TIMELESS SEASON FINALE REVIEW: “THE GENERAL” & “CHINATOWN”
BY JENNIFER HOBBS
THIS IS HOW YOU SEASON FINALE
Last night’s two-hour season finale was a wild ride, and that’s putting it mildly. The Timeless team pulled out all the stops, giving us some closure but tossing in one helluva plot twist at the end that opens up a whole slew of possibilities for Season 3. If there was ever a show that deserved renewal based upon its season finale alone, it’d be this one.
Jaw-dropping endings aside, the Time Team was busy last night, traveling from Civil War-era South Carolina, where they worked to prevent Rittenhouse from altering the outcome of the war, to Chinatown in 1888 where a rescue mission went awry.
Along the way, all our burning Jessica questions were finally addressed; the Preston/Keynes family had a long overdue confrontation; Lucy, Flynn, and Wyatt continued to give us angst and all the feelings; we got some heart-wrenching Jiya moments; Mason and Agent Christopher solidified their status as Best Bunker Parents; and Emma proved to be just as unpredictable as ever. Suffice it to say: it’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a season finale this much.
OUT WITH A BANG
“The General” – part one of the season finale – kicks off with Emma’s arrival in 1863 South Carolina, where she gives a Rittenhouse sleeper agent a cheeseburger, a book outlining the entire military history of the Civil War, and a mission: stop a Union raid.
Taking advantage of her absence in the current-day, Carol brings Nicholas to a graveyard, where she tells him to “quit thinking with your crotch,” remember that Rittenhouse is about family, and that Emma’s loyalty is fleeting. She underscores her message by showing Nicholas her mother Ruth’s grave. Ruth was two when Nicholas left to run Rittenhouse, and it’s clear that Carol’s message hits home with him. If last night’s episodes had to be summed up in one word, the theme would definitely be family.
In the bunker, Mason and Agent Christopher share their suspicions about Jessica’s loyalty with the original trio, as Flynn is asleep. “Did you ever hear Flynn snore? Dude needs a CPAP . . .” (Just one of many Rufus one-liners gifted to us in the finale episodes of Season 2).
Wyatt takes the bunker parents’ interference in his love life about as well as you’d expect, and doesn’t let on that he’s also uncertain of Jessica’s loyalties. He confesses that she’s pregnant, leaving Lucy in shock, but – of course! – the alarm goes off and the team scrambles to determine which part of history Rittenhouse has endangered this time.
They quickly pinpoint the basics, “We’re going back to the Civil War again . . . yay!” Rufus quips, but Lucy stumbles to narrow it down further, thrown by the pregnancy news. “C’mon Lucy, defend your territory. You’re a history geek,” Flynn encourages, appearing just in time to help. Lucy pulls herself together, much to Flynn’s delight (“’Atta girl, show ‘em who’s boss!”), and realizes that Rittenhouse is heading for the Combahee River Raid, which was led by Harriet Tubman. The Timeless writers use this opportunity to share some cool facts about Tubman, whose work as a Union spy was so infamous, she was nicknamed “The General,” and whose bravery is even immortalized “across the pond,” as Mason shares. It’s a small moment in the midst of lots of plot-driven chaos, but it’s a testament to just how clever the team behind Timeless is at sharing overlooked and fascinating and bits of history.
As the team preps for a ride back to 1863, Wyatt says goodbye to Jessica, and tries one last time to get some information on her brother, who died in the original timeline, but was miraculously cured from his childhood cancer in this one. She doesn’t budge, and distracts him by discussing their baby, which it soon becomes clear no one on the Time Team even thinks is real. Thanks to his nap, Flynn’s still not up to speed, “What’s up with Captain Sunshine?”, and the subject is tabled when they arrive in the 1860s to find that the regiment who was supposed to carry out the raid was killed by a Confederate army led by the Rittenhouse sleeper agent.
Harriet Tubman comes across the team, and they convince her to help them find the “Confederate spy” and save the Union’s efforts. “We are not gonna lose this frickin’ war,” Rufus reassures her. Unfortunately, Harriet is also short a regiment, and so Lucy proposes that she and Flynn go find Colonel Montgomery (historically known for his part in the raid) and convince him to assist Harriet, while Wyatt and Rufus infiltrate a nearby plantation to uncover the sleeper agent. Wyatt is supplied with some plantation-owner clothes that, in a moment of levity, are identical to those KFC’s founder wore. “I’d like some extra crispy chicken tenders, Colonel Sanders,” Rufus requests.
