Timeless: The Darlington 500 Review

 Justin Lubin/NBC

Last week Timeless premiered and I talked about some of the things I was hoping for and excited to see in this new season. Last night’s episode started to build that world I’m so excited about. Between mentions of how Rittenhouse is affecting time in ways our team doesn’t even understand yet and going to more obscure moments in history, the series is making a great case for renewal already.

The show opens in 1955 South Carolina, where a race car driver and his very pregnant wife have a sweet moment, which tells us all that this family about to be shattered. And in case you weren’t sure, we see Emma holding a family picture of them and talking about three caskets instead of one. Nice, except Emma is not actually a monster, and seems upset by the thought of murdering a pregnant woman, so there’s that in her favor.

Meanwhile in the bunker, Jiya is having more weird visions and although she’s playing them off as nothing, our girl is freaked the fuck out. Unfortunately, most of the team doesn’t notice because they’re worried about how Lucy is dealing with the whole “born to rule/destroy the world” shit. Before anyone has a chance to delve into either of these not at all massive issues, the Time Alarm goes off, letting our heroes know that the Mothership has gone somewhere/time. Turns out nothing significant happened in Darlington, SC in 1955, which will prove to be an interesting conflict for our team. Their major resource has always been Lucy and her extremely detailed knowledge of history and historical events. This episode really highlights the disadvantage the Time Team is at, since Rittenhouse is a much more sophisticated threat than Flynn.

Speaking of Flynn, Lucy tells them that while she may be useless in this particular case, Garcia Flynn had a journal chock full of tidbits and who knows, maybe something from 1955 is in it? I’m not sure where Future Lucy’s journal is, but they don’t have it and so Lucy and Agent Christopher go visit their nemesis-cum-prisoner to get the deets. After some goading remarks about her mother and Lucy’s naiveté, Flynn tells Lucy that there was an address in the journal for Darlington and that is all we get of him this episode. Boo.

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Lucy & Co get ready to go back in time, and lucky for them it’s after James Dean made jeans and t-shirts popular, because as Mason says, all the wardrobe and props from last season are ash. As they’re gearing up, it’s mentioned that Ryan Millerson owns the house at the address Flynn provided. Wyatt gets all redneck nerdy and tells the team that Millerson was the first man to win the Daytona 500, and after a less than enthusiastic response, the team jumps in the Lifeboat and through the wormhole.

Once they’re in 1955, the team wastes no time getting to Millerson’s house, only to hear from his wife that he’s “already on the tracks” getting ready for huge race today, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re the second group of reporters to show up at the house? Once they deduce that the other “reporters” are actually Emma and Generic Bodyguard #2, Wyatt, Rufus, and Lucy race (hehe) to the track. When they get there, Wyatt spends some time being adorably excited about cars while Lucy and Rufus try to make haste in finding Millerson. After some good ol’ boy lets us know that racism is alive and well in 1950’s south, Wyatt gets stupid excited to see Wendell Scott at the track. Wyatt gives us some history on the first black Nascar racer (more of which you can read here), and goes to help when some more angry white dudes go after him for punching some guy who was messing with his car. Lucy and Rufus (who tries and fails the acknowledgement nod black people do today) try to stay on mission, but Wyatt is just too excited to be talking to one of his idols. Wendell shows them around his car, and he and Wyatt get to talking about bootlegging and how stock racing started.

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Wendell offers to introduce the trio to Millerson, and while on their way to meet him, we learn that Wyatt’s cover story isn’t just pretend. Turns out that before he joined the military, he ran… stuff… across the border in Texas. Not liquor, but still illegal and still not great. It’s a small glimpse into Wyatt’s life pre-wife and pre-time travel, and it’s another thing I’ve been excited for.

The team meets Millerson, and before Rufus can say “Hey there’s a bomb in your car!” Millerson has a gun on them. Turns out he’s the sleeper agent they’ve been trying to find! Before the team can digest this info, Emma, whom I love/hate more and more every time I see her, pops in, ordering to have them all killed (she offers to spare Rufus if he gives up the location of the Lifeboat, but he has no time for her shit). No one gets killed yet though, since Wendell throws a smoke bomb into the car barn thing, and our team makes its great escape!

