Timeless 2×03 “Hollywoodland” Review

Timeless “Hollywoodland” Spoilers Ahead

Wyatt Logan and Lucy Preston in Timeless "Hollywoodland"
Source: NBC

Guess who’s back!? Back again …

Episode Summary | Time in History: It’s the 1940’s in Hollywood and Citizen Kane (Secret Code Name: RKO 281) is in development, except Rittenhouse sleeper agent, Calhoun (Teddy Sears), is missioned to take and deliver it to William Randolph Hearst in order to ensure that once a month, Rittenhouse is granted access to publish anything they want, no questions asked. Agent Christopher learns the truth about what’s going on with Jiya and insists that she a doctor. Wyatt and Lucy take their relationship to the next level, but it’s short lived because guess who’s back! Famous movie star Hedy Lamarr (Alyssa Sutherland) befriends our Time Team and Rufus inspires her to rightfully explore her expertise in technology.

When we go on and on about Timeless being the best thing on television right now, we aren’t exaggerating—not even a little bit, and Timeless’ “Hollywoodland” is tangible proof of that fact as a remarkably written episode by Matt Whitney.

This is a show driven by its characters, and this week, its character drove one another towards a type of growth that’s beautifully present amongst two people who’ve effortlessly changed one another for the better. It happens in the presence of love, whether platonic or romantic, the unification of people who are each other’s halves is often the very definition of a poetic masterpiece. And sometimes, poetry is tragic, it’s an unexpected, profoundly life altering tragedy. It aches and tears away at parts of the being that words cannot even begin to touch, and the places where hope used to dwell, despair and darkness follows. But in the bleak process of said darkness, tremendous, unparalleled growth also happens, and the deepest, most potently heartfelt choices are then made.

Most Noteworthy Performer: I was ready to give this to Claudia Doumit this week, and then that final scene happened, and I knew I had to bend the rules a little bit because Matt Lanter’s performance was jaw dropping, too.

But we finally got some insight on what’s going on with Jiya, and Doumit met the deep frustrations with ample subtlety, showcasing just enough for us to understand her fears and aggravation. And no series does character development the way Timeless does because in its choice to dive into vulnerabilities, it allows the storylines to evolve in an ever so intricate manner.

Jiya’s childlike demeanor, the subtle frantic behavior instantaneously made sense when she revealed her father’s diagnosis and sudden death. And Doumit drove straight into the fearful state by showcasing the depth of grief through the voice breaks resulting from the attempt to hold back tears. Doumit explored the scene with zero over dramatization, but rather quiet, embodiment, illuminating the excellent grip she’s got on the character.

We still don’t know what’s going on with Jiya —no one does, doctors can’t even figure it out, but whatever’s happening, Doumit is playing on Jiya’s fears remarkably. We’re getting to know the character on a level we’ve always wanted to, and the explorations of her more vulnerable side serves as great importance because this show isn’t afraid of diving headfirst into the nitty-gritty. It isn’t afraid of showcasing the intricacies of both the male and female psyche. These are real, relatable human emotions— grief is very, very real, and very, very dark; thuss, allowing us to see parts of ourselves in them makes for much better television. In the faint, quiet moments, it’s clear to note that whatever challenge awaits Jiya in the future, Doumit could take it on without question. Because this diagnosis is only the beginning.

But also, how do we know we can trust this faceless doctor to give an accurate diagnosis? How was Jiya’s heart murmur cured? Why was the only to be affected by the time travel? Was it her pre-existing condition? Was she divinely chosen? Was it fate all along that she develop these “powers”? Is she truly okay or will Connor’s fears of history repeating itself come true? Do not. We repeat, DO NOT, take away Jiya from us, Timeless writers. We’re trusting you with her.

And then came that final, essentially dreaded scene where Wyatt broke out of the bunker to follow the words of a text message only to discover that his dead wife is actually very much alive. Sometimes, only sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so good at watching TV because I wouldn’t have predicted this since the pilot, but alas, here we are, and I’m far from surprised by the fact that Jessica is alive, but I am stunned by the execution of it all. (And this says a lot about the writing.)

