Timeless recap: Season 1, Episode 4
Our heroes take on Nazi Germany -- with James Bond creator Ian Fleming
What’s scarier than a Nazi? A Nazi with an atomic bomb.
After Flynn, Anthony, and co. nicked a prototype atomic weapon from 1960s Las Vegas, they’re taking that nuke on a little road trip — to Nazi Germany in December 1944. Because if your whole goal is to mess up American history, giving an atomic bomb to the Nazis is a pretty good place to start. It makes you wonder why Flynn even bothered with the Hindenburg or Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Nazis + nuclear weapons = the evilest of evil plans.
So, our time-traveling trio is headed overseas — and, of course, back in time — to 1940s Germany. None of them speak German, Lucy argues. Well, apparently Wyatt does, along with three other languages. But they don’t have any lederhosen, Lucy adds. Oh, but they do! Connor Mason finally reveals how they’ve been able to get Civil War-appropriate attire and ‘60s cocktail dresses on such short notice: Mason Industries has a secret costume closet organized by region and decade. I bet Halloween parties at Mason Industries are so much fun.
When the team arrives in Germany (despite Lucy’s reluctance about the trip), they’re immediately confronted by a Nazi guard pointing a gun at them. (Side note: Wyatt always helps Lucy with her time-machine seatbelt, and it’s adorable.) Wyatt shoots the Nazi officer and then blasts another guard stationed in the woods near the Lifeboat. Rufus and Lucy are horrified — remember the whole “not meddling in history” thing they’re supposed to stick to? — but Wyatt points out that A) if Flynn gives the Nazis an atomic bomb, history’s going to be pretty messed up anyway; and B) they were Nazis. He’s got a point.
Because Rufus doesn’t exactly blend in in Nazi Germany, he hot-wires a getaway car and waits outside while Lucy and Wyatt go for a drink at a local tavern, a tavern Lucy says was probably a secret rendezvous point for the resistance. But all their attempts to be sneaky and spy-like stick out like a sore thumb, and it doesn’t take long for an SS officer to confront them at gunpoint and lead them outside. It looks like their mission might be over, until the officer drops the German accent and reveals himself to be a British spy.
His name? “Fleming. Ian Fleming.”
That’s right. James Bond creator and real-life World War II spy Ian Fleming is here, sneaking around behind enemy lines. (Fun fact: Ian Fleming also wrote the children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.) Sean Maguire (Once Upon a Time) plays the officer-turned-author with Bond-worthy suaveness, and it’s no wonder Wyatt (a self-confessed Bond nerd) totally geeks out. We’ve seen Lucy get starstruck by various historical figures, but it’s so much fun to watch Wyatt do the same. It also makes me curious about which historical figure Rufus would fanboy over.
See, Flynn has been hanging out with someone far too important to history: aerospace genius Wernher von Braun. Not only did von Braun help the Nazis create the V-2, but after the war, he was sent to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip — where he continued his research into rocketry, paved the way for NASA’s Apollo program, and helped America win the space race against the Soviet Union. Killing him would in 1944 would be devastating to American history.
While Fleming, Wyatt, and Rufus try to figure out what to do about Flynn and von Braun, Lucy hits her breaking point. Between losing her sister and gaining a mystery fiancé, she’s been struggling during the last few missions now and has started to develop a bit of PTSD. (Witnessing the Hindenburg explosion and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination can do that to a person.)
NEXT: 3, 2, 1…Liftoff!
The high-stakes danger of Nazi Germany isn’t making things any easier for Lucy. In a moment of vulnerability, she opens up to Wyatt about how she almost abandoned her desire to study history when she was a sophomore in college, planning to join a band instead. She was on her way home to confess to her historian mother when she lost control of her car, plunging into a river and almost drowning. A bystander saved her, but since then, she says, “I have always put myself in situations that I could control.” It’s no wonder that zipping through time and space and chasing an international terrorist has made her feel helpless.
In return, Wyatt reveals that he, too, struggled when he first joined the military, and he says the only thing that kept him going was the desire to make his grandfather proud. “You wanna figure out how to keep doing this?” Wyatt tells Lucy. “You figure out what you’re fighting for, and you’ll be okay.” We’ve had more than few heart-to-hearts so far on Timeless, and although they don’t always ring true, this one between Wyatt and Lucy feels like a genuine, heartfelt moment.
It’s the pep talk Lucy needs to head to the rocket-launch party with Fleming, but their plan to stop Flynn is quickly foiled by the appearance of Flynn himself. Flynn’s bizarre obsession with Lucy continues, as he reveals to her he doesn’t want to give the atomic bomb to the Nazis. Instead, his goal is to hand von Braun over to the Russians, practically guaranteeing they win the Cold War. (I still maintain that if your goal is to screw up American history, you can’t do any better than giving a literal nuclear weapon to the Nazis, but I’m not Flynn.)
Flynn once again tells Lucy he’s not the bad guy here — everything he’s doing is for the greater good, he claims — but as Lucy rightly points out, he’s helping NAZIS. And he literally shot ABRAHAM LINCOLN. “One day you’ll understand, I’m a patriot,” he tells Lucy. Sure, dude. Sure.
He’s such a good guy, in fact, he tells the Nazis that Fleming and Lucy are British spies. “Love your movies,” he adds, as the Nazis carry Fleming and Lucy away to presumably be shot/tortured/etc. Luckily, it’s Rufus and Wyatt to the rescue, as Rufus wires the V-2 rocket to explode. In the chaos, Fleming shoots their Nazi captors with a gun he literally had hidden up his sleeve (every Bond story needs secret spy technology) as our trio catches von Braun and escapes the castle through a secret Catholic tunnel from the 1500s.
“They call them priest holes,” Wyatt explains. “It was in Skyfall.” Nerd.
So, everything is sort of okay in the end! The Nazis lost. Fleming hands von Braun over to the Allies. Fleming even tries to hit on Lucy one last time, and after she rebuffs him, he smirks and says, “Well, never say never.” His flirty remarks may not work on Lucy, but Wyatt almost melts into the floor. When our trio gets back to the present, they learn there’s a brand-new Bond story called Weapon of Choice, featuring CIA agents Rufus, Lucy, and Wyatt. Mason even goes as far as to call the 1964 film “Connery’s best.”
“How much you wanna bet Bond sleeps with Lucy in that one?” Rufus says.
As for the nuke? It turns out Anthony and Flynn don’t want to use it as a weapon. Instead, they just turn it into a renewable power source for the Mothership, meaning they no longer have to hook into a power grid (and possibly alert the government to their location).
The episode’s only real bummer comes right at the end, when Rufus tells Mason he’s done recording Lucy and Wyatt for the top-secret Rittenhouse people. Shortly thereafter, he gets a creepy visit from an old man who not-so-subtly hints that unless Rufus cooperates with Rittenhouse, his family is going to be in serious danger. Yikes. So whoever (or whatever) Rittenhouse may be, they’re not letting go of Rufus any time soon.
But other than that downer, this might be the most fun episode we’ve seen yet. James Bond references! Flirty banter! Nazis! There’s the nice little authentic, down-to-earth moment between Lucy and Wyatt as they discuss her PTSD — and a few discussions about the ethics of letting von Braun live — but unlike past episodes, “Party at Castle Varlar” is less about the surface-level moral quandaries of time travel and more of a time-travel adventure story. Here’s hoping the rest of the season can maintain that thrilling, playful tone.
Episode grade: B+