Time for a Timeless Twofer! Since I didn’t talk about “Stranded” last week, I’m going to touch on that a bit, and then it’s time for “Space Race”!
Last week, the team was trapped in 1754, during the French and Indian war. They were on no one’s side, and pretty much everyone wanted them dead. Our team had to get back to relying on and trusting each other after the troubling revelations of The Watergate Tape (Lucy’s journal and chats with Flynn, Rufus’s spying). First they’re imprisoned by the French and, after escaping, the Lifeboat is damaged and they become prisoners of the Shawnee. Between the damage to their ship and the imprisonment, the team has time to enact “PROTOCOL” and bury a message for their futuristic partners to find, letting them know what’s up.
We get some “end of life” confessions: Rufus will miss chocolate-covered Twinkies and be sad he never asked Jiya out again after their one bad date. On the other side of time, Jiya misses Rufus and wishes he’d talk to her. It’s nice to actually see SOMETHING about the non-travelers in the crew. Alas, the note is destroyed when they find it. The only words decipherable are “Millennium” and “death” which, isn’t foreboding at all.
Back in 1754, Rufus pleads with the Shawnee Chief for the lives of Lucy and Wyatt. The Shawnee agree, and they make it out, only to end up in a French encampment and with Wyatt (who stole the uniform off a dead French soldier to make things “easier” for them) nearly getting a mercury enema before they make an escape. They make it back to the Lifeboat and figure out that the navigation system is shit, but the ship can fly. It just can’t steer. At the same time, Jiya and Connor are eulogizing Rufus, when Jiya has an epiphany. The message is clearly meant for her, since she and Rufus had a running Trekkie vs Star Wars rivalry going on. “Pull us in like the Death Star did to the Millennium Falcon” is the message, and Jiya knows that they need to take over navigation mid-jump.
They crash land their way home, and Rufus and Jiya have a little smoochie time. Agent Christopher is FINALLY getting suspicious and decides to surveil Mason, and our team has some bonding time. They laugh about being “UFOs” and discuss the idea of fate vs choices. Things are getting back to normal, and it’s a relief.
The Space Race is probably one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in the 20th century, if not in modern history. Armstrong and Aldrin landing on the moon was an achievement not only for America, but for all humanity… But mostly America. We open on the tense moments before the landing, and I can’t help but hold my own breath in anticipation. Then we flash forward to Flynn talking to one of the Houston engineers from Apollo 11 in the present day. He tells them about the high security and the new badge he got (and couldn’t keep). Flynn and Anthony ask about how long he’s lived in his home, and then they leave. Only to hop back in time and kill him just before he heads to work on the moon landing. Goddammit. Well, at least they seem kinda sad about it, unlike when they kill the plumber so they call to steal his jumpsuit. Seriously? Have you never heard of packing? For being so well prepared, you’d think they could figure out some goddamn overalls. They steal Ellis’s (the engineer) badge, and the plumber’s clothes and get ready to fuck the moon landing six ways from Sunday. They have punch tape and modern day computer knowledge, which is a FAB combo.
Meanwhile, in “I don’t like my cover-ville,” Lucy (who doesn’t want to be a secretary), Rufus (who is a janitor and has no sympathy), and Wyatt (who is FBI and happy AF) are preparing to go to 1969 with no idea what the fuck to expect when they get there.
Flynn heads to Lockland Aerospace, which will soon be a very big company as far as national defense goes, but thus far is just a place for him to chat up a pretty woman named Maria (who is going to engineering school). Meanwhile, Rufus is emptying the ashtrays of his heroes. It’s like Christmas and 4th of July and meeting his idols all at once, and he’s terrified. You may remember who Gene Kranz is, but you probably can only picture him as Ed Harris (YAS Apollo 13), but he is there, along with several of the brightest minds in the world, and if Anthony ruins this, Rufus will never forgive him. It’s interesting to me, if we look at cause and effect. I mean, this is pretty much the culmination of rocket science, and a huge step forward in so many ways. Wouldn’t messing with this mess with Mason’s (and Anthony’s) very ability to invent time travel? I wish Timeless would figure out what theory it likes and stick with it.
