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​ "The Miracle of Christmas – Timeless Christmas Special/Finale

If you didn't catch on from the Timeless title, it's Christmas. I mean, it's really, really Christmas. They didn't title the episode, "The Non-Secular Occurrence of Happy Holidays", did they?

But don't worry, the creative team will remind you. Over and over again. That it's Christmas. On the show, at least. If there was a drinking game and you took a shot every time the word "Christmas" was mentioned, you'd be dead of alcohol poisoning. It's Christmas in the present, it's Christmas in North Korea, It's Christmas in Sao Paolo.

And a Merry Christmas to all of you at home.

What about the "episode" itself? First of all, TVMaze lists it as two separate parts. It isn't, at least not according to my DVR, the credits, and how it actually aired. NBC does that thing where they list all of the guest stars for both "parts" at the beginning without differentiating which part they're in. And they do it at the end with the co-stars. And the vast majority of the crew. But two separate episodes is how TVMaze lists it, and you dance with them that brought you. So two episodes it is.

As for the finale, it's… nothing special. We do get a resolution to the cliffhanger they left us with, which has Future-Lucy and Future-Wyatt returning in a future-Lifeboat to the present. They leave off a copy of the journal and then depart in the present-Lifeboat, leaving the team to use the modified future-Lifeboat and the journal to determine what they have to do to save Rufus. Which, as you'll recall, was killed in the "real" season finale.

And, spoilers. Nothing really shocking happens. Rittenhouse is pretty casually defeated. Rufus is brought back to life. Lucy and Wyatt end up together. Rufus and Jiya end up together. Something no doubt impressive happens to Connor (Paterson Joseph) and Agent Denise (Sakina Jaffrey), but they're secondary main stars so nobody really cares. Flynn ends up sacrificing himself to bring Rufus back, although the sacrifice doesn't really seem necessary. Or rather, he sacrifices himself just so he can see his family one last time in the past before they're killed. Whether that's "necessary" or not will vary on your opinion. IMO, it kinda comes out of nowhere. It's the kind of thing where he could choose to die to see his family, or get over them and return to the present. The writers could have gone either way, and it wouldn't be out-of-character for Flynn.

I didn't expect someone to go berserk with a machine gun and kill the Time Team, and Rittenhouse to "win". But there's nothing here that is really that surprising. Other than when & where they travel in time. North Korea 1950 and Sutters' Mill 1848 aren't the more famous and/or cheap-to-film eras that you'd expect them to go. But there they went.

And a Merry Christmas to all of you at home.

On with the special. In Part 1, our future-team pair shows up, future-Lucy (Abigail Spencer) gets a headache from co-existing with her past self, and she hands off the journal to present-Lucy before leaving for… somewhere. Presumably the future-team pair will disappear once the present-team makes right what went wrong. Which means they won't come back from the future to help the team, which means the team doesn't stop Rittenhouse, which means… ugh, never mind. Time paradoxes give me nosebleeds. It's all very timey-wimey, and it's not like the show has ever been that serious about time travel. So let's go with the (temporal) flow.

Also, future-Wyatt (Matt Lanter) tells present-Wyatt there is no baby and Jessica (Tonya Glanz) lied to him to manipulate him. So that gets resolved.

Meanwhile, Emma (Annie Wersching) takes command of Rittenhouse now that Carol is dead. She is apparently just in it for the money, and sends Jessica to collect gold from Sutters' Mill in 1848. Emma is going to use half the gold for herself, and half to bribe a Marine lieutenant in 1950. More on that in a bit.

Matt Lanter, Timeless Special S02The team detects the Mothership in 1848 and travel back there using the future-Lifeboat. They run into Joaquin Murietta (Paul Lincoln Ayayo), who was a partial inspiration for Zorro. Joaquin is a bandit and the team steals their horses from him. They cut a rather vague deal because I guess there are Mexicans in the area mining gold and Joaquin is buddies with them. The group camps for the night and Wyatt realizes Rufus died because Jessica lived.

Emma has already contacted the Rittenhouse sleeper in the area, and he captures Lucy, Wyatt, and Jiya (Claudia Doumit). Flynn (Goran Višnjić) has already sneaked off to the future-Lifeboat and traveled forward to kill Jessica. He does so and then goes to his family house, which must be awfully close to where Jessica died. Flynn looks in on his wife and child, and then we hear that his body turns up after he dies of temporal duplication. Presumably it only affects the visitor, not the original.

Malcolm Bennett, Timeless Special S02

With Jessica dead, she never betrayed the team so Rufus is alive. He rescues his three captive teammates and rather inexplicably greets them as "filthy animals". Which no doubt sounded better in the promo but doesn't make much sense here unless Lucy and Wyatt have seen Home Alone. Rufus has no memory of ever being dead because it didn't happen in his timeline. He also killed the sleeper agent, and Joaquin is satisfied with their deal and lets them leave.

