[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for the “Timeless” series finale, “The Miracle of Christmas.”]
In the series finale for “Timeless,” the show’s six primary cast members gather inside their base and we see an inclusive team of smart, good people who formed a second family while hopping around the past. It’s a simple scene, but one that suggests why the NBC time travel drama was special. While it might have ended too early — especially when you consider how many great series peak in Season 3 and beyond — but “Timeless” was a show that quickly won over an intense, Leslie Jones-led fanbase that was attracted to the show’s progressive storytelling, likable cast (led by the always-stellar Abigail Spencer), and just like Rufus (Malcolm Barnett), the show just couldn’t stay dead.
Thus, following two separate cancelations, we have a grand finale that picks up right where the last episode left off and moves us forward years into the future. Sticking the landing for any series is tough, but the intense fan campaign that led to the production of this finale meant an even higher level of expectation.
And here’s what they got: A satisfying wrap-up of the show’s biggest mysteries (including a scene that brings the entire series full circle), an emotional reversal of a heartbreaking character death, and plenty of pleasing catharsis.
Aptly titled “The Miracle of Christmas” (there’s always a sense of the miraculous, any time a canceled show gets the opportunity for one last hurrah), the Time Team gets the tip-off from their future selves that saving Rufus is possible, and head out for an adventure that includes an encounter with Zorro, a trip to North Korea, and more. It’s the sort of character- and history-driven action that the show made its staple from the beginning.
There still will be cries of #RenewTimeless, but “The Miracle of Christmas” worked hard to bring a sense of completion, delivering justice to those who deserved it and giving each of these characters a happy ending. Not every tragedy of the past gets resolved — and in a show where the past can constantly be rewritten, there’s nothing that says a revival is impossible. (Perhaps a revival fueled by the episode’s final moments, when a new brilliant young mind continues to dream of traveling through time.)
Would that revival continue to play with the ongoing romances of the series, especially the love triangle between Lucy, Wyatt, and Flynn? Here, that gets resolved with Flynn’s noble self-sacrifice and Wyatt and Lucy ending up the parents of twin girls in the future, but again, anything can be changed in this universe.
Another time travel series that came to a close in 2018 was Syfy’s “12 Monkeys,” which took an equally flexible approach to the concept of altering history. In the case of “12 Monkeys,” the apocalypse was a much more tangible presence; in “Timeless,” the secret evil organization Rittenhouse operated on a more subtle level. But both shows celebrated the hope that the past is not set in stone and change is possible. There were always dark edges and dangerous consequences, but it’s a mood that feels very much of the year.
For now, it’s still nice to appreciate that this story was given the chance to end. As IndieWire has said before, shows live well beyond their initial premiere thanks to streaming services. If a Hulu subscriber, watching “Timeless” in the year 2023, reached the original end of Season 2 only to encounter that massive and unresolved cliffhanger, it would be deeply unsatisfying. Far better to have this coda in place, the last chapter of the novel written.
Being set during the holidays (in more than one year) is a clear sign that creators Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke had an idea of when this was going to air. But it also adds just that much more emotional potency. Christmas is a time to cherish what we have, and remember that we’re lucky to have gotten it.