Timeless: The Watergate Tape
November 15, 2016 5:35 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Secrets surface when the trio land in Watergate-era Washington D.C., where Rufus and Lucy's investigative course leaves them rattled and shaken. Meanwhile, Wyatt's tragic past comes to light and secrets about Flynn's hidden agenda emerge.
posted by oh yeah! (12 comments total)
So is this the first time we've heard the "you can't go back to a time you were present" rule of time travel? If so it would have been helpful to have that spelled out earlier. Mind you that caused me to go look up Goran Visnjic's birthday, assuming his character is supposed to be relatively the same age he is. Well it looks like Goran slipped in under the wire. He was born in September 1972, so feasibly he could have travelled back to the Watergate break-in time period.

It's about time some of the secrets were revealed. I really thought Rufus should have opened up to the rest of the team before now. Somehow I never realized Lucy hadn't divulged the existence of the journal, but thinking back on it, no she hadn't.

So if you're born into Rittenhouse, that means Lucy should be a member, correct? Because her bio-dad certainly is.

I can't say this was a good episode, but it was a necessary one in terms of making sure all of the place settings are now finally out of the cupboard and on the table.
posted by sardonyx at 10:55 AM on November 15, 2016

One tiny little quibble I had about this issue. Are we supposed to believe Rufus knows how to dial alpha-numeric telephone exchanges? I know I certainly couldn't. (Yes I guess he could have called the operator but that's too easy an out.)
posted by sardonyx at 11:04 AM on November 15, 2016

So is this the first time we've heard the "you can't go back to a time you were present" rule of time travel?

I'm fairly sure it was brought up in the first episode of the series.
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on November 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah (have not seen this one yet) they did do a throw away "no overlap" rule comment, but I don't think it matters, the writers are clearly trying to do a "cool" timetravel plot by rushing past or ignoring the logical details that they are not particularly interested in, but I don't get the impression that they have enough time (well or cleverness) to weave a really compelling logical paradox that's satisfying. Bugs me rather that they must rush to "leave" right after the villain time traveler, a short montage of training for the period would seem to be useful, I mean they take time to get dressed properly (oh and why do they have a warehouse of period costumes?)
posted by sammyo at 4:22 PM on November 15, 2016

Are we supposed to believe Rufus knows how to dial alpha-numeric telephone exchanges? I know I certainly couldn't.

Huh? The letters are literally on the phone right above the numbers.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:14 PM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seriously is that how it works? So if somebody says to you Pennsylvania 6-5000 or Butterfield 8 are you just supposed to guess at the first two (or is it three) numbers? Is it strictly the first letters as they come or the first dominant consonants?

Honestly I wasn't paying that close attention to this episode as I was watching it while housecleaning. I don't know how many letters and numbers were on the card. If it was a standard seven I guess I could figure it out and go by the letters on the dial, but if it wasn't then I'd be out of luck.

I was just more surprised that they'd use that numbering system at all in this time period. I know it's not one that I was familiar with from the early 70s. I would have guessed it would have been long retired before then.

Plus if Lucy has to ask Rufus if he a) knows how to use a pay phone and b) if he had heard of Deep Throat I wouldn't necessarily assume telephone exchange expertise.
posted by sardonyx at 8:00 PM on November 15, 2016

The number on the card looked to me like 2L-5N format number. The letter part is dialed using the equivalent number on the dial (2=ABC, 3=DEF etc.); so e.g. FA-12345 = 321-2345 in our customary (local) 7-digit format. But this was all a bit of a goof on the show's part because 2L-5N format and its cousins were phased out in the sixties, and probably would not make sense to hand to a time traveler unaccustomed to it anyhow.
posted by axiom at 8:43 PM on November 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I was annoyed by the number - I didn't know _exactly_ when it was phased out (local dialing vs operator dialing, I suspect), but certainly by the 70's it was getting to be anachronistic.

My suspicion would be around the time the NANP was rolled out, and definitely with
direct distance dialing
which claims 10 digit numbers as early as 1951?
posted by Kyol at 7:18 AM on November 16, 2016

I took the number as being a standard TV number with a 555 exchange. Since 555 looks so obviously fake these days, I've seen shows try to mask its tv-ness using letters. Myself, I saw the card and thought 'fake tv number yup' and went on with the show.

On a rewatch of the scene, there's not really any reason they actually had to show a visual of the number at all. Makes me wonder - why bother? Unless that card and its number will come up again later and viewers will need the visual recall of its distinctive gold lettering.
posted by scrowdid at 8:47 AM on November 16, 2016

I was pretty happy with this episode:

- The storylines for the main three characters converged in a way that the characters need each other more, but trust each other less
- They avoided the trap of going for the biggest name (Nixon)
- I loved the costumes (Abigail Spencer is a dead ringer for my mom circa 1972, all dark hair and eyelashes)
- I breathed a sigh of relief that Garcia Flynn wasn't the dad
- Turns out Garcia Flynn is a somewhat sympathetic character
- And Rufus! Especially when our new baddie(?) pulls a Christopher Walken on him: That's a nice family you've got there, etc.
- I figured out why Connor Mason looks so familiar (he's Greg from Survivors!)
- Abigail Spencer totally fell into the window during the rescue... I just found that completely charming and corny and fun. It's like the writers are saying, so what if we're rough around the edges, we're here to do a job so just bear with us.
posted by mochapickle at 8:48 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I liked this one as well. It focused much more on character interaction and development than on cheesy spectacle. Yes, yes, Nazis and the Alamo and the Hindenburg and Kennedy and so forth. We get it.

Ah well, I suppose I should get used to it. That's just what kind of show this is.
posted by Justinian at 9:38 PM on November 16, 2016

You rang?
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

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