Timeless 2×08 “The Day Reagan Was Shot” Review

Timeless “The Day Reagan Was Shot” Spoilers Ahead

Lucy Preston and Jiya Marri in Timeless "The Day Reagan Was Shot"
Source: NBC

Be you.

Episode Summary | Time in History:  1981! Sometimes, we save historical figures but other times, we save one of our own, and this week on Timeless, that’s exactly what we did. When the time team follows the mothership to the 80s, they quickly come to find that the Rittenhouse sleeper agent’s objective is to wipe out Denise Christopher from existence. Jiya accompanies them in the fourth seat because Flynn’s alive at the time so he can’t do so. Rufus is still extremely anxious over his forthcoming “death” (let’s be real, that’s not happening, or at least, it better not). Jessica drops a massive bombshell on Wyatt. Flynn and Lucy discuss the journal. And once again, conversation saves the day. Also, Denise Christopher for President.

Timeless continues to shine for its authenticity—consistently being the series that chooses to have significant conversations through a groundbreaking, organic approach. While there’s a great amount of progress that’s taken place in our world today, there’s still a lot of hesitation, cultural and religious approaches that play a massive role in the lack of acceptance. But the importance of conversation is the key to achieving that all-inclusive love that I presume all Holy books discuss. While I can personally only speak on the Christian perspective as The Bible is the only one I’ve read, I imagine that every religion’s foundation is love.

There’s no holy book out there that teaches the world to hate, and to deny this fact is an insult to the God who’s served. That said, incorporating both Indian culture and Hinduism into the episode in order to tell us Denise Christopher’s story was a remarkable way of illuminating something that’s a rarity in the television realm. It was a bold, beautifully raw form of representation that easily left me, and presumably many others, speechless. It’s not often that we see an South Asian woman in charge of a prodigious operation, and it’s even rarer when they’re a part of LGBTQ+ community, which is where Timeless excels at giving us diversity at its supreme.

This is a show that chooses to tell the stories that aren’t often told because there’s a great understanding of diversity, the celebration of all sorts of human beings and its importance for future generations.

Timeless’ “The Day Reagan Was Shot” had very little to do with President Reagan himself, but everything to do with our Time Team and the choices they’ve made to be where they are today. And it’s the choices they’ve made to engage in honest conversations that has led to impeccably life altering moments, all while saving their lives.

Most Noteworthy Performer: I’ve never wanted to give two people this homage more than I did in Timeless’ “The Day Reagan Was Shot,” and technically, considering it’s for the same character, it doesn’t feel like I’m cheating. Or is it? Regardless, I’m doing it. Both Sakina Jaffrey and Karen David were superbly compelling in their performances as Agent Christopher, mastering the art of subtlety beautifully in an episode that demanded that they both be front and center of the story. It’s clear that David’s taken to studying Jaffrey’s mannerisms because throughout the episode, her means of speaking especially, mirrored Jaffrey’s gracefully. And on an important note, when it came down to wearing their hearts on their sleeves, both women did so with the ever-present tinge of hope in their eyes cobbled with the slight sadness and fear that’s often lingered due to the fact that they don’t meet the standards of what’s culturally demanded.

And what I found most impressive is how both women carried the distinct fear in their eyes because it’s what made Agent Christopher’s happiness in the end that much more palpable and empowering. It’s clear now with both David’s and Jaffrey’s performances that Denise Christopher has spent a large majority of her life trying to please others and make the world a better place all while hope remained in the back in of her mind, sometimes fading, other times, stronger than ever.

Whether it was the quiet pain in their eyes or the glowing happiness, both women embodied Agent Christopher to the tee, layering her further into a beautifully complex, incredibly strong woman. (And I always say that if I could separate an actor from the roles they’ve played in the past then they’ve easily done a remarkable job, which was certainly the case for Karen David as she was wholly Denise Christopher, and not for one second did I think of the fact that I know her as Princess Jasmine from Once Upon A Time.)

