Timeless recap: 'Public Enemy No. 1'
The Time Team is going on the run.
After the NSA and Rittenhouse swarmed in to take over Mason Industries and take control of the time machine, Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus (plus Agent Christopher) vowed to fight back and do everything they could to stop that from happening. Now, they’re making good on that promise, swiping the Lifeboat and going on a rogue mission through space and time.
With Rittenhouse in charge, the new boss Agent Neville (played by Jim Beaver, a.k.a. Bobby from Supernatural, a.k.a. one of several Supernatural references in this episode) decides that they’re tired of playing catch up every time Flynn takes out the Mothership. Instead, he makes the decision to play offense for a change, arguing that the best course of action is to take a page from Wyatt’s playbook and make sure Flynn is never born at all. He tasks Lucy, Rufus, and their new bodyguard with traveling to 1962 to murder Flynn’s mother in cold blood. Understandably, Lucy and Rufus balk at this, drawing the line at murdering innocent people. (“So you just want us to play wingman to the Terminator over there?” Rufus asks.) Still, they surprisingly agree to go through with the plan — only to take out their bodyguard with a tranquilizer, shut down Mason Industries’ computer system, and “borrow” the Lifeboat, rejoining Wyatt and Agent Christopher back in 2017.
Rufus says they probably only have a matter of hours before Connor Mason gets his computer system back online (and he can trace the location of the Lifeboat), so Wyatt declares that they’re going to go get Lucy’s sister back once and for all, ensuring that her mother and father meet properly. It’s heartwarming to see Lucy’s reaction to her friends and their willingness to make sacrifices for her — and heartbreaking once they learn that Flynn has chosen this exact moment to take the Mothership for a spin in 1931. They only have time (ha) for one trip, and as desperate as Lucy is to bring her sister back, she knows that she can’t let Flynn wreak any more havoc in history.
And boy, is Flynn off to a hell of a start. He decides to go big, tracking down the biggest, baddest gangster in 1931 Chicago: Al Capone. Scarface himself initially laughs Flynn off, especially when Flynn tells him he’s in danger of getting arrested for tax evasion, but Flynn has proven time and time again that he’s fluent in flattery, and he has a special gift for charming some of history’s most notorious sociopaths. Before long, Flynn has not only stopped Capone’s arrest but inserted himself into Capone’s inner circle, and by the time Lucy, Wyatt, and Rufus get to the courthouse steps, Capone is gleefully declaring his innocence and walking away scot-free.
With Lucy and Rufus still dressed in their brightly colored ‘60s attire (and Wyatt in his 2017 blue jeans), they decide their only option for finding Flynn is to team up with Capone’s biggest enemy: famed Chicago lawman and self-described untouchable Eliot Ness (played by Supernatural veteran Misha Collins). The first time we meet Ness, before he even says a word, he’s so mad about Capone getting away that he sucker punches a nosy reporter on the courthouse steps. I like him already.
In order to earn Eliot Ness’ trust, Wyatt outs himself as a major film buff once again, this time drawing from The Untouchables and introducing Lucy and himself as Costner and Connery. (I like to think that Wyatt picked Connery for himself because, as we know, he’s such a James Bond nerd.) They tell Ness that they’re two private investigators who’ve been hired by William Randolph Hearst to look into Garcia Flynn, one of the most notorious gangsters in San Francisco. As for Rufus? He’s their driver: Robert De Niro. (Shoutout to Malcolm Barrett, who reacts to this news by pulling a very subtle but very appropriate De Niro face.)
Ness agrees to help them, inviting them back to his tiny apartment/hideout, only for Capone’s men to show up and shoot him, point blank. Guess Ness isn’t so “untouchable” after all. Zing!
So yeah, so much for Misha Collins’ big cameo. He was on screen for a total of two scenes — but at least he got to punch someone in the face.