Meanwhile, in 2018, Jiya has hacked Mason’s records and discovered that the previous Lifeboat pilot, Stanley Fisher, had visions of his own which eventually caused him to be hospitalized in a psych ward. She insists upon visiting him, something Mason discourages until he realizes that it may help her save Rufus’ life. Quickly we realize that Jiya is not the only person who loves Rufus beyond reason.
Stanley – who’s definitely not completely with it – tells Jiya that she has to embrace her visions, and that if she hasn’t yet seen the “forbidden colors,” she will.
Back at Harriet’s camp, we learn that Jiya isn’t the only one who has visions. Harriet herself foresaw the arrival of the Time Team: “You were like angels, appearing out of nowhere. Like you were sent straight from heaven. But in my vision, you were stepping out of a giant metal ball. Go figure.” Ummm, what?! Harriet Tubman has visions, too???
While Wyatt’s busy introducing himself as “Rhett Butler” at the local plantation, Lucy is sticking it to Colonel Montgomery until he agrees to provide reinforcements for Harriet’s raid. Wyatt and Rufus locate the Rittenhouse spy, but not before the man outs them as Union supporters, and a shootout ensues. Harriet handles things outside, killing a man who tries to tell her to “know her place,” and proving once again that she’s history’s ultimate badass.
Wyatt handles the enemy fire with ease – and a modern weapon – declaring, “I can do this all damn night,” while Rufus locates and burns the sleeper agent’s book of Civil War history. They chase him out to the front lawn where Harriet gets the kill shot, and Lucy and Flynn have arrived with Colonel Montgomery’s forces. There’s a powerful pan away showing Harriet’s true “place” in history – leading an army backed by freed slaves, Montgomery’s men, and . . . the Time Team.
The fab four arrive back in 2018, and Jiya and Rufus decide to try and embrace her visions, while Lucy gives Wyatt an impromptu hug, putting aside all their latest angst. Honestly, none of us deserve her at this point; she’s simply too good for this world. The genuine emotion behind her hug seems to rattle him a bit, and he even suggests to Jessica that it may be best for her to leave the bunker under the guise that she should have appropriate medical care while pregnant.
Turns out, Jessica doesn’t like this suggestion, because when Wyatt wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t find her, he hears the time machine being fired up and investigates. To his horror, Jiya’s in the pilot’s seat . . . with JESSICA holding a gun to her head. Wyatt races up the stairs to try to stop them, but he’s too late, and THAT’S how part one ends!
Thankfully, the two episodes aired back-to-back, and so Clockblockers immediately saw the aftermath of Jessica’s actions.
Rufus is infuriated, finally telling Wyatt something he’s needed to hear for ages: “You are so worried about your stupid Lucy/Jessica soap opera that you forgot that there are other people here. Who matter to each other. Who love each other.” Flynn essentially calls Wyatt an idiot, prompting Wyatt to attack him. Lucy tries to pull him off, and he accidentally hits her instead, causing her to run off and firmly ensconcing Wyatt in everyone’s doghouse.
While the Time Team unravels, Jiya is taken to the new Rittenhouse HQ, where she is forcibly given a sleeping pill and expresses how deeply Jessica’s betrayal cuts: “We watched an entire season of Vanderpump Rules together!” Carol, Nicholas, and Jessica toast to their success without Emma, who finally realizes that even a relationship with Nicholas can’t elevate her beyond lackey. Jiya, never one to be a damsel in distress, pretends to have passed out in her cell, and then kills the Rittenhouse guard who checks on her by strangling him with a bedsheet. She makes a break for the Lifeboat and hops in while Emma shoots at her, damaging the time machine. Jiya is able to make the jump anyway, alerting the bunker, but can’t stick the landing due to the mechanical issues.
With Jiya lost in time, the bunker immediately runs through protocol, searching through history to find ways Jiya may have tried to communicate with them. Lucy, ever brilliant, recalls a book that Jiya had become obsessed with once she started having visions, and sure enough, there is a photo of her in the book. It’s clear that she’s in San Fran’s Chinatown in the 1880s, and even better . . . she’s hidden a message in Klingon in the photo. Strangely, she tells them not to come for her, though she does leave the location of the Lifeboat. “Well the hell with that,” Lucy declares, and they spring into action. Rufus and Mason follow Jiya’s message to a random spot in the woods, were the Lifeboat has been overgrown by vines and left out in the weather for a hundred-plus years.
