Timeless recap: Karma Chameleon
Break out the neon leg warmers and Tommy Tutone: Timeless is going back to the ‘80s.
Timeless has never put a whole lot of stock into the exact principles of time travel, and perhaps the biggest and most important rule is that you can’t go back to any point in time where you already were. Since our three heroes were all born some time in the 1980s, that means that the most recent time period they can travel to is the Carter presidency — or maybe the early Reagan era, if they don’t mind cutting it close. (Sadly, this means we probably won’t get an episode set the ‘90s, where Flynn tries to influence the outcome of the O.J. Simpson trial or the trio rescues President Bill Clinton or something.)
As a result, Lucy, Rufus, and Wyatt have frustratingly little control over their own destinies, even as they’re given the power to tinker with the past. Rufus can go back and save the moon landing, but he can’t use the Lifeboat to protect his family and Jiya from Rittenhouse. Lucy can stop the Nazis from obtaining an atomic bomb, but she can’t bring her own sister back. All three of them have been given an overwhelming amount of power, but, at the same time, they’ve never been so powerless.
Well, Wyatt is fed up, and he’s taking things into his own hands — in the worst possible way.
Ever since we first met the stoic young soldier, Wyatt has been haunted by the untimely death of his wife, Jessica, and after Flynn delivered on his promise to share the identity of Jessica’s killer, it’s been only a matter of time until Wyatt acts on that information. From what we’ve seen so far, Wyatt has no family — and really, no life — other than Jessica, so it makes sense that he’d obsess over a way to bring her back, especially with the power of time travel just within his grasp. He finally hits upon a plan that he thinks will stop the killer and bring back Jessica for good. (Although, as we now know, that plan is not exactly successful.)
After a little bit of research, Wyatt learns that the man he thinks is his wife’s killer — who also murdered two other women — is the product of a one-night stand in 1983 Ohio between a bartender named Joel and a stewardess named Claire. They went their separate ways and never spoke again after that night, but their tryst resulted in the birth of a murderer. Wyatt decides that the best way to stop his wife’s murder is to make sure her murderer is never born at all — which means stopping the drunken hookup between Joel and Claire.
Basically, his entire plan can be summed up in this conversation:
Wyatt: “Rufus, he can not go to her room.”
Rufus: “Right, because if he does, they’ll bang and conceive a serial killer. [pause] That’s not a sentence you say every day.”
NEXT: Bar fight!
Wyatt and Rufus’ plan sounds straightforward, sure, but you’d think that by now, these two would’ve realized that messing with history is a lot trickier than it looks. First off, their entire plan hinges on ambushing Claire as soon as she steps off the plane in Ohio, therefore preventing her from ever meeting/hooking up with Joel. Except they should know better than to ever focus their plans around airport arrivals, since the plane actually ended up getting to the gate early and Rufus and Wyatt just missed her. Wyatt dials up the charm and suavely pumps the other flight attendants for information on her whereabouts, but by the time he and Rufus get to the goofy neon bar near her hotel (which is blasting “867-5309” and has a Galaga machine in the corner), Claire has already sidled up to the bar and started making eyes at Joel.
And so, Wyatt starts trying to seduce Claire in order to save his wife. (Hey, whatever it takes, I guess?) And maybe it’s history trying to right itself or just really bad luck, but it is not easy. As soon as Wyatt and Rufus try to encourage Claire to move to another bar, a state trooper storms in and announces that they’re in the middle of a tornado lockdown, and no one’s going anywhere. There’s a drunk jerk who tries to hit on Claire. At one point, the flight attendants from the airport show up and pretty quickly figure out that Wyatt has been lying about his identity, so he gets kicked out of the bar. He gets in a fight with the drunk dude from earlier. He gets arrested. He knocks out the officer and escapes. All in all, things are generally not going well.
Wyatt’s attempts culminate with him storming into Claire’s hotel room, waving a gun around, and physically stopping her from hooking up with Joel. By now, Rufus is horrified, but Wyatt is so hellbent on preventing Jessica’s murder that he’s completely lost his mind, and he forces Joel, at gunpoint, out into the storm. It’s then that the bartender trips, falls, and splits his head open on the concrete. No matter how careful Wyatt tried to be, his emotions got the best of him — with deadly consequences.
As for Lucy, she got left behind on this mission. (As Wyatt reminded her, she has to stay in Agent Christopher’s good graces if she ever wants a shot at getting her sister back.) But there’s plenty of excitement back at Mason Industries, as Anthony goes rogue and calls asking for Rufus. See, now that he’s reunited with Emma (the original Mason pilot who’s been hiding out in the 19th century for 10 years), she’s given Flynn and Anthony a rough sense of Rittenhouse’s plan. Apparently, they’ve been bankrolling Mason for decades in the hope of taking control of the Mothership and using it to essentially rewrite history to their own liking. This only makes Flynn more determined to stop Rittenhouse, but Anthony thinks that they should immediately destroy both the Mothership and the Lifeboat, preventing Rittenhouse from seizing control entirely (at least until Mason can build a new one). He begs Lucy to help him destroy the Lifeboat, and he even goes as far as to set up the explosion that will destroy the Mothership, but by the time Agent Christopher arrives on the scene of the explosion, it’s clear that Emma and Flynn managed to get away scot-free in the time machine, leaving Anthony behind in the rubble. It’s a sad end for a complicated character, and it further drives home the idea that when it comes to Timeless, there are far too many conflicting viewpoints and opinions to easily divide people into “good guys” and “bad guys.”
As if things weren’t complicated enough already, Wyatt’s mission isn’t even a success. Despite the tragic death of Joel, Wyatt still had a glimmer of hope that he had prevented the birth of Jessica’s killer, but upon arriving back in the present, Lucy informs him that the other two women are still alive, but Jessica is still dead (and her real killer was never found). It’s clear that whoever killed Jessica, it wasn’t a random event — which seems to suggest that perhaps someone ordered her death. I’m not saying it’s Rittenhouse, but come on. It’s always Rittenhouse. Even Lucy’s FATHER is involved in Rittenhouse (a fact that Lucy has finally figured out). Whatever this conspiracy is, it goes deep.
Best Rufus one-liner: “If there are parachute pants in that bag, so help me god.”