NBC’s Timeless is something of an unlucky soul: well liked enough to warrant a frenzied Save Our Show social media campaign, but not popular enough that that same vocal minority produced the kind of actual viewership needed to keep the show from getting the ax a second time.
It’s as though a lot of people liked the idea of Timeless, in concept, and enjoyed it just being around, but they couldn’t be bothered to tune in (for either season), even after it was made clear that, despite the show’s unlikely un-cancellation, it was once again on the bubble and in danger of being cut from the peacock network. The lesson here is that double jeopardy is very much a thing in the world of television, and that, even though networks seemingly pay attention to particularly vocal contingents on Twitter and elsewhere, such an outpouring of support doesn’t necessarily guarantee a healthy viewing audience. Blame peak TV, blame the ease with which people can get fired up about literally anything on social media, but with the two-part ‘The Miracle of Christmas,’ it seems time has finally run out for Timeless.
As a series finale, ‘The Miracle of Christmas’ has too much on its plate. That’s no fault of the series’ writers, as they wrote the season 2 finale as a massive cliffhanger intended to lead into a third season wherein the Clockblockers would try to save their fallen comrade Rufus (Malcolm Barrett), continue to thwart the evil secret society known as Rittenhouse, and deal with Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Jessica’s (Tonya Glanz) pending child, all while still pleasing the shippers desperate to see him and Lucy (Abigail Spencer) together forever. Oh, and while they’re at it, it would be nice if the writers could figure out a way to bring Lucy’s sister Amy back into existence, since she was erased from it in the series premiere.
It would be a challenge for any series to take that many plot threads and storylines and produce a completely satisfying end to a series in two hours (or about 85 minutes, minus commercials). And though Timeless is certainly game to give it a try, there is simply not enough time (ugh) to deliver a completely satisfying ending. Thankfully, though, by virtue of it being an unabashedly corny show, one that is oftentimes too conspicuous in its attempts to please its audience and say something that will get them cheering at the same time, Timeless’ series finale isn’t entirely undone by its rampant cutting of so many narrative corners.
‘The Miracle of Christmas’ is as saccharine as the title would suggest (though the title is actually in reference to an historical event), sprinkling in as much sentimental holiday cheer as it can, while also burning through its massive to-do list with remarkable, almost reckless speed. Had the series a full third season in which it could attend to urgent threads in a timely fashion, the return of Rufus and, consequently, the death of Jessica wouldn’t have felt so rushed. As it happens, however, the finale almost brusquely brings Rufus back, while granting Jessica little in the way of a memorable sendoff. Jessica’s violent death at the hands of Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) — after she gives him a run for his money — is the start of several short cuts taken (out of necessity) by the finale. What likely would have been a multi-episode arc dealing with Wyatt’s feelings for his former flame, the woman who claimed to be carrying his child, is truncated into a few lines of dialogue and a fight sequence. And lest the viewer be concerned that Garcia murdered a pregnant woman, it’s made abundantly clear how. that whole plot thread was yet another fabrication cooked up by the Rittenhouse gang.
On the bright side, Rufus’s return does feel appropriately triumphant, though, again, it likely would have been more memorable had the audience been forced to wait one or two episodes, instead of ten minutes for the character to make his grand re-entrance. Still, credit to Timeless’s writers who cooked up a clever timey wimey twist, in that Jessica’s death facilitated Rufus’s return.
But as Lucy, Wyatt, Jiya (Claudia Doumit), and eventually Rufus travel to Southern California to meet the inspiration for Zorro, and then to North Korea on Christmas Eve for the Hungnam evacuation — or the “Miracle of Christmas” — there’s just too many familiar Timeless storytelling beats competing with one another for the major events - especially those pertinent to the finale - to feel as significant as they should. Garcia’s sacrifice, Emma’s (Annie Wershching) assassination, and even the reappearance of Benjamin Cahill (John Getz) — who confirms Rittenhouse is indeed done for — land flat and perfunctorily amidst the rush to tie up as many loose threads as possible.
Of all the loose threads, the one that is left dangling most unsatisfactorily is that of Lucy’s sister, Amy. The plot thread that’s been a major motivating factor since the series premiered gets shrugged off as too dangerous for Lucy and Wyatt to attempt to rectify. Though the writers come up with a reasonable enough excuse for Amy to remain the non-existent sibling only Lucy remembers, emotionally, the decision doesn’t quite track. To make up for it, Timeless offers a cloying coda that jumps forward five years, revealing Lucy and Wyatt’s daughters — Amy and Flynn — as well as Rufus and Jiya’s success in the tech world.
Though clearly hastily constructed and more than a little treacly at times ‘The Miracle of Christmas’ gets the job done in terms of addressing the concerns of the overarching Timeless narrative, while also aiming, first and foremost, to please those fans who’ve stuck with the show through its various cancellations and restarts. It probably isn’t the end most would have liked to have seen, but given the circumstances, it’s an adequate effort.