American history is on the line and only a solider, an engineer, and a historian can save the day. Is anyone else getting a sense of deja vu?
Timeless‘ Season 2 has wowed fans and critics alike following its miraculous resurrection days after cancellation, proving again and again why the series was worth saving. The stakes became impossibly higher as Rittenhouse stepped up its game by placing sleeper agents across history with the aim of assassinating key historical figures to shape a future ripe for the taking. The storylines were even more emotionally driven with the return of Wyatt’s (Matt Lanter) wife Jessica (Tonya Glanz), the looming threat of Rufus’ (Malcolm Barrett) death thanks to Jiya’s (Claudia Doumit) visions of the future, and the race to save Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) from losing her family.
At the center of all this is Lucy (Abigail Spencer), the historian and unwilling Rittenhouse heiress, who has lost everything in the wake of the organization’s plans. We spoke with Spencer about how much Lucy has endured this season and what she’s willing to do heading into the finale. We also look back at some of the season’s most fun and impactful episodes and history lessons.
This interview has been edited and condensed
The TV Junkies: The last two episodes have been very emotional for Lucy, with the suffragette movement and saving Agent Christopher. What was your experience filming them?
Abigail Spencer: I really enjoyed them. They were two of my favorites this season. I loved the suffragette one, and I love the actress, Sarah Sokolovic, who played Grace Humiston. She and I really hit it off and we had really vibrant, lively conversations because Grace is not a feminist. That’s Grace’s arc, is that Lucy’s influence on Grace helps her understand what is going on for women, her bigger place, because even though she’s doing something super “feministy” by being our first law enforcement officer, our first detective, she does not have that mindset that she’s also forging the way and has to be part of the community of women, and that her fight is everyone’s fight. That’s really interesting that Lucy affects change in her, which ultimately will affect change in the world. So we had a lot of great conversations around that.
And it looked so beautiful. We had so many women, everyone dressed up in their 1919 suffragette garments with all the posters. I’m actually in my office now and I’m staring at the woman’s suffragette party banner, the sash that the women wore and I’ve got the “Mr. President, what will you do?” I’ve got all the posters in my office and a big photo of myself, Sarah and all of the extras with all of our posters– black and white, really beautiful–just framed in my office. It meant a lot to me. I felt like we had a real opportunity and I just didn’t want us to miss the mark, because we tow that line of wanting it to be digestible enough for the younger children that watch the show and entertaining enough where it can really seep in and kind of promote people to go on their own journey to learn about history. We’re not giving you everything in an episode because we’re telling character storylines, but I think we’re giving enough that people are like, “I didn’t know that” and you get on Google and go on your own journey with that.
Then with the Reagan episode, that was a new model for us. We went back in time for a personal storyline. It wasn’t historical, we were using historical knowledge to preserve Agent Christopher and that was just really fun to see if that would work. You know, and I think it actually worked very well. You’re even more invested because it’s someone you know so much about that you’re trying to save in the past. In the storytelling on our show Agent Christopher is like family, so you’re basically going back to save a family member. I loved the world, of sharing Indian culture and what she was going through, and also being able to tell someone from the past that gay marriage is going to exist. It was really touching. And I loved the 80s clothing, we totally modeled my character after Dustin Hoffman’s character in Tootstie. [laughs]
TTVJ: I thought it looked familiar!
AS: Yeah, I just kept repeating the Dustin Hoffman monologues. It was so funny. We really had a good time. And I really liked that director: it was directed by a woman [Alex Kalymnios], written by two women, obviously Jiya came on her first time travel [of the season], so the main travelers were both women. I mean, it’s great. It’s great to put that in television right now. It’s so amazing to be on a show and be like, “we’re doing it.”
TTVJ: Exactly, and hopefully we can get to the point where we don’t have to specially mention, “oh look, women were actually involved in this,” and it can just be commonplace.
