The basic summary of Timeless is this: A villain we don’t know much about has stolen a time machine. The heroes include a historian who conveniently knows about every historical event that the script requires her to, a military hero from Texas who’s sole purpose is to kill the bad guy, keep everyone safe and provide a romantic subplot, and a pilot who is kinda reluctant to tag along because they go to time periods where being a black educated man has only been socially acceptable for the last quarter of a century (Not that the present has been much to compare to, but still).
Oh, also, the Marquis DeCarabas and Max Headroom are there.
Like all time travel shows, the travelers bounce from different time periods, back and forth throughout history. The first event they witness is the Hindenburg. The next episode covers the Lincoln Assassination. Immediately after that, they go to the 60’s where a young JFK is poling his constituency at a hotel that has a front row seat to atom bomb testing.
The only problem with Timeless is that like most shows in this day and age, there’s a continuing story arc. The events in episode One effect the events in episode Two. The events of the first two episodes are referenced in Three and Four. No reset buttons, no miraculous recover from a traumatizing event the following week. This is a show where the actions of the characters have real consequences on the real world. Sometimes the consequence is as good as having a new, previously nonexistent James Bond movie from the Connery Years, and sometimes it’s as bad as having a family member ripped from existence.
So why is this a problem?
Okay, as I said, the first episode visited the events of the Hindenberg. At the end of the episode, only two people died as opposed to the fifty who died during the actual events. And this had real consequences on the modern day, such as one of the main characters losing the aforementioned sister.
So, yeah, that’s terrible. This time traveling thing isn’t as clear cut and clean as it is in other stories. I’m glad we established that because now we… wait a second, why is John F. Kennedy still the president in the 60’s? I get that the Lincoln Assassination wasn’t effected by changing the events of the Hindenburg, but everything about the 60’s, including presidential elections and hippy music festivals should have been drastically altered.
People who should have died on the Hindenburg survived, meaning that those people would have had children and grandchildren who didn’t originally exist. Jobs would have been held by people who would not have been alive to hold them. Money would have changed different sets of hands. So why isn’t it plausible to believe that a newly existent number of people would have altered the course of something as world changing as a presidential election?
I suppose it will all be explained by the end of the first season. We are only halfway through the series, after all. But as someone who frequently obsesses over the subtle nuances of a story line, and can’t ignore questions that have not yet been answered, this is going to sit in the back of my head for awhile.
Hopefully, it will also encourage some discussions among my faithful readers.