Kudos to Timeless for paying off a season one setup in “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” and for continuing to move as though there’s a season three on the horizon.
When the episode opens, Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and Jiya’s (Claudia Doumit) prophecy-related relationship issues get interrupted by an alert that the Mothership has traveled to March 1981. Lucy (Abigail Spencer) immediately identifies the likely target as Reagan being shot by John Hinckley Jr., and the team assembles to stop Rittenhouse from altering events as we know them.
Am I correct in thinking this is the first episode where they mention that they can’t travel within their own timelines? I swear I’d never heard that before both Flynn (Goran Visnjic) and Connor (Paterson Joseph) opt out of being the “fourth seat” for this mission because they were already alive in 1981. As a result, Jiya volunteers to go, taking some of the unresolved Rufus stuff into the Lifeboat and the past.
As soon as they blast off, Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) arrives in the bunker after spending a lovely morning with her family. Remember last season when she invited Lucy to her home for dinner to meet her wife and children? We learned then that she was terrified that some time-travel-rooted thing would happen that would erase her family from existence, as well as that she had been hiding her life and family from her close-minded mother. At that dinner she gave Lucy a thumb drive, and made her promise to secure it in the Lifeboat and show it to her if the worst should come to pass. (A rather ingenious way to make sure it survived all the havoc they wreak on the space/time continuum.)
When Agent Christopher finds out where the team has gone, she knows immediately that Reagan isn’t the target. She is.
Indeed, the Time Team arrives at the scene of Reagan’s shooting in time to take action. They’re looking for a Rittenhouse sleeper to be interfering with what actually happened to Reagan and/or James Brady, but instead Wyatt (Matt Lanter) notices a red laser dot on the back of a patrolwoman’s jacket and yells out for everyone to get down just before Hinckley shoots. He throws himself on the officer, then helps her roll over, and they discover that she’s been hit, but not fatally. Officer Denise Christopher thanks him for saving her life, and he knows he’s just saved a lot more than that.
In the chaos, Hinckley escapes, which is not how history is supposed to play out. The Rittenhouse sleeper also escapes. The Time Team splits in two to follow both trails, with Wyatt and Rufus tracking the sleeper while Lucy and Jiya stay with Officer Christopher to make sure there isn’t a successful second attempt on her life.
Jiya and Lucy follow Denise to the hospital, where they introduce themselves as Cagney and Lacey, private investigators hired by Jodie Foster to look into Hinckley. Before they get a chance to talk much to Denise, her mother comes into her hospital room like a force of nature, imploring her to give up police work and agree to an arranged marriage.
In this conversation, we learn that Denise’s real name is Dhriti Sirivastava, and that her prospective groom and his family are all in the hospital waiting to see her.
Before long, Jiya and Lucy are crowded out of the hospital room by expressive Indians. They stay nearby, keeping watch, and to their surprise they witness Denise accepting a marriage proposal. Lucy realizes that they aren’t out of the woods yet. It won’t matter that Denise survived the shooting if she changes her life so much that she never assembles the Time Team.
Jiya wants to tell Denise the truth, but Lucy tries to avoid that, instead recruiting Denise to come help them reveal and apprehend Hinckley. She goes along, but it isn’t enough to change her mind about getting out of law enforcement. Apparently she became a cop because as a young child she witnessed her father being shot to death, and she was inspired by the female officer who cared for her in the aftermath. She doesn’t want her mother to lose her to a shooting, too, so she will likely leave police work and become a housewife.
These desperate times call for desperate measures, so Jiya and Lucy retrieve a laptop and Agent Christopher’s thumb drive from the Lifeboat and crash Denise’s engagement party that evening. They explain the essentials of who they are, pull up the slideshow of Denise’s family photos that the thumb drive holds, and implore her to call off the engagement and tell her mother the truth about herself. Lucy leaves the thumb drive with her as a talisman to hold close in the years to come.
Meanwhile, Rufus and Wyatt catch the Rittenhouse sleeper at the hospital. He’s been embedded in the past for 12 years, positioned as a secret service agent. He tells them that he isn’t a Rittenhouse believer, but that the organization bailed his family out after his father was caught embezzling and required he and his brother to agree to time travel as the payback.
He also insists that he didn’t know anything about being called on as an assassin until his brother showed up to activate him that morning, and that if he fails in his mission, his wife and children in 2018 will be killed. After Wyatt roughs him up, he tells them that his brother is on his way to Agent Christopher’s house to try again, and they leave him alone while they go foil this plot.
They run over the brother with their car just before he takes a shot, then return to their hostage, who has hung himself in their absence.
When everyone returns to 2018, there are some surprising side-effects from this mission.
First, Agent Christopher greets them all with thanks she’s been waiting 37 years to offer. In this amended timeline, she always knew who her recruits would be because she’d met them before. Also, as a result of Lucy and Jiya’s parting advice, she has always been out to her mom. It was difficult for a long time, but her mother loves her children and is an integral part of her family. She tells Lucy that the thumb drive talisman gave her hope when she needed it, then returns it for safekeeping in the Lifeboat.
Second, during the mission Lucy convinced Jiya that she should start using her future-visions as fuel to try to change the things she doesn’t want to see come to pass. If they can rewrite the past, why not the future? When Jiya shares this new attitude with Rufus, he tells her how much he loves her. He also recognizes how easily he could have found himself in the shoes of the Rittenhouse sleeper they just interrogated, which has checked him a bit.
Third, when Wyatt reunites with Jessica (Tonya Glanz) after the mission, he finds her scrolling through a feed of family photos on her phone. She’s looking at one of her brother when Wyatt gets a look at the screen, but he doesn’t recognize him. In the new, Jessica-is-alive timeline, Wyatt and the brother are BFFs. In the old timeline, this particular brother had died of leukemia before his third birthday.
Wyatt asks Jessica how her brother was saved, and she vaguely tells him there was some cutting-edge treatment. In the aftermath of hearing how Rittenhouse bailed out that sleeper’s family, Wyatt’s spider sense begins to tingle. Without knowing about the pic Connor and Agent Christopher found in the Rittenhouse debris, he asks if there’s something Jessica isn’t telling him, and she says yes… She’s pregnant! (She’s also definitely Rittenhouse, but she doesn’t say so.)
Finally, Lucy’s gears are turning after blending past, present and future on the Denise Christopher beat during this mission. She finds Flynn in his room and tells him she wants to know about how he got the journal he claims to have received from her.
He tells her that she looked about five years older than she does now when she approached him in a bar in Sao Paulo shortly after his family had been murdered. She gave him the journal and set him on his path, essentially starting the whole thing. She can’t accept this, but now she has a reason to age five years in this world to see how she could possibly get there, so fingers crossed for a series renewal!
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