Our fascination with time travel is timeless. Perhaps because there’s so much history to explore, ideas for time travel stories never run out and viewers never tire of the genre. And who doesn’t love the inherent two-sided philosophical question: is it right to fix the past to change the present or preserve the past to keep the present the same? Timeless, which airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC, is the latest series to pose the eternal query—is time set in stone? The drama may not be the most groundbreaking in originality, but it’s fun to visit the people and events of yesteryear to teach us about the past and how it affects the present. The pilot started off in a mad rush to introduce a wide array of characters and attempted to quickly move past “wait how does time travel work?” and get right to the good stuff. While the first half felt rather weak in its efforts to introduce characters and take off from the series’ premise, the pilot’s second half demonstrated how exciting and unpredictable this show can be.
Here are the five best moments from the Timeless premiere:
1. The Hindenburg is Saved
After Lucy, Logan and Rufus arrive in 1937 at the Hindenburg disaster, they realize that Flynn, the man they’re chasing, has already changed the course of history. Instead of trying to kill all the passengers in the Hindenburg explosion, Flynn was trying to save the Hindenburg. But the trio soon learns that Flynn’s intentions are not so admirable. He’s simply waiting to destroy the Hindenburg on its trip back to Germany.
2. Rufus Distracts the Guard
As an African-American male, Rufus is naturally concerned about travelling back to a time when racism was openly rampant and the Civil Rights Movement had not yet occurred. When Lucy and Logan attempt to escape out of their jail cell, they tell Rufus to distract the guard. The guard discriminately refers to Rufus as “boy.” Rufus takes none of that. In one of the episode’s best lines, he tells the guard that he hopes he lives a long life so he can see Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson (“or just anybody named Michael”) and other notable African American figures because, “Time is not on your side.” While Rufus may find himself traveling through different time periods where the color of his skin may automatically affect how people view and treat him, it’s clear he’s never going to take crap from anyone at any time.
3. The Hindenburg Explodes… But Differently
Just when we think that Logan has diffused the bomb and the Hindenburg will be saved from exploding—someone fires a gun inside the zeppelin and boom goes the Hindenburg once more. Only this time there’s far less casualties. Lucy, Logan, and Rufus have managed to stop Flynn from killing everyone, but history’s timeline has already been changed. The Hindenburg has still gone down, and Kate Drummond, the female reporter, still dies. So while certain events may be altered, the trio wonder if other events are incapable of changing. Fate, a well-known time travel theme, is presented and will no doubt be explored further.
4. Flynn Reveals Lucy’s Future Journal
Flynn confronts Lucy by the burning Hindenburg remains and shows a journal to her. “That’s my handwriting!” Lucy exclaims. Flynn confirms that it is indeed her handwriting, but she hasn’t written it yet… not the least bit ridiculously cryptic, right? Flynn then reveals more mysterious information that leaves viewers with more questions that will likely not be answered until the season finale, if even then. From the other random cryptic moments we see throughout the pilot, it’s clear that Lucy is somehow being manipulated, but by whom is not clear. Is Flynn working for Lucy’s future self? If so, why would Lucy want to change history? Of course this is only one of the many potential theories to be drawn from this episode alone. As the weeks go on, more theories will likely come to mind.
5. Lucy’s Present Life Has Changed
When Lucy returns to the present, she finds that her formerly bedridden mother is now looking fine and healthy, with no idea of having lived her life otherwise. Not only that, but Lucy’s sister Amy now no longer exists. Her mother has no clue whom Lucy is referring to and there are no longer any family photos that include Amy. She’s been wiped away from existence, all from the butterfly effect that the altered Hindenburg disaster has caused. Lucy then gets another call from Homeland Security, they’ve got another time in history for her and the gang to go to. So will each episode end with Lucy coming back to a different present? Is it possible that next week will end with Amy being back in existence only to then disappear again in a future episode? It’s a fun device the series has introduced that will no doubt keep each episode’s ending unpredictable—assuming the writers know how to take advantage of it and not botch it up. Time travel films and shows can potentially get too caught up in themselves and cause more confusion than satisfaction. Only time will tell.