Timeless 2×02 “The Darlington 500” Review

Spoilers Ahead

Race cars and Darlington South Carolina discoveries.

Episode Summary | Time in History: The Time Team travels to 1955 Darlington, South Carolina following the mothership on a quest to stop the plans of their sleeper agent. We meet now renowned NASCAR driver Wendell Scott (Joseph Lee Anderson). It seems that Jiya sees glimpses into the future. Flynn could be extremely useful to the team if he’d just stop the sass for a moment, but at the same time, carry it on. Agent Christopher is 100% for the protection of her team. Wyatt’s past is as dark as some of us imagined. And Emma’s still as frustrating as ever, but not as wacky as Nicholas Keynes.

Timeless is a show driven heavily by its characters and it’s a show that spends each moment it has telling intriguing stories through them. And in “The Darlington 500”, we not only get to learn more about NASCAR racing legend Wendell Scott, but we’re given the chance to learn a little bit more about one of his biggest fans, our very own Wyatt Logan. “The Darlington 500” epitomized compassion gorgeously, it took our characters, and the guest stars through profound growth in moments of quiet, effortless intimacy reminding one another of the fact that they’re not alone. That’s perhaps the sweetest part of this episode, the showcase of just ardently they all care for one another, the great lengths they’re willing to go for one another, and the shared joy that’s a ceaseless presence when the entire time is together.

Most Noteworthy Performer: Again, this cast is too talented, and choosing a single performer is always a great challenge here. But in “The Darlington 500”, Matt Lanter easily takes the crown. Apart from his career as a soldier, we don’t know much about Wyatt’s past, and this show’s always done a superlative job of revealing things in due time. To learn that Wyatt was not only a bootlegger as a teenager, but that he was physically abused by his father says a great deal about the man that he is today.

The true measure of a hero isn’t what they go through but rather how they come out of the tragedies in their past, and the solider that stands in front of us today is a man who’s unafraid of facing what’s ahead of him. He’s a man who chooses to stand by those he cares for because he knows what it’s like to drive off alone. He knows what it’s like to admire someone and have them turn their back over and over again. Although a past like this could taint someone and force them into hardening their hearts as they live with anger, the Wyatt Logan we know today is full of compassion, he’s full of adoration, and though he’s also full of heartache, he chooses not to allow the pain to define him.

Lanter’s performance was filled with the kind of wondrous balance this cast has mastered perfectly. Where his eyes told one story, his physicality and diction told another. The detail in which he chose to talk about Wyatt’s past made for a riveting surprise — there’s a prodigious amount of sadness that’s often lingering in Wyatt’s eyes and though we always assumed it was due to Jessica’s death, and the horrors he experienced while at war, today, it’s clear that there’s so much more our soldier isn’t telling us. And we knew there’d be a great deal to his story but an abusive past wasn’t one of them. Again, it’s a villain’s background through and through, but Wyatt’s constantly learning from his mistakes, rising, and growing stronger in spite of the challenges.

The man who once didn’t believe in fate or second chances is now the man fighting to ensure that his team’s taken care of. And that’s what it means to be a true hero — it means smiling through the pain while simultaneously working through it. Wyatt’s working through it, and Lanter is showing us just how by giving us these quiet moments of revelation in the midst of trailblazing “fanboy” shenanigans. But on an interesting note to tie it all together, Lanter didn’t miss a beat when it came to revealing the tinges of despair Wyatt experienced upon realizing that his team knows about his past. And though he shrugs it off with statements like “you never asked”, his eyes tell the story of a man who wasn’t even ready to fully dive back in. There’s no shame in it, but he’s tirelessly made sure he’s their protector, and now’s the time for him to be reminded of the fact that they’re his, too.

“The Darlington 500” gave Lanter a number of great opportunities to speak with his eyes, panning the camera towards them while his words lacked in order to show us just how broken he is in spite of his heroic, sarcastic demeanor. Wyatt Logan may have told us a bit about his past, but Lanter showed us the heartache and pain through his expressiveness. And that’s always the key to a great performance — a compelling display of emotions that words alone cannot articulate.

Most Exquisite Scene: (Or rather a compilation of compassion): Sometimes, choosing one scene is going to be so difficult, I’m going to rebel and give you all more than one instead. That’s definitely okay, right? I mean, with a show as layered as Timeless, there’s always way a great deal to talk about. This week’s theme has been centered around empathy and reverence. It’s been about focusing our attention towards our teammates as opposed to ourselves, and in each moment, The Time Team has shown us just how prevailing they are in this area, and why they’re so different from Rittenhouse. (Alongside the obvious differences, of course.)

And on top of the list is Wendell’s journey as a racer, the reminder of the fact that his name won’t be remembered as it should be, but he’s a figure who’ll ensure he does the absolute best he can. For those who aren’t aware, Wendell Scott was the first African-American to win a race in the Grand National Series, and though he didn’t get the title or display he deserves, he was the kind of figure to remind us of the fact that sometimes, a goal achieved for ourselves is just as important even no one sees it. And thankfully, Timeless never fails to remind us of how bleak and racist American history, and I pray it never does because telling the stories as they are makes the story that much more inspiring. It also showcases Rufus’ heart that much more beautifully because in spite of how dark history is for him, in spite of the acknowledgement that it’s not safe for him, his compassion never fades. Therefore, this week, it was Rufus’ comment about one step in and never quitting that felt most organically orchestrated. He knows what it’s like and he knows that it still hasn’t improved, but the reality is, quitting will only satisfy those who want to see racial failure, and that’s something these figures will never allow.

