Timeless boss answers burning questions about the series finale, reveals original ending
In the two-hour series finale of NBC’s Timeless, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter), and Jiya (Claudia Doumit) saved Rufus (Malcolm Barrett); Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) and Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph) took down Emma (Annie Wersching) and Rittenhouse once and for all; and Flynn (Goran Visnjic) made the ultimate sacrifice to stop Jessica (Tonya Glanz) and help the Time Team.
In other words, it was a jam-packed final installment. The ending left us with five major burning questions, questions that co-creator Shawn Ryan tried his best to answer below.
1. Is Flynn a hero after all?
Garcia Flynn’s journey to redemption serves as the focal point of the series finale: He saves Rufus and the entire team, then chooses to die so he can see his family one last time. To Ryan, it’s a heroic move — one that doesn’t excuse Flynn from his murderous past, but enriches his character. “I do think that brings that character full circle,” he says, adding that Visnjic particularly appreciated his character’s exit. “He sent us a wonderful email [after reading the script] that essentially said, ‘This is everything I could hope for from a finale and for Flynn.'”
As for the Time Team’s final trip, Ryan credits co-creator Eric Kripke for the idea to have Lucy close the loop and give Flynn her journal in 2014. “He was always the one that was adamant about how at some point, near the end of the run of this show, we’ve got to go back to Brazil, and we’ve got to see Future Lucy give Flynn this journal,” Ryan says. “That was something that was very important to him. He was always fighting for that.”
2. Was Emma telling the truth about being able to save Lucy’s sister?
Before she dies, Emma bargains with the Time Team, saying she can help Lucy bring Amy (Bailey Noble) back after she’d been erased from history. Lucy doesn’t believe her, and Ryan says Emma’s statement was probably a Hail Mary gamble. “Who knows whether Emma could have been trusted in that moment,” he says. “This clearly seems a way to weasel out of capture or worse.”
Besides, whether they could save Amy isn’t the point; the point was whether Lucy would want to meddle with time after everything they’ve been through. The decision to not try and save Amy led to plenty of debate in the writers’ room. “I was maybe the one pulling the hardest for the idea that you have to have some principles, and if it’s wrong for Rittenhouse to go back and change history, maybe it’s wrong for our heroes to do it as well,” he explains. “We all have people that we’ve lost in our lives that are important to us. It’s something that I think is very universal and very human.”
And though Lucy certainly has the capability of time travel, Ryan says it’s more important that she understands how to wield that (great) power with (great) responsibility. “At a certain point, you’ve got to cut it off,” he says. “The time travel is over.” Instead, living in the present — as Wyatt and Lucy are, with their children, aptly named Amy and Flynn — has to begin.
3. What other times in history had they wanted to try?
When NBC decided to air the finale at the end of December, the writers researched several potential holiday-themed moments for the team to visit. “We had investigated things like Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve,” Ryan says. In the end, they chose to stick with lesser-known stories as a way to wrap up. “It was important to me that the history [aspect of the final episodes] not necessarily be about a famous person, that the history be about just a ‘regular’ person — in this case, our pregnant Korean woman. As Lucy says, history is important to everyone.”
4. So…what exactly was going on in that final scene?
Late-to-dinner Paulina (Marika Dumancas) — the same girl who was showing off her Leyden jar to Rufus at the science fair — sketches time machines and equations in her bedroom in a tantalizing last scene. Those sketches and equations, Ryan reveals, were actually drawn by artists and futurists commissioned for potential Lifeboat designs during the making of the pilot and help to show how Paulina’s on track to create her own ship.”She’s at the beginning of the journey. I don’t think she’s a year away from figuring it out, but she’s on the path, and she’s using all the various things that we explored when we were making a pilot.”
What’s more, that closing scene was a “late addition” to the script. “For a long time, the script ended with Wyatt, Lucy, and Rufus coming back from Brazil, and that tableau in the mouth of the Lifeboat,” Ryan reveals. “But, we never give up on the show because our fans never give up on the show, and we felt like it would be nice to have a little bit of an opening… We have this incredibly passionate fan base, and I felt that they were owed some hope, that there were still some stories to tell.”
Speaking of which…
5. Will there ever be more Timeless?
When Ryan thinks of Timeless‘ possible future, he thinks of a different sci-fi franchise. “I keep thinking about how Star Trek was a TV show in the ’60s, and then became movies in the ’80s, and became a TV show again in the ’90s, and then became movies again,” he says. “I don’t know what form [Timeless] might take [if it were to continue], but…we’ve been killed twice, and we’ve come back both times, so we’ll see.” In the meantime, fans can always turn back the clock and rewatch the series.