Most Exquisite Scene: It’s never easy to choose just one scene, and I can fully admit that in  the past, I’ve definitely cheated in this category. Oops. And this week was filled with a number of them all having to do with our sweet Agent Christopher. So instead of choosing just one, we’ll go chronologically with each of the moments that made a profound difference in her life.

And we have to open up with the story of how Agent Christopher chose to be an officer in the first place. Upon being rescued after her father was brutally murdered in front of her, she was comforted by a female officer from whom her inspiration sparked. And from where her name originated as she couldn’t use her given name, Driti Sirivatsava— beautiful name though isn’t it? It’s so crucial to acknowledge just how heartbreaking and raw this piece of information truly is on this show because it exemplifies the fact that those of us who aren’t American often have to change parts or our entire name in order to get jobs, proper pronunciation, or even acceptance.

Thankfully, we’re getting better at embracing this, but still, it’s an issue that isn’t discussed as often. (And if I may get personal here a bit, there have been so many times where I’ve wondered if my name’s “uniqueness” if you will, is a reason as to why I’ve not received call backs to certain positions I’m acutely qualified for. It’s not fun.) And I appreciated this moment so much for what it revealed, which is ultimately, the heart of our den mother—Agent Christopher took her indescribable, perpetually lingering pain and chose to help those in need instead. It takes great courage not to allow grief to consume us, but it takes even greater courage not to turn our backs on the world that hurt us. Which is exactly what Agent Christopher has done, and why she’s so special to this journey, but above all, why she’s so important to this show. Her story. Her journey, her choices, her fears, her strengths have all played a vast role in shaping an honest, uniquely captivating character who’s beautifully representing not just a strong South Asian woman but a sapphic one, too.

That’s why it’s so heartbreaking to hear that she’d be willing to leave her destiny behind out of the fear that she’d be abandoning and betraying her mother after her father’s death. At this point, she wasn’t Agent Christopher and would never be because she’d be a stay at home wife/mom—the kind of life a woman with her destiny and desires shouldn’t have to be a part of. And that scene with her looking at the slide show of her wife and kids? Haunting. Poignantly moving and so very gorgeous. And this is where Timeless deserves immense, unparalleled credit because very seldom does a show carry on with the seeds they’ve planted in previous seasons. The choice to follow through with Chekhov’s Gun is always admirable in my book so you go, Timeless — bringing back the USB and having Lucy actually pay homage to the dinner in season one was a refined way of showcasing that these storytellers have a plan. A plan that led to one of the most powerful scenes in the show’s history, and Karen David’s nuanced reactions to the slide show brought to life a plethora of encompassing emotions that needed a showcase because words couldn’t do what the expressiveness did. The hope that found its way into her heart upon looking at those picture made for an especially unforgettable scene.

Cut to Flynn and Agent Christopher in the present (though this scene comes before the one above) because this is where it becomes clear that they’re all a team now. Goran Višnjić’s profoundly haunting recollection of the final moments with his daughter broke me. (As anything with Flynn’s family, really.) But this was different because this time, he was speaking to another parent, and essentially, the only person in the bunker who’d understand where his motives often came from.

I’ve frequently wondered why we waited to so long to have this moment between the two of them, but it now makes perfect sense that it’d come at a time where Agent Christopher needed to hear it for her own sake. And watching Jaffrey play off Višnjić’s memory was a gorgeous exhibition of just how deeply the cast cares about bringing sincerity to the table. Agent Christopher apologizing for what he’s been through, and choosing to see another human’s perspective revolutionized something so incomparably special, it’s necessary to point the rarity in the series’ choices again, along with how this moment continued to layer each of these characters further. And conversation, pain that’s shared easily leads to the better outcome.

