Time-travel fans: Rejoice! The first of three cable networks time-hopping series have landed, and it’s time to stomach what we saw in the premiere, and how much we liked what we saw. But be careful, this review contains some spoilers!
It all starts in 1937, when the airship Hindenburg, carrying 97 people from Germany, crashed in the New Jersey landing site, thus killing 36 of the passengers. This event was the end of the airships promise, as those giant propelled balloons proved too much of a risk.
Back to present day, when a group of gunmen breaks and enters a secret facility, kidnaps the manager, and disappears with the big shiny machine in the middle of the room.Turns out, this machine was a time machine, privately invented by Mason Industries, and the government new nothing about it up until now. To the rescue, Homeland Security brings Lucy Preston, a history professor with insecurities; Wyatt Logan, a special forces soldier with manners; and Rufus Carlin, a programmer and an engineer, who would better stay behind his computer; The three need to follow the gunmen leader, Flynn, using an older version of the time machine, to 1937, to prevent whatever he is going to do.
They make it to 1937, and manage to get to the Hindenburg site, not knowing what’s gonna happen. Turns out, Flynn’s plan was not to further sabotage the disaster of the airship, but to save it, in order to use its return trip to Europe to kill several key people who would board the ship. Our heroes manage to stop him, but at a different cost: Only a journalist died this time, and one of the gunmen. When they return to the present, the history books indeed changed, but not only them, as Lucy soon finds out.
I intentionally left some of the plot outside of this short recap, because my intention is not to summarize this episode, but to discuss it.
After a first episode, we should be clear on who’s good, who’s bad, and which of the characters are our favorites. When it gets to science fiction, we don’t usually know who’s good and who’s bad, and it applies here. Is Flynn the bad guy? What is he trying to achieve in his plan? The fact that he tried to kill several key people, instead of innocents, is it necessarily bad? We don’t know yet.
As he implied when he talked to Lucy, she should get some answers from Homeland and from Mason Industries. Why did they choose her and her teammates? We saw the owner talks to Rufus, saying that he knows why he should go. Why, indeed? It appears that Flynn uses Lucy’s yet unwritten book in his fool’s quest. Does it mean that at one point, Lucy will be the one to orchestrate all this, in order to alter history, for bad or for worse?
This kind of science fiction series should have a nice amount of humor in it, and Timesless provides well. A lot of the banter between Lucy and Wyatt is great, and Rufus nerd-turns-to-ass-kicker was played out well. All-in-all, it was fun and enjoyable.
As for the technology, remember, it is still a cable series, we can’t go all “The Expanse” budget-wise. So we get two distinct time machines (I liked the newer one more, as the “first” one, in the image above, is a bit creepy, and looks like an eye), an airship, and a lot of dedication to the details of the era, with the cars, cloths, bars and reporters. Even the slang jokes were right on:
Wyatt: Hey, man. How’s it going?
Bartender: How’s what going where?
Wyatt: Um, we were just wondering if you’ve seen this man?
Bartender: Why’s he wearing pajamas?
Rooting this series in established historic events helps us better understand its plot, while teaching us a thing or two about history. Adding the fictional elements, like the journalist, makes us go online and read about it, figuring out what’s real and what’s not. And that good television, one where the episode doesn’t end with the ending titles.
So far, Timeless has a 12 Monkeys vibe, but with historic elements and wider scope. The team is lovable, and their chemistry was great. I look forward to the next episodes.
Did you like the episode? Comment about it!