At least once or twice every time I watch Timeless, but often three or four times, I gasp. I know this because I write it down in my recap notes — “GASP” — to mark when I’m at my most flummoxed and floored. GASP: Suffragist Alice Paul has been found dead in her cell! GASP: Don Law’s assistant is the sleeper! Emma is living in olden times with — GASP — computers!
One thing I don’t believe I’ve ever written in my notes before is “SNIFF *WHIMPER* SNIFF,” which was the sound of me fighting back tears as Flynn told Agent Christopher to go home and bask in the joy of her wife and kids before they all poof out of existence. Who woulda thunk that the most punch-you-in-the-feels episode of Timeless yet would be a showcase for Agent No Fun?
We’re first led to believe that the Scooby Gang is supposed to intervene in John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt on President Reagan after the episode opens with Hinckley writing his creepy fan letter to Jodie Foster, and then Rittenhouse jumps to March 30, 1981. We soon find out Rittenhouse is actually after Agent Christopher because Wyatt sees a guy who’s not Hinckley aiming his firearm at a young D.C. cop, who turns out to be — GASP —- Christopher, and back in 2018, Christopher walks in late to work, asks all casual where the Time Team has jumped to, then informs us that she was there the day Reagan was shot.
Is Agent Christopher really that high a priority for Rittenhouse? Is Carol Preston really this beefed that her mother-to-mother talk a couple weeks ago didn’t work? Who cares, we’re going back to the ‘80s, rockin’ poofy hair and boppin’ down the street to Hall and Oates!
Actually, before we move on, I do have one quibble: Flynn declares he’ll sit out this trip because he was a first-grader when Reagan was shot, and as Timeless explained last season, you can only visit times when you weren’t yet born and/or haven’t yet visited. Did anyone else find themselves doing a quick audit of everyone’s real-life ages on IMDb? It all largely checks out: Only Rufus would’ve missed the time-travel cutoff, and just by a year, while Flynn would’ve roughly been in third grade, not first. On the other hand, Christopher would’ve been something like a 19-year-old cop? This is a super-minor criticism, but sometimes it seems Timeless is really futzing with how old everyone is and it distracts me.
Moving on! As soon as I found out this week’s episode was titled “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” I knew, thanks to her relative youthfulness, exactly who was bound to come on this trip in the Lifeboat’s coveted fourth seat: Jiya! Rufus, who’s been “looking like a douchebag” (Jiya’s words) all day and “brooding like a Real Housewife” (Lucy’s words) all week over this whole you’re-gonna-die thing, passive aggressively agrees Jiya should tag along because “you guys are gonna need another pilot when I’m gone.” Give it a rest, Rufus! We all know we’re gonna die someday!
Wyatt’s heroics to save young Officer Christopher not only keep Reagan alive, but lead to Hinckley getting away. Since the guy who tried to kill Christopher must be this week’s sleeper agent, and since he was dressed as Secret Service, the Scooby Gang heads to the hospital, where they find both the sleeper and Officer Christopher. While Wyatt and Rufus gang up on the sleeper in a Tarantino-esque elevator-fight scene (I loved the tension buildup while everyone waited for the little old lady to get off the lift), Jiya and Lucy go visit Christopher in the guise of Cagney and Lacey. (The pop-culture pseudonyms will never not be a LOL for me.) While the women watch Christopher’s future — and the future of their world-saving endeavors — get wrecked as her mother convinces her to quit law enforcement and marry a dude, it turns out a Rittenhouse operative is once again folding like a cheap suit. “Please don’t kill me,” the guy pleads. “I’ll tell you everything.”
