a softness that the journey has brought out of him. When Mason (Patterson Joseph) argues this may have been future Lucy (Abigail Spencer) and Wyatt’s (Matt Lanter) only trip, Flynn steps up and admits Lucy did at least one other trip. This is information that originally just Flynn and Lucy were aware of, before Wyatt and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) were also made aware. Now Flynn needs to be completely honest with the rest of the bunker family and it allows Višnjić to show Flynn’s hesitance as he opens up about how he got the diary – how the original pilfering of the lifeboat came to be. It’s a conversation that has been a long time coming and that is something the audience feels as we watch Višnjić’s performance here. We understand the character’s hesitance, we believe it, because Višnjić’s outstanding acting here make us understand, he makes us believe.

When Lucy asks Flynn about him knowing what was in the journal, Flynn bows his head, trying to prevent the awkward conversation that would ensue. With Lucy then revealing she knows the truth about their future affair, Flynn, with sadness written across his face, nonchalantly responds that Lucy finally got to the good part. Višnjić is then able to effortlessly add some of his character’s usual bravado as he asks Lucy if it was everything she imagined, boldly calling her out for imagining them together. However, that bravado disappears as quickly as it appeared, as Flynn, in a rare act of vulnerability, tells Lucy he never really believed they would be together. With a pained look, he admits he’s not exactly Lucy’s type, and after almost killing her a few times, he doesn’t deserve her. There’s a solemn acceptance as Flynn, though having strong feelings for Lucy, admits her heart always belonged to someone else, the pain palpable on his face as he lets the woman he longed for go.

After the team travels back to 1848 days after the California Gold Rush, the team has the unfortunate luck of stealing horses from notorious bandit, Joaquin Murrietta (Paul Lincoln Alayo). After convincing Murrietta they can get him more gold he reluctantly lets them keep the horses and lives. In a private moment, when Flynn speaks with Murrietta, Višnjić delivers his lines in Spanish with the same ease as English. During this conversation, recent horrors that have befallen Murrietta’s brother and wife come to light, allowing Flynn to connect with the man. There’s a vulnerability about Flynn that the audience only really sees when he is speaking about his wife or sitting with Lucy for a quiet late-night drink (on a couch or in his room) and Višnjić plays it with just the right amounts of honesty. In portraying Flynn as he does, he keeps the character’s harder qualities while balancing it with a softer Flynn. Višnjić is skilled at dropping Flynn’s walls in these scenes while not losing the character. As Flynn opens up to Murrietta about his mistakes, Višnjić surely brings the last of those not a fan of Flynn over to his side with his open, honest, heart-breaking delivery of Flynn’s realizations.

Flynn quietly settles at the campsite as Wyatt begins to understand Jessica’s (Tonya Glanz) role in Rufus’ death, and this entire scene is played with a quieter tone. “Because Jessica lives Rufus dies,” Wyatt announces, and Flynn is listening intently. He remains mostly silent as he considers the team’s words but even in the few short cuts to Flynn, Višnjić allows the audience to see a man quietly planning. In one carefully delivered line, he shows us a version of Flynn who is calculating, but now with more emotion than the colder version of Flynn seen in various previous episodes. What he is planning to do may still be murder, but he too may not survive the mission, and in carrying it out he will change the fates of more than just his own family. When Lucy awakes and Wyatt announces that Flynn has gone on ahead to scout, the audience knows, because of Višnjić’s flawless performance in the previous scene that it is more likely Flynn has gone off to take the lifeboat. Višnjić lets us see the wheels turning in Flynn’s head as his destiny is revealed.

Flynn has taken the lifeboat and traveled to 2012 to wait for Jessica to be dropped off by the side of road. He’s here to correct time. Here, Višnjić effortlessly portrays the character much like the man we met in the pilot. Flynn has a mission, to destroy Rittenhouse, and this time his focus is on killing Jessica. Flynn may regret the killing he has done, but there is still someone he must kill, and Višnjić shows us a man still conflicted with the lengths to which he must go to. He’s also struggling with now being in a time he already exists, and the audience feels Flynn’s pain along with him. The belief in Flynn’s struggle is real, to fight through the physical pain, the emotional pain, and take care of that one flaw in the timeline that needs to be fixed: Jessica needs to die. Višnjić, in the emotions he portrays, in the delivery of his lines, through the course of Timeless’ run, allowed us to feel for this character to root for him to succeed.

The fight that ensues between Jessica and Flynn had audiences on the edge of their seats, thanks to the intensity and authenticity Višnjić and Glanz brought to that scene. And that extra bullet Flynn puts in a likely already dead Jessica has a macabre comedic timing to it that Višnjić absolutely nailed.But it is during this scene in particular where he sends the lifeboat back to 1848 saving his friends and sealing his fate in 2012 that he is completely redeemed and emerges as the hero of Timeless.

It is amazing how at times he seems to be playing two very different characters. The caliber of his work was at many times the highlight of TImeless. But his final monologue, a quiet scene where he is stranded in 2012 and goes to see his family for one last time, is his voice over of a note that he left in 1848 for Lucy. His voice as Flynn is quivering as he asks for Lucy’s forgiveness and expresses hope for her future and regret that he let Rittenhouse destroy him. This all takes place as he eavesdrops on his own happy family gathered around the dinner table. The look on his face and in just his eyes conveys how much he has longed for this moment; to see his wife and daughter again. The sadness in his shaky voice and his silent portrayal of a man so longing for the people that he loves is heartbreaking and Višnjić gives it his very best. Moment like this are what made Timeless such an unforgettable show.

His final scenes of the show take us back to the beginning to show us how Flynn’s and ultimately the entire team’s journey began. The Garcia Flynn of the past two seasons of the show is dead, having fallen victim to being in his own timeline. But the Flynn that sits drinking in a bar in Sao Paulo on Christmas Eve is the Flynn from 2014. This is a broken, bitter man alone in a bar, Višnjić show us a man tormented by the murders of his wife and daughter, Lorena (Becka Adams) and Iris (Isabella Britton). He’s disheveled and surly, with Višnjić giving him a slouch as though he’s bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. And he is until a strange, but not so strange woman, walks up to him, tells him she is from the future and hands him a notebook. He’s bitter and surly and doesn’t believe her at first then, before leaving, she tells him the one thing, he is a hero. Once the woman leaves and he begins to look at the notebook his entire demeanor changes, he puts his drink down, sits up straighter and a light coming back into his eyes. Lucy Preston has set Garcia Flynn on his journey; his life now has a purpose. And in a final montage the shows him stealing the time traveling lifeboat to save his family, and the actions he takes throughout time, everything becomes clear. Garcia Flynn was not a villain at all, he was a man on a journey, a hero’s journey.

In “The Miracle of Christmas, Part II” Garcia Flynn’s life comes full circle from villain to hero. And throughout the series Goran Višnjić, with his charm, wit, action-hero demeanor and heart-rending sincerity made fans fall in love with the character. This article covers a small portion of that journey from this episode that rightfully earned him this honor of being SpoilerTV’s Readers’ Choice Performer of the Month of December. What did you think of his performance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.