Sunday, March 25, 2018

REVIEW: 'Timeless' - Lucy and Wyatt Get Closer During Their Trip to Old Hollywood in 'Hollywoodland'

NBC's Timeless - Episode 2.03 "Hollywoodland"

When a Rittenhouse sleeper agent in 1941 Hollywood steals the only copy of Citizen Kane, Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus team up with Hedy Lamarr to get it back. Hedy turns out to be not only a glamorous movie star but also a scientific wizard whose discoveries led to the invention of Wi-Fi.

When Timeless first debuted, it was a part of an overall trend of time travel shows on the broadcast networks. There was just something in the water during that development cycle that pointed to this being a potential hit concept. And yet, four of them were on the air at the same time and ran the risk of basically telling the same story. There were at least three separate versions of the Al Capone story for example. Now, there is less pressure because the only remaining competition for ideas is The CW's Legends of Tomorrow. The two shows have drastically different approaches to the genre as well. Legends of Tomorrow is an actual superhero show that also plays things silly and towards the ridiculous. Timeless is still grounded in a reality where this mission is very serious and there is an entire conspiracy to alter all of history for the benefit of a select few. It's a slight alteration that provides a key distinction between the two shows. As such, there has been less cause for concern with crossover in story ideas. And yet, I was worried heading into "Hollywoodland" because the CW drama already told a story last fall set in 1930s Hollywood where Hedy Lamarr played a significant role. That made me fear that it could seem redundant to once again learn that Hedy was a stunning beauty who appeared in movies during this time but was also an inventor who's breakthroughs helped change the world. However, there really was no cause for concern. This is a fantastic episode of Timeless that really goes there with a number of twists it has earned over a long period of time. The show is paying off so much in this hour that it feels very satisfying.

Here, Rittenhouse is attacking the timeline by making sure that Citizen Kane is never seen. On one hand, that is very disruptive because that film is seen as an iconic piece of media that helped inform so many storytelling tendencies. It helped invent so much of this particular form. On the other hand, Rittenhouse is embarking on this mission in order to blackmail the man who inspired the film into giving them a column in his notorious newspaper. It's a way for Rittenhouse to control the narrative of the entire world. That's ultimately even more influential and important. It would be a significant change to history because Rittenhouse would be controlling what people think and believe. As such, the stakes of the mission are very high. But the story also allows plenty of time for the team to relax and enjoy the time period while hanging out with Hedy. They get into the lot because Rufus is pretending to be Langston Hughes. That's an amusing concept that provides him so much access. Hedy is really the only person who questions his identity. Even then, she is okay believing that the team are just friends of Orson Welles tasked with finding whomever stole his film. It's a mission that leads to Rufus and Hedy bonding over sound waves and frequency. It's great to see them put their intellect to good use. And in the end, Wyatt is successful in eliminating this threat while Rufus returns the film to where it belongs. In the process, he provides Hedy with a helpful tip that will ensure her legacy will forever be remembered. These shows have brought her story back to life. And now, the show wants to create a world where she is an even bigger name than Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. That's aspirational but very rewarding too.

There are also times where it seems like this mission to stop the Rittenhouse sleeper agent is just happening on the sidelines to the true drama and story of this hour. This is the episode in which Wyatt and Lucy actually kiss and confess their true feelings for one another. This season has really been teasing them as a couple. They've always had that will-they?/won't-they? chemistry. It was fairly conventional in the first season. And now, the show is being more forceful with it because they don't know if they'll even have the future to tell this story. They can't wait to tell it eventually. They need to do it now. As such, it's great because the show is just going all in. In the first two episodes, they had near miss kisses. They were always being interrupted. That plays a part in this episode as well. They aren't able to keep their new romance a secret for very long. Rufus walks in on them the following morning before they get up from bed. But there's so much sweet romance building up to that moment as well. It's so lovely watching Lucy perform a song. It feels like the show contorting itself to get Abigail Spencer to sing in this specific time period. But it's work that pays off too because of the importance it has in that moment for this couple. The conversation they then have outside Hedy's house is at times very naive but also very sweet. It's the two of them just slowly admitting their feelings for one another and the impact they've had on each other's lives through this mission. It's still crazy that they are traveling through time fighting bad guys. But it's also a mission that makes them happy because of each other. That's nice and makes it so rewarding when they finally kiss and go to bed together.

