Timeless closes out its first half season with a kidnapped time traveler and a dead traitor in The Capture of Benedict Arnold.
One of Timeless’s biggest issues since its premiere has been the lack of stakes for anyone other than our core trio. We don’t see much of the rest of the team’s lives outside the Mason warehouse, and so we can’t get invested in them. This episode made some headway in this regard, and we get to see Agent Christopher’s family and home life when she and her wife have Lucy over for dinner. Christopher wants Lucy to meet them, and gives her a flashdrive to keep in the Lifeboat in case something happens and her family disappears. It’s a lovely moment and hits close to home for me. As a parent, you think nothing could be worse than losing your child, until you think of never knowing them in the first place. We also see Rufus and Jiya hanging out and Rufus relaxing a bit, playing video games with his girl. That is, until a drunk Mason shows up. Even here, though, we see more of what makes Mason tick when he warns Rufus against fucking with the recordings anymore and talks about wanting to just invent things, and how he never wanted to deal with bureaucracy or the hassle of running a company. This is what I’ve been waiting for. Give me a reason to care about what happens to these people.
The team heads back to New York in the middle of the Revolution, on the morning Washington learns of Arnold’s betrayal. I’ve been watching and listening to too much Hamilton (Ha! JK not possible) and wasn’t really impressed with Washington, to be honest. On its way to to Arnold’s house to see what Flynn is up to, the team is caught by Washington and held under the assumption that they are working with the infamous traitor. While in custody, who should pop in but Flynn? He asks for their help in stopping Rittenhouse and even sweetens the pot by threatening to have Washington killed should the team try to shoot him or otherwise raise alarm. The team agrees, under clear duress and Flynn tells Washington that they are in fact spies, but are willing to work for the Patriots and return Arnold to face his judgement. Washington agrees and off they go.
Once they’re released, Flynn tells them that he’s not there to help Arnold (though he won’t be handing him over to Washington, either), he’s there to interrogate him over Rittenhouse. The parchment Flynn found in the clock is a letter from Arnold to his wife and the invisible ink mentions Rittenhouse by name. So Arnold is a founding member. Okay. Well, at least we know it doesn’t go back to Columbus or Da Vinci or anything. Team Timeless Plus Flynn “defects” to the British forces and scores a meeting with the man himself. Hell, they even meet Cornwallis! Flynn could use some lessons in patience, however, and kills Cornwallis and gets to interrogating Arnold. Sheesh, dude, calm your body. Arnold, understandably, isn’t really down for talking about Rittenhouse, and it’s only Lucy’s empathy over his mistreatment by Washington that causes him to relent. See, Flynn? More flies with honey. Turns out Rittenhouse is just a single man at this time, so YAY! Arnold won’t introduce them, however, and thinks it’s hilarious that they think he would. Flynn convinces him by bringing up Arnold’s young wife, who will hang for his treason and Arnold agrees to help them.
This leads to the moral question that has been the center of the show. At what point is preserving history the greater evil? Rittenhouse has had a major hand in the very fiber of America since its inception. What would destroying it now do to the nation? What kind of world will they be going back to? And, just because it’s history, does that automatically make it right? This is what I’m here for. I love the moral ambiguities and the questions raised whenever time travel is discussed. The team decides that stopping Rittenhouse is more important than preserving history, and off they go with Flynn and Arnold to kill a douchenozzle.
On their way they make a stop, and Lucy and Flynn have a moment alone. We see a softer side to our villain as he takes care of the horses and talks about wanting to be a cowboy. Again, we get to see more into his character and learn that he has no intention of staying with his (hopefully alive) family when this is done. He’s done too many terrible things and can’t bring that darkness to them.
They get to the Rittenhouse house and decide it will be best to leave Rufus behind, since these are “idiotic, unenlightened times” (I feel ya, Flynn) and it will be hard enough for Rittenhouse to take a woman seriously, let alone a black man. Rittenhouse is a dick, clearly. While waiting to see the jerk himself, Wyatt, Lucy, and Flynn spend some time with Rittenhouse’s son, John. Dude is a clockmaker. I shit you not. John spends some time talking about how his dad pretty much says that people are too stupid to be trusted with their own lives and need a shadowy group to control them, while giving “the peasants” the illusion of a voice. We don’t ever learn if John agrees with his dad, though, since the man himself chooses this time to pop in.
David Rittenhouse sees right through all of them and holds them all at gun/knife point. He apparently thinks Arnold is just too stupid to live, and so pretty much empties Wyatt’s gun into his chest. Dude really likes that gun. He decides to kill Wyatt and Flynn, but sends Lucy to his bedchamber.I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be on the other end of the look Wyatt gives David at that. Have I mentioned Rittenhouse is a giant asshole? While all of this is going down, Rufus has been fostering a bit of a slave revolt. The timing works out well, and Rufus stops Rittenhouse before he scars his kid more by making him watch a couple more executions and a rape. The team overpowers Rittenhouse’s henchmen, and Flynn kills David mid-”there are more like me” bad guy speech. John escapes, however and this pisses Flynn right off. He can’t let John live to continue his father’s work!
Flynn hunts him down, hesitating for a moment when John is crying and begging for his life. Clearly this isn’t something Flynn wants, but he feels compelled to wipe all trace of Rittenhouse off the map, and I can’t say I blame him, to be honest. Just as he’s ready to shoot the boy, Lucy stands between them and begs Flynn not to do it. While she is pleading with him, John runs away, and a super pissed off Flynn kidnaps Lucy and takes her on the Mothership while Wyatt and Rufus arrive juuuuust a hair too late.
What did you think of the mid-season finale of Timeless? Are you excited for more? Did you like seeing the personal lives of the more tangential characters as much as I did?