“Some people say he made a deal with the Devil…”
If you’re a fan of Supernatural or the blues, you may have heard of a man called Robert Johnson, but to most people, his name is lost to history. That is, until showrunner Eric Kripke managed to put together a time-traveling show and finally dedicate an episode to the Delta Blues master who, the show argues, changed not only music, but the world as we know it with nothing but his guitar and a curse.
The King of the Delta Blues opens with a brief scene of Johnson and producer Don Law getting set to record the landmark albums before hopping back to 2018 to set up our story. Since Jessica’s return, and her reunion with Wyatt (and the seemingly permanent docking of the USS Lyatt), Rufus has been couchsurfing, which isn’t doing much for his back or anxiety. He and Wyatt are giggling about Wyatt and Jessica’s not-so-quiet making up for lost time sessions (hence the couch), when Lucy pops in and offers to switch so Rufus and Jiya can be together. It’s not at all awkward. Meanwhile, Jiya has a vision to which we are not privy, and it turns out Rufus and Jiya managed to upgrade the Lifeboat to be able to hold four passengers! This actually makes me really happy, because I would love to see more of the “home team” going out, and it offers the opportunity for some great dynamics we’ve yet to see.
Speaking of new dynamics, we get treated to some when, after the Mothership heads to 11/23/1936 San Antonio, a drunk and depressed Mason is the only one who knows why. I’m really glad they’re no longer depending on Lucy to have an encyclopedic knowledge of history, and Mason explains the cultural importance Robert Johnson and his music will have before Agent Christopher assigns Flynn and Lucy to go along with Rufus and a very reluctant, chickenshit inventor, Mason. Wyatt is staying behind, and I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda glad for it. Once Time Team 2.0 jumps, Wyatt asks why he was held behind, and Christopher tells him it’s because she has a different job for him. He gets to go all alone and collect intelligence from the warehouse Christopher was housed at! Yay fun jobs!
Back in 1936, Mason is waxing poetic about time travel before yakking his guts out, and they’re off to “find some clothes, and steal a car.” Their timing prove impeccable as Flynn shoots Johnson’s would-be assassin just as he’s entering the hotel room-cum- recording studio. The team proves again that thinking of a backstory or even getting basic facts straight before going on missions is key as they stumble through an explanation as to why there’s a dead guy on the floor, and when Hoover allowed women and black men into the FBI. By the time they get things sorted out, the cursed musician is gone, and Law is pissed about his broken equipment.
Mason and Rufus follow Johnson while Lucy and Flynn stay behind to convince the shaken producer to record (and of course to dump the body). Lucy uses her knowledge of Law’s past and his dickish father to manipulate him to record with Johnson, but Rufus and Mason have no such luck with Johnson, who tells them that, in order to escape the Devil, Johnson is going to say goodbye to his sister and skedaddle. You see, five years ago Johnson couldn’t play a lick, but then he went to the crossroads and let the Devil tune his guitar, selling his soul and condemning him to Hell, but also giving him the skills to be the best guitar player alive. Bob’s got some regrets. Mason and Bob bond over their shared mistakes, while Rufus calls to leave word at the hotel with Lucy and Flynn about where they’re going, and eventually Johnson agrees to let them give him a ride to his sister’s place, but refuses to record.
Back at the hotel, Flynn and Lucy talk, and Flynn tells Lucy that he feels like he knows her from reading the journal she gave him, and that while he at first started only reading it to get intel on Rittenhouse, he began to truly enjoy learning about her. Lucy calls no-fair and they have their own awkward moment before the bellhop comes to give them Rufus’s message.
The two decide to bring Law to Johnson, hoping that they can convince him to play, but when they tell Law the plan, his cute secretary (a Rittenhouse sleeper agent) shoots Law dead and gets away before you can say “Bob’s your cursed uncle.” Whoops. Flynn and Lucy take off after her, and bond some more in the truck, where Flynn tells her that he’d like to get to know her, but understands if she doesn’t want that, and they share stories of their lost loved ones. It’s a sweet scene, and if the USS Flucy? (Garcy? I don’t care, I love it) hadn’t set sail last week, it sure has now.
Back with Rufus and Mason, we get to see a very different side of the arrogant, Icarian billionaire. Mason is excited and unsure of himself as he navigates his way around the bar, meeting his heroes and fanboying all over them (I mean, it’s Muddy Waters and Bessie Smith, can you blame him?) All of this excitement is a mask, however, and Mason later admits to Rufus that he’s going to take a page from Johnson’s book when they get back and just disappear.
Rufus reminds him that this is a mission, not a self-help book, and they have to convince Johnson to play by the time Lucy and Flynn join them. Little time turns into no time at all, when Johnson’s sister, Carrie shows up and the guitarist starts saying his goodbyes. But hey, timing is everything as the sleeper agent also arrives, shortly followed by Lucy and Lynn, and tries to kill Johnson and Rufus, but no worries because Mason shoots her. Rufus tells a morose and regretful Mason (who has never directly killed someone) that Law is dead. Rufus tries to convince Mason to record the music, but Mason is feeling pretty shitty about himself right about now. Rufus reminds him of the time he dropped everything and came to help Rufus through a tough time, and gives Mason the much needed confidence boost to right history. Mason, in turn, convinces Johnson to stop running from the Devil and stand his ground. Johnson agrees and they start recording (and of course Mason lets out a whoop while recording).
The team returns to 2018 and I think it’s the first time they all come back smiling and laughing, as if they enjoyed this heavy honor. Mason and Rufus embrace, and the team learns what Wyatt was up to while they were away:
While the team was saving counter culture, Wyatt raided the empty warehouse where Christopher was kept, and though it was empty, he managed to kill the one dude who was there and get a key fob off his body. Jiya managed to get an address off the code on the key fob, and Wyatt went to the REAL Rittenhouse HQ alone. Again. Somehow he managed to get past all their security to the point that, by the time someone set off the fire alarm to alert Keyne’s that there was an intruder, Wyatt was already in front of the Mothership, and the Shit Mother, and by that I mean Carol. Yep, Wyatt all by himself infiltrated the whole shebang, but can’t bring himself to kill Lucy’s mom. Meanwhile, Keynes literally burns everything to the ground before making an escape with Emma and Carol in the Mothership. Honestly, this whole storyline was a really really weak point in what was overall a fantastic episode.
After the team is reunited, Wyatt tries to chat up Lucy and undermine Flynn while he’s at it, but Lucy doesn’t have time for it and asks if they can talk later, leaving Wyatt to stare after her with puppy eyes. Mason goes to his room to listen to his Robert Johnson album (which now has both his voice and his fake name on it). The music drifts over the team as we see Lucy on the couch with her bottle of vodka before taking it to Flynn’s room, and Jiya tells Rufus that her latest vision is his death, which isn’t the kind of pillow talk Rufus signed up for when he moved into Jiya and Lucy’s room.
Overall, this was my favorite episode of the season so far, other than the weak B story of Wyatt infiltrating Rittenhouse. I mean, this organization has survived hundreds of years, is reshaping history, and yet no one thought to buy a Ring security camera? It felt like so much thought was put into the Johnson storyline, that there wasn’t much left over for Wyatt, Jiya, and Christopher to do. I would have preferred if the writers had kept us in 1936 the entire episode and just relayed what happened while the team was gone when they got back. One thing this episode did wonderfully was to show more character development in Mason than all other episodes combined, and I loved the nuanced, and heartbreaking portrayal of a man who destroyed himself given by Paterson Joseph. He was a delight to watch. Between learning more about Mason and Flynn, and having Rufus’s snark and Lucy’s determination, I spent most of the episode thinking “Wyatt who?”