And that's what makes it so tragic when the episode closes with the reveal that Wyatt's wife, Jessica, is still alive. It's a twist that comes completely out of the blue. It seems so random. Wyatt tried everything he could possibly think of last season in order to bring Jessica back. He stole Rufus and the Lifeboat in order to go on a mission in the 1980s to ensure her killer was never conceived. It was his sole motivation for a lot of his actions. And now, he has resigned himself to never being able to correct this part of his past. Instead, he has chosen to look to the future with potential happiness with Lucy. That's been so bright and sweet. So now is the perfect time to throw this curve ball. At the moment, it is unclear if Jessica's revival was a result of meddling in the past. It seems hard to believe that Hedy maintaining her patents and becoming a billionaire would save Wyatt's wife. And yet, the Hindenburg explosion somehow prevented Lucy's sister from being born. That has been a huge plot point as well because Carol was comatose in that alternate timeline. Because she is healthy now, she is the leader of Rittenhouse and the creator of the current villainous conspiracy. So, it's a complete unknown what Jessica being alive means for the future of the season and Wyatt and Lucy as a couple. It certainly complicates things. Wyatt is alerted to her presence through a simple text message. He is willing to break all of the security measures without telling anyone to get confirmation that she is alive. It's so emotional for him when he sees her just working as a bartender. It's a thrilling conclusion that promises lots of drama in the foreseeable future.

Elsewhere, it's a lot of fun seeing how the team breaks Garcia Flynn out of prison. Agent Christopher doesn't think it's a good idea. He is still a terrorist. He's a potential ally because he hates Rittenhouse just as much as the team does and he has knowledge of their plans in these various time periods. He is looking to trade that information for his freedom. He is a sitting target in prison. Rittenhouse can easily get to him. Then, he would be of no use to the team. And yet, he has always been a shifty and crafty individual. He has betrayed the team countless times. He can't be trusted. But he and Lucy formed this weird and close dynamic last season. They understand each other. Their fates are linked. And so, she sees the value in breaking him out of prison. Of course, it's him trading one prison for another because he'll be kept in the secret underground bunker with the rest of the team. He probably won't be allowed to go on any missions anytime soon. But he'll remain a valuable resource. And it's honestly just a lot of fun seeing Lucy, Wyatt and Rufus plant the information and tools he needs to escape in his jail cell while they are in the past. They are very fortunate that he's in a prison that was just built and doesn't have any inmates yet. They can easily access his cell and plant detailed instructions on what to do. It's miraculous that it survives in the wall for the decades traveled between the two events. But that's what makes it so thrilling and inventive. Flynn is staging a prison break and getting a lot of help. He's walking with confidence and assurance once more. He'll still have to find his place on the team. But right now, Lucy is fighting for his information while knowing she'll have to get even closer with him in order to prevail in this war. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "Hollywoodland" was written by Matt Whitney and directed by John Showalter.
  • Wouldn't it make more sense for Wyatt to be the one who has no idea who Hedy Lamarr is? Instead, that designation goes to Rufus. That's slightly odd because he's the one who bonds with her over science. He's surprised he has never heard of her and her accomplishments. It mostly happens so he can feel very passionate about spoiling what her future holds and what action she should take to prevent it.
  • Of course, it also doesn't seem like the future changes all that much because Hedy decided to renew her patent. It personally changed her entire life. She became 30 billion dollars richer. Her name is now known by everyone. But it also seems likely that that recognition would have had an affect elsewhere in the timeline with the kind of innovation she could have come up with thanks to the popularity.
  • Every week it's going to be a huge struggle for the team to figure out who the Rittenhouse sleeper agent is. These mysterious individuals have gone back in time and blended into their surroundings. They've been living in these cover identities for years. Here, the guy was living this life for 15 years. He grew up while his father looked relatively the same when they were reunited. And yet, he is discovered because he too is making pop culture references that no one in this time period would understand.
  • Lucy and Wyatt want to keep their new sexual dynamic a secret. And yet, that is quickly ruined by Rufus walking in on them. He has been shipping them hard and wants all of the details about how it finally happened. But he also promises to share it with Jiya and Connor. So, it's very unlikely that this news will be kept a secret down in that bunker. That environment fosters intimacy no matter what.
  • Of course, Jiya was also keeping a secret in regards to her health. She is having these visions that she isn't quite sure what to make of yet. The audience can tell that she is seeing into the future. As such, the longer it takes for her to come to that realization the more agonizing this story becomes. But it's also ominous to note that these new side effects have also gifted her with perfect health for the first time in her life. As such, no one has any explanation for what's going on with her.