AS: 100 per cent. I mean, until we get there, we have to over-correct and we have to point it out at every chance we get because things are changing, you know, the numbers are getting more even every year. There’s still a long way off, but I almost feel like we’re in a time of over-correction until we get to the point where we don’t have to say anything.
TTVJ: And speaking of relationships between women, obviously Lucy has had a very tumultuous relationship with her mother this season. Where does she stand in terms of having to potentially confront her in the finale?
AS: I think she’s primed and ready, you know what I mean? I think Lucy has had a lot of time to think since the first episode when everything really came to light. I mean, Lucy was ready in the first episode. She went on a suicide mission. She was ready to sacrifice her life to destroy Rittenhouse. That’s where we started with Lucy, so everything else has been, “OK, so what do I do now? I’m not here to preserve history. I’m here to use my historical knowledge to save the people that I love and to save historical figures against Rittenhouse.” I think it’s complicated because blood is so thick. Even Wyatt couldn’t kill Lucy’s mother and I think what Suzanna Thompson is doing really beautifully is playing the conflict of what she’s done and being a part of Rittenhouse and her own daughter. I think those things are going to come to a head.
TTVJ: In the last episode, Lucy learned a bit more about how Flynn (Goran Visnjic) received the journal. How is she coming to terms with the woman she is now, compared to the woman who gives Flynn the journal?
AS: She’s actually starting to really think about it. She and Flynn have obviously gotten closer. I think she’s starting to believe him more and understands who he is. It’s also just that timing of secrets, when information gets revealed. In life, my experience is that you can hear something, hear something, and hear something, but you don’t really hear it until you’re ready. So I think that Lucy is getting more ready to hear it because Flynn isn’t really saying anything new. He’s kind of repeating himself and Lucy’s just getting to the point where she’s believing and getting ready for something else, and I think the finale is going to get into that beautifully.
TTVJ: It feels like Lucy is heading towards something. This season has been rough for her. It started off with her killing someone in cold blood, then she had that one good moment with Wyatt before Jessica came back.
AS: Literally and physically Lucy has been beat to shit. There’s a moment in the finale where that is not only going to be an emotional or a metaphorical thing, it will become literal. We’ve been tracking Lucy on this journey and sometimes to become the person you’re supposed to become, everything has to die. It’s a really nice arc and, actually, what happens in the finale of Season 2, Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke pitched me when we were meeting about me coming on to play Lucy, before we did the pilot, before anything. So it’s very satisfying to me that in two seasons we actually get to that moment that was one of the biggest reasons I signed onto the show. We have to do another season because this was the moment that I’ve wanted to explore!
TTVJ: Something a lot of people love about Timeless is how much it teaches us about these lesser known historical figures. What is one history lesson that stood out to you most this season?
AS: There are so many. I really loved the Hedy Lamarr stuff. I love that episode too, the “Hollywoodland” episode is everything I love about the show. I thought, you know, particularly with Wyatt, Rufus, and Lucy–Matt, Malcolm and I–we got to have more fun and kind of fall into the banter. That’s our favorite thing to do. And the costumes were so beautiful, it was so vibrant and technicolor and then also it was very glamorous. But the big lesson was that Hedy Lamarr was a scientist. She wasn’t just a pretty-faced actress, she was this really insane brain and really affected change. She invented Wi-Fi. We didn’t know that and so I thought that was a really cool uncovering underneath this caper of getting Citizen Kane away from Rittenhouse.
TTVJ: Is there anything you can tease about what happens between Wyatt and Lucy in the finale?
AS: I mean, a few things… You’re just going to have to watch. [laughs] I don’t want to give anything away, but Lucy and Wyatt will definitely have a few scenes together.
What are your predictions for the Timeless Season 2 finale? Sound off in the comments below.
Timeless‘ two-hour finale airs Sunday, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. In Canada, Global will air the first hour Sunday at 10 p.m. ET, the second hour Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.