‘Timeless’: I am not a crook

Timeless
“The Watergate Tape”
November 14, 2016

Rufus is at his mother’s house trying to fix a cup of coffee, but the machine is not cooperating. So now Rittenhouse has hacked the coffee maker? THOSE MONSTERS!

He apologizes for missing his brother’s basketball game. Kevin’s team was in the finals. Rufus can’t believe he forgot about it. Momma Carlin gives him a pass. She says his brother understands how important Rufus’s job is. Their house and Kevin’s tuition – “his damn basketball shoes” – are all because of it. Rufus squirms at his mother’s praise.

His phone dings and he steps outside as Holy Wayne’s car pulls up. He gets in and jumps when he sees the Prius hacking Affable Man in the seat opposite him. Rufus says whatever this is, he doesn’t want any part of it. Affable Man asks how Kevin took the loss. Such a heartbreaker at the buzzer missing that shot. Holy Wayne growls that there’s no need for theatrics. He tells Rufus to close the door.

Luka has taken the Heart of Gold to Washington, D.C., June 20, 1972. Watergate. Break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices. President Nixon was forced to resign. Funny how 40 years ago hacking your opponents got you booted from office, not elected into it.

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Maybe the 70’s weren’t so bad after all.

Holly Wayne says Nixon might have gotten away with it, but for the tapes he’d been secretly recording in the Oval Office. Affable Man smarms that Rufus might know something about secretly recording people before handing him the small digital device.

He says the tape that Nixon made on June 20 was special. It contains an 18 1/2 minute gap. What was said during that span of time is one of the great American mysteries. They believe Luka’s intent is to steal the tape before those minutes can be erased.

Rufus asks what they think is on the tape. Affable Man snaps that it’s none of his damn business. It’s important that no one hear what’s on that tape. He hands Rufus a card with a phone number and tells him to call in with regular reports. Rufus is dismissed with veiled threats about his family’s safety if he doesn’t comply.

The Time Trio get kitted out in the wardrobe room. Wyatt tries to process the fact that Lucy spent hours lurking outside her dad’s house. “You know there are stalker laws, right?” Lucy corrects him. She had a dad. Benjamin Cahill is her biological father and she’s the daughter he didn’t want to see for her entire life. Wyatt simply says at some point Lucy is going to have to knock.

Christopher hands out press credentials. She says they’re completely authentic and should get them into the White House. She casts a critical eye over Wyatt’s costume. “When you find Luka maybe you can blind him with that suit.”

“I look like Greg Brady.”

And seriously yo, is that a tie or a table cloth he’s got knotted around his neck? Christopher tells him to go find Marcia and Peter and get going.

Bowie’s “Changes” plays as anti-war protesters line Pennsylvania Avenue and hippies frolic in Lafayette Square. Rufus looks around and says these colors just don’t exist anymore. “Like, not even in nature.” I will point out that the shade of orange Lucy is wearing is magic on her. Her outerwear game is consistently strong.

A group of soldiers walk through the park. The Time Trio find themselves caught up in a scuffle when one of the protestors calls the uniformed men, “Nixon’s baby killers”. It’s the perfect cover for Luka and his henchies to snatch the trio up.

Luka tells them he’s already stolen the tape from the White House. Rufus soils himself. Luka cues it up and hits play. They all listen as Nixon discusses the urgency of getting “the doc” back. If they don’t, Nixon fears he and his family are done. He says Rittenhouse plays by different rules. Luka asks Lucy if she still thinks Rittenhouse is a paranoid delusion of his.

Lucy insists she doesn’t know anything about the document Nixon mentions. Luka says he believes her. There’s no mention of it in her journal. Lucy cringes inside and insists she didn’t write it. Luka clarifies for her confused team that she hasn’t written the journal yet. She’s going to write it a few years from now.

“Time travel, right?”

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Luka adds that, apparently, he and Lucy are going to be quite the team one day. Lucy is steadfast in her denial. The journal isn’t real. It’s a fake. Luka patiently reminds her they’ve talked about this. She even admitted it’s her own handwriting. Lucy snaps that she only said it looked like her handwriting. “Not that I ever wrote it, or ever will!”

Rufus is like, can we rewind to the part where you’ve been having secret conservations with Luka? Lucy says it’s complicated. Wyatt is stone faced. He calls bullshit.