Lanter straight up broke me—the full range of emotions were too much all at once, and essentially his best performance to date. The casual approach into the bar filled with a quiet, resilience because it’s really too good to be true. There was no hope in his eyes, nothing tangible really, this was all just an effort, it could go either way and he’d be okay—then he spots the blonde hair and suddenly, there’s faint hope in him, slight confusion, but nevertheless, his emotions are subtly escalating. Then it happens, she turns around after he calls her name, and everything changes—Lanter cobbles relief and perplexity so poignantly, it’s exceptional.

The faint breathlessness goes hand in hand with the relief, but there are too many complicated emotions flowing through him, and Lanter brings that complexity to life so organically, I’m going to be haunted by that final expression all day.

Most Exquisite Scene: I cheated last week in this category, so we’re gonna try our hardest to choose just one scene. And while there’s a great number of moments that stick out in Timeless’ “Hollywoodland,” Lucy stating that she doesn’t see herself as beautiful, but a nerd resonated profoundly with us here.

There’s something so fascinating about old Hollywood and beauty.  There’s something so fascinating about the way women of that time are idolized and perceived. And there’s something so fascinating about how diverse all our perceptions of beauty are. Fascinating and simultaneously tragic. But as a fellow nerd, there was something incredibly moving about hearing Lucy talk about how she’s never seen herself as beautiful because of how she’s lived her nerdy life. And that’s not even something that could be explained really, it’s stemmed from generations on end, it’s driven by societal expectations—this world, and sadly, Hollywood has given beautiful a single meaning—physically gorgeous, and subjectively so.

And what’s fascinating is that Lucy didn’t say she was hideous. She didn’t say she lacks in confidence or believes that she isn’t good-looking, but she states that she’s always seen herself as a nerd—her beauty hasn’t been of the question because the focus has been on other things. And that’s incredibly relatable for a number of women, but I can only speak on behalf of myself. Do I think I’m ugly? No. Do I think my appearance is focused on in most situations? Yes, but it’s my excitement over the little things that overpowers that in any conversation. And I’ve never in my life thought of myself as beautiful because while I don’t believe that there are many who go around parading themselves as that, there are people who hear it more frequently than others.

That’s why it’s so remarkable to have a woman like Hedy Lamarr in an episode like this because despite the capabilities of her mind, and the fact that she was a female inventor in a time where women didn’t have much of a say, people don’t remember her for her mind —they reminisce about her beauty. They focus on her beauty, not intentionally, but because it’s what we’ve known and been accustomed to —even Lucy does it without realizing, and it makes the episode that much more raw because these are real, human emotions.

It’s not that we don’t know there’s more to people than how they appear physically, but I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that there are certain people in Hollywood, and if we ever come across them, the immediate thought won’t be “oh wow, her mind is extraordinary”, but instead it’ll be “My God, she’s even more beautiful in person!”

This is what Timeless does best, it shines a light on the truth—human beings are flawed, we’re so layered, and so very diverse. And though beauty means something different to all of us, at the end of the day, it does have a universal definition where appearance is concerned. (A wrong definition in a myriad of ways, but still.) Yet, this makes Lucy that much more relatable, because c’mon now, she’s beautiful in every way—however, it’s her transparency that makes her so special. I don’t think I remember the last time a woman who looked like Lucy admitted to such feelings without the underlying root of addressing insecurities.

Because that’s the thing, Lucy isn’t insecure really, not in the traditional way we’re exposed to it in media, but she’s open in the acknowledgment that she sees her nerdy being as her true essence. It’s what she’s focused on for so long in her life, to the point where when that’s all been wiped away by her mother’s betrayal, she’s still abundantly proud of how she’s chosen to live her life. And that’s just it, beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but if we could look within ourselves with pride over how we’ve chosen to go about the little things that’ve made us who we are, then perhaps that’s all we can really do.

