REVIEW: Timeless Series Finale —The Miracle of Christmas

timeless finale

Warning: this review contains spoilers!

Well, have we all recovered yet, Clockblockers? Are we finished crying? We’ll just keep the tissues handy. It’s been quite the emotional journey for everyone.

Timeless has officially ended its run on NBC after a tumultuous two seasons and a movie, two cancellations and resurrections. The fact that “The Miracle of Christmas,” the series’ two hour conclusion (for now), wouldn’t exist if not for the outpouring of fan enthusiasm really sets the tone of the entire movie. Clockblockers are a force to be reckoned with, and have proven time and again that the essence of what makes Timeless such a beloved show can lead to incredible acts of fandom.

Helicopters and giant banners over San Diego Comic Con. Billboards in Times Square. Gifts for the press who’ve covered this wild ride and the cast and crew who’ve worked tirelessly to bring this show to the small screen. A book club and book drive inspired by our heroine Lucy Preston. So much generosity, appreciation, and passion has come from the Timeless fandom, and so this (hopefully, maybe temporary) finale feels like not only a love letter to the best parts of this series, but also a heartfelt thank you to the unrelenting fanpower behind its continued success.

“The Miracle of Christmas” is an apt title for the show’s wrap-up movie for a number of reasons, and not just because it’s centered on the holiday. It feels like a miracle that we’ve been given this chance to see a conclusion to a series that was so unfairly cut short in its two season run. Most shows that get an early cancellation don’t get that closure. And for the two hours (or 90 minutes, without commercials) that we got to spend with our beloved Time Team, the writers made the most of every second, knowing how precious it is.

For a show as complex as Timeless, it’s incredibly difficult to pare it down to a movie format. With so many loose ends and a restrictive runtime, the writers did a fantastic job given the constraints they had to work with. It’s not a perfect finale, but it comes pretty damn close. For Timeless, though, it feels like an ending that has been rightfully earned. Although it’s here faster than any of us might’ve liked, it’s really the best gift of the season that we’re able to see our favorite characters get the sendoff that they deserve and have worked so hard for.

So, what made “The Miracle of Christmas Part I & II” so memorable? Let’s get into it.

A History Lesson

What would an episode of Timeless be without a history lesson? One of the best parts of the show is that it weaves the plot around historical events, providing an educational lens to frame its storyline. In fact, Timeless’ take on history is so well done that teachers have been using it in their classrooms to illustrate certain pivotal moments and figures. While Timeless has certainly had its Time Team bump into a lot of big names, it’s most notable for the way it highlights diverse historical figures, including remarkable women and minorities whose contributions to history have been often overlooked. The show often looks at the smaller picture in the middle of enormous events that shape the world, which adds a unique, personal touch.

The two historical time periods visited in “The Miracle of Christmas” don’t have a huge impact on the core plot—Emma lures the Time Team in an attempt to kill them in both time periods—but they do help to provide some emotional nuance and frame important character developments for the group. It also gives us a lot of gorgeous scenery to take in, from dramatic desert vistas in 1848 California to the snowy, bitter cold warzone of North Korea. And we get to sink into these historical events, immersed in the stunning set and costume details that Timeless is known for.

timeless finale lucy

If anything, their trips to the past in the finale highlight how well they work as a team and how incredible their group dynamic is. Even in the midst of their own personal, emotional conflicts, Lucy, Wyatt, Rufus, and Jiya overcome their most dire moments as any found family should: together.

Especially poignant is their side trip in the movie’s second hour to help a young expectant mother escape the Communist invasion in 1950 North Korea. “Is she important to history?” Wyatt wants to know. “Everyone’s important,” Lucy answers without a second’s hesitation. Though the mission puts them in harm’s way (Wyatt and Jiya are nearly killed by artillery fire while Wyatt delivers the baby, and Lucy’s moment of heartbreak is crushing), it shows that our beloved Time Team is guided by a strong moral compass. And it’s a moment of character growth for Lucy, who began Timeless by adhering to strict rules not to interfere with historical events. The team has been through so much, seen a lot and been beaten down by their romps through time. History has changed them, too.

