Timeless: What Sets it Apart

NBC’s Timeless made history last year after it was resurrected from the “cancelled” grave in less than a week and brought back to life by a vibrant fan base of #clockblockers that refused to let their beloved show be resigned to the TV history shelves.

Why do we love our little time travel show so much? It’s not like it is the first of it’s kind, time travel shows have come and gone throughout the decades (Dr. Who, you’re still here). What makes Timeless stand out? *spoilers ahead*

I’ll tell you why.

It’s not the amazing sets that put you right on the ground of New Jersey, 1937. Or Texas, 1836, or Chicago 1893. Sets that make you feel as if you can smell, taste, and feel the past. Nor is it the costumes that leave this history nerd salivating. It’s not even the incredibly engaging and terrifying plot involving “Rittenhouse” a secret organization who has been arranging history from behind the scenes for centuries.

All of these things are wonderful, but they would fall utterly short if it were not for the true, beating heart of Timeless. That heart is, the characters.

History is the story of humanity, from Day 1 until now. Our good, our bad, our hopes, our disappointments, our triumphs and our failures. Timeless steers it’s viewers through time using the lens of people that we connect with on a soul level. It teaches history the way it should be taught, as a story about people.

Characters are the heart of every story, be it fictional or real. Timeless tells us a magnificent story that brings both fiction and reality together in an unforgettable way. There is little to connect us, in 2018, to the people of past centuries if we only consult dusty history books full of dry narrative and facts. But put a face to those narratives, give me a heart struggle, questions all humanity has asked, and suddenly I cannot look away! Through these character elements, we discover that those of past centuries were people just like us, and their stories come alive in a whole new way that both breaks our hearts and raises our spirits.

Timeless kept their character list focused and simple. We were given 4 main characters who are very skilled, very imperfect and often weak people who were thrust into an unimaginable situation that likely none of us will ever experience. And yet, we were able to understand not only these fictional characters, but also the real life historical figures they bump into along the way.

How did this happen?

It happened when we felt their pain. Their fear. When they asked questions we have all asked. When they laughed, and when they cried. They touched our hearts and we reached out for more.

time team

Lucy Preston (Abigail Spenceris a brilliant historian, a loving daughter/sister, a kind soul and a beautiful woman. She’s not perfect. She makes mistakes, she’s afraid much of the time, and she doesn’t have all of the answers. The dragon that Lucy has to slay in Season 1 comes in the form of her family legacy. She was born into Rittenhouse, a pureblood princess of an evil organization bent upon controlling millions of people. Throughout the season we see both Rittenhouse, and Garcia Flynn whispering things in Lucy’s ear in a oh-so-Emperor-Palpantine way. “This is your destiny, you cannot deny it. This is who you were made to be.” Lucy asks the question, “Can I decide who I will become? Or am I forced to be who they say I am?”

How many of us have asked this question? “Do I have to become an alcoholic like my father?”, “I grew up on the wrong side of town with no guidance and a lot of anger, is this my lot in life?”, “People find me unlikable, am I worthless and destined to be alone?” We’ve all had our devils whispering in our ears, “This is who you are destined to be.” And those whispers paint a picture of someone we do NOT want to be. Lucy’s struggle tugs at my heart, as I am sure it did yours. Her fear is one that I too, have felt.

Wyatt Logan (Matt Lanterthe handsome, protective soldier with a huge dose of regret and survivor’s guilt. He’s a warrior in every inch of his body, strong and capable. But inside his heart is failing him. He sees the ghosts, the ghosts of his fellow soldiers he had to leave behind, the ghosts of “failure”, and the biggest ghost of all, his murdered wife Jessica. Wyatt regularly asks the question, “How can something like my murdered wife be meant to be?” He grieves over the evil in the world and how powerless he feels to stop it. He’s trapped in the past, and no, I am not speaking about being stranded in a past century. Wyatt is mired in the regrets and pain of his past.

Does this ring a bell for anyone else? Show of hands please! We all have ghosts, some bigger than others. It’s easy to become mired in the pain of the past, and we have all cried out, “Why???”

Rufus Carlin (Malcolm Barrettis a soft-spoken, gentle, shy genius with a crush on his cute coworker Jiya (Claudia Doumit). He also feels zero courage or words to express himself. He jumps at shadows, as well as real monsters. He regularly questions his ability to be the person his team needs him to be. He’s straight-up terrified, feels out of his element, and hears a voice in his head saying, “I’m not strong enough and I can’t do this.”

Ever felt that? *entire world raises hand* Hello, Insecurity! Hello, Fear! There is not a human being on earth that has remained untouched from these very human things.

Garcia Flynn (Goran Visinjica former NSA operative who stumbled upon Rittenhouse by accident, which caused the death of his family and sent him plunging through time to destroy Rittenhouse, by whatever means necessary. Flynn is drowning in grief, anger, and he is consumed by both revenge and a desire to save his family. He performs dark, dark deeds, believing that “The ends justify the means.” He’s a man in horrible pain, doing horrible things to try and relieve that pain.

