Monday night marked the return of Timeless to NBC, which took us to the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and felt a bit like déjà vu for me. I’ll explain why a little later, but for now let’s get into this week’s killer episode (I know. I’m sorry. ):
We pick up immediately where we left off before the hiatus, with Wyatt and Rufus coming back to Lifeboat HQ sans Lucy and telling the team they have to go and find her. Of course. They learn that Flynn is at the Chicago World’s fair in 1893 after having bounced around in time a bit. Wyatt and Rufus are ready and raring to go, but without a historian around (because there is only one, of course), they are looking for a needle in a haystack. A LOT of shit happened at this fair, and A LOT of very important historical figures were there. Nevermind, it’s looking for a needle in a stack of needles. Also, they are stuck waiting for the Lifeboat to charge, since they don’t have a handy nuclear battery like Team Flynn.
Speaking of Flynn, he’s decided that since Lucy stopped him from killing baby Rittenhouse, he is going to kill every single member of the organization one by one (smart move for the overall show, plenty of material to cover). He’s decided he’s starting with JP Morgan, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. All members, all important historical figures, and all at the World’s Fair.
Before Rufus and Wyatt head to the 19th century to get Lucy, Mason freaks the fuck out on Rufus for erasing the last mission’s recording. Rufus reasons that Rittenhouse would kill them all if they’d heard Team Lifeboat conspiring with Flynn to kill their founder, so why put others in danger? It says something about Mason that his first impulse is to help Rufus and his family disappear rather than just turn him over. Not much, since he got Rufus into this mess in the first place, but something. Either way, it doesn’t matter. Rufus isn’t leaving until Lucy is safe. Let’s take a moment to appreciate Rufus’s growth here. He went from “No fucking way am I risking my life going into the past for this shit” to “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND!” Team Lifeboat FTW.
Back to 1893. Flynn threatens to kill Lucy if she doesn’t help him kill Morgan, Ford, and Edison (who is paranoid as fuck, so Flynn is gonna plant a bomb before the big meeting). Lucy gives zero fucks if Flynn kills her, and I can’t really blame her, to be honest. Wyatt and Rufus arrive the next morning (which, I’m sorry, why don’t they just go back to five minutes before Flynn and Lucy land? YOU HAVE A TIME MACHINE!! YOU ARE NOT BOUND BY THE LAWS OF TIME!) and spot Flynn’s henchman when they are scouting Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy is a good bet if the boys had to guess who Flynn was after but, like I said, there were a lot of important fucking people at this fair. They decide to follow Henchman Bob (why not?) into the World’s Fair Hotel.
Meanwhile at a nearby pub, Flynn and Lucy are sipping a new blue ribbon winning beer, Pabst, while Flynn threatens Lucy, not with her own life, but with the lives of her team. See, he knew they would assume that he was after Teddy, and he lured them into what will eventually be known as the Murder Castle, the horrifying maze of rooms and torture chambers that became infamous as the hunting grounds of America’s first serial killer, HH Holmes. Now he has her attention, and she agrees to help him.
If I were Wyatt and Rufus, I wouldn’t separate to search this particular hotel, but it’s clear here that neither of them read Devil in the White City, because they do just that. Wyatt bumps into a young architect Sophia Hayden, and Rufus has less luck, finding a burned up jawbone in a room heater. All three end up being gassed and thrown into an airtight, soundproof room where they meet a man named George and freak the fuck out. 0/10. Would not recommend to friends.
Lucy takes Flynn to a magic show, for a little downtime, and to see Houdini (historically he wasn’t “The Great” yet, but that’s okay). Lucy tells Flynn there isn’t anyone better to get in and out of a tight spot. Lucy volunteers to be his assistant and, after a really cute moment of joy and awe on her part at his escape, Lucy tricks Houdini right into being held at gunpoint by Flynn. At least she apologized? She explains to him, after Flynn makes his demands, that her friends are in grave danger, and Houdini helps Flynn break into the meeting room., Before they reach the meeting place, though, Lucy cleverley mentions his “cutpurse” trick and so Houdini steals Flynn’s gun and cuffs him to the radiator. “Great Houdini” indeed!
He saves Lucy from Henchman Bob, and then agrees to help her save her friends, who are all still freaking out. Understandably. But hey, Sophia The Architect Who Happens To Be The First Woman To Attend MIT notices a weak spot in the wall! One of the bricks is concrete and spalling (basically water damage), and they can poke a hole in it, making the room no longer soundproof. This all happens just as Lucy and Houdini walk by and yay they save them! I love Houdini’s disappointment at Holmes’s unimaginative use of a bookcase to hide a secret passageway.
They are all leaving, but all is not well, as Lucy sees a picture of George on the wall, above the name “HH Holmes.” Now, I assume since Lucy knew what the murder castle was, she has seen pictures of Holmes before. I recognized him right away, but I digress. Lucy screams to everyone else, who have all inexplicably left her alone. IN THE MURDER CASTLE. Before anyone can come help her, George/Holmes drags her to his rec center in the basement. A great torture chamber. Hey, a man needs hobbies, right?
A claustrophobic Lucy panics when she awakens, until she remembers the advice Houdini gave her earlier. Fear isn’t real. It’s a reaction. Clear your mind and escape. She calms down and mind fucks Holmes with his own history and what she knows about him. It buys her enough time for Wyatt and Co. to come save her, killing Holmes in the process. While all this is going down, Flynn escapes his cuffs and kills some cops, free once again to terrorize time.
The team heads back home, and Rufus records a message for Rittenhouse. He will fly the Lifeboat. Period. No more spying, and if they kill him or his family, they’re fucked, since he is the only one who can fly the damn time machine. Rufus picked his side. Meanwhile, Flynn calls Wyatt and keeps his promise of telling him who killed Wyatt’s wife, but since Wyatt can’t go anywhere in his own timeline, he’d have to go kill dude’s parents to save his wife. Wyatt looks contemplative and the end. If it feels like a lot happened this episode, it’s because it did. I’d rather have had more of a focus on one storyline or the other, but hey that’s me.
Now, to my déjà vu: I have mentioned a book and series I love called Timebound by Rysa Walker. I’ve recommended it to people who like this show because, since the first preview I saw for Timeless, it has reminded me of these books. Well, this week was frustrating for me to watch. It was a good episode, but either the writers and producers are also huge fans of Timebound, or this is the biggest coincidence in the world. The book follows a 17yr old Kate, who travels back in time because someone (who is a lot like Flynn) is going back, changing history and causing catastrophic changes to occur as a result. I like Lucy so much because she is like a combo of Kate and her grandmother (who was also a historian, but different, I won’t spoil). Kate goes back to 1893. To the World’s Fair. And is captured by HH Holmes after convincing Harry Houdini to help her. At his magic show. Much like Flynn did (for the boys), the villain paid Holmes to kill Kate. There are several similarities and parallels between this book and this episode that, even though there are several differences in the overall show, there are enough similarities to make me feel like I’ve seen this story before. From journals to seemingly composite characters, the resemblance is striking.
If you liked this episode and want to read more about Holmes, the World’s Fair, and The Murder Castle, check out Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. Also again, if you like YA sci-fi, check out Timebound by Rysa Walker.