The only item on my Christmas list this year was a copy of Lucy’s damn journal. You’d think that with literally all the time in the world on her hands (or, at least, two time traveling machines momentarily at her disposal), the future Mrs. Logan could’ve eked out space in her skedge to provide us all with the Urtext that made this whole delightful series unspool — and that would’ve served as a handy-dandy refresher for all the fourth-dimension twists and turns we’ve endured so far.
With no such ghost of Christmas past arriving, and with my memory a bit faded in the seven months since the last episodes, I prepped for tonight’s series-ender by doing the next best thing: I Googled. And that’s how I found Abigail Spencer waiting for me (in an ET Canada video, of all places), as if I were Flynn drunking it up in a São Paulo dive bar, ready to tell me the only thing I’d need to know to make it through: “This two-hour finale is for THE FANS.”
Jesus, Mary, and the Mothership, was it ever. Incredibly satisfying and neatly resolved, the “Miracle of Christmas” two-parter served up an easy-to-follow storyline while confidently riffing on all of Timeless’s signature grooves: the Rufus one-liners, the evil Rittenhouse lore, the fights and shootouts, the lofty talk about fate and destiny, the oh-no-how-do-they-get-out-alive? anxiety. In my very first recap, I’d summed up the show as “Quantum Leap meets Lost.” Well, this finale was a quantum leap better than Lost’s.
We begin right where we left off: Rufus is dead, but future Lucy and Wyatt have just arrived to tell 2018 Lucy and Wyatt how to get him back. The question we’ve all been asking since then — but what about people not being able to time travel within their own lifespans? — is quickly explained away Princess Bride-style: revisiting your own timeline doesn’t render you dead, only mostly dead. Future Lucy (Flucy?) hands them her journal and tells them to figure it out on their own before she croaks, while future Wyatt (let’s just call him Beardo because of that LOL beard) tells thickheaded, present-day Wyatt that, of course, Jess was never pregnant and basically your entire marriage was a set-up (double-LOL!).
Before the Scooby Gang can determine what they’re supposed to do with that damn journal, the alarm goes off signaling that Rittenhouse has jumped to the California Gold Rush. Agent Christopher reminds them that their mission is still to follow Rittenhouse through space and time, even without Rufus — because “the world needs saving and that’s what Rufus would want,” but also because Lifeboat 2.0’s got autopilot! Putting their various relationship problems on hold, they go to Coloma, California, circa 1848, where they spot themselves on some Wild West “wanted” posters. True to her word, Emma has downgraded Rittenhouse’s objectives from “creating a better world,” “bloodlines,” blah, blah, blah, to something a little less erudite: “We’re gonna take out Lucy and her damn team.” Ask not what your nefarious shadow Illuminati can do for you, amirite? (Say I’m right or Emma will shoot you.)
The Time Team steals some horses and the horses turn out to belong to the real-life Zorro (natch), which puts them on an overnight tangent to lead Joaquin Murrieta to some nearby gold as payback. Along the way, Wyatt declares, “To save Rufus, Jessica has to be taken out of the timeline.” Flynn decides he’s up to that task; he autopilots the Lifeboat back to 2012 San Diego, the site of Wyatt and Jess’s critical argument that leads to her mysterious “murder.”
If you’ve read my past recaps, you know I’m prone to blurting out unintentional “uh-oh’s” when the going gets tough (and by tough I mean, you know, freaking awesome). Flynn boarding the Lifeboat was my first “uh-oh” of the night. It was like having the old, season-one, so-bad-he’s-badass Flynn back. He shoots dead the Rittenhouse agent who’d been waiting for Jess to get out of Wyatt’s car, then fights through those pesky time travel side effects to kill her, too. And then — huge “UH-OH!” that doubles as a “RUH-ROH?!” — he sends back the Lifeboat unmanned to spend his last breaths peaceably watching himself at home with his still-alive wife and child.
It’s a really fitting and feels-y end for Flynn. I remember him spending much of the second season in search of a purpose. After whiling away his time in prison without much of a raison d’être, he got busted out by Christopher and seemed to delight in taking the piss out of the Time Team. They, in turn, wound up softening his prickly demeanor. There was also his stint as the Scooby Gang’s de facto goon and that sorta-kinda sexual tension between he and Lucy, which never really went anywhere. Now, he’s found a principled way to go out that also serves the plot. “If anyone is expendable on this team, it’s me … Maybe this is for the best when I think about what I’ve done in the past,” he writes in his touching farewell letter to Lucy. Then, some foreshadowing: “I hope you get everything you want in life … One day, I hope you get to have a family of your own.” (Reader, I cried.) Then, taking the piss one more time: “Tell Rufus he can thank me later.” (Reader, I laughed through the tears.) In the end, Flynn gets what he hoped for, too. He gets to defy what Lucy told him in the bar in 2014: “You won’t get them back.” He does, if only for a few moments.
