The final hours of Timeless season 2 were full of more than a few shockers — and now the NBC series’ co-creator Shawn Ryan reveals the thinking behind the evening’s biggest reveals, what they mean for (the potential) season 3, and how superfan Kelly Clarkson could become a part of the series.
Entertainment Weekly: How long did you have the finale twists planned?
Shawn Ryan: Around episode 7 and 8, we started talking about how we wanted to finish. So when we got to these last two episodes, we had a good idea what we wanted to do with Wyatt and Jessica, the killing of Carol and Nicholas, how we wanted to progress the Wyatt-Lucy relationship, and what we wanted to do with Rufus. We knew very early on in the season that we wanted to do this prophecy of Rufus dying and then actually live up to it, but the biggest twist, the one at the end of the future Wyatt and Lucy, was one of the pieces that we broke really late in the game.
So you had a different ending planned originally?
The initial plan was that season 3 would answer how…when you have a time travel show and can go back and change history, you want to be careful with the deaths you present on the show because there’s always the thought that they may not be permanent because you can go back and tweak things. Our initial plan was, they are hell-bent on a way to save him in season 3 but then when the pitch came in to have the second lifeboat arrive, it was a great idea. When I first heard the pitch I thought, “Wow that’s actually really cool because we can actually go through with killing Rufus but still have some hope at the end.” It felt like a great emotional finish for all the turmoil that we put Lucy and Wyatt through earlier in the season — and it gives us a ton of juicy moments to explore in season 3.
So you’re saying we haven’t seen the last of Rufus [Malcolm Barrett]?
The final line of season 2 is, “You want to get Rufus, or what?” I think that implies that they are going to try and turn the clock back on Rufus’ killing. So I think it’s safe to assume they are at least going to attempt to do that.
And why did you decide to have Emma [Annie Wersching] kill Lucy’s mom Carol [Susanna Thompson] and Nicholas [Michael Rady]?
It felt like there needed to be some consequences. We never want it to feel like we’re treading water in these episodes. We started to think about how we presented Rittenhouse in the first two seasons: Carol has always defined it as blood and legacy. That’s why they went back and rescued Nicholas. And we started looking at that from Emma’s perspective and how frustrating that would be to have heritage honored over merit. Emma has been such a great villain for us and I think you even empathize with her at times. We just liked the idea that someone with her capabilities was not getting what she thinks she deserves just because of who she is. We realized Carol wavering over what to do with Lucy would ultimately result in Emma doing what she did. We’re excited about a potential season 3 coming back with a whole new Rittenhouse.
So will Emma be the big bad for season 3 if the show gets renewed?
That’s part a creative question and part a business question because Annie, who has been amazing, is a series regular on Marvel’s The Runwaways [on Hulu.] She was a recurring guest star for us this season, so we’d have to see what her schedule is going to be and if she’d be open to coming back. We have to wait until we hear about a season 3 pickup before we can have any of those conversations. If we can get her, I imagine we’d proceed with her, but if we can’t then we’d figure out going in another direction. I look at these business kind of things as a way to push you creatively.
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We saw Lucy [Abigail Spencer] attempt to kill Emma at point-blank range. We’ve seen her kill out of self-defense or to save others, but this was something different.
I feel like we earned that moment over the past 26 episodes. It’s something that, even a few episodes, Lucy would never have done. If you look at the whole arc of the series so far, I think what you’ll see is a slowly evolving Lucy Preston. Someone who is a pure, peaceful academic in the pilot is essentially drafted into this war of life-and-death stakes and violence. I think what we’re seeing at the end of this season is the result of this intellectual woman becoming a warrior. And I think there’s a way to justify this as self-defense. You see what Emma does to her when the trigger is pulled and there’s no bullet.
What else can you tell us about your plans for season 3?
Well, I’m reluctant to say too much about season 3 — not because I want to keep secrets from people, but because I know things can change. At the end of season 1, we had a lot of season 2 planned, but a lot of that changed by the time we actually started crafting the episodes. I’d be lying if I said I knew for sure what happens in season 3 because you’re always one writer’s idea away from heading in a completely different direction. If and when we get the greenlight for season 3, we’ll assemble the team and see where we end up.
Kelly Clarkson has been a big part of the #RenewTimeless campaign on Twitter. As a Voice coach, she’s in the NBC family — any plans to get her on the show next season?
We totally should! At the very least, she should be an alias.