Sunday, May 6, 2018

REVIEW: 'Timeless' - The Team Must Preserve History by Saving Agent Christopher in the Past in 'The Day Reagan Was Shot'

NBC's Timeless - Episode 2.08 "The Day Reagan Was Shot"

The Time Team travels back to 1981 Washington D.C. on the day President Reagan was shot, only to discover that the sleeper's target isn't the President - but a young rookie police officer - none other than Agent Christopher. The team must save Agent Christopher's life and prevent her from making a mistake that set her on a different path that would forever change her own future, the future of the team and the future of the world.

Agent Christopher is the only member of the Time Team who has yet to step into the Lifeboat and travel back in time. Sure, Jessica hasn't done that either. But she's not really a member of the team just yet because the audience can't trust her following that revelation Connor Mason discovered on the Rittenhouse computers. It's significant that Agent Christopher has yet to make this journey because Connor Mason and Jiya have already done so. Rufus and Jiya added a fourth seat to the Lifeboat for the sole purpose of sending more people to the past to better confront the threats from Rittenhouse. The team has needed as many hands as possible to figure out these new, complicated missions. They have frequently found themselves showing up too late and history has changed. They have instead had to ensure that the big picture isn't altered in the slightest simply by ensuring that some things still happen even if it wasn't the same as before. As such, that should make the audience very worried about potential changes happening in "The Day Reagan Was Shot." The changes made to history have always been so impersonal. The Time Team understand the impact their actions have on history. They remember their lives from another timeline. But they are the only people who hold onto those memories. They've certainly made history for the better in a couple of instances. But most of the time they have radically changed one person's life. And now, the character at the center of the story is Agent Christopher. Rittenhouse is targeting her in the 1980s when she was just a rookie cop in Washington, D.C. She's being targeted then to ensure that Rittenhouse doesn't suffer any kind of destructive blow in the future and that the Time Team doesn't come together at all. It's a brilliant move and one that makes this one of the most personal episodes of the entire season.

Of course, the show hasn't spent a whole lot of time on Agent Christopher's personal life. She has always been positioned as the government contact leading this team who always stays in the present to monitor the actions being taken by their enemies while the team is away. She's been an active character. She's probably been even more active this season because she was kidnapped by Carol and led Wyatt on a raid of Rittenhouse headquarters. But it's also important to note that she has a family that she doesn't have in hiding. Carol made that appeal to Agent Christopher as a fellow mother who just wanted to protect her child. Agent Christopher refused to keep Lucy off of these missions because she knows the importance of not trying to clip the wings of one's children. They should be able to make their own choices and have the loving support of their parents to always pick them up whenever they fall. She didn't want to uproot her family and force them into hiding simply because her job has gotten so much more dangerous. She is still able to have a perfectly happy family life despite the rest of the team being confined to the bunker. She still has that. It's a luxury afforded to her at this moment. And now, it's all being threatened. Right now, it's her personal life that is played as the more significant loss. When the Time Team changes history, they need to ensure that Agent Christopher continues on the path that will lead to her getting married to her wife and having her two children. Yes, her life is still important to keeping this team together but that's not the priority here. Right now, it's simply more important to ensure that she has the happiness she deserves despite this vicious attack from their enemies.

As such, the show delves even more into Agent Christopher's home life. Lucy is the only person from the team who has actually met her family. They are so lovely. It's nice that Agent Christopher has this happiness to return home to. It's a luxury that she understands not everyone on the team can have right now. Wyatt has Jessica back but she may not be trustworthy. Meanwhile, Lucy's sister is still missing from the timeline while Flynn's family is still dead. And now, it's clear that Agent Christopher has a tense and estranged relationship with her mother. They still do talk with one another a couple times a year. But she doesn't know that Agent Christopher is married to a woman and they have two children. It's a sadness that comes out of Agent Christopher's fears that her family would simply never accept her for who she is. It's tragic because that's been her mentality for her entire life even though she has built this wonderful new family for herself. That also provides Lucy and Jiya with a way to improve Agent Christopher's future. Right now, the young Denise is being targeted because of what she will do one day. It's a way to disrupt the team to ensure that Rittenhouse can continue moving forward with their plans. But for Lucy and Jiya, it's simply important to get Agent Christopher to accept who she is and that her future will be happy. Right now, she is content to get engaged to a family friend in order to give her family happy news after she got shot. That's a significant change to history. It's a change that Lucy believes can only be remedied by telling the young Agent Christopher about her future. That's so completely dangerous and could change history in any number of ways. But it also forces her to accept all of this as true. It gives her the confidence to be her true self much sooner in life which allows her mother to have a relationship with her kids. It's a gift that the team gives to Agent Christopher that is so joyous to watch.

