Timeless s2 ep 2

*SPOILERS*

In the present-day, Jiya is having visions of the future that she’s keeping to herself, but Nicholas Keynes has no such qualms. He’s perfectly happy to share some particularly grandiose, if much more speculative, visions of the future as he embraces his inner lunatic and sets about inspiring Team Rittenhouse with some sort of giant mural/ painting/ hot mess. Team Time, oblivious to all this however, are off to 1955 (Lucy in particular looking like she came straight from her Sock Hop shift at a Happy Days theme park) and the Darlington 500 which turns out to be a lot more entertaining than I thought it would be since my interest in stock car racing is slim to non-existent.

Like the show, I’m going to ignore my twinge of discomfort over how quickly, cheerfully and without regret Wyatt kills REDACTED and that other guy, on the basis that he had to and the last thing anyone needs is Wyatt getting gun-shy or me angsting about it. I’m just going to focus on the fun stuff instead, of which there is plenty.

As well as teaching us (well, me, anyway) about real-life African-American NASCAR icon Wendell Scott (a lovely, likeable turn from Joseph Lee Anderson), the show uses this week’s setting to remind us that Lucy and Rufus aren’t the only people who know stuff – Wyatt may be the muscle, but he knows history too, albeit only the kind that will burnish his macho man credentials: Wyatt knows “manly” history about things like sports and cars and, as we saw last week, WAR, you guys. To be honest, though, I don’t think Lucy or I were thinking about his academic abilities in that scene where the pair of them are wrapped in each others arms in the trunk of a car, just so they can get interrupted mid-pucker for the second week in a row. FFS! But more importantly, SQUEE!

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Timeless s2 ep 1

*SPOILERS*

If the break between seasons one and two has been something of a bumpy ride for Timeless fans (It’s cancelled! Noooooo! It’s back! Yes!), it’s been no picnic for the Time Team either. Mason Industries and most of its employees have been blown up by Evil Emma, so almost everybody in the main cast is holed up in a secret bunker getting on each other’s nerves while Rufus and Jiya try to fix the Lifeboat, Mason struggles with a crisis of confidence and Wyatt storms around in the world’s WORST mood because “almost everybody” doesn’t include Lucy, who’s been missing presumed Rittenhoused for six weeks.

It turns out of course that Dr Preston has actually spent the off-season with the all-girl Time Team Two – aka Emma and Carol – and is trying to bring Rittenhouse down from the inside because she thinks Wyatt, Rufus, Jiya and did she mention Wyatt, sob, are all dead and she has to save history and the world all by herself. As would-be Double Agent Lucy heads off to Saint-Mihiel and the Western Front in 1918, however, Rufus and Jiya fix the Lifeboat. Yay! And since that means Wyatt can actually do something to find his, er, “historian” instead of standing around shirtless, staring moodily into bathroom mirrors, he’s not hanging about: “Rufus, NOW!” and “Agent Christopher! We are Bringing. Lucy. Home!” pretty much silence any argument to the contrary (as if there was going to be one) and the boys are off to World War 1 as well.

The trip has its ups and downs for Lucy: it isn’t every day you have to murder someone to a) persuade a power-mad cult you’re ride-or-die for them so b) you can then ride and die with/kill them. But getting to meet one of the greatest women of all time (full disclosure – I’m not any sort of historian but I did a project on Marie Curie at school about a trillion years ago and I was almost as excited as Lucy to see her, the woman was incredible) is still lovely. As is running into Wyatt and Rufus, and did I mention Wyatt? As well as being adorable, the reunion does wonders to lift Lucy’s spirits, the boys’ and mine too because I am ALL ABOUT LYATT ALL THE TIME and so is this episode.

Not that we’re on easy street yet: our heroes have to split up again for a bit(Nooooo!)for plot reasons you don’t need me to explain, but it’s ok because this just means that when Evil Emma tells Carol “You can’t protect (Lucy) any more,” Wyatt appears and tells Emma “I can” and CJ gets so excited she has to put her head between her knees. You GUYS.

Anyway, there’s a lot more plot – sleeper cells, Carol’s grandfather(!?), Flynn(!) – and it looks like the season story arc might potentially shape up to be quite interesting, if maybe a bit convoluted. But I’m too busy squeeing my brains out at Lucy and Wyatt almost making out (FFS, Jiya, could saving history as we know it not have waited ONE MINUTE?) to really think about that right now. What Lucy Did proves the show isn’t afraid to go very dark (and kind of out of character, but what do I know) and that’s all very brave and very sad. But let’s not kid ourselves – we’re watching Timeless, not Breaking Bad. The main point of this episode was one long SQUEE-athon and I loved it.