“The truth is not complicated.”

As much as Luka is enjoying driving a wedge between the Time Trio, it’s time to go to work. He wants the doc and he’s counting on Lucy’s resourcefulness to get it for him. He cuts her free along with Rufus and says they have five hours. Wyatt is prepared to sacrifice himself for the greater good, but Lucy takes the deal.

“Five hours. Don’t hurt him.”

Rufus has a meltdown, partly over Lucy’s deceit *cough* tread lightly there *cough* but mostly over concern about what Luka may already know. They could be playing into his hands right now! Lucy shouts that she’s sorry! She should have told them. What she doesn’t say is that telling them would have meant admitting the truth to herself and that terrifies her. “It can’t be real! The things that it says I’m going to do??”

“Have you ever had a secret that just scared the living hell out of you?”

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Lucy asks if they can just please save Wyatt. She has an idea where to start. She makes a beeline for a pay phone and says they’re going to call every William M. Felt in the DC area until they find Mark Felt.

Lucy brings Rufus up to speed on the non-porn Deep Throat. Mark Felt was the associate director at the FBI. His tips to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein broke open the Watergate case. Lucy is certain that if anyone knows about the document, it will be him.

Lucy gives Rufus a handful of change and shoos him off to find another phone. The first call he places is to the number on the card. The man on the other end orders him to destroy the doc.

Lucy quickly hits yahtzee. She uses the promise of files on J. Edgar Hoover to arrange a meet in a parking garage. The scene is a well-played homage to All The President’s Men. Lucy more or less blackmails Felt into talking, threatening to ruin him politically and personally if he doesn’t.

“We’ll spell your name right on the front page.”

Felt tells them that before the burglars broke into the DNC headquarters, they broke into a hotel room one floor up. It was barely investigated. Felt says someone called them off. All that was found in the room was a crumpled piece of paper in the trash. There was a symbol drawn on it – a fist with horns.

Luka passes the time trying to turn up the heat under the team’s simmering trust issues. When Wyatt doesn’t bite, he changes tack. He says they’re just two grunts in the same war. He wishes that Wyatt could understand that he’s fighting on the same side. Wyatt offers Luka the opportunity to convince him.

“Explain to me how you’re not just some creepy sociopath.”

Wyatt doesn’t really care. He just needs Luka to keep talking long enough for him to work a loose nail out of the chair.  But talk he does. Luka says he was hired by the NSA to conduct some standard off-the-books surveillance. He stumbled on Holy Wayne’s time travel project and one name that kept popping up – Rittenhouse. Luka flagged it to his NSA contact, who said he would take care of it.

And he did.

“We call them silencers, but they’re not that silent. Not at night. Not when it’s two shots murdering your family.”

Luka goes to a dark place in his memory and kudos to Goran Visnjic who is just splendid in this scene. The pain of his loss and loathing for Rittenhouse is evident. So he’s just going to wipe Rittenhouse from the map.

“And once I do, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll come back and my girls will be there again.”

3 hours. Rufus recognizes the symbol as belonging to the Black Liberation Army. He says he’s read everything about the group and its founders. He kind of went through a militant phase in college. “As in, I had a militant crush on a militant girl.” He takes Lucy to the group’s unofficial DC headquarters, and this time she’s the one left waiting outside on the street.

“You should be fine. Just don’t make any eye contact.”

Rufus gets a sit down with group leader Gregory Hayes, but his cover story that he’s working on behalf of Eldridge Cleaver doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.  Rufus is able to convince Hayes by rattling off a string of facts about the two men’s early years – facts he presumably gleaned from those college era readings. But it’s good enough.

2 hours. Luka pages through Lucy’s diary. Wyatt asks what it says about him. How does this end? Does Luka kill him? Is Wyatt rescued? Luka says the diary doesn’t tell him everything because Lucy didn’t write out everything. “And what is written does sometimes sound crazy. Like a different Lucy.” Wyatt is like, riiiight. Lucy is the crazy one.

Wyatt hits a nerve; Luke goes probing for one of his own. Would Wyatt like to know what Lucy wrote about his wife? About the fight that Wyatt and Jessica had after she ran into an old boyfriend at that dive bar, the Pelican Lounge? How Wyatt drank too much. How Jessica got out of the car and he drove off. And when Wyatt came back 20 minutes later she was gone. Luka says she didn’t come home that night … or any night.