Of course Anthony is ruining it. They didn’t come here to make things go smoother. He feeds some punch tape into the mainframe and fucks with the (enormous) computer, effectively destroying any chances Buzz and Neil have to get home. The comms are down, and when Rufus confronts Anthony, he’s told it’s too late and is left with Anthony’s briefcase. I’m not sure if this was some subconscious plea on Anthony’s part to fix it or not. I do know that Anthony is worse than Flynn. Flynn at least owns what he is doing. Anthony is still content to foist any blame onto someone else, refusing to take responsibility for anything going on. It’s infuriating and makes him (in my opinion) the least redeemable character on the show. I love me a bad guy, so long as he owns it. What makes Flynn so compelling is the fact that he doesn’t believe that he’s in the wrong. Anthony has no convictions, and that pisses me off.
So, Aldrin and Armstrong are trapped on the lunar surface, and the scientists have no idea how to help them. There is no help when a modern virus is put into an antiquated system. The people who know the hardware don’t know the program, and Rufus, who knows the program, doesn’t know the hardware. Let’s not forget the larger implications here, though. If the Russians win the Space Race, they’d win the Cold War, and we’d all basically be fucked.
I can’t help but feel like this is a great time for Flynn to head to the park and chat with Maria. They have some lovely conversations about her son, and Flynn is genuinely kind and charming. It’s weird. He’s not so kind to Anthony, however, when he’s informed that Rufus has the briefcase full of pretty key info. Anthony reassures Flynn that Rufus won’t be a problem. He doesn’t know the computer and collapses under pressure. Wow. Rude. Rufus feels especially betrayed by Anthony, and we learn that Anthony was the first one on the Lifeboat, and he barely survived (7mo in a hospital, barely). Rufus is mid- self flagellation because he can’t fix this, when he remembers that Katherine Johnson is in the basement. Johnson is an unsung hero of the United States’ aeronautics and space programs. She is brilliant, and a black woman working at NASA in 1969. Lucy and Rufus go to her for help, and she reluctantly agrees. There are some cute moments of Rufus trying to be impressed by the antiquated mainframes (TWO Megabytes of memory!) and they get to work.
Flynn and Maria are still bonding over lost children and spouses, while Nixon is in the background, breaking the news to the nation that Aldrin and Armstrong will be interned in space forever (fun fact: that is real footage Nixon recorded in case they didn’t make it home!). If you have been wondering where Wyatt is, well, he’s watching Maria. While he’s been keeping an eye on Maria and following that lead, a nervous cop blows his cover, and Flynn sees him staking them out at the park, causing Flynn to flee.
Back in the “Computer Room” I fall more in love with Katherine and we see that Rufus loves her, too. He’d never want to let her down and it’s wonderful to get to see Rufus meet an idol of his. He assures her that she is just as important as the men in Control, and even the men in orbit (this is true, as Johnson was instrumental in bringing home Apollo 13, and is an important person in history that few people know about).
Meanwhile, Lucy has a female empowerment moment over coffee and tells an asshole not to call her sweetheart, and Johnson deletes the virus with the help of Rufus. Anthony tries to stop them, and it’s clear that he doesn’t know Rufus as well as he thought he did. This point is confirmed when Rufus shoots Anthony’s henchman, killing him without hesitation as he and Lucy make their escape. This is a long way for Rufus since Vegas, when he pleaded for Anthony’s life, because they were friends once. The computers are back online and NASA is able to bring their boys home.
At Maria’s house, Wyatt is trying to get information about why Flynn is bothering with this woman who seems to have nothing to do with what is happening on the moon, when they learn the astronauts are safe. Maria goes to tell her son, and we see Flynn hovering over the boy, giving him an injection. Maria panics, but Flynn and Wyatt (holding guns on each other) tell her that it was a shot of epinephrine, and Flynn saved her son. Flynn tells her she was always so sad when he knew her and, having lost a child, he couldn’t bear to allow that to happen to her if he could stop it. Then he’s gone.
The team comes home, and they learn that Maria is Flynn’s mom. He just saved his half-brother. This pisses Lucy and Wyatt off, because they have to follow these damn rules. Agent Christopher reminds them that they aren’t Flynn, and stopping him is their priority. We see the seeds of possible rebellion being planted. Rufus isn’t sure who he is anymore, since being able to kill someone with no regrets, and Lucy and Wyatt are having a harder time working in the dark.