Though the story is a bit rushed and some plot points feel expected, what’s important is that the emotional beats land. And they hit hard. In the movie’s first hour, the team (minus Rufus) heads to the start of the Gold Rush and nearly provokes a shootout with Joaquin Murrieta, infamous bandit and the inspiration behind Zorro. Murrieta and Flynn have a heartfelt conversation (partially in Spanish; thank you, Timeless) where they find common ground in the loss of their families. Murrieta is still reeling and filled with anger and a thirst for vengeance, something Flynn knows all too well. It’s here that Flynn grows as a character. He dissuades Murrieta from a dark path of violence and bloodshed, proving that no good comes from it. And it’s here in 1848 California that Flynn makes a decision that will bring his redemption arc to its conclusion.

Flynn’s Redemption

It’s Wyatt who ultimately realizes what the team will have to do to get Rufus back. Paging through Lucy’s journal left by their future selves, he makes the painful connection that in order to restore Rufus to the timeline, they’ll have to take Jessica—who is not actually pregnant—out of it. Wyatt, figuring that he’s caused a lot of damage and suffering for being too trusting of his Rittenhouse wife, wants to be the one to do it. But their mission to save Rufus could put their fight against Rittenhouse in danger. What good is it if Wyatt dies to save Rufus? Or any of them, for that matter?

timeless finale flynnFlynn is no stranger to risks. So, he sneaks away from the group under false pretenses and jumps into the Lifeboat that future!Wyatt and Lucy gave to the Time Team for their mission. This Lifeboat has one very major (and convenient, but we’re not going to argue) upgrade: autopilot. We see that fateful fight between Wyatt and Jessica, and then Flynn is revealed to be Jessica’s killer. She’s always been groomed by Rittenhouse, so her death is necessary for the Time Team to survive. It should feel like an obvious reveal, but it still hits rather hard: all this time the person Wyatt’s been searching for has been right there, but Flynn’s choice was made from good intentions.

It hurts to see Flynn go, but it’s at least satisfying that he went out as the hero he deserved to be. It’s a testament to Timeless’ writing and Goran Visnjic’s portrayal of Flynn that he was able to begin this series perceived as a villain and end it on such a beautiful, redemptive note. Flynn sends the Lifeboat back to 1848 with a gorgeous, heartbreaking letter to Lucy—their relationship is complicated, but it’s powerful nevertheless—and stays in the past. He’s able to see his wife and daughter again (albeit from afar) and eventually succumbs to the adverse effects of traveling within his own timeline.

Our Hero in a Hoodie Returns

Back in 1848, the Time Team is trapped with no way out, captured by those willing to hand them over to Rittenhouse. When the commotion outside points to Flynn maybe being their rescuer, they’re shocked once Rufus breaks through the door with a cheery smile, proclaiming to the group, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!” There were tears shed at the sight of Rufus’ bright grin and much needed humor, of course. He’s the heart of Timeless for a very good reason. We’ve been waiting so long to see Rufus alive and well again after that devastating season finale. It’s a perfect moment. It’s the moment that the finale has definitely earned, since it fueled so much of the fans’ outcry in their campaigns.

timeless finale rufus

Time travel being what it is, Rufus is confused by his friends’ emotional reactions since his memories after their trip to Hollywood are much different than everyone else’s. He doesn’t know he was once dead in his friends’ memories, a startling realization that’s, in true Rufus fashion, treated with humor. And Rufus’ humor is definitely what the first half the movie so sorely missed; we’re happy to once again hear his witty pop culture references and sometimes cheesy but wry Christmas references as Timeless seamlessly transitions into its second hour.

It’s bittersweet, with Flynn’s loss and Wyatt sacrificing Jessica, but for the first time in months, the team feels whole. Flynn makes the ultimate sacrifice for Rufus, a man whom he once tried to kill and shares a contemptuous history with. The group’s toast to Flynn in their bunker decked out in Christmas lights (courtesy of Agent Christopher, who channels her anxieties into festive spirit) and decorations feels especially heart wrenching.

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