Few people are as romanticised as Wild West outlaws, and none more so than Jesse James. From books, to movies, to TV, his legend is one of adventure and frontier era American ballsiness. His story is tragic and bloody and, this week, Timeless takes on The Murder of Jesse James.
Last week, Flynn kept his promise and told Wyatt the name of his wife’s killer: Wes Gillman. This week opens with Wyatt visiting Gillman in prison, where he’s serving time for the murder of two other women, and while he says he would change it if he could, he can’t, and he doesn’t seem exactly sorry about it.
Meanwhile, Lucy is having terrible dreams about her sister, who is has been erased from history but is still able to guilt-trip Lucy over forgetting her birthday. I mean, in Amy’s defense, Lucy has done literally nothing to fix this huge mistake and bring her sister back into existence.
In sort of happier news? Jiya smoochies on Rufus, happy that Mason told her she will be training to be the new Lifeboat pilot! Yay! Except not really, since that was the only leverage Rufus had over Rittenhouse to save himself (and everyone he loves) from Rittenhouse’s wrath. When Rufus confronts Mason about making him expendable, Mason replies that Rufus told him to pick a side, so he did. It’ll be interesting to see a less conflicted enemy right in the team’s midst. Flynn is less a villain than a tragic anti-hero at this point, and Mason will give us an everyday face to the evil of Rittenhouse.
So, everyone is having a pretty great day on Team Save Time. It’s clearly the perfect time for Flynn to take a trip to April 3rd, 1882, the day Jesse James was murdered by “The Coward Robert Ford.” James was shot in the head while dusting a painting, Lucy lethargically points out, as if this wasn’t the ONE thing we all know about the outlaw. Lucy is not herself.
Flash to James, who is (not shockingly) a giant egomaniacal asshat. Just as he’s about to get a bullet to the brain, Flynn shoots the Ford brothers and saves his life. Frankly, I’d’ve shot him, too, he’s such a dick (kudos to Daniel Lissing). Flynn asks for James’s help and before you can say “giddyup” the two are off in cahoots. Flynn wants James to help him find a “treasure,” except it’s not actually money, it’s a person and a cause. James scoffs at the notion, but agrees to help when the bag of gold hits the table. Jesse James is one boastful, obnoxious character who preens for a waitress who recognizes him, and goes out of his way to shoot two Marshals, rather than sneaking out the back. Yeah, a real asshole.
Hot on their trail is our band of depressed and listless heroes. Seriously, these three are off their game and clearly do not have their heads on straight. Lucy couldn’t give a shit about anything, and Wyatt is just itching to get out there and kill Jesse James, hiding behind the pretense of preserving history. Rufus is the only one on the team who seems to have his game face on. Wyatt informs the team that they need a guide to help them navigate “enemy territory” and finally Lucy pulls her head out of her ass long enough to bring them to see Bass Reeves (Colman Domingo), AKA The Lone Ranger AKA one of the first black deputy Marshals . I love Rufus exclaiming “The Lone Ranger is black?!” Why not? It worked in Blazing Saddles. After they convince a reluctant Reeves to go with them, they meet Grant Johnson AKA “Tonto.” I love that when Wyatt calls Johnson that under his breath, Johnson calls him on it, telling Reeves “This guy just called me a fool in Spanish,” pointing out the ridiculousness of the name.
Meanwhile, Jiya is training and, on the side, hacking the video files that Mason assured her don’t exist. This will end well. I can tell now.
Back in 1892 the team is getting ready to go, and Lucy can’t even get on the horse. It’s a cute bit of physical comedy, and my only real complaint for this whole episode is that nowhere was it depicted how fucking saddle sore all three of them would be after hours of riding horseback. Let me tell you, so fucking sore. But hell, if that is my only complaint? I’ll take it. They head into town and live out the “scary version of Blazing Saddles (Rufus, never change)” and my favorite scene. Rufus asks Grant if he’s gonna track James by footprints and branches, and Grant gives the sassiest reply ever about how the spirits will guide them. When Rufus, awestruck, says “Really?”, Grant replies “No, we’re going to interview people and follow leads” and I’m very much in love with how they are shooting down all these stereotypes about Native Americans.
