I just thought up a totally silly yet definitely terrible way to guarantee a third season of Timeless! You know how whenever the show introduces an obscure historical figure, you run straight to Google to find all the books that have been written about that person? Like this one from the Harry Houdini episode, or this one from the atomic-bomb episode? Well, let’s set up one of those Amazon affiliate thingies where Timeless gets a commission every time we make a purchase. Voilà, instant CGI budget!
My mind grapes came up with that million-cent idea moments after we were introduced to this week’s titular guest star, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes. (Here’s the book that’s now in my queue.) Of all the forgotten nonconformists Timeless has introduced us to, especially during this second season and its focus on women and people of color, none has struck me as more titillating than Mary Grace Quackenbos Humiston. A fast-talking, take-no-guff woman who cracks cold cases on the mean streets of early-20th-century New York? Where’s this broad’s spinoff already?
And much like Mrs. Sherlock Holmes herself, “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” was top-notch, narratively efficient, and highly entertaining. As Stefon would say, this episode had everything: Sleeper agents, Rufus one-liners, police brutality, surprise sleeper agents, votes for women … makeout sessions with your 25-going-on-125-year-old cult leader.
Let’s start with the Rufus one-liners. He and Jiya start the hour arguing about her prediction that he’ll be killed at the hands of a cowboy-type, prompting our favorite Mason Industries nerd to quip, “No more Kenny Chesney concerts.” He also makes the very valid point that he can’t do anything with this clue about his own impending death … until later, when he realizes that as long as he’s not in the Wild West, he’s immortal. Yay for a freewheeling Rufus!
In less freewheeling bunker-buddy drama, Lucy wakes up in Flynn’s room after a would-be late-night booty call. (I’ve thought all along that them just spending the night together, instead of spending the night together, felt much more … natural? Which is not to say that I’m anti-#Flucy, just that any passion between them seems to come at a slower build. Anyway, I’m very glad the show chose to keep Flucy’s sleepovers platonic for now.) Lucy tells a smiling Flynn in her oh-so-Lucy flustered way, “I’m going to remove myself from your personal space,” and wouldn’t you know it, Wyatt sees her leave. He gets all macho with Flynn in the bathroom, who cuts Wyatt down to size by reminding him, “You know she’s not your wife, right?” He then adds, “She’s perfectly capable of making her own choices, don’t you think?” I have to say, I dig feminist Flynn.
Time travel gets underway after Emma convinces Keynes to let her run point on this week’s Rittenhouse mission to 1919, an attempt to squash the 19th Amendment giving women the vote. (There’s also all this superfluous dialogue about waiting for André to activate the sleeper agent and André will handle things and please tell me I’m not the only one who was all, Who the hell is this André?!) Off Emma goes and the Scooby Gang follows, except Wyatt decides at the spur of the moment that they’re actually the Beatles and that Flynn is Yoko because he doesn’t want him coming with them. Flynn points out that the Fab Four was a foursome (uh-dur), which means there’s room for him to come along on the newly renovated Lifeboat. He also points out that Wyatt might want to say good-bye to his, you know, wife, and there is definitely not enough salve in that crudely appointed bunker for such a sick burn.
At Manhattan’s York Hotel circa 1919, the Time Team finds out that suffragist Alice Paul has been arrested for the fatal shooting of Senator James Wadsworth. They quickly surmise that the Rittenhouse sleeper must have actually killed Wadsworth and framed Paul for it, and thanks to a cop’s Sherlock Holmes wisecrack, Lucy suddenly knows who they gonna call. She and Wyatt pose as Paul’s attorneys — Ally McBeal and Johnnie Cochran — while Rufus is made to stay with Flynn, an arrangement he’s “uh, not particularly” happy about.
Humiston swiftly sums up that Lucy and Wyatt are having a “romantic dispute,” adding, “I’m betting he didn’t tell you about the wife.” (Zing!) There’s more romantic disputing between them as they hiss at one another under their breath, with Lucy hilariously and accurately pointing out that Wyatt is acting like their one night together constituted a legitimate relationship that she should now respect by not rebounding with another dude. Wyatt, stop being such a lunkhead! Stop making it about you!
Meanwhile, Rufus learns that “people could just walk into crime scenes in 1919,” which is what he and Flynn are up to back at the hotel. This may have been my favorite scene of the hour. To Stefon-ify it again, this scene had everything: “Dick” jokes, other obscure synonyms for detective (Pinkerton!), Die Hard references … Emma surprise-assassinating a cop. Also, an all-time classic Rufus line that I need one of you to turn into a GIF pronto, when he yells at Flynn to shoot said cop: “FLYNN IT UP, FLYNN!!”
Emma also surprises Flynn and Rufus by informing them she wants to help this time around because she believes in a woman’s right to vote more than she believes in Rittenhouse’s mission “to put women in their place.” As Rufus rightly points out, “After all the crap you pulled, that’s where you draw the line? Constitutional law?” I couldn’t agree more, and herein lies my sole quibble with “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes.” The whole point of Rittenhouse is its mission. You can’t pick and choose which parts of the Rittenhouse doctrine you want to support, because if you do, then you’re not Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse is loyalty to itself.
Later, the episode does a good job of coming up with ways to narratively justify Emma’s one-time change of heart (which, let’s face it, is really just a way to prevent any lead baddies from killing any lead good guys for another week). She explains that “Rittenhouse found me at Caltech begging me to come work for them” after surviving her abusive father, and “If women can’t vote, if we’re property, we would’ve been trapped with that drunk bastard forever.” Flynn certainly feels like her reasons are justified, as he responds by loaning her a gun to kill the Rittenhouse sleeper. Rufus responds with yet another ba-dump-bum: “Great, now both my enemies have guns.”
Poor Alice Paul winds up dead in her jail cell, presumably murdered by the sleeper. (Or André? What happened to André?!) Lucy tries to convince one of her fellow suffragists to deliver the speech Paul was meant to give — more importantly, that President Woodrow Wilson was meant to hear — and just when we think Lucy is gonna give it herself, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes is so moved that she turns insta-woke on the spot. Oh yeah, she also figures out which suffragette was the sleeper and confiscates her bullets, leaving her helpless when Emma shows up and kills her. Not well done, Sleeper Suffragette!
Back in 2018, Lucy disembarks from the Lifeboat and immediately asks Agent Christopher, “Who did you vote for in the 2016 election?” Timeless has low-key ramped up the politicizing of its own narrative all season long, positioning Rittenhouse as a loose stand-in for what happens when you try to turn back the hands of progress. I love how that political message went full-on literal in this one moment, with Lucy blurting out her question to Christopher as a way to assess how much damage they’d caused, or perhaps prevented in the first place. “Hillary Clinton,” Christopher calmly replies. After she informs Lucy that Trump is still president, I couldn’t help but detect a tinge of elation in her voice as she wonders aloud, “Was that not supposed to happen?” Replies Lucy, “I don’t know. It wasn’t us.”
Of course, “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” couldn’t be called a classic Timeless episode without a cliff-hanger, and because this was such a great ep, there’s two. First: Eww, Keynes and Emma kiss?!? Guh-ross. Second: Mason, who’s spent the hour trying to salvage data off Rittenhouse’s ruined computers, digs up a blurry pic of Jessica! But what does it mean? I’m guessing Jessica might not be a sleeper, because that would be too obvious. Unless she first convinces us she isn’t the sleeper, then we’re later surprised to discover she is the sleeper. Look at me, I’m a regular Mrs. Sherlock Holmes! Please leave your best Jessica conspiracy theories in the comments, and see you next week!