Timeless Season 1 Episode 6
“The Watergate Tape”
After a week long hiatus Timeless returns with ‘The Watergate Tape’ which was a huge scandal in American political history. With such a huge event happening in 1972 you would think this would be the focus of the episode but in fact it is more used as a plot device to help develop key characters and the over arching villain of the season Rittenhouse.
This is really well achieved by included the conspiracy of Rittenhouse directly into one of the Watergate tapes and then having Rufus destroy a ‘Doc’ to stop Flynn from using the tape to expose Rittenhouse but not everything goes to plan.
Rufus has a huge roll this week being used as a double agent for Rittenhouse so he can destroy the ‘Doc’ is a major strain on him after he has had to lie to his team and even work for Rittenhouse this episode, before he was only recording for them but now he actively has to sabotage a mission and this is too much for him.
Watching Rufus take the lead on this mission is quite good and the throw back to ‘The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln‘ with the roles changed when he tells Lucy to wait outside and don’t make any eye contact was quite humorous while also being a nice little nod to the changed times from the years earlier. His knowledge of the Black Panthers and how it helps the mission is also a solid development of Rufus’ character. His interactions in this episode with all the other characters help shape him into making his decision to come clean with Lucy when he realizes he may have to kill someone for Rittenhouse
Rufus finally telling Lucy that he has been recording them comes as a shock but when push comes to shove he cant betray his morals and murder an innocent woman. This conflict between Lucy feeling betrayed by Rufus may continue for another few episodes but overall its good that they have finally gotten all of the secrets out in the open but will they let other people know that they know now?
After the last episode Lucy’s arc starts with her outside her biological father’s house not sure whether she should go in which after all her asking and pleading before hand wanting to know is interesting to see her character not go through with meeting him.
Having her exposed to the team with her secret meetings she has had with Flynn over the course of the season is hard for her to take, with the team finally starting to bond and come together as a unit having this come in and destroy all the trust that was built up was a hard hit to take but it keeps the teams dynamic flowing and that can only be good for how they develop over the rest of the season.
It’s also a nice throw back to the diary that she is going to write in the future. She is still in denial over actually writing the diary however. Flynn reading an excerpt from her future diary discussing her entry on Wyatt’s dead wife makes her seem colder and less emphatic in the future so something must happen to drive this.
Lucy going to the same school and studying the same subject under the same professor as ‘Doc’ may be a red herring but later on when we finally meet her biological father and he contacts Rittenhouse after their first meeting may mean Lucy may be indirectly part of Rittenhouse. This is only a theory but there is more than enough evidence to suggest this.
Lucy’s plan to get Flynn and Rittenhouse to kill each other over the Doc shows her cunning and development to get the upper hand which is a change of pace as usually the team are on the back foot through out their adventures.
Wyatt is left out of most of the action this week but his conversations with Flynn help flesh out both of their motivations in the show. Wyatt is in conflict over the last few missions questioning whether what they are doing is right and finding out of from Flynn that Connor Mason is being funded by Rittenhouse is bound to have consequences further down the line.
Seeing the almost mirror image between Wyatt and Flynn’s backstory when they are both motivated to save their respective loved ones by travelling through time to change the past is quite an interesting view point as with out Lucy and Rufus to keep Wyatt in line he may well have ended up like Flynn disregarding keeping the timeline intact to follow his own personal path.
Flynn is finally developing as a villain and it has been a long time coming. We finally get to find out what motivates him to try and take down Rittenhouse. His plan to use Wyatt so the team gets him the ‘Doc’ shows his resourcefulness to get the job done but also shows his callousness to use a member of their team to make sure they do as they are told.
We find out that Flynn accidentally discovered Rittenhouse through a mission that linked Connor Mason to them and that is what got his wife and daughter murdered. This is the type of motivation that had been missing in the character through the first five episodes, with this finally established he is more of a fleshed out villain with good intent but deeply flawed in how he tries to save his wife and daughter.
It’s easy to empathise with his cause. Flynn’s over arching mission to destroy America/Rittenhouse is due to the fact that they are too interconnected and Wyatt describing him as a creepy sociopath sums up how he is going about his mission.
The ‘Doc’ turning out to be a person and not a document is a huge twist I did not see coming and then finding out that she is part of Rittenhouse is even more compelling for the character. This makes Rufus question his mission as he is suppose to kill her to keep her from talking about Rittenhouse. Finding out Rittenhouse is something you are born into and not something you join. Finding out the ‘Doc’ was so important as she kept the membership roll so knows all the members of the organization makes her a real threat and explains why they want her dead.
There is also a small note that Rittenhouse was founded in 1778 and I feel like this will come back into play at some point in the future as if they truly wanted to stop Rittenhouse then stopping it from being founded would be the key way to accomplish that. A quick google search shows that 1778 was the year when the American Revolution began so maybe Flynn isn’t so mad in trying to destroy America as we know it as it began when America fought for independence.
The setting for this weeks episode really captures the feeling of the early 1970’s but this is what really sells the show well is the set design and even soundtrack to accompany the episodes. Its nice how they re use the same setting but you can clearly see the ageing and change in the décor helps emphasize this.
Many different time periods could have been used to properly introduce Rittenhouse but it plays out much better to the background of the Watergate scandal. It’s full of half truths and conspiracies as to what was on the tapes and this is quite a nice way of really selling the secret organization running everything behind the scenes by having it as part of an existing conspiracy theory. Although this is a nice nod to the conspiracy theories itself it is under utilised in the actual episode itself but there is only so much you can fit in an hour for a TV show. this is also the first episode in the series where the future has not been changed due to the team intervening in the past although chances are there was some changes but due to the conspiracy theory theme of the week it will likely not be uncovered or known.
‘The Watergate Tapes’ was all about secrets this week and really ramped up the season long arc of Rittenhouse and Flynn as the main antagonist, it was good to finally get some more details as to who Rittenhouse are and what motivates Flynn to fight to change the future/past. The damage done to the team through all the secrets they have kept from each other have changed the dynamic of the group but hopefully they manage to move past that and can put it behind them. The last few moments of the show really help sell the divide and the soundtrack playing over this is haunting and ominous much like what lies ahead for the teams next adventure through time.
- Flynn finally becoming a more fleshed out antagonist
- The team being shaken through all their lies
- Rittenhouse finally explained
- Good use of Watergate Tapes to use as a plot device
- another episode with some diversity in the plot
- The Watergate setting was not really utilised
- a lot of plot development for one episode
- not a lot of Nixon