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TIMELESS Review: “King of the Delta Blues”

By on April 23, 2018

TIMELESS — “King of Delta Blues” Episode 206 — Pictured: (l-r) Malcolm Barrett as Rufus Carlin, Kamal Naiqui as Robert Johnson, Paterson Joseph as Connor Mason — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

 

TIMELESS REVIEW: “KING OF THE DELTA BLUES”

 

BY JENNIFER HOBBS

 

KING OF THE SECOND SEASON

Clockblocker fam . . . I’m still processing all the developments in last night’s episode!

When ScreenSpy shared the news back in March that episode 206 was a favorite of both Paterson Joseph and Sakina Jaffrey (Connor Mason and Agent Christopher, respectively), I knew we’d be in for a treat. But HOLY LIFEBOAT, TIME TEAM, did this episode deliver!

As someone who’s been a Timeless fan since the show’s start, I’ve been extremely pleased to see how it has evolved in its second season. Perhaps the threat of cancellation has caused the Timeless writers to go for broke, and I’m not complaining (other than to implore NBC to give us a Season 3!). This year’s Timeless has strayed from the formulaic go-back-in-time-save-history setup and given us complex plotlines, deeper character development and interpersonal drama, and several moral dilemmas.

They’ve thrown out the rule book on time travel (Salem Rebellion, anyone? Tipping off JFK to his own assassination?!), on who’s good and who’s bad (We don’t hate Jessica! Carol might be redeemable! Sassy Flynn is a Clockblocker fave!), and they’ve managed make each week’s rotating historical figure compelling in just one episode (#WendellScottForever). Timeless Season 2 has been a master class on how to kick a show into high gear without losing any of its heart, and last night’s “King of the Delta Blues” didn’t disappoint.

 

THE GODFATHER OF TIME TRAVEL

Apparently taking Flynn’s suggestion that they add a fourth seat to the Lifeboat to heed, Rufus and Jiya install one just in time for the team’s latest mission – to Texas in 1936.

While both Lucy and Flynn fail to guess why Rittenhouse would make the jump, Connor Mason knows precisely their motivation: Robert Johnson, the Godfather of Rock n’ Roll, rumored to have sold his soul to the devil for his once-a-century talent, is about to record one of the most influential records of all-time.

Proven to be the resident blues expert, Mason, drunk and mourning the impending official loss of his company and all his assets, gets roped into joining Lucy, Rufus, and Flynn (how many variations of the Time Team do you think we’ll get this season?) as the Lifeboat’s inaugural fourth passenger.

Meanwhile, Agent Christopher keeps a none-too-pleased Wyatt in the present so that he can execute a secret raid on the Rittenhouse headquarters, which she discovered when Carol Preston kidnapped her in the last episode. After imploring Flynn to “keep them safe,” Wyatt hears Agent Christopher’s plan and concludes: “Modern day, modern weapons. Count me in.” Hooray for the good guys finally going on the offensive!

The Time Team arrives in Texas and proceeds to “get some clothes, steal a car,” as Lucy and Rufus explain in unison. They make it to the hotel where Robert Johnson is to record his famous album just in time to stop a Rittenhouse sleeper agent from assassinating him.

Lucy introduces the team as “Taylor Swift and Agent Timberlake,” with Mason jumping in to claim “Lando Calrissian” for himself . . . giving a whole new meaning to “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”

Terrified by the attempt on his life and convinced that he’s been cursed ever since he “sold his soul,” Robert runs off before the team can stop him. Lucy stays behind to give a pep talk to the understandably rattled producer, Don Law, Flynn disposes of the sleeper agent’s body, and Mason and Rufus track down Robert, who’s unwilling to even consider recording the album. Stymied, the two stall for time by giving Robert a lift to a local bar so that he can say goodbye to his sister before skipping town. Rufus makes a frantic call to Lucy and Flynn, and asks them to grab the recording equipment and meet them at the local watering hole.

Flynn, meanwhile, takes advantage of his one-on-one time with Lucy to try and connect with her. In typical Flynn style, he starts out with a quip: “I’m way more fun on these missions than Wyatt,” before getting to the heart of the matter . . . Lucy’s diary!

With all of the craziness that Season 2 has thrown at us, it may have slipped some of your minds that Lucy’s journal played a significant role in Flynn’s time-hopping patterns in Season 1. It turns out that’s not all it did for him: “At first, all I cared about was that it was a tool to take down Rittenhouse,“ he confesses. “But dammit Lucy, sometimes I feel like I know you better than you know yourself.”

Before we can overanalyze these comments, the duo gets Rufus’s message, and gathers up Don Law and the recording equipment, only for him to be shot by a second sleeper agent, hiding in plain sight as his girlfriend, Betty! With Law dead, she heads straight for Rufus, Mason, and Robert.

Flynn and Lucy take off in yet another stolen car, and strangely, use the time to bond over their shared loss of loved ones. Flynn confesses the simple things about his wife that he misses: “Icy feet at night. The smell of her hair,” leading Lucy to admit that her sister had strawberry-scented shampoo, and that she’s convinced she’ll never get her back. But Flynn, whose emotional complexities we’re only just beginning to truly appreciate, encourages her: “I know, somehow, someway, we’ll save the people we love.”

They wrap up their reflections and arrive at the bar just in time to burst in on Betty attempting to shoot Rufus. Mason saves him, killing the agent, and then promptly goes into shock.