Once they’re away from danger, Wendell starts to question his life choices, but before he can finish saying “Millerson is a good guy” Lucy blurts out that he was a Communist which, in 1955 was kinda a big deal. When the three are alone, Rufus speculates that Millerson is actually from 2018 and planted in the past. Wyatt disagrees, saying he’s known about Millerson his whole life and BOOM the time travel fuckery begins! Because, just because Wyatt remembers Millerson, doesn’t mean Millerson has actually always been there. We know Rittenhouse has changed some shit already, and I have to say I love the little bits like this, when the team realizes that they can’t even really rely on their own memories to help them. Anyway, turns out that a lot of Motor City bigwigs are gonna be at this race, which makes this time and place make sense. Millerson is gonna kill the heads of Ford, GM and Chrysler (which, I thought Ford was Rittenhouse?). Anyway, after Rufus Engineer Carlson burns his arm trying to barter a ride from Wendell, Wendell and Wyatt have a talk over a car engine, and we learn even more about Wyatt. Turns out his knowledge of cars came from having an abusive dad who left him with both scars and knowledge about cars, enough to snag one at 15 and run away. The two bond over their less than ideal pasts, and Wendell agrees to sneak them back into the race track.

Meanwhile in 2018: Carol is trying to make sure Grandpappy Keynes is comfy, which isn’t easy since he’s using all their ink and paper printing out the entirety of Wikipedia, and Mason is trying desperately to recapture his glory days by standing in front of a crowd, pretending his last idea didn’t get 22 people (in this time) killed. Sadly for Mason, he’s a shitty listener, and rather than giving his speech and showing the prick colleagues if his who’s top dog, Agent Christopher has him arrested and basically puts him on time out.

Back in 1955, Emma confronts Millerson, asking him why the fuck he got married and decided to have a baby when he was sent back on a suicide mission? Millerson plays it cool, saying the wife was a convenient source of relief, and a baby was simply the unintended result, but it’s clear that he doesn’t mean it. He loves them both. Emma is her usual cheery self and informs him that if he doesn’t complete the mission, well hey accidents happen, amirite?

NBC

Back in Wendell’s car (and I do mean in the back), Wyatt and Lucy are in the trunk while Wendell tries to sneak them in. Lucy’s feeling claustrophobic, so Wyatt tells her to hold onto him, and the two talk about their childhoods and parents while in super close quarters. Meanwhile, Wendell and Rufus get stopped at the gate, and the dickbag security guard accepts their bribe, but still makes Wendell open his trunk. YAY FOR BOOTLEGGING! They see nothing, and Wendell parks in his garage to let Lucy and Wyatt (who were definitely not on the verge of making out) out of the trunk.

Over in the garage, a not so happy to die Millerson holds a press conference, during which he spots Wyatt, and of course, since Wyatt is there, there’s a fight!! And guns! Millerson is trying to get his bomb- ass car (which is literally a bomb) going so he can kill some bigwigs, when Wyatt shoots him, killing him just in time for his wife to pop by and see her murdered husband. Needless to say, this shit does not fly, and before we know it, Emma and the police are after them! What follows is a fun car chase, well, not so fun for Rufus, who is trying to disarm the bomb in the front seat. I love this chase almost as much as Wyatt does, and they evade the cops by pulling into Wendell’s garage and shutting the door. The team says goodbye, and Rufus finally gets his nod returned. Before they leave Rufus asks Wendell about why winning matters so much, since he knows they’ll never give a black man the trophy, to which he replied that the trophy and prize money doesn’t matter to him so much as being the best.

Timeless - Season 2
TIMELESS — “Darlington” Episode 202 — Pictured: Joseph Lee Anderson as Wendell Scott — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

The team comes home, and Jiya is not happy to see the burn on her bae’s arm, since it looks exactly like the burn she saw in her vision. Meanwhile at Rittenhouse, Emma’s attitude about Pappy Keynes seems to have gone from annoyance to downright crushing on him when she sees the GIANT ASS MURAL thing he put up all Beautiful Minds like. He tells everyone that it’s “Time to preserve human culture!! And Cull the herd!!” Clearly Pappy Keynes is all caught up and ready to roll.

I really enjoyed this episode, even though I’m not a fan of NASCAR in the least. I talked a little last week about the more precise ways in which Rittenhouse is changing history, and how that affects our current timeline, and I’m glad that it was acknowledged this time, when Wyatt talked about knowing who Ryan Millerson was his whole life, even though he’d only just “shown up” ten years earlier. It shows the major disadvantage the team has, because they have no idea what memories are “real” and how much or what will be different every time they emerge from the Lifeboat.

What did you think of Darlington 500?

 

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