Timeless' Season 2 premiere added another twist to the structure of the show: Rittenhouse has gotten smarter about how it chooses to mess with time, and is now planting sleeper agents back in time to make their plan to alter time that much easier. It was a necessary step since Flynn (Goran Visnjic) was revealed late in the first season to be less of a threat to the team than they thought; he was after Rittenhouse, who are the real problems.
With approaching almost friendly territory with the team and Rittenhouse established as the biggest threat, there was no single person to chase around the space-time continuum in Season 2. Creator Eric Kripke figured something was needed and came up with the idea of sleeper agents sprinkled across time.
"We started to really explore the idea of, OK, you're a bad guy with a time machine, what are smarter ways to play that are even smarter than we saw in Season 1," Kripke told TV Guide. "And this idea of, wait, you don't just have to show up and pretend to be somebody, you can drop someone off and let them live their life and let them live there for 30 years before they are activated to do the thing they were sent there to do. It makes it a lot harder for our heroes, because they never quite know who they can trust and who are they interacting with. They don't know if the people they're interacting with are friends or enemies."
It turns out the idea was a blessing for the writers, too, and in turn, viewers. Rather than chase the same guy around time, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) now get to go after new villains just about every week instead of the same person.
"[These sleepers] get to be different people with different personalities, and different characters," Kripke said. "We started talking about these sleepers, and who are they really, and why are they doing what they're doing, they're not just 'Goon #3.' They're real people with real motivations."
That really starts to show in Episode 2, with our first official sleeper agent who's asked to enact evil back in time after years of living in the past. However, having established a life that includes a family, he may find his priorities changed once Rittenhouse starts ordering him around. That setup allows for much more varied storytelling and retains the adventure-of-the-week format that Kripke wants to keep around.
What's more, Rittenhouse will have even more problems back in the present now that it dragged Nicholas, Lucy's great grandfather and Carol's grandfather, back from the past to lead the organization since Rittenhouse, in its current state, wouldn't exist without him.
"He is nominally the head of Rittenhouse and sort of their ideological founder. It was his idea to start thinking about time machines in the first place," Kripke told TV Guide. "But it's more complicated than that. He has Carol (Susanna Thompson), who is his granddaughter, but is also a lot more knowledgable than him, so there's tension there because she's technically working for him but she's much smarter than him. Then there's the wild card of Emma (Annie Wersching), who is duplicitous and cunning and really tough. She's sort of a grenade thrown into the mix, too. Those three are the three characters that we focus on, and yes, there's a certain amount of jockeying among them."
While Season 1 was all about establishing our heroes, it appears that the big initiative in Season 2 was to work on spicing up the villains and playing up their own difficulties with messing with time.
"They're fighting their own way back," Kripke said. "But if they can make these changes in the past, they'll get everything they want."
Timeless airs Sunday nights at 10/9c on NBC.