Review: Can ‘Timeless’ prevent ‘The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln’?

Thoughts on tonight's Timeless – as well as a few tidbits from yesterday's New York Comic-Con panel I moderated with the cast and Eric Kripke – coming up just as soon as we get some paperweights in here…

Where the pilot had to spend a lot of time establishing the premise and the show's time travel rules, “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” could go a little deeper into this week's mission, even as it was also dealing with the unexpected ripple effects the Hindenburg trip had on Lucy's family. The end result was a really entertaining, well-crafted piece of retro adventure, with just enough of a human touch – Rufus (or, “Denzel Washington”) befriending the black soldiers, Lucy (aka “Juliet Shakesman”) hitting it off with Robert Lincoln and wrestling with whether to save his father, and Wyatt in turn giving Lucy a hard time over picking and choosing who she wants to save to give it real dramatic heft.

Along the way, we got more clues about Flynn's agenda, including a lot of references from both him and Rufus to the mysterious “Rittenhouse,” which Kripke promised at Comic-Con would be explained within the next handful of episodes. (Paraphrasing him: “Anyone who knows my shows knows I don't like to tease things out and raise more questions than I answer.”) Flynn's comments to Lucy about how she'll one day be on his side suggest he may have done more time traveling than her side is aware of, or has in some way encountered a future version of her. Or it could be just him being a smug villain who's sure everyone will eventually agree with him.

I've been saying a lot this fall that second episodes are tough, but this was yet another second episode that in some ways was even more effective than the first.

Some other Comic-Con panel tidbits:

* One question many of you were asking last week: if the rules state that the team can't revisit the same moment in time twice, why can't there be a second good guy team that goes back after Lucy, Rufus, and Wyatt have seen what Flynn is doing, and get things 100% right? As noted in this episode, and as Kripke discussed at length on the panel, the time machines are meant to be incredibly complex devices that take years to learn how to pilot, and the only two at the moment who can do it are Flynn's kidnapped pilot and Rufus. Kripke noted that we're at least a couple of years away from seeing anyone else capable of flying one, which led to a joke about Malcolm Barrett having great job security, and then Matt Lanter and Abigail Spencer both expressing concern that their characters are more replaceable.

* The actors have already begun pitching eras they want to go to and people they want to meet. Every one of Spencer's pitches somehow involves Lucy being backstage somewhere, and/or singing (she wants to be Tina Turner's backup singer), while Goran Visnjic – an accomplished horseman and fencer – is frustrated that Kripke and Shawn Ryan keep promising him stories that involve him either riding or sword-fighting, and then failing to deliver.

* Though the eight episodes produced so far, the creative team has figured out that 1950 is about the most recent they can go and have the team interact directly with famous historical figures. Anything after that and it doesn't ring true, because there's too much film and TV footage of the people in question. The next episode is set in Rat Pack-era Vegas, and there were actors cast in small roles as Sinatra and JFK, but as the episode was being edited, everyone realized things worked much better if we only saw those two from a distance.

* The furthest back that upcoming episodes will go is the French-Indian War, and Kripke suggested that's about as far back as he wants to go – which remains a major source of conflict between him and his son, who is desperate to see a dinosaur episode. 

* Barrett was the picture of confidence, noting that he enjoys every era the characters have been to, because “I look good in everything,” though he seemed especially fond of how he looked in the leathers worn for the upcoming Alamo episode (shot in an Alamo replica that production built in a Vancouver parking lot).

What did everybody think of the second episode? Are you enjoying the missions, or do you want more about Flynn's agenda and Rittenhouse?