The engineers manage to restart the machine, and Rufus decides that the fab four are all going back, since he wants the extra manpower.
They arrive in Chinatown, and track the photo of Jiya to a local shop, where Emma, Jessica, Carol, and Nicholas, are hiding. Emma tries to shoot Lucy from her hiding spot, but Carol intervenes, and Emma finally loses her patience, shooting Carol instead. Nicholas Keynes is shocked (as are we all!), and Emma shoots him too, before escaping with Jessica in tow.
Wyatt and Flynn pursue the Rittenhouse runaways, while Lucy goes to comfort her mom and Rufus pumps the shop owners for information about Jiya. Carol confesses to Lucy: “I was so selfish. I took your sister away from you so that we could have more time. I should have told you sooner about your role in Rittenhouse. There is still so much you don’t know about our family, about your father. It still belongs to you. All you have to do is take it. It’s my last wish for you.” Lucy is in shock, and infuriated that her mother’s regrets are that she didn’t indoctrinate her earlier, and yet . . . the audience is left to wonder. Is there more to Carol’s deathbed confessional? Is there a future in which Lucy takes control of Rittenhouse and turns the tide?
We can’t contemplate it too much, because Wyatt’s having a final confrontation of his own as he catches up to Jessica. She explains that Rittenhouse raised her, saving her brother, giving her a purpose, and that they are her family. She tells Wyatt she would have killed the entire bunker but spared him, because she really is pregnant and he really is the father. “Then we’re your family,” Wyatt pleads, imploring her to think of their baby, but to no avail.
Rufus tracks down Jiya, where she’s working in a saloon. Jiya’s turned into a Harriet Tubman-level badass in her time away, which we learn has been three years. She tries to force Rufus out of the saloon and back to 2018, much to his confusion: “What are you hiding, do you have a hot Asian boyfriend now?!” but she then explains that in her visions, whenever she goes home, he dies.
Flynn doubles back for Lucy, who’s still in shock over her mom’s death. She asks if he and Wyatt tracked down Emma and Jessica and Flynn vehemently explains, “I don’t give a damn about Wyatt. That’s not why I’m here.” It feels like he’s about to confess to Lucy that he loves her, but before he can, Wyatt interrupts, much to the frustration of Flucy fans. It’s another moment that’s a testament to the Timeless writers’ talent: if you had told me and the end of Season 1 that I would be frustrated with Wyatt and a fan of Flynn by the end of Season 2, I would never have believed it.
The Time Team reunites with Jiya, and there are elated hugs for almost everyone. “What, no hug? I’m practically family now,” Flynn asks, prompting Rufus to reply “Yeah, the creepy uncle.” Jiya is still refusing to leave, because her vision has shown her that Rufus dies when she does, but Lucy has reached her limit for the day and gives a rousing speech that culminates in the heartfelt declaration: “We’re family. We’re going home together.” Rufus approves, noting, “That was like, better than the speech in Rudy.”
In a great parallel, as the team figures out a way back to the Lifeboat, Mason and Christopher nervously wait things out in the bunker. “It’s like walking around with your heart on the outside,” Mason explains, as he talks about how much the team, especially Rufus, mean to him. “There’s a word for that,” comments Christopher: “Family.”
Unfortunately, awful Emma is still on the loose, and is now the self-declared “bitch with the time machine,” causing Jessica and some bodyguard goons to fall in line. They bust into the saloon, looking for Lucy, and Flynn and Wyatt decide to hold them off while everyone else makes a break for it. Jiya is still reluctant, but Lucy drags her along, only for the scene from her vision to unfold. Just as a Rittenhouse agent comes up behind Rufus to kill him, Jiya is able to shoot the man and save Rufus, something she never foresaw in her visions. They kiss, and we’re elated, even though Emma’s escaped and Jessica (shot by Flynn, but spared thanks to Wyatt’s pleading) has, too.
The rag-tag group starts to exit the saloon, but Emma is hiding around the corner and starts shooting again, this time hitting Flynn and Rufus before taking off. Lucy has had enough, because she picks up a dropped gun and chases after Emma, much to Wyatt’s terror. Flynn, severely injured, takes off after her. Wyatt and Jiya have their hands full with Rufus, whose injuries are much more significant than they first realized, and in a heartbreaking and shocking scene, Rufus dies in Jiya’s arms. While we’d been forewarned of this ending practically all season, it that certainly doesn’t make it sting any less.