NEXT: A deadly gun battle
Back in 2017, Mason Industries is still on lockdown while Connor Mason tries to get the computers up and running. Poor Jiya is left in the middle of the lions’ den, as her boyfriend has stolen a time machine and essentially taken a digital sledgehammer to their workplace computer system. Before Rufus left, however, he slipped a burner phone into her pocket. (“Yeah, I got [that idea] from watching The Wire,” he tells her.) He calls her and asks her to delay Mason as much as she possibly can, and she promptly agrees — only to get immediately caught by Agent Neville and stuffed into a tiny room.
For the first few episodes of the season, Jiya didn’t get to do all that much besides spout some occasional techno-babble and make out with Rufus, but it’s been thrilling to watch her take control and face off against Mason Industries on her own, even as her boyfriend gets to go gallivanting through space and time. She even has a badass confrontation with Connor Mason himself, berating him for his cowardice and telling him, “Right now, it’s like that moment where Dorothy pulls back the curtain and she sees the Wizard for what he really is.”
“Do you really think this childish plucky snark is going to help you?” Mason shoots back. No, but her top-notch computer skills might. She sneakily manages to MacGyver a makeshift computer out of I-don’t-even-know-what, and thus ensues a super intense hacking scene where Jiya and Mason are both shown frantically typing, trying to shut down and restore the Mason Industries computer system, respectively. Apparently, Jiya is a little more up on her Mavis Beacon typing skills, and she takes down the system for good. Attagirl, Jiya.
As for our Time Team, they’re lost without Eliot Ness to guide them — until Lucy comes up with a Hail Mary solution: Al Capone’s secret brother. Jimmy Capone was Al’s long-lost older brother, who changed his name to Richard Hart and — true story — became a federal Prohibition agent. After Lucy shows up at his door and begs him to help them find Al, he reluctantly agrees.
By the time they get to Capone, Flynn has already gotten what he wanted and left. Apparently, he was only using Capone to get to the mayor of Chicago, William Hale Thompson, who just so happens to be a high-ranking member of Rittenhouse.
“Who sent you?” a terrified Thompson asks. “I sent myself,” Flynn replies, in what has to be his single most badass moment on this entire show.
After a little Capone-sanctioned torture, Thompson reveals that all of Rittenhouse’s biggest names have a meeting once every 25 years in Washington, D.C. The next one isn’t for another 23 years, but luckily for Flynn, having a time machine means that you never have to wait for anything, ever. If Flynn’s goal is to destroy Rittenhouse for good, it’ll be a lot more effective — and a lot more deadly — to take out all its members in one fell swoop, instead of just jumping through time and picking them off one by one.
Flynn leaves to go plan his upcoming mass murder or whatever, and Capone is left to have an intense confrontation with the brother he thought was dead. At first, Al is thrilled to see Jimmy/Richard alive again after all these years, but after Jimmy informs him that he’s there to arrest him, this impromptu family reunion quickly goes south. (Nothing ruins a family get-together quite like an arrest warrant.) There’s a fiery gun battle — what, like we were going to have an Al Capone-themed episode without a gun battle? — and Jimmy shoots Al, just as Al shoots Rufus.
NOOOOO. NOT RUFUS.
Thanks to Malcolm Barrett’s charming and sincere performance, Rufus has long been the heart and soul of the Time Team, so his injury is especially devastating. Not to mention the fact that he’s literally the only one who can pilot a time machine. Even though he’s losing blood fast, Lucy says that it’s probably not a good idea to take him to a 1930s hospital: “They were segregated… and not good,” she says. Their only option is to try to make it back to 2017, and as they try to power up the Lifeboat, Rufus goes limp and collapses.
So as we prepare for next week’s season finale, our trio is in a precarious place. Not only is Flynn plotting a massive, history-altering event in 1954, but in the present, Connor Mason and Rittenhouse are making plans to use the full technological capabilities of the NSA to expand their surveillance — which is not exactly good news. Oh, not to mention the fact that Rufus is literally on the verge of death.
Whatever Timeless has planned for the season finale — which is hopefully not the series finale! — our trio is going to need a miracle to pull this off… or a time machine.