Exactly How Many Potential Big Bads Are There On Time After Time?
The list keeps growing but one of them better not be Doug. Chris Huff has questions about 'Out Of Time'!
It seems damn hard to create a good time travel show. So hard, in fact, that I'm left wondering, after viewing all three of the new time travel shows that have aired this season, why anyone would willingly undertake the task. Even before a word gets committed to paper, a lot of issues need to get addressed. The most important is how you deal with the Butterfly Effect—the idea that small, seemingly insignificant changes can have monumental changes at some other point in time or space. While this concept may have ruined time travel stories, it is nonetheless accepted by enough viewers that it has to be built into every single damn time travel show.
As a result, these shows ask us to engage in a multi-layered suspension of disbelief. We need to accept the fictional nature of what we are watching -- which is simple enough -- but we then also have to put aside our knowledge of what we have learned about fictional time travel in the past and accept that in this show, whatever rules they invent make sense within the fictional world these writers have created. This is the point where things fall apart, because it's really hard to maintain the logic of time travel -- even using the term "logic" loosely for a situation like this, where writers are just inventing their own magic -- when the show demands that time travel occur at least once in every episode. Whatever rules are invented will get violated, often repeatedly, given enough trips, and the growing demands to keep the show interesting on a weekly basis.
I say all this as a way of explaining the conclusion I have reached about enjoying time travel shows: the more you think about the mechanics and consequences of time travel, the less you will like the show. It's oxymoronic, I know. Why would you tune into a show about time travel and then actively force yourself to not think about its defining characteristic? But you have to. There's a bit of the Serenity Prayer in all this: you just need to accept the things you cannot change.
I have no idea how long this crazy Time After Time journey will last, but I have decided here at the outset that one thing I absolutely will not discuss about this time travel show is time travel. Deal with it.
Which leaves us with what is actually happening in Manhattan following the appearance of H.G. Wells and The Ripper. I had some concerns that the show would struggle if it revolved around The Ripper's repeated attempts to get the key to the time machine. Happily, these went out the window following some slight modifications to the machine by Wells and a young physicist who, like Jane, accepted the reality of time travel way too easil-- dammit, I'm doing it already! This may be harder than I thought.
The pursuit of the now unnecessary key pales in comparison to the fact that A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE know about Wells, his machine, and the existence of time travel. Kevin Williamson, the show's creator, has stated that the show will move beyond the premise of the film it's based on, and it feels that he's throwing a lot of narrative possibilities up against the wall early in the season to see what sticks. So I'm left with a lot of questions about a lot of people and what they are up to.
Who was the bearded mystery guy Doug shot?
Before we get to the nameless gunman, can we take a second to appreciate Doug, Vanessa's head of security? He's the clear early season frontrunner for breakout secondary character. He's thoughtful, loyal, smart, and fearless -- everything we like in the dangerous-but-likable-in-an-older-brother-sort-of-way bodyguard.
Anyway, the bearded nameless killer knew that Wells and the Ripper would be appearing in NYC and -- based on information from his Alzheimer's-suffering mother that we have yet to learn – needs to kill them to prevent "all this from happening." At least that's what the mother says. So what did happen? How does she know about? Why is it worth killing for? It looks like we'll find out soon since, on TV, getting shot in a way that looks like you died only to end up in a hospital bed later in the episode is code for "major info reveal is eminent."
How are H.G. and Vanessa related, and will there be an weird/icky explanation?
This little tidbit of information is getting pushed pretty hard, but why?
Their familial connection seems to be more than a convenient means for giving Wells every possible resource he needs to try and catch John. My guess? She's H.G. and Jane's granddaughter. It seems like the obvious explanation, given that they have a time machine that will make the timing of her birth by a woman twenty years her junior in the present possible. I also like this explanation because everything else I can come up with is a little too weird or nasty for a Sunday night ABC viewership.
And just what the hell is up with the doctor lady?
Things just got a whole more interesting when she showed up. Here's yet another person who knows exactly when Wells and Jack would show up and has nefarious plans for at least one of them.
Unfortunately, Jack doesn't have a Doug, and ends up strapped to a gurney after being drugged by the woman he planned to kill. (Can we mention here that the doctor and the nameless gunman are both redheads? Is this a coincidence, or is the writing team perpetuating the stereotype, born in medieval Christian Europe that people with red hair -- especially women -- were some pretty nasty people?) Whatever her plans for Jack, I'm banking on it being more satisfying than what the nameless gunman is up to.
Is Vanessa's fiancé a bad guy?
And Griffin brings the total number of people who knew that Wells and Jack were on the way up to at least five. And it's just the second episode! What's his deal? He has a military background, and is running for the Senate, so there are several possibilities for why he wants access to the time machine. Or maybe he's actually engaged in some corporate sabotage thing with a rival of Vanessa's company. More importantly, is he actually in love with Vanessa, or is he just using her to get to the time machine? Because that would suck. Speaking of romantic possibilities....
Will H.G. and Jane's budding romance have a chance fully to bloom?
I've stated previously my enjoyment of this relationship. Freddie Stroma may be playing up the formal Victorian-era manners a bit much, but there is definitely good chemistry between him and Genesis Rodriguez.
Yes, yes, I know. The sparks flying off the time machine during their first kiss was corny and ham-fisted. But so what? Isn't the possibility for repairing old relationships one of the things that intrigues us so much about time travel? Screw getting rich: what we all secretly want to do is go back and fix that one big romantic mistake we made. Are Wells and Jane about to make their big mistake? Or will this work out for them?