Of course, there are still plenty of moments where it seems like Agent Christopher or her family are about to be wiped away from existence. When Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus and Jiya go back to 1981 D.C., they believe Rittenhouse is targeting President Reagan on the day that he was shot. They believe their enemies are planning on finishing the job. Agent Christopher knows it's more personal than that because she was there to witness those events. She was actually working that beat when the president was shot. She knows he's not the intended target. The team is able to figure that out quickly too. Wyatt is the one who saves young Agent Christopher not knowing who she is at first. After getting that realization, the team understands just how crucial this mission is. They don't want anything to disrupt the timeline this time around. But they keep coming against new threats that seem destined to alter Agent Christopher's future. In the present, Agent Christopher is just content with not knowing if her life is about to change because of time travel. She is just convinced by Flynn to spend all the time she can with her family. She does that but it's still played as a moment where the audience doesn't know what family she'll be returning home to. In that moment, the young version is still engaged to a man. The Rittenhouse sleeper agent is still targeting her. The team should know by now that Rittenhouse typically has more than one agent in a given time period. It shouldn't be a surprise that Wyatt and Rufus' job isn't done because they eliminated one threat. But they still save her life on multiple occasions. Plus, young Agent Christopher proves very beneficial to ensuring that the man who shot President Reagan is caught just like he was always suppose to.

Elsewhere, it continues to be so fascinating seeing the show break more and more of its time travel rules this season. When the show first started, it laid out the rules for time travel. That's so essential to this premise. The show had to outline these rules and then stick to them. If it broke them, then they needed to be consequences. That happened at the end of first season with Jiya getting these visions after being the fourth passenger in the Lifeboat. But now, it's interesting to see that these aren't hard rules to time travel. It's simply the science of this new technology needing to constantly evolve. As such, it's not impossible for four people to time travel to the past without experiencing side effects. Rufus and Jiya just needed to figure out the physics and logistics that would make it okay to add another seat. And now, the show is reminding the audience that none of the characters can visit a time in which they already existed. It's more than just a fear of running into one's self and thus creating a paradox. Bad things would happen simply by visiting that time to begin with. And yet, Lucy demands to know how Flynn got the journal from her in the first place. He claims to know her so well at this point because of everything she wrote in that journal. The well of information there has run dry. But it's still such a big plot point for their dynamic to continue to flourish. She wants to know more about her own future after seeing what happened to Agent Christopher after she became aware of her fate. Flynn tells her a story about him being at his lowest point following his family's deaths and a Lucy who is probably five years older than now coming to him in a bar and giving her the journal. It doesn't make any sense based on the current science. But as Rufus and Jiya are determined to do, the rules could be constantly evolving as to what is and isn't possible with time travel moving forward. That's very exciting. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "The Day Reagan Was Shot" was written by Arika Lisanne Mittman & Lauren Greer and directed by Alex Kalymnios.
  • Rufus and Jiya are still fighting about her vision of his death. Lucy and Wyatt become aware of the news as well. They are barely able to have reactions to it though before the mission comes up. And yet, it's once again a time period where Rufus knows that he survives. He just spends it going off with Wyatt instead of spending as much time with Jiya as possible.
  • Lucy tells Jiya that the rules of time travel are always changing. She once believed that history was set in stone and should be maintained at all cost. Any minor change could have so many ripple effects throughout history. One simply doesn't know what could be altered upon returning to the present. And yet, the future for the team is constantly changing. They should be fighting to maintain what's important instead of worrying that Rufus' death is bound to occur.
  • Rufus and Jiya committing to each other and spending every minute together for as long as they have probably signals that the remainder of the season will feature Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus and Jiya in the Lifeboat going on these adventures. That should be a fascinating group. It's very entertaining here despite the split that happens early on. Both sides are important to the overall mission. But it's also probably beneficial to have another person on the team who can pilot the Lifeboat should Rufus die in the past.
  • Wyatt and Rufus are forced to reckon with their decision to kill their enemies. In many cases, it has been kill or be killed. The team needed to take out these threats from Rittenhouse before they had the opportunity to kill them. But here, Wyatt and Rufus are able to capture the sleeper agent and get information out of him. Sure, his story doesn't completely line up. He didn't know who his target was before this morning but was able to know her precise address and hand it over to his brother to finish the job. But it does make us question whether or not the sleeper agents are actually as guilty as Nicholas, Emma and Carol are.
  • Wyatt only spends a little bit of time with Jessica at the end of the hour. And yet, it's a crucial moment that shows how things continue to change for them. He learns that her being alive isn't the only thing that Rittenhouse did. They probably cured her brother of leukemia as well. Wyatt never knew him because he died when Jessica was 3 in his timeline. And now, he senses that something more is off. But Jessica quickly changes the subject by announcing that she is pregnant.