Flynn is a very vivid, crimson image of us as human beings when we are in a place of raw grief and anger. Even as I rooted for our Time Team to stop Flynn, I still ached for his pain. My humanity cried out for his broken heart. Have you ever had a broken heart that hurt so bad, you wanted to do whatever it took to stop the pain?

These were our vessels, our “Lifeboats” that dropped us right into the middle of human experience. And then these vessels, these magnificent characters took us through time. We saw them experience those of past centuries and decades. And we saw the same humanity in Robert Todd Lincoln, Ian Flemming, Katherine Johnson, Harry Houdini, and so, so many more. We saw the people of history in brilliant colors.

By the end of Season 1, our characters were giants compared to the smaller versions of themselves that they began with.

Timeless - Season 1

Wyatt realized that he was “meant to be here, helping you and saving history”. He faced his grief, his regret, his fear. He’s not completely healed, healing can sometimes take a lifetime. But he is also no longer stuck in the past. He’s moving forward and opening himself up to something new….#LYATTFOREVER

Wyatt has found a hope and a future.

 

Lucy grows bolder. She questions less about what is right and wrong, she plants her feet upon what is right and leads her team forward. She also faces the truth, “I decide who I will be, and I will NOT be Rittenhouse.” She is taking her stand and speaking in the truth of her free will.

Rufus. I think I loved Rufus’ arc the most. He believed himself to be the man cowering in the corner. In his heart, Rufus often still feels this way. But we all, including Rufus, know the truth now. Rufus is a warrior! I triumphed with Rufus every single time he was scared and did the brave thing anyway. We watched the hero be called out of Rufus, and we felt our own spines straighten as we gained courage with him.

Timeless - Season 1

Flynn. No, the ends do NOT justify the means. Flynn came to the place where I believe he hated himself. His heart was now breaking for more than just the loss of his family, it was breaking over the monster he had become. But he did not see a way to change his course. He believed himself to be too far gone.

Lucy didn’t. Lucy slayed her dragon, owned her free will and her right to choose a path other than Rittenhouse. Through that place of strength, and through the honest lens of her own pain and humanity, she reached out a hand in grace and compassion to Flynn and said, “Come on, I’ll give you a second chance.” And he took it. It was beautiful.

Meant to be.

Free will.

We can be warriors.

Second chances are possible.

We are not alone in this world, we don’t have to stumble in the dark of random chance and bad luck. I for one, know Who is at work in my world, He is the Creator and Author, as well as my Friend. I believe in meant to be, and it gives me a hope and a future.

We get to choose to rise above our past pain, our dark legacies, our hopelessness. I loved how Timeless showed how meant to be and free will are not at odds with each other. Meant to be simply means, you’re not alone, and there is a plan. Free will is our ability as thinking, creative beings to make choices in our moment by moment. It’s when these two things align, our free will, and the plan, that amazing things happen. Amazing things, like #LYATT

Timeless - Season 1

We can be braver than we think, and rise to a new level of warriorhood. Can we have a round of applause here? The stories in history that have always inspired me the most are the stories of normal, scared people who had the hero called out of them because of their circumstances. They were faced with an evil, an injustice, an obstacle, and they overcame it. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

rufus

And second chances are real. There aren’t many people in our world who are willing to give second chances. We judge each other based on performances so often that many of us are blinded to the people who are crying out for help, crying out for grace. I believe in second chances, I believe in grace. I am so glad Flynn was given a second chance, and I can’t wait to see what he does in Season 2.

flynn timeless 2

All of the above is hit-you-in-the-gut humanity kind of stuff. And Timeless captured it all while giving us a funny, terrifying, beautiful ride through history. Timeless showed us the people of the past, the present, and what will still be true for our future as human beings. And we loved it.

If you have not already seen Timeless, might I suggest you give it a try? The clockblockers would be happy to welcome you with open arms. And if you are already a fellow Clockblocker, hello, Friend. I cannot wait to join you tonight for Season 2, Episode 1: The War to End All Wars

A review of tonight’s episode will be posted tomorrow. Until tonight, clockblockers! Keep being human!

timeless season 2

Timeless airs on Sundays on NBC at 10/9c 

If you liked this article, you may like this article on Timeless‘ NBC sister show, The Brave, and why we need more of it.

 

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The Racially Diverse Movie that Wasn’t About Race: The Magnificent Seven

Remember the movie headlines and trending topics when the casting info came out about Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven?

ATOINE FUQUA’S MAGNIFICENT SEVEN TO BE A RACIALLY DIVERSE CAST

And on, and on, and on. And many of us rolled our eyes. Why? Because, we are tired of hearing about race. We are tired of hearing about racially driven violence, lost lives, and people being blamed, both black and white, for actions and events they had nothing to do with.

