With just one episode left in its freshman season, “Timeless’s” long chess game is only now coming into focus. It was never just a show about three people wearing costumes and visiting history’s greatest heroes — though that did happen, on a weekly basis. It was also never just about Mason Industries, or Rittenhouse, or Lucy’s (Abigail Spencer) missing family: As has been made clear, this show is about chaos, the same way life is chaotic, and about how much of our lives is determined by the methods we use to stay above the quicksand.
Lucy’s life was upended when she was, apropos of seemingly nothing, tasked with going on her first Time Team mission: First, with the discovery that such technology was possible, and subsequently, with the dissolution of her family. She found comfort in the new familiar — her camaraderie with Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and Wyatt (Matt Lanter), the predictability of their missions, always to a time and place with which she was familiar, always in pursuit of Flynn (Goran Visnjic).
After spending the first half-season setting up this new normal, “Timeless” has made quick work of disassembling it. Not only has the Time Team been forced to create their own shadow organization outside of Mason Industries, but their missions have of late been both increasingly deadly and increasingly psychologically demanding. Wyatt has grappled with the inevitability of his wife’s death, Rufus’s double agent status has broken him several times, while Lucy has faced an internal reckoning on the ethics of murder.