Perhaps, even though all women, myself included, should be used to be called beautiful because we should spread that word fiercely everywhere we go, it’s okay that it’s a little stunning to hear it, for it means that there’s so much more. And maybe one day, the word beautiful won’t be automatically affiliated with the physical—maybe one day, our immediate reaction to it could change because we hear it so often in different situations that it’s no longer embedded in us to draw back to starlets or gorgeous scenery.

It means that maybe, to some people, when looking back at Hedy Lamarr’s legacy, they don’t remember the beautiful woman, but they recall the beautiful inventor. It takes us back to the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and whatever the result, however it touches audiences, I’m proud of the fact that a show like Timeless addresses it as it is, complicated, justly exercised, and always —underused.

Representation is beautiful. Women are beautiful. Poetry is beautiful. Transparency is beautiful. Bravery is beautiful. Belief in another human being is beautiful. Friendship is beautiful. Second chances are beautiful. And so are romances, naturally, so let’s address the one thing I’m sure a great number of viewers, myself included are buzzing about. Wyatt and Lucy and their version of The Philadelphia Story.

It’s a story about a love that was meant to be, and though time stood still for a moment, though it looked as if the future would be beautiful, the timing was all wrong. And that’s how the mysteries of love go. For some, just when it seems like the world’s falling into place, the force has other things in mind. When the timing was off for Cory and Topanga in Boy Meets World, she read him a little poem you may all remember—“I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.” And they found each other in the end, didn’t they? But so did Wyatt and Lucy; however, this isn’t the end, it’s the beginning.

It’s the beginning of Lucy coming to terms with the fact that everything she’s known has been a lie. It’s the beginning of Wyatt coming to terms with the fact that his dead wife is actually alive and perhaps, out of guilt and heartache, he’s glorified their marriage. It’s the beginning of Wyatt and Lucy finding themselves because it’s only when they do that, that they can choose each other, then be certain of the fact that come what may, in any timeline, they’ll continue choosing each other.

The progression of this relationship has been superb—seriously kudos to the writers for not wasting any time, but giving us drama that’s believable, drama that’s not meant to throw us a curveball for no reason, but drama that’s meant to make this couple sincerely thrive. Timeless’ “Hollywoodland” was poetic for Wyatt and Lucy—it gave them the platform to express just how profoundly they’ve impacted one another in a moment that though fleeting, was perfect in execution. Perhaps, it was hearing her sing a classic number on falling in love that did it for Wyatt, or perhaps, it was the gorgeous dress inspired by Katherine Hepburn’s Tracy Lord. Perhaps it was the cinematic landscape in a place where anything’s possible. Whatever did it for him, the choice to reveal that she saved his life was exactly the kind of declaration I imagined would come prior to their first, real kiss.

As mentioned above, both Wyatt and Lucy are essentially lost, together and individually, the challenges that have met them haven’t always been the easiest to conquer. And for Wyatt especially, Jessica’s death destroyed him, which means guilt paved with previously existing severe trauma isn’t easy. After her death, he’s essentially had nothing to live for really, and because he’d never confronted himself or the terrors he’s faced through the healthy exploration of his mental state, his life became a suicide mission. It’s not to say that Wyatt was avidly searching for death, but it’s evident that if it met him face to face, he wouldn’t fight it. And there’s nothing I personally love more than when two people save one another without trying to. No one’s needed Wyatt—people have lost their lives on his watch, and as a result, he’s declared himself unfit to truly lead, but it’s only after Lucy chose to be vulnerable enough to admit that they needed him where he began to see his place again.

And seeing himself through the team’s eyes, Lucy’s especially, has allowed Wyatt to find meaning again—purpose and a second chance even though he firmly believed he was to blame for everything. It’s beautiful, inspiring really, to hear him state how he’s felt because the admittance of defeat is the first step to finding solace again.

Wyatt’s bravery in boldly stating that she saved his life, without ever really trying plays on the importance of love being the one thing that could do the seemingly impossible. After what probably felt like a lifetime to him, Wyatt knows love again. Wyatt and Lucy care profoundly for one another, that’s a fact—the love that she has shown him has been more than enough to inspire him to see beauty in the world again, beauty through her eyes because that’s his safe place now. It’s in the sincerity of her eyes that have seen the best version of him over and over again—the eyes that have seen the unparalleled strength in him even when he was blind to it. It’s the eyes that have seen a leader even in the midst of his hotheaded recklessness.