The team return to the present and they find out from a note Flynn left in the journal what he did. Emma has realized that time has changed when no one remembers Jessica. So why does she? In the new timeline, Joaquin becomes a family man and a horse breeder rather than shot down by Rangers. Wyatt and Lucy discover they've been living together since Jessica never returned. Emma goes to 1950 and pays a Marine lieutenant to do something for her since Rittenhouse is out of sleeper agents.

The team detect Emma going to 1950 in the Mothership and follow her there. As usual, they land the Lifeboat some distance away from where they have to go and have to hoof it the rest of the way. And the Marine lieutenant somehow spots them, lands, and picks them up. And Emma has gone to Christmas Eve, 1950, where the Miracle of Christmas occurred when the Communists invaded South Korea and 14,000 refugees managed to escape aboard a small cargo ship. So it's really, really cold.

And a Merry Christmas to all of you at home.

Part 2 kinda/sorta starts with Wyatt waking up, and Lucy telling him what happened. Somehow Wyatt worked out the lieutenant was trying to kill them, fought with the guy, the chopper crashed, and everyone lived except the lieutenant. Isn't that convenient.

They head for the port of Hungnam where the evacuation is going down. Rufus and Wyatt find a truck and repair the engine, and Wyatt tells Rufus his original-timeline self said he'd never forgive Wyatt for Jiya being stranded in San Francisco's Chinatown for three years. And… Rufus forgives him. Whether it's because they're such buddies or because Rufus doesn't remember what happened in that timeline, who knows? Some of both, maybe.

Lucy and Jiya go into a local church to get warm and meet a woman, Young-Hee (Kahyun Kim). She's pregnant, and her husband and son have gone on to Hungnam to evacuate the country. The guys get the truck running and they drive off with Young-Hee to Hungnam. The truck breaks down and they have to walk, but Young-Hee goes into labor so Wyatt and Jiya stay with her while Lucy and Rufus go into the port city to get help. They finally find a doctor but the Communists bomb the area where Young-Hee is giving birth. Fortunately, they're lousy shots so everyone is unharmed, and Young-Hee gives birth to a daughter. The time team get Young-Hee to Hungnam, and she's reunited with her family.

The team then head back to the Lifeboat, which is in the opposite direction. They take refuge in an abandoned church. Rufus doesn't know about the three years Jiya was stranded in the past. So I'm confused. The timeline was changed, and Rufus doesn't remember or have experienced the original, but Jiya has? I suppose that works out conveniently for dramatic purposes. Conveniently, we don't have to see them try to work out three years of discrepant memories.

Lucy and Wyatt finally admit they love each other and kiss. Meanwhile, Agent Denise has made a deal with Lucy's foster father, and Rittenhouse bad guy, Benjamin Cahill (John Getz) to lead them to Emma's secret base. He does so to protect his family, and they capture Emma, get the Mothership, and defeat Rittenhouse. Denise then goes back to 1950 in the Mothership, forcing Emma to pilot it. Emma offers to bring back Lucy's sister Amy, who disappeared due to the very first timeline change. Lucy refuses and a Communist sniper kills Emma. The team quickly leaves before the Communists can capture them.

The next part is a little vague. I guess Rufus piloted the Mothership to the (future) Lifeboat, and Lucy and Wyatt take it to the present. They have a conversation about saving loved ones, and Lucy explains she wasn't going to try and bring back Amy after all the trouble caused by Flynn losing his family (which had nothing to do with trying to bring them back), and Wyatt getting Jessica back (although that was Rittenhouse, not Wyatt). So it's a nice principle, in theory, to keep performing "do-overs" to get loved ones back but Lucy's examples suck sewer water.

Back in the present, the team celebrates Christmas. Wyatt and Lucy kiss under the mistletoe.

Jiya agrees to let Rufus move in with her. I don't think they ever explain about the temporal visions she had after she traveled through time, or the ruined Golden Gate Bridge she saw in the season 1 finale. Connor disassembles the Mothership but Denise keeps the Lifeboat around to deal with someone else eventually developing time travel.

Abigail Spencer, Timeless Special S02

In 2023, we find out Wyatt and Lucy have had two daughters, Flynn and Amy. Lucy is teaching history in college, and they never say what Wyatt is doing then. Rufus and Jiya have formed Riya Industries and fund a community center dedicated to science. They get together and Lucy travels back to Sao Paolo in 2014. Flynn is sitting in a bar on Christmas Eve drinking after the death of his family, and Lucy gives him her journal to complete the loop so that everything that will happens, does happen. She tells him he's a hero no matter what people think of him, and leaves before she dies of temporal duplication. We get a highlight reel of the greatest scenes from the show, some kid from the community center doing sketches of a time machine of her own, and... the end.

