Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Timeless 1x11 Review: “The World’s Columbian Exposition” (Escape)

“The World’s Columbian Exposition”
Original Airdate: January 16, 2017

What are you afraid of?

As someone who lives in Florida, I know it’s irrational but I can’t help but fear cockroaches. Whenever I see one alive, I become little a little girl (shrieking and all), trying my best to kill it without getting remotely close to it. I’m also afraid of the dark. I hate pitch-black areas or rooms, and always need some little source of light to make me feel at ease. Lucy Preston, as we learn in this week’s Timeless, is afraid of confined spaces. The truth is that we’re all afraid of something — whether large or small — that shapes us into the people we are. But almost all of us find solace in some sort of coping mechanism, as well.

“The World’s Columbian Exposition” introduced us to a great coping mechanism, delivered by the wonderful Harry Houdini and implemented by Lucy in the best way possible. But Lucy isn’t the only one experiencing fear this week: Rufus makes a decision to take a stand against Rittenhouse, and Wyatt and Rufus get trapped in H.H. Holmes’ infamous “murder castle.” So let’s break down what happened on Timeless’ jam-packed return!


To kick this off, what I love about Timeless is that Lucy Preston is a really strong, really layered female character who uses her knowledge of history to save herself and her comrades every single time. At the end of the episode, Lucy thanks Rufus and Wyatt for saving her from H.H. Holmes, but they correct her — she actually saved THEM from him earlier on, so she’s the real hero. First off, how nice is it for a woman to be affirmed by her two male companions? Secondly, they’re right: Lucy’s intellect is what saves them almost every time. And — in the case of them being trapped in the murder castle — it’s also another woman who saves them.

Basically, women save the day on this show a lot.

But Lucy does need a bit of help every now and then, and this week she finds help in Harry Houdini. As we recall from the show’s midseason finale, Flynn kidnapped Lucy and has been forcing her to track down Rittenhouse’s son, whom Lucy let escape. She can’t find him anywhere in history, and Flynn is losing patience. So he decides that instead of looking for the one son, he’ll just start tracking down the members of Rittenhouse and kill them off one at a time. So his team takes a little trip to The Chicago World’s Fair to kill a few notable people — Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and J.P. Morgan. You know, the usual bunch.

Once there, Flynn decides he needs to break into the room where the three men are having a top-secret meeting. And Lucy knows just the person: Harry Houdini. Now, let’s bear in mind that the only reason Lucy willingly helps Flynn do this is because he reveals to her that he’s led Wyatt and Rufus right into the murder castle. The only way of finding and saving them is for her to get Houdini on her side. She plays her part well for Flynn, getting Houdini to come with them (against his will, as he soon learns) and pick the lock.

But on the walk there, Lucy covertly asks Houdini to teach her how to do a trick later on — a trick that Houdini rightly interprets as code. So Houdini manages to actually handcuff Flynn in a room using his trick, escape, and save Lucy. Together, the two head off to the murder castle to rescue Wyatt and Rufus.

Trapped in a room with a guy named George and an MIT grad named Sophia, Wyatt and Rufus quickly realize something sinister is afoot. They also realize, thanks to Sophia, that the room they’re in will be out of oxygen in time, and they need to come up with a plan. Sophia is the one with the genius plan, since she’s an architect. Locating a weak brick in the wall, she notes that they can puncture a small hole in it and get help that way. Her plan works, as Houdini and Lucy manage to rescue the team.

(Sidenote: Can Houdini just join Team Timeless and travel from here on out? He was so delightful, encouraging, and also really useful in rescuing people.)


When Lucy and Wyatt see one another, they literally run toward each other and hug for the very first time (that we’ve seen). It’s a really precious moment, since Wyatt spends every moment up until her rescue insistent on looking for and finding Lucy. I swear, that dude would punch through walls if you told him Lucy was on the other side and needed him. “Thank God you’re okay” is all he says to her and it’s sweet and comforting and as you already know, I am totally on board with shipping these two. There’s a chemistry and a comradery between them that has existed since the very beginning. She challenges him and he encourages her; they respect one another and care deeply about getting each other home safely.