Public Service Announcement 14 of 2018: Timeless, The Crossing, The Americans, Madam Secretary, Silicon Valley, Deep State

Unpopcult is very excited by the news that ludicrous-but-fun time-travelling drama Timeless is returning to UK screens this week. There’s a lot to be said for Timeless: it has a highly likeable cast; its Cases of the Week are generally entertaining, even if the Big Conspiracy isn’t the most diverting; and, to its credit, it follows through on its casting of an African American (the excellent Malcolm Barrett) in one of the lead roles by exploring what it might mean for a black man to drop in on, say, America in 1954, when he needs treated for a gunshot wound but the hospitals are segregated. And the costumes are great.

But – let’s be honest – we’re excited because we’re shipping Lucy and Wyatt VERY HARD INDEED, and if Wyatt has finally managed to get his STUPID DEAD WIFE out of his system and realise WHAT’S RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, we could be in for a treat. After its first season Timeless was cancelled and then un-cancelled, so we should probably appreciate it while we’ve got it (tonight, E4, 9pm).

ABC’s new Lost-wannabe thriller, The Crossing, started in the US yesterday, so it’s very much to Amazon Prime’s credit that it’s already available here. The premise is that a group of war-fleeing refugees turn up in America seeking asylum, claiming to be from 180 years in the future. Critical response has been lukewarm, and I don’t have access to Amazon Prime anyway, so if you try it let us know what it’s like.

On the subject of shows that I can’t legitimately watch, the sixth and final season of The Americans is starting tonight at 10pm. This annoys me because, despite regarding the show as a genuine best-thing-on-TV contender, the last couple of seasons were shown first on ITV Encore, a channel to which not everyone has access. And now it’s going out on ITV4, a more widely available channel, but I’ve lost touch with it so won’t be watching. (I think at least one of the past two seasons might have been repeated on ITV4, but I only know that because I stumbled across it halfway through.) Shame.

Also starting: the post-hiatus rest of season 4 of Madam Secretary (5 April, Sky Living, 9pm); season 5 of Silicon Valley (5 April, Sky Atlantic, 10.15pm); season 2 of Star (tonight, 5star, 10pm); and Fox UK’s new spy thriller Deep State, in which Mark Strong plays a retired hitman who has to deal with an MI6 cell gone rogue in the Middle East. Might be OK (5 April, Fox UK, 9pm).

Timeless s1 ep 16

If, as seems likely, we’ve seen the last of Timeless, it’s worth recording that it went out in style. The season-ender saw the team descending on Washington, D.C., in 1954, for its latest adventure in counterfactual history, this time starring Joseph McCarthy. There’s a major Rittenhouse summit due to take place, and Flynn intends to wipe them out in one go, first delivering Team Machine to McCarthy as Soviet spies. Meantime, though, Lucy has her own idea of how that might be done, and it involves playing something of a long game.

Events in the present day timeline also point a way towards the future, with Lucy’s REDACTED revealed to be Rittenhouse; Jiya suffering seizures which suggest – I think? – that she might be able to travel in time without the inconvenience of using a machine to do it; and Wyatt finally starting to move on from his stupid dead wife and see what’s been in plain sight for most of the show’s run, i.e. Lucy (now also conveniently free of that boyfriend she doesn’t actually know). It should be said that by this point Unpopcult is shipping Lyatt hard, and if the show is indeed over we’re consoled by the knowledge that this week’s flirty dialogue allows us to imagine they totally have a future together.

Not for the first time, it should also be acknowledged that Malcolm Barrett as Rufus was this week’s – the season’s? – MVP. And, on that note, the show during its run has done its best to grapple with the occasional incongruity, depending on the period, of having an African-American working on equal terms with his Caucasian colleagues, and to identify historical wrongs: this week, for example, Lucy doesn’t want Rufus to go to a hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound because the hospitals in 1954 are segregated, and the one she would need to take him to isn’t up to standard.

But this might well conclude our business with Timeless: in fairness, I was never quite sold on the big overarching conspiracy plot, but the week-to-week stuff was great fun: the team had chemistry, the clothes were fabulous, and the historical settings were more than good enough. I really enjoyed it, and in the event of renewal I’ll very much be back for more.

