The Timeless team is off to 1955 in “The Darlington 500,” racing Emma (Annie Wersching) and her lackey to save lives at the races. 

Related: Catch a recap of the season premiere here!

Wyatt (Matt Lanter) is worrying about what Rittenhouse did to Lucy (Abigail Spencer) during the lost weeks before they reconnected in WWI, and Jiya (Claudia Doumit) is hiding her visions from Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) when an alert comes through that the Mothership has landed in South Carolina in 1955. Nobody has any idea what the attraction might be, so Lucy convinces Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) to let her talk to the only man they know who knows more about Rittenhouse than they do: Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic). 

Flynn winds up offering one piece of information for free, but he warns that any future help will come with strings attached. Thanks to his tip, though, the team heads to Darlington, SC, in search of NASCAR legend Ryan Millerson (Matt Long). They don’t know what Rittenhouse would want with a race car driver, so they hop in the Lifeboat and head to his home. 

Once there, Ryan’s extremely pregnant wife (Annie Tedesco) tells them that they need to look for Ryan at the track, where he’s set to race in the Darlington 500 that day, and that the other “reporters” who visited her are already there. The team rushes to the race track, but we’ve already seen Emma and her flunky looking at Ryan’s family photo and expressing frustration that instead of one casket for him, they’ll be filling caskets with his entire family. 

When the time team arrives at the race track, they stumble across a dispute between real-life NASCAR legend Wendell Scott (Joseph Lee Anderson), first black man to win a NASCAR race, and some white men who had tinkered with his engine. Wyatt steps in to break things up, befriending Wendell and bonding over their shared pasts as bootleggers– which turns out to be true.

They ask him to help them find Ryan, and he does. Wyatt is excited, because as a boy he had a poster of Ryan in his bedroom. Unfortunately, this memory proves to be faulty. As soon as they get into Ryan’s garage, they discover a bomb and trigger mechanism in his car, and Ryan pulls a gun on them to defend it. He’s this episode’s sleeper agent!

Emma and Flunky come in just then, and a scuffle ensues. Just as the time team is about to be taken out, Wendell comes to the rescue with a smoke bomb and then uses his old bootlegging skillz to sneak them out of the race track and back to his garage. 

As the team realizes who Ryan must be, they work out that the bomb must be intended to kill the automotive industry executives in the audience with a well-placed crash into the trophy platform where the VIPs are all gathered– a suicide mission for Ryan. This means they need to sneak back into the race track to stop the plan. 

Wyatt convinces Wendell to help them again by assisting with a repair to his car and confiding in him about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father that led to him leaving home in his father’s stolen car at age 15. Apparently, this is true, too, and although he may not have revered his father after that, he is able to empathize with some of the feelings Lucy is having about her mom in a manner that *almost* leads to a kiss. 

The team gets safely back into the race track, and Wyatt and Wendell agree to a plan in jargon that Rufus and Lucy (and I) don’t understand. The plan begins with Wyatt, Rufus and Lucy walking boldly into Ryan’s garage, where he’s talking to reporters. Wyatt attacks Emma’s flunky, who’s there guarding Ryan (while Emma is holding his unwitting wife hostage in the grandstand), accidentally discharging his gun in a scuffle that ends with Wyatt breaking the flunky’s neck.

The press scatters, and Ryan hops into the car, attempting to complete his mission. Before he can leave the garage, Wyatt shoots him twice and pulls his body out of the car. He makes Rufus and Lucy get in, then burns some rubber to escape the police who are now hot on their tail. Rufus observes that Ryan armed the bomb before being killed, and that any impact will cause the car to explode, but a laughing Wyatt simply leans into his stunt driving and has a wonderful, post-double-homicide jaunt in the volatile vehicle. 

He leads the cops on a wild chase, losing some in the process and eventually winding up at Wendell’s garage. There, he flips the car into reverse and high-speed parks it inside, as Wendell closes the door behind them. That was the plan!

They disarm the bomb, warn their new friend that they don’t think NASCAR will give him any prizes because he’s black, learn that he is a realist who already knows that but wants to excel anyway, and head back to 2018. When they get back, they express no remorse for leaving Ryan’s family in 1955 bereft of him, or for their usual who-knows-what ripple effects on the space-time continuum. 

During their time in 1955, Rufus burns his arm in an attempt to help work on Wendell’s car. This fulfills a vision Jiya had before they left, and when she sees his injury after they return, she freaks mildly and says nothing. 

As all the main action of the episode is unfolding, Agent Christopher antagonizes Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph) by preventing him from beginning to remake his reputation with an appearance at a tech conference. When he tries to circumvent her, she has him arrested and publicly humiliates him. It’s the show’s little way of saying, “we found something to do with these complicating peripheral characters… and it’s complicated!”

Elsewhere, Carol (Susanna Thompson) and Rittenhouse wait impatiently for Nicholas Keynes (Michael Rady) to begin leading them to glory, but he seems more interested in painting weird portraits of his young daughter (Carol’s mother) and eating pickled eggs. He also prints out all of Wikipedia to read and listens to a Victrola. He’s starting to seem like a regular crackpot and a poor investment, but at the last minute he unveils his masterpiece to Carol, Emma and a bunch of Rittenhouse people: a painting. It is kind of a map of time, showing where they’ll go to edit history in their favor, and it wows Emma more than Carol.

Related: Keep up with my season two recaps here!

 

Leona Laurie