This recap contains spoilers for tonight’s Timeless. So if you want to avoid them make sure to check out the episode before reading, because once you do you can’t go back in time and change it.
It was inevitable that Timeless would eventually head to Nazi Germany–considering Flynn is trying to destroy America during vulnerable moments in its history, that time period offers too many obvious opportunities for him not to go there–but it did feel like going there this early in the series, in only its fourth episode, was a potential misstep, as though the writers weren’t challenging themselves. Last week’s episode in Las Vegas was good because it focused on a minor historical figure during a non-obvious time period. However, just like the second episode about Lincoln’s assassination, it worked anyway, though for very different reasons.
That episode was genuinely heartbreaking, as Lucy (Abigail Spencer) had to watch her idol murdered at Ford’s Theater, whereas this episode was a lot of fun, because instead of focusing on Hitler and the moral quandary of not trying to stop him, it used James Bond creator and real life spy, Ian Fleming, as its historical root to create a mini spy-drama.
While everyone knows a lot about James Bond, I imagine that some of you, like me, didn’t know as much about the man who created him, so the show didn’t have to worry as much about our preconceived notions. Guest star Sean Maguire was the right amount of Bond cool while still feeling like genuine enough to make Fleming a real person. (If you missed it, our own Sydney Bucksbaum interviewed Maguire about what it was like to bring Fleming to life, so make sure to check that out.)
In terms of plot the episode was loose and exciting, but like every week so far, it still managed to take time to address bigger questions that time travel raises, mostly the questions of justice and responsibility. Lucy knew how important Wernher von Braun was to America’s coming superiority in the Cold War and Space Race, but Wyatt also knew that it meant he would never receive justice for his crimes. Not that he viewed them as crimes, as von Braun’s conversation with Rufus at the end showed. Where does the responsibility of a scientist begin and end? And how much does the greater good outweigh those crimes? As usual the answers weren’t clear, because the truth is there are no answers, but asking them gives the show an emotional core that prevents it from just being a mindless reverse Quantum Leap.
There were some issues though, like the scene between Lucy and Wyatt at Fleming’s house, where she told him about surviving a car crash. It felt like a lot of exposition that didn’t need to be crammed into such a short scene. Spencer was doing a good enough job showing us that Lucy was barely holding together without having to tell us why. Same goes for Wyatt, who has proven to be a soldier that can’t be shaken by what is happening. We didn’t need all of that there, and as a result it felt forced.
Also, we don’t need the exact same scene between Rufus and Mason, where they argue over Rufus secretly taping his time traveling companions, every week. We get it. Rufus is torn and dealing with his own secrets, as is Mason.
Which brings us to the biggest disappointment of the episode, our first appearance from the ever ominous Rittenhouse. Flynn, in his weekly meetings with Lucy (talk about another type of scene we don’t have to have every week), let us know yet again that he isn’t the bad guy, it’s that shadow organization that is the real threat.
Turns out they are exactly like every other evil shadow organization–ever. They were represented by an old white guy with a smile, spitting out facts as veiled threats, with scary powers, like turning a car on and off. I know this is a show about time travel, but did our first look at the potential real villain have to be straight out of the 1950s?
If the show was looking for a way to introduce Rittenhouse, maybe they could have modeled it after one of Ian Fleming’s more interesting villains.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Don’t keep it a secret, tell us in the comments below.