‘Timeless’ Returns to Say Goodbye in an Emotional Series Finale (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the two-part series finale of Timeless, “The Miracle of Christmas.”]
It’s appropriate that the word “miracle” features in the title of the Timeless series finale. The twice-canceled NBC fantasy-drama is the little miracle show. It’s escaped the clutches of death more times than Rufus. Despite all the odds against it, Timeless finds a way to survive, due in large part to the show’s loyal and passionate fanbase. Even though things seemed to be done for good when NBC axed the series (again) back in June, the Clockblockers never gave up hope, and that hope was rewarded with a Christmas gift in the form of a two-part series finale to wrap up all the lingering plots and mysteries.
Hope is something which runs through both installments of “The Miracle of Christmas.” When you’re hopping around in time and altering the course of human history, sometimes all you have to rely on is the belief that everything will work itself out in the end. Part 1 of this heartfelt double-denouement is all about rediscovering the hope that was lost when fan-fave Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) was killed at the end of last season. As Future Lucy (Abigail Spencer) writes in her infamous journal: “This can’t be the end of our story; we’ve come too far, we’ve sacrificed too much, there has to be a way to get back what we lost.”
Things pick up right from the second season finale’s juicy cliffhanger, which sees future versions of Lucy and Wyatt (Matt Lanter) blast into the bunker in an updated Lifeboat (now with autopilot!). Future Lucy hands over her journal to her past self and tells her the answers to saving Rufus are contained within the pages of the book. So far, so vague. Jiya (Claudia Doumit) makes a great point in a later conversation with Wyatt when she asks, “If your future selves were so brilliant why didn’t they just tell us what to do?” The peculiar rules of time travel I guess.
Future Lucy and Wyatt don’t have time to stick around. For one, Lucy is experiencing excruciating headaches as a result of crossing into her own timeline, and no doubt Future Wyatt has to get back to his beard grooming. And with Rittenhouse still active in their mission to control history, the Time Team can barely catch a breath before they’re boarding the newly remodeled Lifeboat and traveling back to Gold Rush-era California to stop Emma’s (Annie Wersching) new sleeper agent. “The world needs saving; it’s what Rufus would have wanted,” says Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey), while Connor Mason (Patterson Joseph) frets about the dangers of timeline-crossing.
The action in 1840s California is a fun Western romp. Horses and cowboys and shoot-outs. Your typical Timeless fare. The star of the piece though is Flynn (Goran Visnjic), the once accused “time-terrorist” turned honorary Time Team member, who finds a connection with Joaquin Murrieta (Paul Alayo), the real-life inspiration behind Zorro. Murrieta’s story of violent revenge in the name of his family resonates with Flynn. However, time has softened the man who once shot President Lincoln and colluded with the Nazis, as he tells Murrieta that violence doesn’t work, it just causes more pain. There is no doubt that Flynn has caused great suffering in his pursuit to save his murdered family, and it’s perhaps that realization that leads to him sacrificing himself.
After reading the journal, Wyatt works out the common denominator is Jessica (Tonya Glanz), his previously dead ex-girlfriend who Rittenhouse saved and turned against him. Wyatt, who, much like Flynn, owns up to his past mistakes, says that for Rufus to live, Jessica has to be taken out of the timeline and that he needs to be the one to do it. But as the group sleeps, Flynn takes it upon himself to travel back to 2012 and kill Jessica himself. It’s essentially a murder-suicide mission, as Flynn sends the empty Lifeboat back to the 1840s and chooses to stay in 2012 to catch a glimpse of his family one last time, despite the side effects ultimately leading to his death.
In cheerier news, Rufus is back from the dead! But he has no memory of dying or ever being in 1888. As far as our trusty pilot is concerned, he’s been kicking ass with Zorro. It’s a sweet reunion, especially between Rufus and Jiya, though there is also some tension, as Rufus doesn’t know the impact his death had on the others, nor that Jiya spent three traumatic years living in 1880s San Francisco Chinatown. But the important thing is the original gang is back together and hope has been restored.
