The trio comes face-to-face with the 18th-century mind behind Rittenhouse
We’re finally getting some answers about the identity and motivation of Timeless’ most mysterious organization. After weeks of secretive meetings and veiled threats, Rittenhouse is stepping out of the shadows as Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, and Flynn — yes, Flynn — come face-to-face with the origins of the nefarious institution. And oh, man, it is a doozy.
We start by checking in with the three non-time-traveling members of our team: Agent Christopher, Jiya, and Connor Mason. When Agent Christopher invites a confused Lucy over for dinner, we learn she has a wife! And a family! Last week, when Christopher — should we call her Denise? It feels weird calling her anything other than her last name — starting poking around Rittenhouse, I said that it was refreshing to see her have something to do, instead of standing there and watching the Lifeboat disappear into space and time every week. Her wife and family don’t have much of a personality beyond “standard wife and family,” but it gives Christopher a dimension and makes her seem more human.
That especially comes into play when Agent Christopher reveals why she invited Lucy over: If Lucy ever comes back from a mission and Christopher’s family has accidentally been erased from history, she wants Lucy to remember everything about meeting them. She even gives Lucy a thumb drive to carry with her in the Lifeboat, filled with pictures and memories, just in case.
Meanwhile, Rufus and Jiya are still going strong, but their video-game date night at her apartment is interrupted when a very drunk Connor Mason shows up at the door. (As bad-date stories go, being interrupted by your drunk boss is pretty bad.)
Connor apologizes for getting Rufus in so deep with Rittenhouse and then tells him Rittenhouse knows he’s been tampering with the recorder on all their recent missions. He adds that from here on out, Rufus must record the mission as it is, no tampering, or else there’s nothing else he can do to protect Rufus from Rittenhouse.
Which is unfortunate, because their next mission is literally to go back and time and kill the original Rittenhouse. Sorry, Rufus.
Flynn has taken the Mothership to 1780, right around the time Benedict Arnold betrayed Gen. George Washington and defected to the British army. Or as Wyatt puts it: “Benedict Arnold? The guy whose name basically means total jerk-off?” Yeah, Wyatt. That guy.
Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus head back to the Revolutionary War, but before they can so much as make a Hamilton reference, George Washington and his men take them prisoner. Yeah, you heard that right: George Washington. Even as the general’s men are holding them at gunpoint, Lucy has a little internal freak-out at the site of the future first president of the United States. I mean, who can blame her?
Her giddiness is short-lived, however, as Flynn shows up and attempts to introduce the three of them to Washington as his colleagues and fellow spies. You see, he tells them, he needs their help finding and capturing Benedict Arnold, who has since fled. If they don’t help, he’ll have one of his men shoot Washington. “You’re bluffing,” Wyatt says.
“You’re talking to the man who shot Lincoln,” Flynn says nonchalantly.
NEXT: Flynn makes a deal with the trio
Flynn informs them he’s posing as a Prussian spy named Austin Roe. (He tells Lucy he left the real Austin Roe dead in a ditch. If you’re trying to win Lucy over, you’re doing a poor job, Flynn.) He reveals that when he opened the mysterious clock with Bonnie and Clyde’s key, there was an even more mysterious letter inside from Benedict Arnold — referencing Rittenhouse. Not only was Arnold a traitor to the American Revolution, but apparently, he was a founding member of the organization that has controlled American history for centuries.
Flynn promises that if they help him find and capture Arnold, he’ll hand over the keys to the Mothership, no strings attached. “Once Rittenhouse is gone, why would I keep taking these godforsaken trips?” he says. (He’s got a point.) He then doubles down on his offer, telling Wyatt that if they help him, he’ll share the name of Wyatt’s wife’s killer. To recap, that’s three for the price of one Benedict Arnold: No more Rittenhouse, no more chasing Flynn through history, and no more Wyatt wondering what happened to his wife. The whole thing seems almost too good to be true, right?
So, our trio becomes a foursome, teaming up to go find Arnold. Lucy does her history-nerd thing and gets them into the British camp, posing as defectors, but Flynn gets tired of how long it’s taking and starts a shootout, killing General Cornwallis 25 years too early. Flynn, you literally have a time machine. You can afford to wait a few extra minutes to convince someone to help you instead of just shooting them.
