The backbone — and goofiest part — of “Timeless” is the way each week’s history lesson dovetails perfectly with the emotional state of its characters: Last week’s encounter with a serial killer solidified Lucy’s (Abigail Spencer) inner strength, and this week she’s given a lesson in morality from the man who inspired one of pop culture’s most morally upright heroes: The Lone Ranger.
As those who missed Leslie Jones’s gleeful plug on last week’s “SNL” may not have already known, the man who inspired the Lone Ranger was a black Federal Marshall named Bass Reeves. Brought to life for perhaps the first time on film by the perfectly cast Colman Domingo, Reeves emanates a particularly masculine brand of decency. He’s introduced to the show via a labyrinthine plot, enlisted to help our heroes track Flynn (Goran Visnjic), who in turn has enlisted the unhinged Jesse James (Daniel Lissing) to track down… Well, that’s not really the point.
As always, the point is that just when Lucy and her companions feel they’ve delved as deep as they can into their particular moral quandaries, they find their compasses challenged yet again. What better place to make the choice between white and black hat than in the Wild West?
Which is why the addition of Reeves is so necessary this week. His unwavering decency helps balance the team’s respective spirals, even if his influence can’t stop Lucy from making the fateful decision to straight up murder a man. In her defense: The subject is Jesse James, played here as a sort of 19th century Joker intent exclusively on mayhem.