Again, it takes a character like Flynn seasons to reach the point of sincerity he has, and for the show to use him in such a way without ever shoving a forced redemption down our throats is precisely what makes his growth so authentic. He is a man who cares, but he’s also a man who’s still battling rage and immense grief, and when it comes down to watching history as dark as his repeat itself, he’d put everything aside to ensure that it doesn’t. And if that’s not exquisite character development or an exquisite scene for that matter, then I don’t know what is.

And then, Denise Christopher made the choice to go home to the family she was meant to be with. (But good Lord, did this scene give me anxiety with the haunting camera work that made us fear she could disappear any minute.) She got to sit with them in a moment of quiet bliss as she and Michele watched their kids laugh and play. She got to embrace a quiet moment of serenity as she sat on the couch with her, and the gentle kiss that was a sincere showcase of her gratitude and unyielding adoration. Plus, the camera work and the music in the slow walk towards her family?

She has her happiness and she has her life back, plus as a bonus, in this version, she has her mother’s presence back in her life. Because despite the fact that they still argue, she knows the truth today, and she hasn’t shunned her out as she feared she would have, which ultimately reveals just how significant honesty is. As human beings, it’s so easy to assume how a person may react based off of what we know about them, but the truth is, we never know in full depth until we’re completely transparent with them. Whatever topic the conversation is regarding, it’s important, but what’s most important is choice and whether or not a person chooses for themselves, as opposed to for another. Because it’s key to remember that there’s a prodigious difference between choosing for ourselves, our future, and our happiness, and selfishness.

Did I cry when den-mother Denise reunited with her other daughters and sons (The Time Team) after they saved the day and returned back to the present? Is water wet? You bet I cried. And I cried even more when Denise told Lucy to hang on to the USB. I cried even harder when she told Wyatt and the girls she’d been waiting to thank them for years. Timeless isn’t afraid of being painfully vulnerable, and it isn’t afraid of being compassionately sincere.

Gratitude and the spectacle of it where it’s due is also something that’s not brought to light as frequently as it should be, but on Timeless, it’s a ceaseless presence. Where need be, these characters acknowledge what those in front of them have done.

Timeless tells the stories we all need to hear with such captivating simplicity, there aren’t many ways to describe it. It’s taken us through racist America more often than not having Rufus be the transparent, boldly nuanced hero in those tales. It’s taken us through sexist history having Lucy subtly fight for the basic human rights that women too are deserving of. And this week, it took us on a cultural journey, giving us a bit of insight on both Indian and Lebanese culture.

Heck yes, Timeless. It illuminated the fact that often times, where there’s a desperate desire for cultural preservation, what’s different is seen as immoral. And it doesn’t equate to people being terrible or anything of that caliber, but it showcases humanity as it is, blissfully ignorant at times, afraid of changes, and hesitant of accepting what isn’t in their traditional norm. But at its core, this is a show that chooses to highlight the importance of love, and how it’s the fuel that keeps the fire in all these characters strong and connected—whether platonic or romantic, it’s encompassing, accepting, and unceasing in every way it can be.

Further Thoughts:                                                                                 

