Timeless Revisited (with Spoilers!)

The first season of Timeless has just finished airing on NBC. I’ve watched all 16 episodes and I’m going to talk about them. That will definitely include spoilers for the series. If you haven’t watched all of the first season episodes, consider yourself warned

I first posted about Timeless back in late October (2016). At that time, the first four episodes had aired and I had a few problems with the show. The show was (and still is) flawed. But the bottom line was that I said I would continue watching because:

We get all too few science fiction shows with great production values on TV. And I do find the trio — Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus — to be engaging characters. I can live with a few flaws for their sake.

Those three characters have become more than just engaging. Their interactions, as a team and with others, are the main reason I continue to watch the show. And actually, I find that I like Flynn quite a bit, too.

At least one of the original flaws that irked me has improved somewhat. In the later episodes we no longer get so much of the confrontation/dialogue of the “You should help me because I know something you really need to know but I can’t tell you now”-type. I hate that. I really, really hate that.

As I said in my earlier Timeless post, the writers should have handled this better. They should have figured out a different/better way of giving Lucy the information or making her curious to find out whatever it was. Or, you know, just have Flynn tell her. If there was a valid reason he can’t tell her, then stop creating those confrontations in the way they were done. Don’t have Flynn keep saying what he says to Lucy unless you’re going to provide a payoff.

And that’s the problem right there. The show doesn’t ever really provide that payoff. I still don’t understand what Flynn was trying to accomplish most of the times he traveled to the past, let alone why he couldn’t explain it to Lucy.  I’m sure the writers had their reasons, but it makes for unsatisfactory viewing and that’s dangerous for a show that’s teetering on the brink of cancellation.

Timeless does finally address a couple of the other issues I raised in October. Agent Christopher finally admits to being “haunted” by the thought that her family could disappear — would never have existed — à la Lucy’s sister. Mason finally admits to having a simulator and starts training Jiya to become a pilot. But here again — why only train one extra pilot? And why not find a spare historian and soldier, while they’re at it?

The show is limited to, what, 42 minutes per episode? Barely enough time for a simple story, let alone one as complicated and with as many story threads as in Timeless. And make no mistake, as much as the creators claim they don’t want the show to be overly convoluted (though I see that quote has been removed from the Wikipedia Timeless page), this is a complicated story.

In the event, the writers only have 42 minutes to present this complicated story and so they must pick and choose which pieces of the story are important to be seen on screen. Sometimes they get it very right — especially when they focus on the trio’s emotional baggage and/or emotional growth and/or falling into depression/despair. Those moments kept me coming back for more. What gets left off the screen, however, can be very frustrating.

Such as the behind the scenes decisions and concerns — does anyone ever do any research into the micro changes that occurred because of their interactions in / changes to the past?  It occurred to me that it would be fairly simple to store some form of a digital copy of “current history” in the Lifeboat for comparison when they return. You know, rather than just relying on Lucy’s memory?

I know I keep presenting things that I find frustrating with Timeless. But that’s only because I, yes, love it and see its potential. I want it to be better because I know it could be.

I think I’ll stop here; this post is already too long. Now that I’ve seen the entire story contained in the first season, I’d like to look at each episode individually and as they relate to the season as a whole, possibly doing a post per episode. Not that I need an excuse to re-watch them or anything. Love what you love, right?

And while I’m doing that, I’ll be waiting to see which way the wind blows from NBC. Here’s hoping Timeless is renewed for a second season.

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