TIMELESS “THE SALEM WITCH HUNT” REVIEW
BY JENNY HOBBS
DOUBLE, DOUBLE, FOILS AND TROUBLE
Well, Clockblockers, we survived a week’s hiatus after the epic cliffhanger at the end of “Hollywoodland.”
In tonight’s episode, “The Salem Witch Hunt,” Wyatt’s wife Jessica is back due to some weird time-travel butterfly-effect nonsense, and our Time Team finds their rhythm a bit thrown off, to say the least.
To compound the craziness, it turns out that Jiya’s visions (which she finally shares with Rufus) depict him in danger – and in a pilgrim costume! After clarifying how bad the visions are – “Bad like I forget your birthday or bad like I screw up the Louisiana Purchase?” – Rufus and Lucy prepare for another trip in the Lifeboat.
Unfortunately, Wyatt stays behind to sort things out with his suddenly not-so-dead wife, because Lucy, in the most class-act move possible, tells him that she’s thrilled Jessica is alive and that everything is hunky-dory in the Bunker. With no other options left, Garcia Flynn steps in as the team’s muscle.
While Flynn’s presence is helpful in 1692 Salem (as historian Lucy notes, “Ummm . . . a woman and a black man should go with someone who has more . . . access?”), Agent Christopher and Rufus only agree to his participation under the provision that he won’t be armed.
Pay attention, Clockblockers, because this becomes a sticking point throughout the rest of the episode.
RAISING THE STAKES
As you can imagine, a spur-of-the-moment sojourn to Salem doesn’t go smoothly for our heroes.
Upon arriving, the Time Team 2.0 encounters a creepy-looking lady in the woods near Proctor’s Ledge, where the height of the Salem Witch Trial hangings took place. Rufus, forever quotable, suggests that: “Rule #1 don’t run toward the demonic entity,” but Lucy and Flynn pay him no heed. It turns out that the woman, Abby, is vehemently opposed to the trials, and is heading to the local tavern to speak out against them. We immediately realize that Abby’s cool because in addition to railing against some nasty power-drunk Puritans, she also shares this gem: “Beer: it’s proof that God wants us to be happy.”
In the tavern, Rufus spots a man with a scarred cheek, just like in Jiya’s vision. He’s immediately concerned that Scarface might be a Rittenhouse sleeper agent, and so Flynn channels some of his frustrations into an impromptu interrogation. Turns out, Scarface isn’t a sleeper agent, but now he’s definitely suspicious of the trio.
Meanwhile, a scary-looking dude in an awful hat, identified by walking-encyclopedia-Lucy as John Hawthorne, the Justice of the Peace overseeing the Salem Witch Trials, announces to the tavern that the nine accused witches will hang tonight.
Lucy panics, as there are only supposed to be eight victims. Quickly it is revealed that someone (*cough* Rittenhouse *cough, cough*) has accused Time Team 2.0’s new friend Abby of witchcraft. More problematically, it’s revealed that Abby is actually Abby Franklin, future mother of Benjamin Franklin.
Flynn begins a fruitless hunt for a weapon (“Damn Puritans . . . no one even has a butter knife!”) and the team tries to determine who could be Abby’s accusers, and get them to recant.
Much to Rufus’ chagrin, the trio heads for Abby’s sister, Bathsheba’s house, as she was one of the main accusers during the witch-hunts. Rufus decides to pass on the “Puritan Chainsaw Massacre” experience and scope out the jail, and so Lucy and Flynn force Bathsheba to confess to accusing the innocent women. Still, she swears she didn’t go so far as to accuse her own sister, and so it’s back to square one – or rather, back to the tavern – for the team.
Just as the trio is regrouping, a woman bursts in and accuses Lucy of being a witch . . . and it’s Lucy’s OWN. FREAKING. MOTHER. Our girl cannot catch a break today!
Lucy and Rufus are arrested, but thankfully Flynn escapes. In the jail cell, Lucy gives a rousing speech to the other women, defending them for being different, outspoken, and brave, and promising them that she’s proud to be in their company. It’s moments like these that make Timeless such a compelling and desperately-needed TV show (are you listening, NBC?!).
Before Lucy can fully bond with her fellow jail mates, Carol shows up and confesses to sacrificing Abby solely to trap Lucy and convince her to finally embrace her Rittenhouse roots. Lucy, in what has to be the best line a rebellious kid has ever delivered to a parent, stoically declares that “I’d rather be hanged,” though a distressed Carol nonetheless slips her a knife.
Flynn’s still in the wind, desperately searching for a solution and a weapon (“I vote bloodbath but I just need to find a damn musket!”), and manages to forcefully relieve Bathsheba and her husband of their hunting rifle.
Lucy, Rufus, Abby, and the other women are marched to Proctor’s Ledge, where things escalate very quickly.
Flynn shoots into the crowd, dispersing the bloodthirsty Puritans, and Lucy and Rufus manage to use Carol’s knife to break free and save Abby. In a moment that had both Clockblockers and Rufus applauding, Lucy goes rogue, and decides that history be damned, they’re rescuing all the women.
As Rufus is escaping with the last victim in tow, he’s stopped by Scarface. Desperate not to fulfill Jiya’s vision of him shooting Scarface, Rufus convinces the man to lower his gun and go home to his daughter. Scarface does, only to get flattened by a runaway carriage – a plot twist I definitely did not see coming.
An injured Lucy, rattled Rufus, and forever badass Flynn make it back to the Lifeboat, where Flynn gently buckles Lucy into her seat, just as Wyatt always does. (Anybody else starting to ship #TeamFlynn?)
YOUR ‘SHIP IS SUNK, GRAB A LIFEBOAT
Meanwhile, back in the present, Wyatt’s wife hands him divorce papers, declaring that she loves him but “can’t be married to a state secret.” So Wyatt, in his Season 1 hothead style, takes her to the Bunker. (Somewhere, you can hear the screams of #Lyatt shippers begging him to just sign the papers).
Agent Christopher is not thrilled, as Connor and Jiya have discovered that Rittenhouse went back to 1980 San Diego for only an hour, presumably to save Jessica. Does this mean she’s a sleeper agent? Or that her return will cause Wyatt to quit the Time Team? Nobody knows, and nobody seems particularly concerned at this juncture, because Jessica doesn’t even believe time travel is real until the Lifeboat pops back into the Bunker right before her eyes.
It’s as awkward as you can imagine: Time Team 2.0 encountering Jessica in their Bunker, after a pretty brutal day in Salem. Wyatt seems torn between wanting to assist poor, battered Lucy, and his wife, whose mind has just been blown. Flynn wins the Alpha Male face-off, and this opens a whole new can of worms for Clockblockers . . . Are we slightly shipping Flynn and Lucy now? Will the Bunker be gaining Jessica as their latest roommate? (How many bunk beds do they have down there, any way?!) Is Jessica a sleeper agent, and if not, then why did Rittenhouse bother to bring her back? Are Jiya’s visions destined to come true, or are they self-fulfilling?! SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.
The good news? We learn from Jiya that the Salem Witch Trials are no longer a historical event, and that the phrase “witch-hunt” doesn’t even exit. Instead, the Salem Rebellion has been immortalized in history books. Looks like even on her worst day, Rogue Lucy is a pretty powerful gal.
Watch out, Rittenhouse.
Timeless continues Sundays on NBC.