There’s profound beauty in this relationship, and there’s great serenity that’s seen in Lucy’s happiness, too. He may not have saved her the way she saved him, but he came into her life at a time where she’d need the courage to believe in herself most. And through the belief that Wyatt’s ceaselessly shown her, Lucy’s been able to power through moments that would’ve otherwise broken her too deeply. But in spite of the pain she’s endured, in spite of her own trauma, Wyatt’s been her constant, in a world where everything’s been changing, he’s grown with her.

He’s fought with her, fought for her, protected her, and he’s listened to her. He’s carefully listened to her stories, remembered them, quietly consumed them and has done everything he can to ensure that her days are a little bit easier. He’s done everything he can to just be there, by her side, as her person, and without ever declaring anything really, they’ve been each other’s strength. They’ve professed their love quietly through the heartfelt comments that have signified just how much they mean to one another.

But here’s where the tragedy comes to play because Lucy’s had too much taken from her lately, and with Jessica’s return, and Wyatt’s torment, it’ll break her heart even more than it would have a year ago. And while I’m ready for the angst, I’m not ready to see the pain she’ll endure. Because even when everything was falling apart, having him made it better, and for a moment, she had all of him—as he is, walls down, darkness and all, they were one. They’d found strength in their intimacy—the tangible proof of the love that’s saved them over and over again. And the idea of having each other wasn’t meant to be fleeting, it was meant to be a constant.

There’s a lot that could happen with this storyline, and for once in my life, I don’t hate a love triangle. Who am I? But here’s the thing, I trust these writers to tell real, human stories. I trust them to make me feel something other than hatred for Jessica. I trust them to take this wall and turn it into a bridge for Wyatt and Lucy, because if there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that no one’s ever had the kind of impact of on either of them as they have on each other.

I trust that Wyatt meant every word when he told her she hadn’t lost him. Jessica or no Jessica, he’s made a promise to this team, and in the end, he’s going to find his way back to them. At the end of the day, both Wyatt and Lucy want the absolute best for each other, they want the other’s happiness more than their own, and it’ll be stunning to see them fight for that even as they’re both breaking inside because ultimately, that’s what’ll bring them immense strength. And in the end, after the healing has taken place and the darkness has been confronted, they’ll find home again. There’s tragedy in this poem, but it’s much more than that, it’s a love story of great importance and the eternal fulfillment of promises coming to pass.

Timeless is a show about second chances, it’s a show that takes characters and makes us feel for them even when they don’t deserve it because beauty is found in the glimpses of humanity. And I’m beyond words excited to finally see Flynn stand by the team. I’m beyond ready to have his sass overrule everyone else’s because Goran Višnjić does such a tremendous job of making Flynn’s frustrations fun. That Netflix subscription comment? Gold. But aesthetically, the image of him breaking out of the prison as per Agent Christopher’s approval and help was phenomenal.

He’s got a long way to go until he could be fully trusted that’s for certain, but he’s fighting for the right team, and that’s ultimately enough for now. Plus, it’ll be interesting to see him with the team next episode because Wyatt won’t be present. And I’m intrigued to see how he attempts to make it up to them because we all know it’ll be filled with a ton of eye-rolling and perhaps some (a lot of) rage, too.

I’m also incredibly intrigued to see how we explore the relationship between him and Lucy because to deny that there’s something powerful there would be awfully silly. While romantically, this isn’t the story that’s being told, there’s a connection between the two of them that’s amplified through a plethora of jarring emotions—emotions that need to be brought to the surface because, at the end of the day, she meant it when she said they needed him more than he needs them.