Then came the quiet intimacy with Wyatt and Lucy in the trunk followed by their moment alone in the silo. And essentially, this was the ultimate showcase of Wyatt’s heroism and the exhibition of how deeply he cares for her. After he mentioned what his father would do to him if he disobeyed orders, it’s clear that being held up like this would trigger awful memories for him, too. But instead, he focuses all his attention on Lucy, trying to find comfort in his own trauma while simultaneously making sure that she feels okay because he’s aware of her claustrophobia. There’s so much that still needs to be explored between these two but every little detail we get continues to paint them as one of the healthiest couples in recent years. And in the same way as I was okay with it last week, I’m a little glad that their kiss was interrupted. (“Clockblocked, rather.) It’s lovely to know how safe and comfortable they feel around one another, but I’m 100% here for the first kiss coming after the kind of dialogue that reveals where they are in regards to their feelings for one another. But a moment like this is always what the cool kids will call shipper goodness. Quiet intimacy that potently exhibits just how drawn two people are to one another — how connected they are on a deeper level, and the strength that’s discovered in the serenity that meets two people in trying times. And this moment wasn’t easy for either of them, but together, the darkness is lightened and the crosses they each carry can be shared.

As great as the intimate moment above was, perhaps one of the strongest displays of shared compassion was found in Wyatt asking Lucy what they’ve done to her — revealing that Jiya’s aware of her sleepless nights and just as concerned. The team sharing a silo is seriously the gift I did not know I needed and it’s giving me life plus taking me higher, friends. Anyone else compromised with me? But that’s just it, this decision is such a perfect choice, and a choice not many writers will make, thereby, solidifying the Timeless writers team that much more. Allowing their core characters to be together in such intimate settings forces them to find comfort in ways they would’ve otherwise not been able to — it allows them to find strength in each other, while allowing viewers to see sides of them that are often masked with heavy plots that are solely written for shock factor. But these moments are meant to tell even bigger stories and they’re succeeding in doing so because historical figures directly tie to the Time Team’s state of minds.

Lastly, it was Jiya’s concern for Rufus, and the future of the team which broke me. She isn’t fully aware of what’s happening with her visions, but at this point, after seeing the burn marks on Rufus, she knows that she can see some sort of glimpse into the future. And whether it’s the immediate future like in this week’s episode or much farther, it’s bringing out some excellent work from Claudia Doumit while stressing us out as viewers. But does anyone else melt at the sheer sight of Rufus and Jiya together? And then he mentions that the two of them should make breakfast together for the team the following morning. Okay. We’re compromised x infinity here. They’re so ridiculously sweet together, and I genuinely can’t wait to see what happens when Jiya reveals just what she’s been seeing. It’s not only going to bring forth some amazing performances, but we can be certain that it’ll result in profound growth for the couple and the entire team.

Timeless truly is the gift that keeps on giving. I don’t think I’ve ever been this in awe of a series since NBC’s Chuck, which is the only other show that’s balanced drama, action, humor, storytelling, and character driven arcs perfectly. “The Darlington 500” was thrilling, positively intriguing and profoundly captivating — each moment, each decision not only strengthened our core characters, but it gave the historical figures a kind of moment to shine that’d leaving a lasting impression. It even gave our villains moments of growth and allowed us to understand Rittenhouse’s plan a little bit more. And it raised the stakes in a way so organic, no part of the story felt farfetched or random. This is a show written by writers that care so intently for detail that we don’t ever have to worry about them not following basic rules such as Chekhov’s Gun. And it’s the kind of show that deserves to tell whatever story it wants because of how compelling its characters are.

Further Thoughts:

  • So like, is Jessica coming back next week after Lucy and Wyatt finally establish their relationship or in a few more weeks? But she’s coming back, friends. And if you’re new here, this is something I’ve been saying since the very first episode. A basic TV rule? If we as the audience don’t see the body, then the character is still alive. And Jessica is still alive — probably, definitely in Rittenhouse, too.
  • Nicholas Keynes is the most bizarre villain I’ve ever seen, but that also makes him that much more intriguing and I can’t wait to see what he’s done.
  • When is Flynn going to start helping the Time Team because I need him on board with them now. He’s such an intriguing figure and I’m not only ready for his redemption, but I’m ready for the sass that’ll fill the room when he’s with Wyatt and Rufus. (Lucy will just roll her eyes because children — this is how children behave. It’ll be glorious.)
  • I love the way the Time Team gets along with historical figures. Their bond with Wendell Scott this week and the race made for such a riveting time. It also makes us wish they lived in the same time because they’d make such an exceptional team. I mean, all good because people couldn’t really tell they weren’t from the 50s thanks to Rebel Without A Cause. Plus, once again the pop culture references and the store name dropping was hysterical.
  • Denise Christopher will do anything and everything for her team and that’s something we won’t get tired of seeing.
  • These Rittenhouse sleeper agents are horrifying and I’m curious to see how things change if Wyatt’s killed one of them. Are any of them going to have ties to our core characters? Could there be a future Time Team working to make sure present Time Team is protected? These are the things we need to know and I can’t wait til we learn them.

What are your thoughts on this week’s episode? Remember if there’s anything you’d like us to discuss, let us know in the comments below and I will happily do so. Be sure to rewatch the episode on Hulu, NBC.com, Demand, or your DVRs without skipping commercials. Hashtag #Timeless and #Clockblockers every time you tweet — let’s show the network just how fiercely we want this show to stay.

ByGissane Sophia
Check us out on Twitter@MGcircles

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