Allow me to start this recap by pulling a Wyatt and blurting out, in vivid romantic detail, exactly how I’ve come to fall in love with Timeless. I’ll admit that I had my doubts after the first couple of wobbly episodes. I respected and admired the show’s clear ambition to eclipse the limits of standard procedurals, but I just didn’t think it could manage the tricky, perhaps impossible feat of packing a new time-traveling adventure into an hour-long format week after week, while also serving up the sprawling story lines, nuances, and conspiracies that so many viewers would want and expect.
The show started to find its footing somewhere around “Party at Castle Varlar” (a.k.a. the James Bond episode), and it felt like a certain bar had been set: Timeless demonstrated it could confidently deliver a tight episode that combined a swift, efficient narrative with a touch of cheeky humor — almost as if the show was poking fun at its own cheesy setup. Then, “The Alamo” pushed aside all that winking humor for an hour filled with real emotional wallop. When I watched “The Watergate Tape,” I was thrilled to see the whole Rittenhouse thing addressed head-on without sacrificing the episode’s self-contained need to operate like a mini-action movie. “Stranded” illustrated that Timeless could veer far from its procedural format and still hum along with ease, while “Space Race” dared to give us a Flynn backstory and was better off for it.
Now we’re at “Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde,” the penultimate episode before the fall finale, and it feels like a transcendent moment. This hour deviated from the show’s usual structure in key ways. The present-day story line about Agent Christopher’s investigation into Rittenhouse is the first plot set in 2016 that doesn’t just support our weekly time-traveling mission. The episode also devotes an unprecedented amount of time to our Scooby Gang’s angsts in modern times, including Rufus’s anxieties about Rittenhouse and Lucy, and Wyatt’s latent but blossoming rapport.
Also, that reminds me: LUCY AND WYATT KISSED! (More on that later.)
So what I’m saying is: “Last Ride of Bonnie & Clyde” is now my favorite episode of Timeless yet.
Our entry point into the story? “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” a poem penned by the real-life Bonnie Parker that foretold their inevitable death at the hands of the law. I bristled at the voice-over poetry for a hot second until I realized that it was Parker’s actual poem, and then I rejoiced at what a neat trick it was. Timeless has started relying less on cute historical factoids to sustain interest, but this one fits the moment stylistically while also serving the story. For the first time in several weeks, I’ve felt compelled to add another book to my reading list.
We get a glimpse of Bonnie and Clyde’s bullet-ridden demise (you’ve probably seen the movie) and a peek at the Rittenhouse key around Bonnie’s neck before we cut to a portrait of a couple who will never become red-hot lovers: Lucy and her Johnathon Schaech–lookalike fiancé. I give these two strangers credit for managing to rustle up a smidgen of flirtatious vibes when he teases her over dinner, but sorry, Schaech-esque — your presence is clearly just meant to highlight Lucy’s need for a man who gets her. A couple scenes later, this point will be driven home when Lucy and Wyatt discuss her huge rock of an engagement ring while Rufus and Jiya kiss good-bye. Ooh, Rufus has a girlfriend!
At Mason HQ, a door into Agent Christopher’s private life is likewise opened when she’s seen talking on the phone about her daughter’s ballet recital. Of course, it’s nothing she wants to discuss with the Scooby Gang. She wants to chat about “whatever this Rittenhouse key is.” Show of hands: Who else hadn’t realized that Christopher had never heard of Rittenhouse? (The Feds: always the last to know.)
Upon landing in Arkansas circa 1934, the Scooby Gang also hashes out this new Rittenhouse wrinkle, with Rufus speaking for all of us when he says, “I don’t know what’s worse, Flynn or Rittenhouse.” For the time being, Flynn is worse because he shows up on the hunt for Bonnie’s Rittenhouse key alongside famed Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. After Lucy and Wyatt are caught in the midst of Bonnie and Clyde’s latest bank heist, they help the famous duo escape the cops as a three-way, and a True Romance–style shootout unfolds. (This is the second time I’ve spotted one of these standoffs in Timeless. See also: the safe house in “The Watergate Tape.” If nothing else, this is fun for me because True Romance is one of my all-time favorite films.)
I loved this getaway scene, since Timeless really knows how to execute action sequences with ease. Also, my favorite line of the night comes when Rufus reacts to being left behind by muttering, “What the hell?” Another thing I loved: When Lucy drives off with Wyatt, Bonnie, and Clyde, she takes on a confident air as she conjures up a tall tale about their lives as a crime-loving couple … which Wyatt nearly ruins when he awkwardly chimes in that they spent their loot “on hooch.” LOL.
The middle portion of this episode slows down the show’s usual pace, languishing in a good way inside Bonnie and Clyde’s hideout. I was starting to wonder why we were spending so much time on these two detailing their klepto-sexual escapades when the big payoff arrives: Wyatt, in a bid to legitimize his fake romance with Lucy, tells Bonnie and Clyde the story of how he proposed to his late wife, Jessica. “You remember that, honey,” he implores Lucy, before going in for a kiss that’s sad and funny and (maybe) has a little a spark behind it. It’s one of my favorite scenes of the season, and not because I’m dying to ‘ship Lucy and Wyatt. The reason I loved this scene is because of its character-driven complexity, the way each of the four people in the room had a different idea about what was going on, what Wyatt’s story and that kiss were really about. If you drew a thought bubble above each of their heads, they would say four totally different things.
A few more tantalizing bon mots are dropped in past and present-day story lines — Henry Ford once owned the Rittenhouse key! Mason Industries once went bankrupt! Rufus’s new stage name is Wesley Snipes! — before Bonnie and Clyde meet their violent end more or less the same way they did before the Scooby Gang futzed with the space-time continuum. (Big points for the way Rufus uses his voice recorder to rat out Bonnie and Clyde’s accomplice.) Two big reveals arrive at the end: First, Agent Christopher is hella hyped about this Rittenhouse mystery, and after she corners Rufus at the restaurant (important question: Why is Rufus dining alone? That makes me so sad. Where’s Jiya?!), he surprises her by declaring he’ll spill the Rittenhouse beans. Second, Flynn finally gets somewhere in his plan to take Rittenhouse down. Inside a weird curio museum, he uses Bonnie’s key to open a (Pandora’s?) box that contains a handwritten note on wax-sealed parchment. But what does it say?
I can’t wait for next week.