‘Timeless’ Goes Far Into The Past In A Good Way With ‘Stranded’

A quick review of last night’s Timeless coming up just as soon as I eat my body weight in Chocodiles…

At New York Comic-Con, Eric Kripke suggested that “Stranded” represented the furthest back in time he wanted the show to go (much to the dismay of his dinosaur-loving son sitting in the front row), and it felt appropriate that the episode would wind up representing the storytelling of Timeless at its most defiantly primitive. “Stranded” featured hardly any arc storytelling at all (just Agent Christopher beginning to suspect Mason is up to something), and even the historical material was kept to the bare minimum needed to establish the stakes: Lucy, Rufus, and Wyatt are trapped far in the past with a broken time machine and no obvious way to fix it, at a point in their journey together where none of them trusts the other. Nonhelema turns up at one point, not so that Lucy can try to fix something about her timeline, but to provide Rufus a means to win back Wyatt and Lucy’s trust by risking his life to save theirs.

(*) The theory that Flynn only went back that far in order to trap his pursuers here doesn’t entirely track with the idea that in the future, Lucy will want to help him, but it’s still possible that this is all a con he’s running on her and the rest of Team Lifeboat.

By the standards of contemporary TV drama, this would be considered the most filler-y of filler episodes — the sort that a version of the show made in the 1960s would have filmed almost entirely inside a tent and around the same two trees to save money. But as Timeless has continued to demonstrate throughout its brief life so far, the old-school narrative model still has plenty of appeal when done right. The show tends to be at its strongest when it’s focusing on either the mission or the interplay between our three heroes, while Rittenhouse is mainly white noise so far. (Though the Watergate episode at least gave Flynn an interesting motivation — and one that parallels Lucy and Wyatt’s — even if we need to know more about Anthony and his other followers.)

So it was fun and interesting throughout “Stranded” just to see our heroes try to solve a seemingly impossible problem given the time period and material on hand, work around the guys’ inability to speak French (which nearly led Wyatt to get mercury injected up his behind), and navigate all the trust issues they’ve developed over the last few episodes, and even set up a romance between Rufus and Jiya while they are separated by 262 years.

Nothing fancy, but it works, which is why this is one of the few new network shows this fall I’ve gladly stuck with.

What did everybody else think? How you feeling about Timeless overall at this point?

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