Timeless recap: 'The Salem Witch Trials'
After the glitz and glamor of 1940s Hollywood, this week’s Timeless finds the Lifeboat landing in a considerably less dazzling place: Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692 — right at the height of the witch trials.
Let’s start with the previous episode’s big cliffhanger: the revelation that Wyatt’s previously dead wife, Jessica, is actually alive and working at a nearby bar. Here, we get a little more info on the state of the Logan marriage. Wyatt and Jessica are married in this new timeline, but she hasn’t seen him in two months. We knew that they were not exactly getting along when she died in the original timeline, and those marital problems seem to have continued here.
Wyatt has hinted before at his careless past, but the soldier we know and love is apparently very different from the man he used to be. Before Jessica’s death, he was selfish, distant, uncaring, and she reveals that in this timeline, the pair have been in marriage counseling.
Back in the bunker, a review of the Mothership’s logs suggests that apparently, Rittenhouse took a one-hour jaunt to early-1980s San Diego, tinkering something there to help prevent Jessica’s murder. So, now we know who brought Jessica back, but we still don’t know how or why. There are two main possibilities: One, Rittenhouse hopes that reviving Jessica will cause Wyatt to leave the team. That seems like a lot of effort, and it’s also an unusually nice plan for Rittenhouse; they’re the kind of people who would rather just shoot their enemies and be done with it, rather than manipulating them into a happy ending in the hopes that they forget about this whole time-traveling conspiracy thing and walk away.
The second, more insidious theory is that Jessica herself has some ties to Rittenhouse. Maybe she belongs to a powerful Rittenhouse family, or maybe she’s even a sleeper agent herself. If Jessica is affiliated with Rittenhouse, Wyatt’s next move is a pretty bad idea. After she serves him with divorce papers, he desperately tries to explain his recent absence…by taking her to the bunker, telling her that time travel is real, and showing her the Lifeboat. I mean, dude, she seems cool, but you gotta be careful about who you invite into your secret bunker!
With Wyatt sidelined by the sudden reappearance of his dead wife, Lucy and Rufus need a third person to accompany them on their next Rittenhouse mission. “We’re going to colonial New England,” Lucy says reluctantly. “A woman and a black man should travel with someone who has more access.” Luckily for them, good ol’ Garcia Flynn is eager to get out of the house after being stuck in jail for the last few weeks, and he volunteers to accompany them. Everyone except Lucy thinks this is a bad idea — Rufus, Jiya, Mason, Agent Christopher, literally everyone — but they’re desperate.
“I have a thing against getting shot in the back,” Rufus warns Flynn.
“Like that’s the only way I’d be able to kill you,” Flynn replies.
And so the unlikely trio takes off for Salem. Even though Salem is dark, murderous, and paranoid, the addition of Flynn is pretty fun! Turns out when he’s not moping about how Rittenhouse murdered his entire family, Flynn’s kind of sassy! He can trade one-liners with the best of ‘em, and he honestly seems pretty jazzed to be hanging out with Lucy and Rufus.
In Salem, they find themselves right in the midst of all the panic and persecution — with one twist. There’s a new name on the list of the accused: Abiah Franklin (played by Sofia Vassilieva), AKA the future mother of Benjamin. The untimely murder of Benjamin Franklin’s mother would, to say the least, cause problems. “Franklin made it okay for us to criticize the people in charge,” Lucy explains. “Killing Ben Franklin or everything that he stands for, it’s a step toward tyranny.”
But Lucy has her own problems to worry about; her own mom, Carol, shows up to accuse her of being a witch. Turns out that this is less about killing Benjamin Franklin and more about Carol’s mission to take her own daughter out of the equation — on the orders of Nicholas Keynes, Lucy’s great-grandfather. Talk about family drama.
Carol begs Lucy to come back to the present with her and join Rittenhouse, and she smuggles her a knife to help her escape. But you would think that Lucy’s own mom would know that accusing Benjamin Franklin’s mother of witchcraft and threatening to wipe him from history is not the best way to win over Lucy, world’s biggest history nerd.
Surprisingly, it’s Flynn to the rescue, and before the accused can go to the gallows, Flynn shows up to raise a little hell and help the women escape in the chaos. It’s there that Rufus comes face to face with an unexpected foe.
Before he left for 1692, Jiya warned him that the seizures she’s been having aren’t exactly seizures. They’re more like premonitions — specifically concerning Rufus’ future. At first, he blows it off, but she tells him that she’s had a vision of him shooting a Puritan with a scar on his cheek, and, lo and behold, guess who Rufus runs into in Salem. Because of Jiya’s warning, Rufus confronts him, thinking he must be involved with Rittenhouse, but all he does is ensure that Jiya’s premonition comes true. Even though Rufus decides not to shoot him, the man dies anyway, crushed by a runaway carriage.
In the end, Lucy, Flynn, and Rufus are successful in not only saving Abiah Franklin but also all of the accused witches. (Back in the present, Jiya calls it the “Salem witch revolt” and is completely baffled by the phrase “witch hunt.”) It’s a major change to history, and at first, Flynn is surprised that Lucy is so okay with it.
“To hell with what’s supposed to happen, and to hell with my mother,” she replies. Attagirl.