Timeless: The World’s Columbian Exposition – Degrees of Evil (Review)

Timeless - Season 1

Timeless “The World’s Columbian Exposition” takes the team, via separate journeys, to the Chicago World’s Fair, 1983. Lucy is a guest of Flynn with Wyatt and Rufus right behind them.  At the event, two very different men with the initials of H.H. are encountered.

Harry Houdini, just before he hits the big time and H.H. Holmes, aka Herman Webster Mudgett;  classified as America’s first and most prolific serial killer.  Flynn is there to kill Thomas Edison, John Ford and J.P Morgan, all part of Rittenhouse and he is forcing Lucy to help him.

She enlists the aid of Houdini, who was, in real life,  because of his escapism, a master locksmith who never met a lock he could not open. There is a brilliant bit of business between the escape artist and Lucy. She reminds him of the “Cutpurse” and he uses it to not only overpower Flynn, by taking his gun, but he also removes the bomb and handcuffs Garcia Flynn making him a prisoner.

He then rescues Lucy and agree’s, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to help her two team members; Rufus and Wyatt. They manage to do so but Lucy almost ends up being burned alive and her friends have to intercede to save her in return.

Wyatt kills Holmes and Harry pulls one last trick before leaving.  In the present as Wyatt prepares to leave, Flynn calls him to reveal the name of his wife’s killer. Garcia has moved on from insisting Lucy help him to Wyatt. Asking just how far Logan will go to save his dead wife.

This episode’s main plot line, the murder of Edison, Ford and Morgan, was entertaining and working in Harry Houdini gave the whole storyline a great twist. The fact that Houdini helped not once but twice, was a nice touch.

Timeless  has, for a number of episodes, played fast and loose with real history. These instances area forgivable as each mission changes history. In the first episode, things were changed so much that Lucy’s sister suddenly never existed.

The premise of Lucy being there to keep time from being changed too much has been, for all intents and purposes, dropped. A perfect example is the killing of Holmes. She dooms the murderer with the truth, saving a number of lives, possibly, and never bats an eye. (Arguably anyone would have done the same but the unscheduled death of Holmes will definitely change history)

This episode was a real nail biter for anyone who ever read about Holmes’ “Murder Castle” with its deadly rooms, trapdoors, airless rooms and the “27” victims (thought to be much more, although it was never proven as the “deathtrap” was burned to the ground and never investigated thoroughly) killed by various cruel and horrific means.

While it could have been all too easy to suppose that neither Rufus nor Wyatt would be killed, it was not assured by any means. At no time has the show’s creators Eric Kripke or Shawn Ryan maintained that these two characters are sacrosanct. It has been clear for some time now that Rufus could be killed by Rittenhouse and Wyatt has almost been fired.

If any character could be considered too important to kill off, it would be Lucy.  This means that the whole Murder Castle storyline could have resulted in a rather nasty death of a main character.

Leaving the whole Chicago Fair for a moment, it is interesting to note that Conor Mason actually came across more as a terrified victim in this episode. He has implied as much before but this time around Mason is clearly terrified for Rufus. He even starts working on a way to get Rufus away from the organization.

Later, Rufus records a threat to Rittenhouse on the recording device. Reminding the group that he is the only pilot who can chase down Flynn, he tells them that if they touch his family or anyone he cares about, he will stop.

Mason looks suitably frightened by Rufus’ actions and the pilot tells his boss that after meeting Holmes and almost dying in the process, he no longer fears Rittenhouse. In essence, Rufus has realized that there are degrees of evil.

Rittenhouse may well be an evil organization who wants to control the world, but their “evil” is not as vile or deeply disturbing as what H.H. Holmes did in a purpose built murder hotel meant to make the most of the Chicago World’s Fair.

Timeless heads to the old west in the next episode and encounters train robbing legend Jesse James. The series airs Mondays on NBC.


Guest starring Michael Drayer as Harry Houdini and  Joel Johnstone as H.H. Holmes/George. 

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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