Rufus attempts to comfort Mason, and they have their own bonding moment. Still forlorn over his failures, distraught over killing someone, and struggling to process the death of Don Law, Mason is convinced that all is lost. Though he may be a huge fan of Robert Johnson, he’s certainly not the one who can persuade him to record his famous album. “Fanboys don’t save the world, Rufus,” he laments.

But Rufus knows better, and recalls a memory from when he was incredibly stressed out in college: “I was your fanboy . . . You knocked on my door with a double cheeseburger and a milkshake to tell me you believed in me.”

It’s a beautiful scene, and a reminder that Mason – while perhaps led astray by ambition and understandably depressed by his destroyed reputation – is still a force to be reckoned with. I’m curious to see what the Timeless writers do with this character who’s both smart enough to build a time machine and kind enough to bring comfort food to an undergrad. Will he make a heroic sacrifice to save Rufus? Will he redeem himself publicly? Will he find the inspiration to defeat Rittenhouse? What’s in store for the Godfather of Time Travel before the end of the season?

We don’t have too much time to contemplate it, because Mason is inspired by Rufus’s words, and convinces Robert Johnson to record his music. “To hell with oblivion,” he toasts, referencing his earlier attempt to drink himself into oblivion and avoid dealing with his loss of wealth and status.

 

CLIFFHANGER BLUES

Back in the present-day, Wyatt sneaks into an empty Rittenhouse warehouse and retrieves a code that Jiya tracks to a rather intense firewall. Underrated genius that she is, Jiya cracks the firewall in just a few hours, and it leads Wyatt to another Rittenhouse location.

This one turns out to be the real deal, and Jiya expresses her hesitations about sending Wyatt in solo: “Wyatt’s tough, but he’s not Chuck Norris.”

It seems Jiya might’ve been onto something, because while Wyatt takes out half-a-dozen Rittenhouse agents with ease, he hesitates when he comes across Carol, and she escapes with an armed Nicholas Keynes, as Rittenhouse agents set the warehouse on fire to destroy any evidence left behind. Looks like “Operation Kill Lucy’s Mom” is going down in literal flames.

Agent Christopher is NOT happy, and tells Wyatt to “figure out whatever’s going on with you and Lucy,” pronto. Before he can examine his feelings for Lucy too closely, the Time Team returns and are in great spirits, laughing, hugging, and reminiscing over Mason’s epic job producing Robert Johnson’s album. Indeed, Mason pulls out the record from his collection in the bunker, and notes that “Lando Calrissian” is credited as the producer!

Wyatt’s clearly disturbed to see Flynn and Lucy so chummy, and asks Lucy to give him a recap of the mission, but she tells him she’ll catch up with him tomorrow, and goes to find her new drinking buddy, Flynn, instead.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and it’s all good stuff. This episode does a wonderful job of exploring some relationships that we’ve overlooked thus far: Wyatt and Christopher’s soldier/commander dynamic, which is built on trust and respect, and which may be the turning point in forcing him to honestly reflect on his relationships with Jessica and Lucy. There’s Mason, who is both a father figure and a mentor-turned-mentee to Rufus, and whose experiences in Texas may have helped him get his groove back.

Most interestingly of all, there’s Lucy and Flynn, who’ve been adversaries, co-conspirators, and now . . . friends? Flynn’s observation – that he knows Lucy better than she sometimes knows herself, thanks to his familiarity with her journal – is certainly part of it. (What else does he know about Journal Lucy that neither she nor we do?) But as their scene in the car reinforces, Flynn and Lucy are also bonded by something deeper and more compelling than what connects the rest of the team: they’ve both lost people they love.

I don’t believe that Lyatt fans have too much to fear from this new Flucy development. Frankly, the biggest impediment to a successful Lyatt romance seems to be Wyatt himself. But in my opinion, there is definitely something more brewing with Flynn and Lucy. Perhaps they will pull a crazy stunt to save their families, or maybe Flynn and Wyatt will unexpectedly team up and do something dangerous to draw Carol back into Lucy’s life. I have no clue, and I can’t wait to see what the next four (Ahhh! How can there only be four more?!) episodes bring.

There’s one more relationship left to explore, Clockblockers, and it’s the most shocking of them all this week: Rufus, Jiya, and her visions. In the final moments of “King of the Delta Blues,” Jiya confesses to Rufus that she had another vision, “I saw you near the ocean, surrounded by cowboys. They had you trapped. You died.” WHAT?!?!?!?! Nope. Not okay. Nobody is offing Rufus on my watch!

While my emotions are still in turmoil, the logical part of my brain recognizes that just as Lucy begged Wyatt to shoot Emma in “The Kennedy Curse” because she was Rittenhouse’s only pilot, it would make a lot of sense for Rittenhouse to focus on taking out Rufus. Perhaps Jiya or even Mason could pilot the Lifeboat, but it certainly would slow down the Time Team. If I was Evil Emma or Crazy Keynes, I would definitely be focusing on eliminating our favorite cheeseburger-eating, Star Wars-referencing, one-liner-quipping hero.

For now, it looks like the only one in danger in next week’s cowboy-free “Mrs. Sherlock Holmes” is Lucy, so we’ll just have to wait and see what else we learn about Jiya’s visions.

Timeless continues Sundays on NBC.

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