Like I said, pretty much everything happened the way the fans expected. The special is basically a love letter to the fans and a wrap-up of all the loose plot ends the creative team didn't bother to wrap up in the actual finale. Whether they thought Timeless wasn't going to end, or they hoped NBC would fall for their bluff and renew it, or they're just jerks, the world may never know.

Given it's a love letter of sorts, it's not like the creative team was going to have Rittenhouse win and the main characters die. Rufus was a fan favorite, so of course they brought him back. And granted, it's a pretty somber team without Malcolm Bennett riffing and gaslighting movie and TV references. So they don't spend a lot of time and effort bringing him back, and he's back pretty quickly. Which is good since I missed him and from what I've read, the fans did as well.

Overall, I'm glad that they brought Timeless back for one last wrap-up. But they didn't really try to do anything special or unique with it. In a way, Timeless was The Time Tunnel of the 2010s. It had characterization and budget and subplots and a secret society and actors who could actually (re)act, because TV has come fifty years since the 1960s. But I wouldn't call it a sophisticated, or a "timey-wimey", sort of show. It was basically show creators Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan having fun with time travel and using it to portray thrilling adventures. Nothing wrong with that, but Timeless overall is closer to The Time Tunnel and Voyagers! than Journeyman, or Tru Calling, or Doctor Who, or Lost, or Odyssey 5, or FlashForward, or 11.22.63, or Quantum Leap, or Dick Gently's Holistic Travel Agency, or 7 Days, or DC's Legends of Tomorrow.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?

And a Merry Christmas to all of you at home.

Written by Gislef on Dec 21, 2018


Gislef posted 9 months ago

The ratings were low, but they often are with this kind of year-end "burnoff": just ask the Justice League pilot movie, Three Inches, and Ascension. :) Most people in the States are too busy with the holidays to turn out to watch a 12/20 "premiere".

The closure was nice, but I blame the creative team at the time. They do what most production teams do: write an open-ended finale instead of closing up the loose ends, gambling against the odds that they'll get renewed. Fans could read the ratings, NBC could read the writings. But a bunch of TV pros couldn't? Like I noted, most of the season 2 creative team wasn't listed in the finale credits. They apparently walked, which means that they weren't that interested, either.

LadyShelley posted 9 months ago

For those curious about the ratings, Timeless finished with a 0.6 and ~3.2 million viewers; in other words, not very good. NBC average for scripted shows runs around a 1.1-1.3 depending on the week.

drchuck posted 9 months ago

I had no idea that the Timeless "movie" aired until I read about it on TVmaze. Maybe I'll look for it on the NBC app, maybe I won't. Thanks for inserting a generous portion of Doctor Who in your article. :)

tnt posted 9 months ago

I'd say that it was a pretty decent finale, all i's are dotted and all t's are crossed. Most of them anyways. I loved the show and it was nice to see it getting a proper closure, which is a rare courtesy this days.

Gislef posted 9 months ago

Actually, Kripke & Co. are talking like there could be a third season. Depends on how well the Christmas finale did, ratings-wise.

IMO, they neither need nor deserve a third season. The only reason the show ended with a main character dead and a bunch of open plotholes is because the creative team chose to do it that way. They tried to bluff NBC: "We'll kill off a beloved character, leave the main bad-guy organization functioning, and not resolve the main romantic interest. All so you'll have to cave to the fans and bring us back." NBC didn't, because a) they're Hollywood, and b) they're a business. Money talks, nobody walks, and Timeless just wasn't making the money. They gave the fans a finale, sure, but even most of the creative team was absent (check the opening crew credits). And NBC aired it in the "we contractually have to air it before the end of the fiscal year timeslot of 12/20/18" where a lot of one-offs go to die.

It doesn't need a third season because the finale pretty much wrapped everything up. Rufus came back, Wyatt and Lucy linked up and got their happy ending, Rufus and Jiya got their happy ending, they got rid of Flynn who they never seemed to know what to do with once he became "good" ("Is he good, is he bad? Psychopath or sexy cad?"), the main bad-guy organization went out with no bang and a big whimper. I suppose student Pauline could sell her time machine to the Russkies and they'll go back to 2016 and really tamper with the election. So anyone with two brain cells could write a third season, but they'd have to incorporate what happened in the finale intended to end the show, with efforts to keep it going. It'd be kind of a mess.

PatrickAbe posted 9 months ago

It's nice to see that "Timeless" got their own "Serenity" movie, unlike the "toss it in the dumpster" treatment "syfy" gave to "The Expanse." At the very end, we see that someone else is working on "time travel technology." Oh well, the butterfly's wings flap, and there's room for further adventures...which won't happen.

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