Lucy manages to catch up to Emma and shoot her, knocking her down and giving Lucy the opportunity to finally confront the evil redhead: “What do you do to someone who has taken EVERYONE you love? My mother, my sister.” She’s sobbing and shaking and nearly can’t bring herself to do it, but gathers her resolve and puts the gun to Emma’s head. As horrified as we are for Lucy and all that she’s lost, it’s a bit cathartic to see Emma cornered and afraid for a change. Unfortunately, it’s a short-lived moment, as the chamber is out of bullets and Emma quickly rallies with a smirk and then a smack down. She tussles with Lucy, clambering on top of her and beating her over and over again. Before things can get too gruesome, Flynn catches up to them, shouting for Lucy and chasing Emma off. Lucy grabs his gun and shoots repeatedly at Emma’s fleeing figure, but is a terrible shot and emotionally incapacitated, sobbing in Flynn’s arms as he holds her.
With this bleak outcome and without Rufus, the Time Team returns to the bunker. Christopher and Mason’s joy at the sight of Jiya is short-lived once they catch sight of Lucy’s bloodied face and realize that Rufus is dead. Mason in particular is distraught, declaring that he’ll learn to the pilot the Lifeboat himself so that he can go back in time to save Rufus, as the others cannot return to a time where they existed. He and Jiya grieve together, while Lucy sits numbly icing her face.
Wyatt seeks Lucy out and declares, “This is my fault. All of it. I promised Rufus that I wouldn’t let anything happen to him. I was supposed to protect him. And then I messed everything up. Just like I did with us.” It’s clear that guilt is eating at him, and that his emotions, put through the wringer thanks to baby mama drama of the first order, have hit their peak. But Lucy, gracious even in grief, reassures him that while he did mess things up with her, Rufus’ death isn’t on him, and that he managed to bring Jiya home safe, which is what mattered most to Rufus. Overwrought, and perhaps finally able to see clearly, Wyatt confesses, “I love you Lucy. You don’t have to say it back. You don’t have to say anything. I should have said it a long time ago, but I’m saying it now. Rufus wanted me to admit it. Wherever he is, if he’s watching, he’s saying ‘It’s about damn time.” At this point, all of our emotions are a wreck, but we’re not the only ones . . . Flynn sees them bonding from the around the corner, and walks away.
There’s only a few minutes left in the end of Season 2 and if you think Timeless has thrown you every possible gut-punch and plot twist in the book, then you’ve clearly underestimated the show, because just as everyone is settling into their grief, the Lifeboat landing area starts to make a strange noise and a newer, nicer, SECOND LIFEBOAT arrives. The team is in shock, and scrambles for weapons as they surround the machine.
The door pops open and . . . FUTURE LUCY AND WYATT HAVE ARRIVED! Both look a little rough, with Wyatt sporting a full beard and Lucy in a Lara Croft-style outfit with her hair chopped chin-length. While everyone’s minds are blown, Badass Lucy asks the stunned bunker, “You guys wanna get Rufus back or what?” and then the screen goes black.
THE FUTURE OF TIMELESS
Whew! There’s a lot to unpack here! While we have just enough closure to survive should Timeless not receive a renewal, it’s much more fun to debate what a Season 3 may bring.
The arrival of future Lucy and Wyatt means that the Time Team has obviously figured out a way around the rules of time travel which prohibit returning to a timeline where you already exist. This also opens a whole lot of possibilities: is this the Future Lucy who gave Flynn the journal? Can she go back and rescue her sister now? Why not just come back earlier and tip off the team to Jessica’s double-agent status and prevent Rufus from dying? Who built the second Lifeboat and how did Wyatt and Lucy learn to pilot it? Are they together? Where is the rest of the team? What is Rittenhouse up to if Wyatt and Lucy are still on the run? Will Lucy ever take them over and destroy them from the inside? What happened to Wyatt and Jessica’s baby? And WHAT THE HECK are ‘forbidden colors?’”
There are dozens and dozens of questions that this latest revelation prompts, and my hope is that we get some answers in a Season 3! In the meantime, many thanks to the Timeless team for giving us such an incredible show, and to all of you Clockblockers for reading my recaps each week!