Arnold is understandably freaked out by Flynn and his murder spree, so he tells them everything they want to know. Specifically, he reveals that at this point, Rittenhouse isn’t an organization but a person. A person named David Rittenhouse. I was hoping for something more sinister than David, but hey, whatever.
So, there you have it: All their troubles can end if they just kill this one dude in 1780. Rufus is on board, if it means Rittenhouse will stop threatening him and his family. So is Wyatt, if it means he can finally learn what happened to his wife. Even Lucy reluctantly agrees. As for Flynn, he announces that after they kill Rittenhouse, he’ll give up his life of time-traveling and international terrorism: All he wants to do is go home, hug his wife and daughter, and disappear. “What kind of husband or father can I be after what I’ve done?” he says.
When we met Flynn’s mother back in 1969, it humanized the mysterious villain and lent a little bit of humanity to his backstory. Flynn argues that he isn’t really a bad guy; he’s been driven to this by the grief of losing his wife and daughter. This is the first time we see Flynn show a little bit of remorse for his actions, and although he’s still not a 100-percent sympathetic figure — as he’s quick to remind everyone, he literally shot Abraham Lincoln — it’s clear he takes no pleasure in what he does.
NEXT: Spoiler! It is too good to be true
So, Arnold agrees to bring them to Rittenhouse — but not all of them. Rufus must stay behind. “These are idiotic and unenlightened times,” Flynn replies. Whatever you can say about Flynn, at least he’s not a misogynist or racist…just a time-traveling murderer.
With Rufus waiting outside, Flynn, Lucy, and Wyatt walk into an 18th-century mansion fit for a psychotic James Bond-like villain. Rittenhouse’s place is filled with clocks. In case you weren’t sure of Rittenhouse’s obsession with time and history, there are clocks literally everywhere to remind you. While they’re waiting for the man himself, they meet Rittenhouse’s son John, who has no problem reciting his father’s creepy political theories to a bunch of strangers. See, the Rittenhouses believe monarchies don’t work and democracies can’t be trusted. The most effective to way to run an empire is for a select few to manipulate history from the shadows.
While they’re trying to wrap their heads around John’s creepy beliefs, David Rittenhouse himself shows up in all his villainous glory. It doesn’t take him long to figure out they’re there to kill him, and Rittenhouse grabs Flynn’s modern gun and shoots Benedict Arnold for bringing these assassins to his home. After making some sleazy comments about Lucy’s genes and child-bearing hips, he then sentences Wyatt and Flynn to death, before turning to his son and informing him he has to watch his father execute all these people.
But just in case it wasn’t already clear this guy is a maniacal supervillain who deserves to die, he looks at Lucy and says, “But you, you are to be brought to my bedchambers.” Great, so Rittenhouse isn’t just a tyrannical murderer but a rapist, too. Lucy, I know you were on the fence about killing this guy earlier, but now would be a good time for him to get what he deserves.
Which is when Rufus shows up! With a gun he stole from a Rittenhouse guard! Boy, our little science nerd sure has come a long way from panicking outside the Hindenburg. In the struggle, they manage to overpower their captors and Flynn shoots Rittenhouse, finally managing to do something right for once.
Their camaraderie is short-lived, however, as Flynn then starts looking around for Rittenhouse’s son, John. He insists he’ll just grow up to carry on his father’s political beliefs. Lucy contends John is just a child, and no matter how broken Flynn feels over losing his wife and daughter, he can’t shoot an innocent child. Flynn hesitates, and in that time, John escapes.
Enraged, Flynn informs Lucy he’s finally going to show her just how horrifying Rittenhouse can be. With that, he kidnaps her and escapes with the Mothership as Wyatt and Rufus watch helplessly. It makes for a hell of a cliffhanger: Will Lucy be okay? Did killing David Rittenhouse actually stop the organization from being founded, or will young John carry on his father’s legacy?
Or will the fact John watched Flynn shoot his father make John even more determined in his beliefs? There’s a good chance Flynn’s actions could have made Rittenhouse a whole lot worse. We’ll have to wait until January to see the consequences… Unless anyone has a time machine I can borrow?
Best Rufus one-liner: Describing Benedict Arnold as “a grade-A douche-nozzle.”
Episode grade: B+