‘Timeless’ 1×04 review: Bond, James Bond

10:59 pm EDT, October 24, 2016

Timeless tackled the 1940s and Nazi Germany this time out, only with a new twist. Instead of a predictable Hitler storyline, the show instead offered a tale where Ian Fleming met Wernher von Braun.

It was actually pretty refreshing that Timeless didn’t go for the “Let’s kill Hitler” cliche that many time travel shows do. Instead, by meeting Fleming (Sean Maguire) and von Braun, we ended up examining the moral justifications for taking a life in war, being a spy, and creating new technology.

How do you know if you are fighting a just war? When do you know if your personal actions as a spy or enemy combatant are justified? Do orders supersede what you view as a moral obligation? What’s the difference between vengeance and justice? In the end, is it all just a slippery slope of moral relativism where people try to justify the greatest good for the greatest number of people?

Beyond the debate on the morality of wartime ethics, what about the morality of scientific creation? Do you continue research knowing that your creation could be be used for good or evil? What moral obligation, if any, do you have for how your creation is used?

The plan

This week, Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) hopped over to Nazi Germany in an attempt to kidnap the father of the German rocketry program, Wernher von Braun. Historically, von Braun would eventually be captured by the Americans, pardoned, and become an integral part of the American space program.

Garcia Flynn’s ultimate goal was to instead hand the amoral von Braun over to the Soviets, thus giving them the edge in the space and nuclear arms races. His endgame still seems to be the destabilization of modern day America, but we don’t know why.

Changes to history

This time out, the effects were fairly minor. Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Rufus (Malcolm Barnett), and Wyatt (Matt Lanter) managed to get themselves inserted into a bestselling James Bond novel, having managed to meet a young Ian Fleming in his pre-Bond years.

Many fans of the James Bond movies don’t realize that the author, Ian Fleming, was in fact a skilled agent for MI-6 during World War II and the Cold War that followed.

On the other hand, Wyatt and Rufus did kill several soldiers. How will the deaths of these non-famous soldiers affect the future? We don’t know.

Lucy’s moral dilemma

Lucy finally makes the leap to accept that what she is doing is morally correct, after a conversation with Ian Fleming and Wyatt. She picks something concrete to fight for: She is fighting to restore history, and to thereby regain her sister.

She can’t accept the idea that Garcia Flynn proposes. He believes that his actions of thwarting the mysterious Rittenhouse are justified because he believes they will result in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

Wyatt’s dilemma

Wyatt doesn’t have an issue taking out as many Nazis as possible. His grandfather, who was his role model, fought in World War II not far from where their current mission is. Wyatt is okay with having less enemy troops in his grandfather’s immediate area.

On the other hand, he has a real problem with the fact that von Braun escapes all punishment. He doesn’t like their mission, especially realizing how little von Braun cares. In the end, he stays on mission, not because he agrees with it, but because he trusts in Lucy’s reasoning more than his orders. He wants to fight for a cause that his grandfather would ultimately be proud of.

Garcia Flynn’s moral dilemma

Garcia Flynn has clearly decided that his ends justify the means. He and Anthony (Matt Frewer) will use the nuclear device they stole in the 1950s as a battery for their time machine, so they no longer have to power it up off the grid, thus revealing their whereabouts.

The only problem is that we don’t fully understand what’s motivating their actions. We know it’s connected to Lucy’s future diary, but does this mean Garcia Flynn is from the future? How is he specifically connected to Lucy? Why is Anthony buying into all of this?

Rufus’ moral dilemma

Rufus has finally reached his breaking point. Whatever sense of loyalty he had with Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph) has been replaced with a deeper sense of loyalty to Lucy and Wyatt. Rufus is no longer comfortable recording Matt and Lucy’s conversations and handing the material over to Connor.

Rufus reaches this conclusion after talking with Fleming and later von Braun. At first he seeks advice from Fleming on how, as a spy, Fleming is comfortable with constantly lying. Fleming tells Rufus that he doesn’t see it as lying but as playing a role where the mission is the most important thing.

Although Rufus might have been able to accept Fleming’s outlook to justify his own spying, his interaction with von Braun changes his mind. Von Braun’s utter ambivalence toward how his creations are used rocks Rufus to his core. Rufus is now forced to face the fact that the time machine he helped to create may destroy life as he knows it. Von Braun can live without thinking of the consequences, but Rufus can’t.

Upon his return, Rufus tells Connor that he’s out. He will no longer be a spy for Connor, who in reality is a puppet of Rittenhouse. Of course, it’s not that simple, as Rittenhouse (or his henchman) is having none of it. Rittenhouse is clearly able to remotely control Rufus’ car. After he stops Rufus on a lonely road, the threat is clear: Rufus needs to stay loyal, or his family will pay the price.

Timeless will return next Monday on NBC at 10/9c.

What did you think of Sean Maguire on ‘Timeless’?

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