Timeless s1 ep 9

As I said last week, I wasn’t planning to review any more episodes of Timeless for now. But I’m bound, I think, to say that this one, in which Wyatt, Lucy, and Rufus are plunged into the middle of the final days of the Bonnie and Clyde story, was as good as anything this show has had to offer. In particular, Wyatt and Lucy get tangled up in a bank robbery, end up in a getaway car with Bonnie and Clyde, and thus find themselves required to impersonate another pair of lovers on the lam.

Which means that, without anticipating it, they’re suddenly in one of Unpopcult’s favourite genres, the Pretending To Be A Couple episode. So, out of nowhere, we get THE KISS, which, of course, even though it’s all make-believe both participants are TOTALLY INTO; the chaste sharing of a bed; the slightly awkward next-day conversation, all I-was-playing-a-role and I-know; and the walking away from each other looking conflicted and thoughtful. Just about everything we’d want from the Pretend Couple playbook, with a snuggling-up-on-the-sofa thrown in for good measure. And, for those interested in such things, Dr Luka Kovač is wandering around toting a gun while wearing a snappy 30s suit and hat combo. Tremendous entertainment.

Timeless s1 ep 8

An unusually-structured episode starts with present-day Gabriel Flynn visiting Wayne Ellis, an elderly man who was part of the NASA team which landed Apollo 11 on the moon. The BTM then heads to Houston in July 1969, where Flynn shoots and kills the younger Ellis, in order that his credentials can be used by Anthony to enter the Mission Control Center. Anthony, in turn, attempts to sabotage the moon landing by introducing a computer virus into the Center’s computer system. The LTM is close behind, of course, although Rufus can’t even begin to work out how to get a 2016 virus out of a 1969 system which has, as he puts it, less computing power than his toaster. And the stakes are high: the failure of the Apollo programme would have unhelpful consequences, according to Lucy, for the Cold War with the USSR. (And, also, more immediately, for Messrs Armstrong and Aldrin.)

Fortunately there’s someone already in the Center who can assist: African American mathematician Katherine Johnson, until recently very much an unsung heroine of the space programme. (Mrs Johnson is not only a real person; she is, joyously, still alive at 98, and is one of the subjects of the movie Hidden Figures, about to be released in the UK, in which she is played by Taraji P. Henson.) It won’t be plain sailing, though: communication with the astronauts is restored, but Rufus will be obliged to kill someone himself, and is troubled by just how untroubled he is in the aftermath.

Meantime, rather than trying to blow up Houston, or whatever, Flynn is off doing something else entirely: he befriends a single mother, Maria, and her young son. As Maria works at Lockman Aerospace, a company connected to the Apollo missions, the initial assumption is that this must have something to do with the main plot. As it happens, though, it doesn’t at all, and once again Timeless gives its characters a little more complexity than it needs to: just as Rufus is something other than a straight up-and-down hero, Flynn, not for the first time, reveals himself to be more than a villain.

As I prefer the episodes which are set in the last 50 years or so, I wasn’t surprised that this one pushed most of my buttons. This might be the last Timeless review for a while, though: with Homeland and Scandal back, and The Blacklist, Legion, Designated Survivor, and the 24 reboot on the way, there probably won’t be the time. But I’ll be watching this show until the end, I think.

Timeless s1 ep 7

We’re dropped straight into the action, with Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus chasing Flynn in 1754 during the French and Indian War. About which I know, well, not much at all. However, there doesn’t seem to be any reason, Rittenhouse-related or otherwise, for Flynn to be there, except to sabotage the LTM and disappear, thus leaving the gang stranded forever. Unless, that is, Rufus can bodge together a repair, while also leaving a message buried in a bottle for Mason to dig up in the present day. And, apart from some vicious Frenchmen and forgiving Shawnees, that’s kind of it.

As it turns out, then, this episode isn’t about altering (or not) history; it’s about the intra-team relationships. The boys are bickering, and Lucy gets drawn into it: recording, journal, sister, wife, etc. Meantime Rufus’s message-in-a-bottle, which provides clues as to how they might be rescued, has been more or less destroyed by the time Mason digs it up; but Jiya works it out anyway, because she and Rufus are totally into each other, which is actually quite sweet. They will kiss before the end of this watchable but underwhelming episode.