NBC’s Timeless survived not one, but two, cancellations over the past few years — and still managed to stay alive long enough to wrap up its run with a two-hour movie. The saga of the Time Team is now complete, with the final chapter a sweet, bittersweet, action-packed, slightly rushed, but ultimately fulfilling adventure.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “The Miracle of Christmas,” the series finale of NBC’s Timeless, which aired Thursday, Dec. 19, 2018.**
“Maybe all that matters is right now.” -Lucy
To put it simply, they crammed a whole lot of storytelling into two hours. Thankfully, it still works out pretty well, but it’s clear the creative team had a vision for where they wanted to take the series over the next season or two, and with just two-hours to do it, those storylines were condensed and truncated. They still mostly work — a testament to the creative vision and characters they’ve built over the past two years — but you can feel the breakneck pace to get things to a point where you can fade to black. They really closed the loop on pretty much everything, with the core Time Team getting some truly happy endings to send the story off into the sunset.
The set-up of that mysterious, grizzled version of Lucy and Wyatt from the future? They’re gone after the opening scene, but for good reason, as we see first hand why you can’t cross with your own timeline. Future Lucy starts suffering from brutal headaches almost immediately, so they toss her journal to present day Lucy and Wyatt and tell them to save Rufus, because they’ll need him to beat Rittenhouse.
First up is the quest to save Rufus, the catalyst that actually served as one heck of a Season 2 cliffhanger. Turns out instead of going back and trying to literally “save” him, they realize he would still be alive if Wyatt’s once-dead wife Jessica hadn’t been brought back and recruited by Rittenhouse. Her presence distracted Wyatt and allowed Rittenhouse to infiltrate the bunker, and led to the entire course of events that got Rufus shot. So, foe-turned-friend Flynn takes it upon himself to go back, cross his timeline, and make sure Jessica doesn’t survive the night she is supposed to die. Flynn himself actually kills her following a tussle, and succumbing to the injuries caused by timeline crossing, decides to stay in 2012 and take one final, fleeting look at his family before they are killed.
It’s pretty clear they probably had a deeper redemption arc mapped out for Flynn, but truncated as it may be, he still gets to go out as a flawed hero and is true to his mission from the jump — using his final moments to go back and look in on his family one last time. With only so much running time, they needed a way to turn the spotlight back on the core team. Having Flynn as a rogue hero knocked out two birds with one stone, with Jessica also re-erased in the process. What really makes it work, though, is the episode’s time-traveling coda from 2023. As fans know, it’s Future Lucy’s visit to Past Flynn that sets the entire series into motion, so she had to keep that appointment to ensure things would play out correctly. Lucy uses that moment to say a final goodbye to Flynn, while also making sure he knows she really does believe in him, and that he’s a hero at heart. It’s a touching moment, and a perfect one to say goodbye on.
Flynn’s sacrifice also clears the way for Rufus’ return, and with no Jessica to divide the team, Rufus was never killed and is actually on the mission with them — swooping in to save the day. Time travel is fuzzy, right?
As for the rest of the team, Lucy and Wyatt get their happy ending, helped along by a newly-tweaked timeline where they’re already a couple. Turns out that, with Jessica out of the picture, the two had already fallen in love. They realize that now is all that matters, and the “will-they, won’t-they” comes to a happy ending. The flash forward serves as a nice coda for the two, as well, as we learn Lucy is a successful teacher and Wyatt is a great dad to their two kids a few years down the line.
Rufus and Jiya see a similar wrap-up, after sorting through a bit of angst realizing they’ve changed amidst all these timeline tweaks. But, reality-reshaping shenanigans or not, they’re still in love. Thanks to the flash forward, we also see they’re doing quite well down the line. The two are running a successful company, to the point Jiya is a full-on celebrity signing autographs for geeky on-lookers. It’s happy endings all around for the Time Team.
As for the mission to wrap everything up, it’s a fitting last adventure that cuts a few (necessary) corners to fit it all in. Emma is basically running Rittenhouse when we pick back up, after taking out a decent bit of the legacy leadership last season. Now officially calling the shots, she decides to use her newfound authority to take out the Time Team once and for all. She lures them to the 1800s during the Gold Rush and sets them up as criminals (which they narrowly escape, mostly thanks to Rufus’ return), then to Korea in the 1950s, dropping them smack into the middle of a war and looming massacre. That second plan actually works — which sets a few machinations in motion that manage to wrap up the whole show rather abruptly.
After realizing the team will die on their current mission thanks to the updated history books, Agent Christopher and Connor Mason rope in Lucy’s father for help. Turns out his loyalty to his family runs deeper than his loyalty to Rittenhouse, so he gives up Emma’s operation in exchange for being able to save Lucy’s life. So, now the Time Team has both time machines and can swoop back and save the team in the nick of (ahem) time. The bad guys are caught, Emma gets shot, all time machines are recovered, and the central threat is wrapped up in a bow. It’s clearly a swift turn of events like this is about the only way to close this story within the time constraints, and though it’s a bit too convenient, it works well enough.
The team also gets to meet a few more players through history, including the bandit who inspires Zorro, and a Korean woman trying to keep her family together. The team decides to risk everything to save the woman — just a regular person, with no “significance” to history — and it made for a great case to end on. Every person matters, every life matters. It’s been a part of the show’s DNA from the jump, and nice to see it stay true to the end.
Boy, that potential Jessica pregnancy gets shot down quickly. Stands to reason that was set up for a potential Season 3 story, but with that off the table, it was quickly dismissed as a fake out. Which, yeah, good call. Not enough time or space for pregnancy drama.
It’s happy endings all around, but Lucy still doesn’t get her sister back. She realizes that messing around with the timeline more to try and get her back could do more damage than good. Which makes things a bit sad, but yeah, it makes sense. There are just too many variables to go back mucking around.
So the government kept the Lifeboat around, though it’s been mothballed. And the other ship was completely disassembled. So, no more time traveling unless there’s an actual new threat to time.
Speaking of which, that closing shot gives a nice little nod if they ever want to get the series back running again. Connor Mason notes the genie is out of the bottle for time travel, and even with his ship parked, someone else could always create the technology again. We close with a young woman sketching out her own schematics for a time machine, meaning this technology could, eventually, be back on the market.
“Time After Time,” is there a better tune for a closing montage for a time travel show?
Timeless fought the odds all the way to the end, and though this obviously wasn’t Plan A, wrapping up the story in a jam-packed, lovely two-hour romp is more than most fans get in the wake of a cancellation. Timeless fans fought and campaigned for a whole extra season and a series finale event after that. It defied the odds, and found a happy ending through it all. “The Miracle of Christmas” truly is a miracle.