  • FUTURE TIME TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE AND LUCY’S DONE IT. SAY WHAT? We finally get some insight on how Flynn got the journal and I’m still buzzing about it because how, what, when, where, why? Answers. We’re getting them and I’m pleased.
  • Jessica dear, when Wyatt asked if there’s something you’re not telling him, I don’t think that’s what he meant. Considering the conversation was about your brother and you denied it, I have a feeling you’re hiding something else. And here’s the thing, darlings —you all know at this point that despite having predicted this in season one, I’m now backtracking and don’t want Jessica to be evil. But I also don’t want her pregnant because good lord, do we really need that? No, no we don’t. And here’s why, “dead wife” comes back from the grave? Predictable. But good. Pregnancy? Predictable. But meh. Unnecessary. Plus, it hasn’t even been a month? How does it even make sense? Really, are you just sitting on a throne of lies or …? Again, Jessica — what aren’t you telling us, sister friend? I personally just hope that she’s alive because her family made some sort of deal with Rittenhouse to get their son back? Something similar to our sleeper agent today? He’s the first one we’ve gotten a bit of back story on so that can’t be a coincidence. Anyway, who knows. Give me good motives, Timeless I trust you on this.
  • Jiya and Lucy as Cagney and Lacey? Heck fracking yes. I’ve been wanting these two to team up since last season and I’m so glad that we were given the opportunity to finally see it in action. It was fun. It was ridiculous. And it was just all around awesome especially because when Jiya broke about putting too much pressure on Rufus, Lucy was there to tell her that perhaps her visions could serve as warnings as opposed to actual occurrences. Plus, the two of them playing a massive role in saving Agent Christopher? I’m not crying. You’re crying.
  • We also need to talk about Rufus Carlin and how my heart cries a little bit (a lot) every time he mentions dying or watches people die because there’s so much heart wrenching fear in him it’s daunting. Rufus is strong in a number of ways, but he’s not much of a physical fighter, and that’s so refreshing to see on an action packed series. Yes, he can protect himself, yes he can engage in a badass fight, and heck yes can he use his words, but he’s also someone who clearly hates violence and knowing that it’s still something that makes him uncomfortable is a fascinating detail. There’s going to come a time where it may not shock him as much as it does today, but the transitions are so organic because today especially, he’s not just against violence, but he’s terrified of his own death. He’s constantly looking over his shoulder, masking the fear with his wit, and playing it cool because there’s a time and place for vulnerability, which he showcases in such brief expressions, it’s a marvel to witness. And essentially hats off to Malcolm Barrett for that.
    • But where there’s fear in one character, there’s another by their side doing anything and everything in their power to ensure that it doesn’t consume them. I’d say this is my favorite Rufus and Jiya scene ever, but knowing this show, they’ll find a way to top it somehow — be still my heart, how beautiful was their moment in the bunker? If it weren’t for the extraordinary moments with Agent Christopher, this ladies and gentlemen, would definitely be the moment of the week. Rufus and Jiya love one another so much, but because they’re our solid couple, we don’t get the see the development between them in the way we’ve seen with Wyatt and Lucy, which is why this scene’s so important, because it’s the key to making steady couples even more riveting. (Whoever believes that steady couples leads to boring television needs to take note from Timeless because I could watch an entire hour of the two of them bickering over what TV show to binge next.) That said, this is the moment that spectacles their relationship gorgeously because it allows the audience to see that not only are healthy arguments necessary in a relationship, but where two people are willing to fight for one another, a solid bond has been established. Jiya declaring that they’re problem solvers and they’re going to figure out a way to change her visions broke me because Claudia Doumit has never been more vulnerable than she was stating that the only vision she wants to have, is the two of them growing old together. And that kiss? Okay, Romeo cool it because I’m already an emotional wreck here. (But really, don’t cool it.) It’s key to acknowledge that without the excellent work Doumit and Barrett put in as scene partners, a scene like this wouldn’t have been as evocative, but the fight they put up for one another, and the vulnerability they’re able to bare is nothing short of compelling. And what I could appreciate most is that the fear in Rufus’ eyes has yet to leave him, in the same way that it hasn’t left Jiya, but they’re in this for the long haul and the fight they’ll put up for their future will lead to something great.
    • Togetherness and the choice to continuously talk through their problems exhibits such strength in the two of them as individuals and a couple. Successful, healthy, and ever-adoring relationships are all about compromise, communication, and loyalty, which they’ve built on profoundly, day by day proving to be as the cool kids call them, #GOALS.
  • Jiya’s approach in the past was an absolute blast. The clothes. The hair. The accidental future references. Living on the edge. I’m here for more.

Be sure to rewatch Timeless “The Day Reagan Was Shot” 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!) If you live in a place where you can’t access Timeless through any of the platforms above, live-tweeting is your best option right now— let’s show the network just how fiercely we want this show to stay.

What are your thoughts on Timeless “The Day Reagan Was Shot?”

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