They too are meant to be in each other’s lives. I do believe that in a sense, she is the answer to all that he’s been seeking, and in a platonic sense, it could tell a beautiful story, too. And that’s why the exploration of this dynamic will be so riveting because the team means so much to each other that it’s going to play on their relationships through raw, perhaps even really ugly emotions. Wyatt and Rufus aren’t going to have the easiest time trusting him after everything he’s pulled, but learning that there’s perhaps more could bring them together, too. And with Rufus especially, Flynn has a lot of atoning to do. A lot. But we believe in you and your redemption arc, Garcia Flynn. Also —tell us what’s in the journal now! 

Timeless’ “Hollywoodland” was a solid 9/10. In its showcase of vulnerability and the exploration of all sorts of emotions, it continued to give us the right amount of development for all our characters. And its balance all throughout was pretty close to perfect if I do so say myself. Rittenhouse failed to succeed in their mission once more (Bless!), Citizen Kane went on to be developed by Orson Welles, Hedy Lamarr patented her trademark and found far more success in tech than acting, and Rufus Carlin’s shipper dreams came true. I mean, what yeah, good episode. Totally cool.

Further Thoughts:

  • It’s a little sad that I can no longer use these bullet points to tell you guys that I think Jessica is coming back because she is back. But I can use it to say that I definitely don’t think she’s as Wyatt remembers.
  • So, can we canonically accept the fact that Rufus watches and is a fan of Stranger Things? Because heck yes, sign me up for two of my favorite shows colliding.
  • Also, is Rufus a fan of Hamilton? Because seriously, he is a man of great talents and taste in media, but we already knew this.
  • CAN WE TALK ABOUT ABIGAIL SPENCER’S PERFORMANCE, TOO? Because yes please, the queen can SING! And what an enamoring performance it was—who had more heart eyes, Wyatt, everyone in that room, or everyone watching from home? (Hint: all of the above.)
  • See, it’s episodes like Timeless’ “Hollywoodland” that I’m abundantly grateful for because while I knew that there was more to Hedy Lamarr, knowing her success in this alternate universe makes me so sad for the actress. If it were a time where women were encouraged to pursue their true calling then perhaps the world wouldn’t forget just how capable she was. People wouldn’t call her the most beautiful in the world but rather one of the smartest, too. It’s daunting really, the pangs of Hollywood beauty and where people end because of how idolized they are for their physical beauty. And that’s why this show’s so important because even though it twists our history, it never fails to give us a glimpse of the tragic, raw truth in a way that’s bound to perpetually stay with us.
  • And thus, it was so beautiful to see her bond with Rufus throughout the entire episode because they’re both people, though for different reasons, aren’t always able to get the credit they deserve. It’s in the exhibition of somewhat tainted, lifelong friendships like this that end up playing a crucial role in changing life and history. Because really, how precious was Rufus’ excitement upon learning that she actually took his advice and renewed the patent? It was everything to him because it meant that one more life was easier and better because of what they’d done.
  • Plus, how extraordinary was Alyssa Sutherland as Hedy Lamarr? She brought so many of Lamarr’s layers to life through a captivating, organically moving performance. We’re going to be talking about this Historical figure for a long, long time.
  • Momma Agent Christopher is the best and I love how deeply she cares for each of her children. I mean, kids. I mean agents. No, you know exactly what I mean, they are her children, too and it’s beautiful.
  • But also, does anyone else just have trust issues every time they see Teddy Sears now? Unless it’s a Hallmark movie, every time he shows up on my screen, I immediately convince myself he’s the bad guy. Sorry, sir.
  • Then came the jabs at writers, there may be a lot out there, but let’s give Timeless writers the credit where it’s due because very few care about their characters the way they do. And Matt Whitney excelled in writing an outside episode with Timeless’“Hollywoodland.”
  • And how quickly do we think Rufus ran to Jiya to tell her about the fact that he saw Wyatt and Lucy in bed together? Dreams coming true for the Time Team. I think they all “ship” each other way more than we do, friends.

Be sure to rewatch the episode again on Hulu, NBC.com, Demand, or on your DVRs without skipping commercials. Hashtag #Timeless every time you tweet (one hashtag, per tweet or it’ll be marked as spam!) — let’s show the network just how fiercely we want this show to stay.

What are your thoughts on Timeless “Hollywoodland?”

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