Timeless recap: 'The World’s Columbian Exposition'
Wyatt and Rufus race to rescue Lucy ... and outsmart a serial killer
In the past, Timeless has rationed its historical cameos. More often than not, Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus meet one, maybe two major historical figures for each trip back in time. (Poor Lucy the history nerd probably couldn’t handle meeting too many major American heroes in too short a period of time … Her head might explode.) But this time, Flynn is trying a different approach: knocking out as many Rittenhouse members as possible. As a result, we get not two, not three, but five major historical figures for the price of one: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, Harry Houdini, and H.H. Holmes. (Six if you count the brief cameo by Teddy Roosevelt.)
Welcome to Chicago World’s Fair.
Last episode’s disastrous trip to Revolutionary War-era New England didn’t exactly pan out as Flynn had hoped. Yes, he did manage to team up with Wyatt, Lucy, and Rufus to kill the ideologically horrifying founder of Rittenhouse, but thanks to Lucy’s interference, he failed to also kill the young son of Rittenhouse. It turns out Flynn’s little Revolutionary murder spree had absolutely no effect on modern-day Rittenhouse, and as a result, Flynn’s family is still dead. He is understandably annoyed by this fact, so he decides to grab Lucy and take a little trip to 1893 Chicago, where the greatest minds of the 19th century have gathered for the Columbian Exposition. It just so happens several of those great minds — including Edison, Ford, and Morgan — are also high-ranking members of Rittenhouse, which is why Flynn has decided that they must die. And Lucy is going to help him … or else.
As for Wyatt and Rufus, they’re back in the present with only one mission: finding and rescuing Lucy. Connor Mason is a little concerned when he learns Rufus erased the Rittenhouse recording of his last mission, but honestly, I don’t blame Rufus. I also probably wouldn’t give a recording of myself — in which I conspired to murder the 18th-century founder of a secret organization — to that secret organization. Mason immediately goes into survival mode, promising to set up an offshore account for Rufus and get him out of the country and into hiding. (Not all bosses would do that for their employees. Workplace perks at Mason Industries?) But Rufus is far less concerned about his own safety and way more worried about Lucy. So, he and Wyatt grab their best 19th-century duds and head to the fair.
The only problem is Flynn is expecting them to do just that. Without Lucy to dictate their historical knowledge, they figure Flynn is targeting the most significant person at the fair: future U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt. (“That’s Roosevelt?” Rufus says. “Roosevelt’s skinny.”) When they spot one of Flynn’s henchmen lurking near Teddy, they follow him, only to be unwittingly led into the World’s Fair Hotel. Which, if Wyatt and Rufus had read Erik Larson’s bestseller The Devil in the White City, they would know is actually H.H. Holmes’ murder castle.
That’s right: Our heroes have walked right into the lair of America’s first confirmed serial killer. The time-traveling trio has been stuck in some tight spots before, but this is the first Timeless episode that’s taken a turn for the truly horrifying. Holmes was, without a doubt, one of the evilest men in American history, and while this episode touches on some of his most horrific acts, it barely scratches the surface.
Poor Wyatt and Rufus have no idea what they’re in for, so they decide to split up in the hopes of finding Lucy faster — which is THE WORST POSSIBLE IDEA IN A FREAKING MURDER CASTLE. It only takes a minimal amount of poking around for Rufus to find a human jaw bone and Wyatt to get trapped in a room filling with gas. So much for their rescue mission.
NEXT: Houdini to the rescue
As for Lucy, she’s not having the worst time, considering she’s been kidnapped by a time-traveling psychopathic terrorist. Edison, Ford, and Morgan will soon be meeting in a top-secret, highly secure location, so Flynn and Lucy decide to recruit the most qualified person at the 1893 World’s Fair to help them break in: Harry Houdini. He’s not quite “Harry Houdini, World Famous Magician” yet, but he’s still pretty handy with picking locks. Even Garcia “My Whole Family is Dead and I Want to Kill America” Flynn can’t help but crack a smile while watching Houdini’s act.
They coerce him into helping them with the break-in, which he does easily. He also easily pickpockets Flynn, handcuffs him to a table, and escapes with Lucy, but not before turning to Edison and Co. and declaring, “You’ve just been saved by the great Harry Houdini. See my show if you can.” Houdini knows the secret to being a great businessman: Never pass up an opportunity for self-promotion.
With Lucy free from Flynn’s clutches, the Lucy rescue mission turns into more of a Wyatt and Rufus rescue mission. Poor Wyatt and Rufus wake up in a sketchy, sound-proof dungeon along with some dude named George and a female architect named Sophia Hayden, a real-life MIT grad who helped design a building at the fair. It looks like Holmes is about to add a few more victims to his total body count, until Lucy and Houdini find and rescue their cohorts. Apparently, in the battle between master escape artist and giant murder maze of locks and secret rooms, the master escape artist wins every time.
Houdini is pretty much the best. The trio should take him along on all their missions.
It looks like everything is going to be okay, but while Wyatt and Rufus are hunting down Holmes to exact some revenge, Lucy notices a picture on the wall of the hotel and realizes the so-called George is actually Holmes himself. Before she can alert Wyatt and Rufus, Holmes kidnaps her and stuffs her in her box — her absolute worst nightmare. She’s completely panicked and horrified, especially after her past experiences being trapped underwater in a car. It’s a truly disturbing moment, but she manages to pull herself together long enough to recall some details about Holmes.
She knows he’s spiritual, so she poses as a medium, rattling off facts and details about his life she couldn’t possibly know. “I have seen your past, and I know your future,” she says, doing her best impression of a spooky fortune-teller. Who knew a history degree could help stop a serial killer? Lucy’s unbelievable knowledge of Holmes’ life is enough to give him pause, and that buys enough time for Rufus and Wyatt to find her — and for Wyatt to shoot Holmes. As a general rule, murdering historical figures is bad for American history, but it’s okay to make an exception for serial killers.
So, our trio is back together again and all seems well! Back in the present, Rufus records a little message for Rittenhouse, informing them he’s done spying and they’re welcome to kill him, but he’s still the only one who can pilot the Lifeboat. Nothing to give you a little courage like a face-to-face date with a serial killer and a stay in the murder castle.
But while Rufus’ Rittenhouse trouble may be over, Wyatt’s problems are only just beginning. See, Flynn may be a president-murdering madman, but he’s at least true to his word, and since Wyatt helped him track down Benedict Arnold, he’s keeping his promise and giving Wyatt the name of the man who killed his wife: Wes Gilliam. The mysterious Wes is currently serving time in San Quentin for two other murders, and although Wyatt can’t exactly cross his own time stream and prevent his wife’s murder, Flynn helpfully suggests he go back in time and stop Wes from even being there to murder his wife in the first place. That same plan hasn’t exactly worked so far for Flynn, but it doesn’t look like Wyatt will be able to resist … If so, we may be seeing our first fracture within the trio.
Best Rufus one-liner: “Listen up old Rittenhouse dude, whose name I still don’t know.”