They catch a break when a waitress remembers Flynn and James and is able to draw the team a map of where the two were headed, and they’re off to catch ‘em! Flynn sees them following him (of course). He and James talk more about Flynn’s “righteous cause” and James tells him about how he had a cause once (The Confederacy), but when the war was over, he realized it wasn’t so much a cause as it was an excuse to do what he really wanted, which was kill people. He’s a sweetheart. While they are having this talk, Flynn and James notice several Indians with rifles watching them. James does what he does best, and kills them all (we don’t see how, and I’m amazed because, if Star Wars III taught me anything, it’s that if you have the high ground you’re basically invincible). The team finds them and decides to set up camp to bury them and rest their horses (and your aching ass and thighs, guys. I know they have got to be hurtin’).
While at camp we learn that Wyatt really wants to kill James, in case anyone forgot, and that Bass Reeves is a much better man. He tells Wyatt that right and easy aren’t the same thing (and rarely go hand in hand) while Rufus points out that maybe, juuuust maybe, killing shouldn’t be so easy. If they’re not careful, how will they be able to tell they’re the good guys anymore? Lucy just want to get the fuck outta here and go home. She’s pretty much useless thus far. Shitty days for everyone!
The next day, Flynn and James come upon a cabin in the woods (the drawing of which was in Flynn/Lucy’s journal). Flynn’s treasure is in there, and it’s guarded as bullets start flying. Flynn shouts that he is from the same place and has a ship! Whaaaat? The shooting stops, and Flynn heads into a cabin full of present day technology and a woman named Emma.
Meanwhile, back in the present, Jiya is finally watching her ill-gotten videos and who should be there but Emma?! She was (along with Anthony) the first pilot to successfully travel through time. The video shows her and Mason elated, and then cuts to Mason, at a later date stating that she was killed. While talking to Flynn, we learn from Emma that she faked her death and has been hiding from Rittenhouse in the past for ten years. See, she knows shit. A LOT of it. She agrees to go with Flynn. Before they leave, however, James holds Flynn up for his modern day rifle (an AR-15 that Flynn is super careful to hide from a murderous sociopath), after Flynn tells James that Bass Reeves is in the posse tailing them, and they’re off.
That night the team arrives at the cabin, and literally everyone is confused to see cellphones and portable DVD players on the table. Rufus finds Emma’s jumpsuit though, just before a hail of bullets comes crashing through. Lucky for everyone but Grant, Lucy sees something out the window just in time and they all duck, but Grant is hit as he saves Lucy by covering her, and dies. In the mayhem, Wyatt sneaks out so he can kill James because, of course. Wyatt’s tragic wife searching arch is getting a little tiresome now. They keep hitting the same note, and we all know that grief is an opus, not a single note. Either way, Wyatt wings James, but before he can finish him off, Reeves comes out, a gun pointed at each man. James surrenders and drops the rifle. I’m not sure even Wyatt, a military veteran, is capable of shooting an unarmed injured man in custody. We’ll never know, though, since just as Reeves talks Wyatt down, Lucy straight up shoots James in the back, and we’re full circle. Once they get to town, Reeves gives them the reward money and a healthy dose of shame: Shooting an injured man asking to surrender is a lot of things, but as Reeves says, “Good isn’t one of them”. They part ways after Rufus tries to convince Reeves to tell as many reporters his story as possible, or some white man is going to co-opt Reeves’s life and tell it their way. Reeves says he’s not working for a story and rides off.
Back at HQ, Rufus (inexplicably) tells Mason and Agent Christopher about Emma, and Mason threatens Jiya. He knew she hacked into the video logs, and tells her that she doesn’t know fear until she crosses him again. Whoa, calm your body, Mason. Jiya doesn’t know anything, but you can bet she’s going to be pretty curious now. Later that night Rufus meets up with Wyatt at a bar and Wyatt asks him to help steal the Lifeboat and go back in time to keep Gillman (wife killer) from being born. No faults in this plan at all.
Well, I loved this episode. It’s a great follow-up to an episode that was (for me) hard to swallow. This had so many great lines and good jokes, Bass Reeves was such a wonderful foil for the team and just a great example of good. The morality and conflicts of what they are doing “for a greater good” is finally getting called into question, and it’s the Old West, a favorite time period of mine (I love outlaw stories). What did you think? What was your favorite bit tonight? Do you think Mason will somehow lure Jiya to Team Rittenhouse (THAT would be interesting)?