Thank God “Time Will Tell” reminds us how good an actor Djimon Hounsou can be. Ever since his breakthrough performance in Amistad nearly 20 years ago, Hollywood has rarely done right by this dude. Nearly every movie I’ve seen him in, he’s yelling or scowling. He’s always been the go-to guy if someone needs a Very Angry African. Hell, you can currently see him in The Legend of Tarzan playing a mad, scowling leader of an African tribe, COVERED HEAD TO TOE IN JET-BLACK BODY MAKEUP EVEN THOUGH THE MAN IS QUITE DARK-SKINNED!
It’s a relief and a wonder he landed the role of C.J. Mitchum, a character that gives Hounsou a chance to play the strong, silent, sensitive type. As we find out in the opening scene, Mitchum was the Pines’ first resident, way before Pilcher and Co. got around to building the town. Every 20 years, he would come out of hibernation to dust off the chambers, listen to classical music, play chess with himself, check on what’s happening outside, and, apparently, do workouts in slo-mo. He was also the first to see how humans began transforming into abbies, after one trip into the woods led him to meet an infected young man named Griffin. After seeing how Griffin was slowly but surely transforming into a monster, C.J. tries to slip away later that night, only to have his new buddy right behind him, begging to tag along. After repeated refusals (not to mention Griffin acting like a mad dog), C.J. snaps the kid’s neck. Man, C.J. might be a delicate soul, but dude will kill your ass in a second if you push him.
Let’s not forget that C.J. is also a tortured soul. The best scene in the episode (which, once again, shows you how underrated and underutilized Hounsou is as an actor) shows C.J. talking to his dearly departed significant other, Eileen. He initially thinks she’s there to take him away from all this, but she tells him he still has “miles to go.” He would much prefer to be with his old lady, but she orders him to stay positive, do his job, and look forward to the future. It’s devastating stuff.
When he finally gets everyone out of hibernation, C.J. finds out that Pilcher wasn’t expecting those abbies. The duo encounters one when they both venture outside, and even though the abbie went on his merry way after seeing them, Pilcher still saw these examples of “mankind gone wrong” as a threat. Nevertheless, the Pines got built and the first group of people later woke up, only to massacre themselves after learning they were the last people on earth.
The episode bounces back and forth between C.J.’s flashbacks and the present-day lab, where Yedlin is determined to communicate with Margaret. After all, if he managed to teach his dog to go outside in two days, Yedlin’s confident that he can get to Margaret faster. The first baby step? He lays some flashcards in front of her and teaches her the difference between a “friend” and a “leader.” Yedlin hopes that communicating — and possibly negotiating — might put an end to a possible abbie siege, since abbies are swarming around the town.
Of course, other people don’t see it that way. Hassler shows up and begs Yedlin to let her go, telling him it’s too late to reason with these fed-up creatures and they should give them back their leader. (Yet again, he reminds Yedlin that they’re humanity’s replacements.) And, of course, that trigger-happy fuckboy Higgins pops in, refusing to believe that the abbies are bright enough to start a war and free their hostaged brethren. He even shoots the caged male abbies in the head, execution-style … after Yedlin demonstrated that Margaret can control them. (And after she pointed at Yedlin when he told her that Higgins was the Pines’ leader.) Nice move, bro.
So, Higgins wants war, Yedlin wants peace, Hassler wants to surrender, and C.J. wants to be left the hell alone. After all, C.J. has seen enough death and destruction for one lifetime. Unfortunately, he might see plenty more if the abbies attack, which now seems way-too-imminent since Margaret managed to escape (she caught the combination in a reflection when Yedlin put his arm in the other abbie’s cage) and ended up killing Fisher by cutting one of her Achilles tendons and letting her bleed out.
There’s a lot to like in this episode. It’s a showcase for Hounsou, and it gives the rest of the cast a few chances to turn out some nice, understated work. “Time Will Tell” also subtly reminds viewers of the hubris, arrogance, and blood-thirsty nature that come from our kind when outside forces pop up and threaten our way of life. “Humanity will win” is what C.J. hears from not one, but two white men who think they can eradicate a group of people off the face of the Earth. As C.J. has quietly learned over decades and decades, the proud and the foolish always fail. We have three episodes left this season to see how it will happen again.
- I know she wasn’t the most beloved character, but I’m gonna miss Megan Fisher’s stubborn, borderline-sociopathic ass. I’m especially going to miss her after this episode — it looked like she was beginning to catch feelings for Yedlin after he jokingly hinted that he moved on to someone else. (Plus, he held her hand to show Margaret what “friend” means.)
- Kerry and Higgins have quite the dysfunctional relationship, don’t they? Last week, Kerry checked her boy for having doubts after the harvest attack. This week, after briefly belittling his leadership skills, she pleads with him to listen to Yedlin’s plan, even openly wondering if her words mean anything to him anymore. I see a lot more heated back-and-forths between them in the future.
- In case you were wondering, here’s a picture of Margaret with hair.
- No Nimrat Kaur this week — pity.
- Beverly Brown and Harold Ballinger’s files reappear, as a lonesome C.J. talks to them in one scene. Man, have those been the only files lying around there all this time?
- I didn’t know how much I missed Toby Jones’s ridiculous, pre-balding hairpiece until I saw him wear it again.