I’m sick of the word “race” altogether. There is no such thing as “races”, that is a term that has stemmed from an evolutionary mindset where scientists once believed that some “races” were more evolved than others. We know that to be a lie, so why are we still using the false terminology?

In truth, there is only one race, and that is the human race. That encompasses every tribe, every nation, every color, every beating human heart. We are all members of one human race, created in the Image of God.

I came out of the The Magnificent Seven a few days ago positively thrilled. It was a perfectly delicious film, for many reasons. But one reason in particular was worthy of a post. And that reason was….

The Magnificent Seven was a movie starring a diverse cast that was never about race, it was actually about the real issue: human nature.

Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) was an incredibly skilled man who carried himself with modesty and intelligence. He obviously had the ability to hate, but what was even more evident was his ability to forgive and move on. Sam’s obvious respect and friendship with Goodnight (a sharpshooter who fought for the Confederacy) was the evidence of that.

“What we lost in the fire we’ll find in the ashes.” Sam to Goodnight

Goodnight (Ethan Hawke) was legendary for his sharpshooting abilities. He had 23 confirmed kills during the war. And he was a haunted man with a severe case of PTSD. Goodnight hated thinking about all of the faces of the ones he had killed, even though it had been during a war. He has a hard time forgiving himself and moving on. As I said above, Sam holds no malice for this man. Sam isn’t a black man who sees a white man, he is a man who sees a man. And by his judgment, Sam holds this particular man in respect and high esteem, respect that Goodnight reciprocates.

Goodnight displays this kind of colorblindness in his friendship with Billy (Byung-hun Lee). Billy more than any other member of the Seven is mentioned as having faced prejudice because of his ethnic background. Still, Billy doesn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder. He just lives his life. Goodnight couldn’t care less what color Billy is, he values Billy’s skills and it is obvious that these two are deeply in tune with each others’ needs. Billy is as protective over Goodnight’s vulnerabilities as Goodnight is protective over the prejudices surrounding Billy. They are brothers from another mother.

Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) is a Comanche Indian who is something of an outcast even among his own tribe. Red Harvest is “on a different path”. Red Harvest offers his services to the Seven without a second thought, even though on the outside he appears to have very little in common with them. Red Harvest is a stark contrast to the Indian thug, Denali, on Bogue’s side, the man who murders an unarmed woman in cold blood.

“You are a disgrace.” Red Harvest tells the fellow Indian in a confrontation.

This was a beautiful portrayal of the reality that good people are not determined by their color, but their hearts and actions.

Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) has spent years hunting and scalping Indians. In a brief reference to his backstory, you get the impression that perhaps it was Indians who were responsible for the death of his family. However, Jack’s past experience does not keep him from joining forces with Red Harvest. Jack even laughingly mentions to the boy, “We have a lot to talk about.” He sees the man, not the color, and he finds the man worthy.

Vasquez (Manuel-Garcia Rulfo) is a Mexican man. There is some lighthearted banter between him and companions Faraday and Goodnight. Faraday consistently teases Vasquez about his Spanish words, and Goodnight and Vasquez have a conversation about their grandfathers being on opposing sides at the Alamo.

“Perhaps my grandfather killed your grandfather.” Vasquez

*laughs* Goodnight

Vasquez develops a playful friendship with the Seven, particularly Faraday. He puts forth an amazing effort in the battle against Bogue, and shows great concern for his companions and those they are defending.

Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) is the biggest tease when it comes to anyone’s color. But it is obvious that none of that means a lick to him when he gets down to business. His admiration for these other men’s skills is obvious, and he willingly fights alongside them to defend the townspeople. He sees that each of them carry their own scars, and he understands that because he carries his own.

This movie was about humans, of all colors and backgrounds, and the choices they made out of their human nature, for good or evil. Bogue and his thugs acted out of greed, lust, evil, and a desire to prey upon the weak.

The Seven have made many wrong choices in their past. Each one is running from his own demons. But here and now, they are joined together in one purpose, to resist evil. They choose to walk out righteousness, protection, and to defend life. This movie wasn’t about the evil white man, or the evil black man, this is the about the evil manwho is opposed by other men who are choosing to stand up for good. In doing so they form a brotherhood born out of common purpose.

This is how it should be. This is the truth. Our battle is not between black and white, red and yellow, or any other color in between. Our battle is against evil, in any form or color.

Antoine Fuqua used his beautifully colorful cast to bring this point across. His characters were colorblind in both their grudges and their friendships. This perspective enabled them to unite. They were so powerful in fact, that seven men defeated a small army.

This is what can happen when we toss aside the false concept of race, and unite to fight the true battle that is against evil. We can all take a cue from the Seven.

The potential results from such a unity can only be thought of as magnificent.

 

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