So it’s with relief that he breathes out that line and clutches her hair and it’s with joy and a wave of emotions that Lucy tells him, “I’m okay.” After their short little moment, Lucy rushes to hug Rufus (I love their friendship) and then the group escapes... but not before Wyatt insists on tracking down H.H. Holmes.

He interrogates a manager who takes him to where he assumes Holmes is. Wyatt instructs Lucy to stay where she is (rookie mistake, dude) and then for the second time, Lucy is kidnapped. Because as it turns out, H.H. Holmes masqueraded as “George” in the trapped room.

Wyatt returns and — in a panic — realizes that Lucy has been taken by Holmes. And I’m pretty sure after this week, he’s never going to let her leave his sight again.


When Lucy comes to, she’s trapped in a box. Yeah, that’s fun. Understandably, she begins to panic and cry. I have sympathy for her because I’ve been in MRI machines and I’ve tried to still my panic. You don’t realize how claustrophobic you really are until you’re trapped against your will in a small, confined space. Lucy panics and tries to move but cannot.

And then she remembers Houdini’s words. So she closes her eyes and repeats “escape.” It’s an incredibly powerful moment because Holmes is just beyond her prison, contemplating what to do with her. There is Lucy, trapped and hysterical and literally in her worst nightmare. But she musters all the strength in her to chant that little word as her mantra, a soothing prayer. It seems to provide her with a supernatural strength because when she opens her eyes, she channels a really powerful, really amazing Lucy: the Lucy who is taking back power.

To keep him from killing her, Lucy pretends that she’s a psychic (she knows Holmes believes in the supernatural) and rattles off an impressive list of truths about him and his family. She uses this to stall him, but also to scare him. It’s amazing — the torturer becomes the tortured for just a few moments, and Lucy (while still physically trapped) has “escaped” her fear. Fortunately, Lucy is able to delay Holmes’ actions just long enough for Wyatt and Rufus to arrive. Then, she loses all pretense of strength and breaks down. It’s extremely powerful acting by Abigail Spencer — this entire scene is, and I found myself having more respect for her and her craft than ever before — as she collapses into Rufus’ arms. Holmes says that if they don’t kill him, he’ll confess to all of his murders and where he’s buried them. Unlike Wyatt, the families of those victims will have closure.

When Wyatt asks Lucy whether or not this is true — whether Holmes confesses and justice is done — Lucy hesitates, then admits that no justice is ever done. Holmes eventually lies about everything to gain notoriety. So Wyatt kills him. It’s a decision which I understand but also not entirely (aren’t we supposed to avoid altering timelines and stuff like that?), which seems to be squarely in Timeless’ wheelhouse.

As another episode concludes, Timeless proves that its greatest strength is in its ensemble and also its ability to weave history and historical figures into stories. I’m looking forward to who else we’ll meet this season, and how the conflicts that are slowly building will lead to the fracturing or strengthening of Team Timeless.

Timey-wimey bits:
  • “... Not that I think Flynn’s gonna take out Helen Keller...”
  • I literally had to wrack my brain and think, “Where did I just learn about H.H. Holmes?” Shocker: it was from the second episode of this season’s Sherlock!
  • Cracker Jacks made an appearance in this episode!
  • “Well, Lucy, I wish I could say this was fun. But I’d be lying.” Can we keep Houdini around?
  • “No, I’m... the other black guy.” “Oh. There were two?”
  • The episode ends with Wyatt getting a call from an unknown number (never answer those, man) from Flynn who keeps his promise — he tells Wyatt the name of the guy who killed his wife. And then, Flynn heavily suggests that Wyatt go back in time and make sure that guy was never born. Let’s see what Wyatt is going to do, shall we?

What did you think of Timeless’ return? Sound off in the comments below!

1 comment:

  1. Loved this episode. Great team dynamics. Lucy, Rufus, and Wyatt truly look out for each other. Houdini was a fun historical figure. Great casting in this respect.