Seriously, this oh-so-vaunted Rittenhouse loyalty is such a sham. Not only is this guy pulling an Emma in 1919 (a.k.a. a Carol during the Salem witch trial) by selfishly going rogue against Rittenhouse doctrine, but he’s only in Rittenhouse because his family was broke and desperate! Between this confession and Emma mentioning last week that she joined Rittenhouse because they recruited her after her no-way-out childhood, I’m starting to think Rittenhouse is less an Illuminati organization and more a shady loan-shark scam. What is going on with Rittenhouse and their so-called sleepers’ so-called faith in the so-called mission?! (Side note: WHATEVER THAT MISSION EVEN IS BECAUSE WE STILL DON’T KNOW HOW HAS THIS SHOW KEPT ME HOOKED FOR SO LONG WITHOUT TELLING MEEEEEEEE???)
A lot of cutesy scenes follow where the three women work to nab Hinckley (the blood in his hotel room was another GASP for me) while Jiya and Lucy play gay for Christopher’s sake. All that lighthearted business left me even more ill-prepared for the emotional wallop of what happens to Christopher in 2018. After trash-talking Christopher by wondering aloud how she could be so important in Rittenhouse’s eyes (that was way harsh, Tai), Flynn bluntly asks her, “Aren’t you the least bit concerned you’re gonna be snuffed out of existence?” “What would you have me do?” Christopher asks tartly. Flynn responds with what may as well have been Emily’s monologue at the end of Our Town. “Do you know what I would give if I’d had those three more minutes with her?” he says about the last time he saw his daughter. “Get the hell back home and look at your wife and children while you still can. I sure as hell know that’s what I would do.” SNIFF *WHIMPER* SNIFF!
Concurrently, Lucy decides to use that old thumb drive full of family photos that Christopher once told her to stash in the Lifeboat as a tool to stop her from marrying Sunil. So we’ve got Flynn’s monologue, Lucy’s slideshow, and Christopher taking Flynn’s advice and heading home to her sun-drenched, West Elm–catalog home to laugh and kiss and I just can’t handle it!
I’m so happy they found a way to reference Christopher’s thumb drive in a way that was bittersweet and not, you know, royally messed up. I had been fearing a scene where Lucy has to come back to 2018 and teach Christopher all about the wife and kids she once had. Speaking of royally messed up, Wyatt pulls off one final heroic act of the hour when he runs over the sleeper’s brother (a YOWZA this time instead of a GASP), who was still hellbent on killing young Christopher. The killings are getting more savage around these parts and I am here for it.
“I’ve waited 37 years to say thank you,” Christopher tells the gang when they get back home, and here we get a nifty twist on the bummers and burdens Rufus has long sulked about when it comes to knowing your future. “Knowing what was waiting for me, it gave me hope,” Christopher explains. Rufus, seemingly taking that lesson to heart, does a 180 on Jiya and romantically declares, “Whatever time I have left, I want to spend it with you. From now on, it’s me and you.” Shut up, you’re SNIFF *WHIMPER* SNIFF-ing!
Two more twists end this hour. First, Flynn divulges more than he ever has about this journal Lucy allegedly writes and gives him in the future: “You told me your name, you knew everything, how my family died, that Rittenhouse was behind all this. You told me there’s a way for me to stop them and that to do it, I was gonna need your help and that’s when you handed me the journal.” Lucy rightly points out that this violates one of Timeless’ most major rules of time travel, that you “can’t travel into your own timeline.” And to that, Flynn and the show basically give a big ol’ shrug emoji.
Second, Jess is pregnant, but that’s actually not as GASP-y to me as the existence of her brother Kevin, a guy Wyatt says he’s never met. I am highly suspicious of Kevin. Wyatt informs Jess that in his timeline, Kevin died of leukemia as a toddler after undergoing some kind of cutting-edge treatment. Wyatt then wonders aloud how Jess’s family got the money for said treatment. She doesn’t answer, instead dropping her preggo-bomb. Does anyone else think all of this means that Jess’s family is somehow tied up in Rittenhouse like the D.C. sleepers were?
How are they gonna wrap all this up next week? Oh yeah, scheduling spoiler: Next week is the two-episode, two-hour season finale — but not series finale, right, NBC?! That would be the SNIFF *WHIMPER* SNIFF of all time, and the Time Team would know.