The surprise NBC hit visits a variety of different eras and historical events while developing its lovable characters.
Spoiler Warning for the first season of “Timeless.”
If you could go back in time, when and where would you go? Time travel is not a new premise for a television show, but NBC’s “Timeless” manages to stand out by establishing a band of captivating characters that find themselves trapped in a conflict that spans centuries. While the future of the series is up in the air currently, the first season manages to be consistently entertaining, even being able to teach a history lesson each week. Get ready to jump in the time machine and explore the worlds of yesteryear.
The pilot episode started off simple enough; a group of armed men, led by Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić), steal a time machine and travel to the site of the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Lucy Preston (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanter) and Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrett) are recruited by Department of Homeland Security Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) to follow Flynn’s team to 1937 in the “Lifeboat,” a backup time machine. Their initial goal is to kill Flynn and prevent him from disrupting the events of history. They are completely unsuccessful on their first mission, when the Hindenburg lands without incident. From here, the characters must follow Flynn as he jumps to different periods of time in his attempt to rid the world of an enigmatic group called “Rittenhouse,” one of the series’ most gripping mysteries. By manipulating the original timeline of history in key eras and events, Flynn hopes to stop Rittenhouse from carrying out their sinister acts that affect his own life, as well as others living in the present.
One might think that most entertaining aspect of “Timeless” is seeing the various historical events that are explored. While this is an epic part of the story, the characters and their underlying struggles and secrets really make this a series that goes above and beyond the typical time travel genre. Lucy is dealing with the fact that due to the tampering with the Hindenburg disaster, her sister was completely erased from history and no longer exists in the present. The season follows her as she struggles to come to terms with the fact that she is the only person that actually remembers her sister while trying to figure out a way to get her back. There’s also Wyatt’s difficulty in accepting the recent death of his wife, who was murdered. Wyatt spends a considerable amount of time looking into ways to prevent her from dying, even going so far as to attempt to prevent her killer from being conceived. Finally, Rufus must navigate threats from Rittenhouse while forming a relationship with a colleague of his, an intelligent programmer named Jiya (Claudia Doumit). Over the course of the season, this trio builds a bound as they make an effort to help each other with their respective issues while maintaining their mission at hand of stopping Flynn and/or Rittenhouse.
If “Timeless” does happen to be renewed, there is a world of new events to explore, considering the series is pretty much a new adventure each episode. The first season visits some fascinating eras over the course of world history. From the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the Battle of the Alamo to the beginning of the Watergate Scandal and the last ride of Bonnie and Clyde, “Timeless” introduces some truly exciting scenarios and characters that build upon the story and create tense situations that could potentially alter the present time. One of the best episodes is the eighth of the season, which features the story of Katherine Johnson and her role in the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon. There’s another episode that tells the tale of serial killer H.H. Holmes, who used the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair to his advantage to reel unsuspecting guests to his hotel before murdering them; this particular episode also features famed magician Harry Houdini, who is thrown into the situation. The cast and crew do an excellent job of establishing the era and playing with the events to make the incredibly fragile situation feel intense, but also entertaining as bits of humor are sprinkled in.
The first season of “Timeless” really surprised me, managing to separate itself from many of the tropes associated with science fiction and time travel stories. Make no mistake, there are plenty of cliché moments, however the characters tend to make light of them. The first season boasts an impressive list of guest stars, including Annie Wersching, Colman Domingo, Nadine Ellis and Daniel Lissing, among others. With its well-developed characters, mind-bending scenarios and mysteries and its countless historical events, “Timeless” is a series that is an enjoyable ride that is definitely worthy of a second season. All episodes are available to stream on Hulu and NBC.com.