Part 2 sees the group embarking on one final mission to 1950s North Korea in the midst of the Korean War. Emma has taken the Mothership there in a last-ditch effort to lure the Time Team to their deaths, and it almost works, as the gang finds themselves abandoned in the freezing cold with Chinese Communist troops rapidly approaching. “Worst Christmas vacation ever, including the Chevy Chase movie,” says Rufus. I’m so happy he’s back.
In a very timely move, the show chooses to focus on the refugee crisis, and the little-known but inspiring story of the SS Meredith Victory, which helped evacuate over 14,000 Korean refugees, the largest humanitarian rescue operation by a single ship in history. In trying to get back to the Lifeboat, the team meets Young-ki, a pregnant woman who has been separated from her husband and son. Young-ki doesn’t want to leave without her family, but Lucy knows that the war lasts another three years and that some families remain separated for decades.
Throughout both seasons, Lucy has been the big proponent for protecting history, not messing anything up, even if it means saving someone, like say, Abraham Lincoln. But here, faced with Young-ki, her viewpoint starts to change. “What’s the point of saving history if we don’t save the people in it?” she asks Wyatt. And so the team bring Young-ki with them to find her husband and son, but not before Wyatt plays warzone midwife and helps deliver the baby, with explosions going off around him might I add.
Wyatt’s brush with death is a wake-up call for Lucy; at that moment, when faced with losing him, she realized she’d fallen in love with him. Whatever happened in the past, and feeling like the second choice to Jessica, none of that matters. “All that matters is right now,” she tells Wyatt as the team hides out in a church, awaiting near-certain death. “All we have between us is a past that only we remember.” It’s a big win for Rufus and all the fellow “Team Lyatt” shippers out there.
Lucy is ready to let go of the past, and that includes giving up the hope of ever again seeing her sister, Amy. When Agent Christopher arrives in the Mothership to save the day, with Emma in tow, Lucy turns down Emma’s offer to help bring her sister back. Not only does she not trust Emma’s intentions, but she can’t keep running into the past like Flynn did to save his family. Flynn’s obsession cost him his life. It’s too risky and causes too much damage. Lucy doesn’t want to become like her mother or Emma.
With Rittenhouse seemingly wiped out once and for all (Emma is shot by Chinese soldiers), the Time Team stops worrying about the past and starts putting their hopes into building a future. Connor destroys the Mothership, killing what he created for the greater good, though Christopher decides to keep the Lifeboat under armed guard in case of emergency. Rufus and Jiya move in together and start their own tech company, inspiring a new generation of inventors. Meanwhile, Lucy returns to teaching history, with a particular focus on historical women, and starts a family with Wyatt (in a sweet touch, their two kids are called Amy and Flynn).
There is just one last mission for the original trio of Lucy, Rufus, and Wyatt. All time travel stories need that “looping” moment, the event which kickstarts everything that came before. Here, it is Lucy traveling back to Christmas Eve 2014 to hand Flynn her journal. She lets Flynn know that he was right about everything; that he needs to persist in his mission despite what people will think about him. “You are a hero, I promise,” she tells him as we flash through a montage of the entire series from the moment Flynn first stole the Mothership.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Timeless without a sneaky cliffhanger. Even though this two-part series finale essentially tied up all the loose ends, it’s clear that the show’s creators, Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke, and showrunners Arika Mittman and Tom Smuts, are keeping the Lifeboat doors open for a potential return somewhere down the line. Before the credits roll, we see the young girl who impressed Rufus at the tech fair, in her bedroom, drawing up plans for what almost definitely looks like a time machine — I mean, it’s either that or a really elaborate fidget spinner.
For all of its time spent in the past, Timeless is a show with its eye firmly on the future, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the crew are working on another resurrection. That said, this heartwarming finale did everything it could to bring the series to a satisfying close. Nothing monumental was left hanging. Yes, some storylines that likely would’ve been fleshed out in the planned third season were dropped. For example, the Lucy/Flynn romance was only alluded to, and then quickly moved past so we could get to the Lucy/Wyatt conclusion, but that is to expected with only two episodes to wrap everything up.
“The Miracle of Christmas” is a treat for all the fans that kept hope alive through the darkest of timelines.