Two weeks later Jessica’s strangled body was found in the bushes.

Wyatt shouts at Luka to SHUT UP, but he’s just getting to the best part. Luka reads Lucy’s words aloud. “Wyatt is obsessed with his wife’s death. He needs to let go. Move on.” Luka shows Wyatt the passage and the news clipping pasted onto the page. Luka says he understands more than most.

“You can’t let go. Because we can change history. We can save the people we love.”

Hayes drives Rufus and Lucy to a dilapidated house. He leads them inside and introduces them to the doc.

“Umm … that’s a person.”

Rufus and Lucy unspool in the kitchen while the Doc packs for the road trip to San Diego. They can’t hand her over to Luka, but if they don’t, Wyatt is dead. Calm settles over Lucy. She goes into the other room to talk to the Doc – called that because she has a PhD in history from the University of Chicago.

Lucy asks about Rittenhouse and why they’re after her. Doc says she was born into Rittenhouse – most of them are, going back generations – but she was trying to leave. Lucy pleads with Doc for more information. She thinks she’s mixed up with them, too. She says she’s scared. It’s not hard to get Doc to believe her. Doc tells her she should be scared.

“They control all of us.”

Doc says she doesn’t know all of it. No one does. Her job was to keep the roster. No one knows the full membership roll except for the leadership and her. She points to her head. Nothing is written down. It’s all up there. Every member since the founding in 1778.

While Lucy and Doc are talking, Rufus calls in to report. He’s told to destroy the Doc. When Rufus refuses, his contact asks for the address. He calmly says they’ll do it for him. Rufus stares at the handset in horror before hanging up. Lucy is standing behind him. She asks who he was talking to. He frantically shushes her and mouths that ‘they’ are listening. He pulls the recorder from his pocket and shows it to her. Then he fills the kitchen sink with water and drops it in.

It’s Lucy’s turn to react with stunned outrage while Rufus pleads forgiveness. He says he didn’t have a choice. He insists he doesn’t know anything about Rittenhouse. He swears that all he did was record their conversations. Lucy is physically bowled back by his admission. They tit for tat back and forth over whose lie is worse and who has more at stake.

They’re left with the choice of giving Doc to Rittenhouse to save Rufus’ family or giving her to Luka to save Wyatt. Rufus says they just have to trust each other and figure it out. Lucy wonders how they can ever trust each other again?

One hour. Rufus calls in. “Come pick her up.”

The clock ticks down. Luka tells Wyatt that’s all the time they have. A henchie comes in and says Lucy called.

“So you decided to call Rittenhouse and Luka and tell them where I was?”

Yup. And while they’re shooting shooting shooting at each other, Lucy and Rufus have just enough time to save Wyatt.

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Doc shows Lucy a snapshot of her husband and infant son. She thinks they’re okay. It’s been almost a year. They made it to Hong Kong and then went north. Doc says she couldn’t let her son be trapped the way she was. Lucy sees her off with a warning not to stop for anything or talk to anyone. She doesn’t know who she can trust.

None of them do.

In the present, Lucy and Rufus seem to have come to a truce. Wyatt is still seething at their betrayal. Rufus asks Lucy to tell him it’s all going to be okay. Lucy is silent. She’s done with lies.

Holy Wayne’s car is waiting for Rufus when he leaves the hangar. The Affable Man asks Rufus what happened. How did Luka get away? Why did he show up at the safe house? These are questions he’s been holding onto for 44 years. Rufus is surprised to learn the Affable Man heard his final report.

“Who do you think was on the other end of that phone?”

Luka visits his family’s grave. Wyatt contemplates his Jessica wall of crazy. Lucy sits outside her father’s house. She hesitates and then knocks on the front door. A teenage boy answers and calls for his father. Benjamin Cahill – the Affable Man – steps into the doorway and says hello.

Lucy loses her nerve. She’s like WRONG HOUSE WHO DIS and scurries away. Affable Man closes the door and places a call. “Guess who just showed up at my house?”

Timeless airs Monday at 10:00 p.m. (eastern) on NBC.

Whitney is also watching Supernatural and Hawaii Five-0. Follow her on twitter @Watcher_Whitney.

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