“The King of the Delta Blues” is an example of the best that Timeless can be and, going into this review, I thought I’d be spending most of my word count expanding on that fact. Because it is awesome. Unlike my original stance on their being something wanting in Connor Mason’s story arc this season (Does Paterson Joseph prove me wrong!), my opinion on this episode hasn’t changed.
What about this hour works so well?
- You’ve got a historical figure so in need of recognition, Lucy doesn’t know who he is (Kamal Naiqui as Robert Johnson).
Before this episode I had heard Johnson’s name before, and knew he was a musician. The crossroads story crops up on TV often (most recently in the third season of Hap & Leonard) and this week Crossroad Blues comes out from Image Comics, but I had no comprehension of the impact Johnson’s music had on counter-culture and the existence of rock & roll.
- You have a character who’s been in front of us this whole time drop the bombshell that he’s never been on the time machine he created.
Mason’s been doing a lot of rattling on about his grievances, but “The King of the Delta Blues” gives him a chance to talk about his passions. Infusing the proceedings with a sense of wonder and giddiness, Mason also gets to expand on his history with Rufus that got sidetracked after the whole ‘conspiring with Rittenhouse’ debacle. The fanboy line during Rufus’ pep talk feels a bit on the nose but it’s fun to see Connor Mason starstruck by Bessie Smith (Radha Blank) and talk about fixing a problem – the Lifeboat is officially a four-person seating machine!
- You have Wyatt and Lucy doing their own, separate things (which isn’t intrinsically good but felt necessary after the awkwardness of recent events).
Lucy gets to come home from a mission laughing and, while it’s not as if the hour doesn’t mention what’s going on, some distance between them is healthy.
Yet for all the joy this episode conveys, it covers up a lot of darkness.
Rufus continues to disappoint with his response to Jiya’s visions. For living in a cramped bunker, everyone’s getting along relatively well, but there aren’t many Jiya and Rufus scenes, so it stings more when they’re stilted. Jiya is isolated and that really comes through when she winds up bringing her relationship concerns to Agent Christopher. She knows it’s not a professional conversation to have, but who else does she have to turn to (Lucy and Jiya haven’t grown especially close, and when Lucy’s always on a mission, how can they)? Agent Christopher, for her part, doesn’t make Jiya uncomfortable but doesn’t offer advice either.
Agent Christopher may be vigilant about keeping professional boundaries standard but nobody else is, and while Wyatt and Rufus giggle about what Wyatt does behind closed doors, Lucy makes a habit of keeping a vodka bottle under her bed. This silent suffering Lucy and Jiya are enduring is a problem and one that won’t improve in a bunker with the guys.
Other thoughts on “The King of the Delta Blues:”
- Where’s Emma? Carol and Nicholas took off on the Mothership so she wasn’t with them (or in another time). She wasn’t at headquarters, or the chance to fight a back-up less Wyatt would’ve been too good to miss, so what does Emma do in her free time?
- Where’s Jessica? While she’s talked about this episode, Jessica doesn’t appear (and when you’re living in a bunker, that’s strange).
- The timing of this episode after last week’s makes Agent Christopher’s reaction, to Wyatt not killing Lucy’s mom, more scathing. She was kidnapped, and the threats against her family still stand. It’s personal, just like Wyatt not killing Carol’s personal.
- We’ve seen friendly Flynn before, but vulnerable Flynn is pretty startling. I hope they don’t feel obligated to turn their friendship romantic, because the friendship developing between Flynn and Lucy rocks.
Timeless airs Sundays at 10 PM EST on NBC.