Back on the ranch, Lucy, Wyatt, and Jiya are tied up and awaiting Flynn’s rescue. Lucy delivers a Rufus callback when she muses, “Sounds like Flynn is really Flynning it up out there.” Then Timeless delivers the Rufus callback we’ve all been waiting for when IN STRUTS RUFUS!!!!! “Merry Christmas, you filthy animals,” he wisecracks. “AH-HA!” I shout out loud. All’s right with the world.
(Two teeny asides — I’m gonna stop and nitpick for a sec: (1) That Home Alone reference is fun and appreciated, except it sticks out a tad awkwardly, seeing as the rest of the two-parter is riddled with Back to the Future allusions; (2) of course, I get why they set all this at Christmastime, but it’s wholly unnecessary. Even if it did lead to Emma’s hilariously bad, “‘Tis the season … to finish what we started.”)
The whole finale could’ve ended for me with Rufus’ return — but wait, there’s more! The alarm sounds again; Emma’s jumped to the Korean War, specifically the Hungnam evacuation known as the “miracle of Christmas.” As the Time Team soon surmises, Emma’s only traveled there to find the most “out of the way” place in history to kill them. But, according to what Christopher and Mason discover back at the bunker, the Time Team will actually be killed on Christmas Day in a massacre committed by Chinese troops. Anxiety kicks in as I once again fret, Oh no, how do they get out alive? Christopher comes up with the why-didn’t-I-think-of-that solution, and another awesome callback: Ladies and gentlemen, Lucy’s dad! Christopher just can’t stop busting baddies out of prison! Cahill leads Christopher to Emma’s bunker, which is apparently on the D-list of Rittenhouse properties, and mocks Emma for using the Mothership just to “collect art.” It’s an apt bit of trolling, considering how much Rittenhouse has been relegated from grand rat-fuckers of humanity to petty murderers (which is the show’s fault, by the way, not Emma’s!) (Also, remember Nicholas? Haha!)
Before Christopher can get Emma to take her to Korea, the Scooby Gang pairs off into boys and girls and engages in a lot of gooey talk about twue wuv. (Y’know, Princess Bride-style.) Rufus tells Wyatt he’s still “totally shipping” #Lyatt, marveling, “You guys are like Han and Leia.” Jiya tells Lucy she’s not the same person Rufus fell in love with thanks to her three-year detour in Chinatown and she’s scared she never will be. Lucy and Jiya then strike up a conversation with a pregnant Korean woman named Yung Hee who’s banking on her husband and son to come back to her, not knowing that the Hungnam evacuation ends with the total separation of North and South Korea. Lucy decides they have to take her with them. When Wyatt asks if Yung Hee goes on to become somebody significant, Lucy replies, “What’s the point of saving history if we don’t save the people in it?”
There’s a bunch of literal back-and-forth as the Time Team tries to get their new friend to the port (with an adorable if typical baby-delivering scene smack in the middle, because why not?), then hightails it in the opposite direction to get back to their own ship. They wind up trapped and surrounded, which leads to more gooey talk, like when Lucy tells Wyatt: “I don’t care about the past anymore as we may not have a future. All that matters is right now.” (To be clear, I don’t dislike all this swoony filler. I love it while it’s happening. I just think we’re past the point of needing to recap it, no?)
Christopher shows up, flush with the exhilaration of her first time travel experience. Reluctant pilot Emma tries to spare her own life by promising Lucy she can bring back her long-lost sister, Amy, but it turns out Lucy no longer wants her back. Bye, Emma!
Amy’s return is arguably the last thread and definitely the oldest one that needs to be tied up in this finale, and I’m here to say I absolutely buy the show’s cop-out that Lucy just don’t care no more. After all, she’s learned from Flynn that sometimes you have to sacrifice someone you love for someone else you love. As she later explains to Wyatt, “Look at all the awful things Flynn did in the name of saving his family … When will it end?” (Another nitpicky aside: (3) Didn’t that scene between Lucy and Wyatt just sitting alone in one of the time machines feel awkward? Like, since when do we dawdle and chitchat in the machines like that? And they looked like they were adjusting their seat belts as if they were going somewhere instead of just coming back from Korea? Maybe some other scene was cut here that would’ve explained why just the two of them were loitering?)
After a cute and cheesy Christmas-scene denouement, allowing Christopher’s scarves a funny curtain call, it’s time for the last time-jump to 2023 — the new 2023, where everyone gets to shower and Wyatt shaves his beard. Tenured Stanford professor Lucy and clean-shaven Wyatt are now happy parents to Amy and Flynn, while Rufus and Jiya apparently rule Silicon Valley as the philanthropic power couple behind Riya Industries. I utter my last “uh-oh” as the original Time Team boards the Lifeboat one last time so Lucy can deliver that damn journal to Flynn and get this whole story started all over again. In the moment, I’m semi-convinced the show’s gonna throw everything cattywampus and leave us on a cliff-hanger, but it’s happily-ever-after in the end. (The only exception? The budding scientist who’s apparently designing the next time machine — and maybe is a descendant of Yung Hee? Did you think that, too? Please let me know in the comments!)
It’s a happily-ever-after, ride-off-into-the-sunset ending that I totally loved. Abigail Spencer summed it up herself in that interview I found: “Really, at the end of the day, it’s about a family.”