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Timeless' Boss Is Staying 'Optimistic' About More Episodes

Could we really get a third season?

Tim Surette

Have you stopped bawling after that emotional Timeless finale yet? That montage! Team Clockblocker managed to save the world, stop Rittenhouse and get the happy endings they all deserved. But as nicely wrapped up as the series was with the two-hour movie, I still had a few lingering questions.

I managed to wipe away enough tears to have a quick chat with show co-creator Shawn Ryan, mostly to talk about whether Timeless could defy the odds and find life again for the third time, and what the story was behind that major reveal about Lucy's love life in an alternate timeline -- I certainly didn't see that coming!

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Let's get the big question out of the way: I saw a tweet by the Timeless writers' room that said that if fans wanted the show to continue on in some future form, big ratings for the finale could help make that happen. What's the truth to that?
Shawn Ryan: Listen, I don't want to give false hope to the fans. Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) is a little cocky about coming back from the dead in the movie, and I'd say that was a function of us feeling a little cocky about coming back from the dead twice now. [Laughs] So it's hard for me to accept -- and maybe if you ask me a year from now and nothing's happening on this front, maybe I will come to accept the loss of Timeless -- but for the moment, anyways, it feels like while it's not the largest audience in the world, the Timeless audience is the most passionate in the world. And you see a lot of examples in this television landscape where passion means a lot. I don't know what will happen, I'm certainly not promising something will happen, but I see examples of -- you know, Veronica Mars, Psych -- you see these shows being revisited and redone. So I think it's still possible.

When people watch our show they tend to like it, and certainly we never drew the audience we needed for NBC to have us in a post-Voice timeslot. But there's people discovering [Timeless] on Hulu, people hear about us through word of mouth, people check us out on DVD, there's just a ton of good will for this show. I think good will means something. There's new players in the TV landscape every year. I don't know what form it would take. Whether it would be [that we] make a little two-hour movie every few years, or if someone wanted us to make four, six episodes. Even if we did, whether the actors would even be available, there are all sorts of obstacles. But Timeless is an optimistic show, I like to be optimistic about its chances.

Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, Matt Lanter; Timeless

Abigail Spencer, Malcolm Barrett, Matt Lanter; Timeless

Darren Michaels/Sony/NBC

My eyes popped out when Flynn revealed that he and Lucy were having an affair in the future. A potential relationship was hinted at in Season 2, and fans have been curious about it. Why did you decide to give them that relationship now?
Ryan: I always thought there was really great chemistry between Abby [Spencer] and Goran [Visnjic] on our show. Even in Season 1 when they were adversaries, there was always something electric about them. In the story we chose to tell in Season where Wyatt's (Matt Lanter) wife Jessica comes back from the dead, and he feels obligated to try to make that work, Flynn being the sort of lonely island in the storm for Lucy, you felt moments there where something might happen. Really this finale talks about two different paths that could have been taken, one in which Lucy and Flynn have their romance and relationship and it goes bad and five years later everyone is still fighting Rittenhouse and future Wyatt and Lucy come back, but there seems to be some pain and coldness there. And there's the ending we show in the end.

We certainly know that there are fan bases supportive of both different relationships, there are Lucy-Wyatt fans and Lucy-Flynn fans. This was a way to explore both those, and pay homage to both. Storywise, it felt like it worked well for us.

If Timeless had been given a Season 3, would you have shown that relationship?
Ryan: I think it's possible, it was something we talked about, that we didn't really feel like we earned to get there in Season 2. I don't know if we would have felt like we had earned the right to get there in Season 3, but it was something we were moving closer to. We didn't have too many sessions where we sat down and mapped out Season 3, so it would be hard to say without sitting down and going through that exercise with all the writers. But it was something we wanted to make more understandable and more palatable with each and every episode.

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The team saving the North Korean woman was a bit of a curveball for Timeless, in that they saved a normal person and not someone who was instrumental to history. As a (maybe) final mission for the show, that makes a big statement.
Ryan: Not that I had to, but I really did fight for the idea that history is not just for the famous or for the powerful. Lucy has a line later on where she says to Wyatt that everyone's important to somebody, or something like that. That was a theme I felt was really important to have in the final episode; this doesn't have to be about saving Winston Churchill. We did play with episodes where we did some things like that, but it doesn't have to be that. The idea of giving credence and agency and respect to the "average person, the everyday person, the non-famous person" I felt was wholly appropriate. It goes full circle to the theme of the show that everyone matters in their own way.

Lucy passed on a chance to get her sister, Wyatt was able to let go of Jessica (though she made it pretty easy), and the Lifeboat was shelved. Does that all point to letting go of the past and looking toward the future?
Ryan: Yeah, I think it does. I wouldn't say Lucy let Amy go, Lucy chose to not pursue what may or may not have been a successful attempt, who knows what kind of problems it would have caused. She certainly chose to let it go. We all lose people in our lives. I lost my father a few years ago, and it was really hard. Acceptance takes time, and you miss that person and you remember the love you had for the person, but you find a way to go on. To me, that's universal, and that's what makes us uniquely human.

There's a temptation in time-travel stories to fix everything. But maybe if you fix everything, you're not really human, you're just living this charade of a life. Tragedy is part of all our existence. The idea that she makes what I think is a very mature choice -- you know, we gotta stop messing with time, I have loss in my life like other people have loss in their life, and I have to learn to live with it and move on -- and then you see five years later that she and Wyatt are married and have two kids named Amy and Flynn. That to me is the story of life, and the story of pushing forward through something really sad happening. Whether it's Lucy with her sister, Flynn with his family, that we can't always get the things back that we want, but we can be the people we want to be in this moment and we can go forward and raise a younger generation to be better than us.

Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer; Timeless

Matt Lanter, Abigail Spencer; Timeless

Darren Michaels/Sony/NBC

It must have been quite a challenge to squeeze everything in to two hours.
Ryan: It was! I think the director's cut came in about 18 minutes over, and there was a lot of work to get that down to time. And there were a couple scenes that got cut that we'll probably release online for the fans. But ultimately, it worked out kind of perfectly for us and we were able to tell the story we wanted to. There was nothing that we felt was really important that didn't end up in the movie.

Any message for the fans?
Ryan: We hope that this movie is like a little Christmas ornament for everyone, and every Christmas going forward fans can pull it out and rewatch. It's something that never would have existed without their passion and their voices being heard. We felt an obligation to try to make something that would be really good and worthy of that kind of passion, and we hope we succeeded.