It's a miracle you're even reading this story right now. NBC's Timeless wrapped up its first season with a small but fiercely loyal and vocal fan base — which, unfortunately, is another way of saying its ratings weren't great — and NBC canceled the series. But shortly after, the network had a change of heart and made the rare decision to uncancel the series, allowing the time-traveling adventures of Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) to continue. (Or did someone go back in time in a time machine and change NBC's mind?)
That's good news for fans, as Season 1 left off with some big developments: wild card time traveler Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) was arrested, Lucy discovered her mom was part of Rittenhouse and Rittenhouse was far from done with altering history to its advantage. To get an idea of what's coming up in Season 2, we grabbed creator Eric Kripke and peppered him with questions.
Your previous shows — Supernatural and Revolution — are known for starting off with a relatively simple concept and then growing and growing into something much bigger than we thought it could be. Is Timeless heading down that path, and if so, where are we in your plan?
Eric Kripke: I would say we are in Year 2 of my plan. [Laughs.] Shawn [Ryan] and I from the beginning talked through a certain run of mythology and how we wanted it to go. I'd say we're on it. I don't think we have — nor should we, for this particular show — every detail over the next five years. We knew Garcia Flynn was going to be the villain in Season 1 but ultimately that was a misdirect, and the real villain was Rittenhouse, which we've fully blossomed. Without giving anything away, there's a very big turn at the end of the second season, which is something we always knew we were heading towards, and then that kind of kicks off — knock on wood — some of the stories in a potential third season would be.
What makes this show a tiny bit different than what Supernatural evolved into was that this one really lives by exploring these historical characters and these historical periods, and we never want to lose that. We don't want this to become a show that doesn't have a time period of the week, because I think that's what makes the show so unique. We're really proud of the diverse stories we're telling and we're really exposing elements of history that are about women and about different ethnicities and we're really proud to keep telling those stories. So I don't think we'll ever get so convoluted in our mythology that we won't be able to have a fun adventure every week.
When you were promoting Season 1, the idea of time travel rules — which can easily become a huge headache for everyone involved — came up and you stressed that you wanted to keep them simple. Now that you're in Season 2, are you gonna stick by these rules or will we see some be broken?
Kripke: Yeah, for now. For now we're still trying to keep things simple. For the most part, we're reasonably successful. There's definitely questions that come up that make you want to put a gun in your mouth, but we've been reasonably successful about finding ways around those questions or at the very least sweeping those questions under the rug [laughs] so we can keep moving forward, because we think we've found such a swashbuckling, romantic tone for the show and we'd hate to lose that. I'm always saying that if there's one note I give to the writers more than any other note, it's that nobody cares, focus on the emotion, quit trying to explain everything to me, and the audience is going to go with you if they love the characters and the internal logic is correct. There's that opening crawl in Star Wars and then there's a total of zero explanation about how that world works, and you just go with it because it's internally logical. Just because you have rules, it doesn't mean you have to explain those rules to the audience.
Well I have to follow up with this: Will you ever go into the future?
Kripke: I don't want to go to the future, the future sucks. [Laughs.] You need so much dough to do the future well. Laeta Kaligridas is a friend of mine, and she's doing a really good job with the future in Altered Carbon, but she's got more money than God! You need so much money to do the future well! And frankly, we just don't have the budget to do pull that off. So I don't think we'll ever go there. But I guess never say never.
On to Rittenhouse, we know they want to change the past to alter the future, but we don't have any real details about their plan. Will we get that this season?
Kripke: To a certain extent, even in Episode 2, [the plan] evolves a little further with more clarity in terms of exactly what they're after. What they want, as Rufus so eloquently puts it, is they want a present that's somewhere between Hunger Games and Handmaid's Tale, and that's about right. They want a more authoritarian, more homogenized, less free present, where there's less dissent and more control. What's useful about your bad guys having that aim is there's a hundred ways they can try to change history to try to get that. So it keeps their goals chilling but simple, but the ways they go about it varied and complicated.
At the end of Season 1, Flynn was arrested. He's in jail, but he's not going to stay there for long. What's his role in Season 2?
Kripke: Flynn's story is the case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and ultimately [the team] realizes that he knows a lot more about Rittenhouse than they do. While they were chasing him, he was chasing Rittenhouse. He has a lot more detail, he's tortured a lot more Rittenhouse agents, he's got the background to do that job. Problem 1 is he's locked up in prison, Problem 2 is he was completely betrayed by the team and absolutely hates their guts, so there's obstacles to overcome there. But I think as the season progresses, I think people who are fans of Flynn will be happy and they'll see him start to evolve to become more and more part of the show and maybe even part of the team.
Lucy and Wyatt. They're getting close! Is this the season they get together?
Kripke: No comment. The part that I can say, is that if there's anything that Shawn and I both consider important, is that you have to take your character growth seriously and you have to play it for real and you can't do the '80s TV show version where everyone's character arcs seem to reset. People get committed to shows when you realize that the character who was at the top of Season 1 isn't the same character at the end of Season 1. We just kept looking hard at where we left them at the end of Season 1, and they have this moment where they're like, we both have to be open to new possibilities and we have to be open to what may come in the future instead of our past. They said that to each other! We can't put that genie back in the bottle, you can't say, "Oh well we forget they had that conversation," they had it.
Wyatt was finally starting to let go of his wife, and Lucy was finally starting to turn towards Wyatt, and granted there's a whole new series of problems with Rittenhouse, but that hasn't changed. In a TV show you spend so much time thinking "should they or shouldn't they?" or "can we withhold it?" but ultimately you have to let your characters drive it. Honestly half of running this show is quieting down enough to listen to what your characters want to do, and those two were inherently drawn to each other and we have to explore that. I think the audience will see some of that moving forward.
Where are some of the places we're going and some of the historical figures we'll meet in Season 2?
Kripke: We meet Hedy Lamarr in Hollywood, we go to the Salem Witch Trials, we'll meet Robert Johnson, which I'm ecstatic about, we go back to the Reagan shooting, which is one of more recent episodes. We meet Harriet Tubman, so you know, we very intentionally try to have a lot of variety in terms of where we go and what we do.
Timeless returns for Season 2 on Sunday, Mar. 11 at 10/9c on NBC.