Season 1, Episode 5 “The Alamo”
Written by Kent Rotherham
Directed by Neil Marshall
As if we could forget. The Alamo may be the most visited site in historical fiction and the most re-visited site in time travel.
This episode has some very good parts to it and some really boneheaded parts. (Didn’t I say that about last week’s? Or the week before?)
The boneheaded part is that they go to the Alamo. They walk in. Knowing that everyone in the Alamo is going to soon be under siege and die, they go into the Alamo. Almost everyone, that is. Knowing that there will be no way out, they leave their time traveling machine behind. Of course, they did think they would have a few more days. Flynn (Goran Visnjic) moved up the time table.
Wyatt (Matt Lanter) gets some bad news before they leave. They are replacing him because he hasn’t killed Garcia Flynn yet. They are sending in someone he knows and approves of. I’m thinking this may not be such a bad idea. He is always leaping in instead of using his head.
Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) confronts Connor Mason (Paterson Joseph) about his encounter of the night before. He was afraid to drive in to work for fear they would make his car stop again. Mason just uses it to point out how ruthless they are.
Lucy (Abigail Spencer) finally gets her seat belt buckled by herself, which is a good thing since she’s going to lose Wyatt soon. He has packed anachronistic grenades. If this is going to be his last trip, he’s going to make sure that he gets Flynn this time.
Once they get to the Alamo, Lucy tries to talk to Jim Bowie (Chris Browning), whom they recognize by his knife. She insists that Wyatt let her handle the conversation. I don’t know why she thinks that Bowie is going to listen to her. She flubs it and Wyatt asks him directly if he has seen Flynn. This is a good thing because he believes him and the warning almost saves Travis (David Chisum) later.
Rufus has spotted Davy Crockett (Jeff Kober). He recognizes him by his coonskin hat. He listens to a story about him fighting a bear, one handed.
Flynn has bribed General Santa Anna (Alex Fernandez) with gold and told him that he was sent by Queen Isabella II. It helps that he speaks Spanish. He tells him about the importance of keeping Travis from sending a letter that energized the United States into defeating him after the Alamo fell. The General steps up his timetable and lays siege earlier. He also doesn’t allow the women and children to leave first, which is what happened in history and in the John Wayne movie. Garcia’s not happy about that.
With all of the talk about being trapped, I’m not sure how Flynn got in and out to kill Travis. I guess it’s because the guards of the Alamo weren’t looking for people sneaking out. Lucy figures out that it’s the letter that Garcia wants to stop. Our heroes discuss the accelerated time table and Rufus is given the task of figuring out how to get the women and children out. Lucy has to rewrite the famous letter and can’t remember it! That’s good, because she can’t know everything. Wyatt butts heads with Bowie about what’s going to happen.
Rufus discovers that there’s an aqueduct under the Alamo from talking to Davy Crockett. It leads to the river. It also was supposed to have been blocked by Santa Ana, but they forget about that part. Unfortunately, it’s covered by stone except for a three inch pipe. Rufus tries to get through by brute force. (Didn’t Wyatt pack some grenades?)
Wyatt gets impatient with Lucy and tells her to write from the heart. He saves a young man from falling rubble and has flashbacks. It turns out that he has survivor’s guilt from being in a similar situation and being the only survivor because he won the coin toss about who got to get the highly valuable information out.
Rufus goes back to banging away at the stone. (Did he forget that Wyatt brought grenades? He saw them). Jim Bowie gets further proof that Wyatt is right. They are not going to get reinforcements on time and Santa Anna is. Wyatt devises a plan that lets the army in through one weak wall and bottlenecks them to buy time for Rufus to get the women and children out. He tells Bowie his story. It’s good for him to have someone to talk to who understands. Lucy overhears them. She writes the letter.
Rufus has a talk with Davy Crockett, who tells a completely different story about the bear and how scared he was and how he shot it by accident. I don’t know if I believe this story either, since it is what Rufus needs to hear right now. Finally, he remembers the grenades.
The army attacks. Rufus blows up the stone and they start getting the women and children out. Lucy goes back for Wyatt, who is having more flashbacks and wants to stay. He can’t leave good men to die again. They’re kicking him off the project, and everyone he loves is dead. Lucy tells him she needs him, and Rufus needs him, and he changes his mind. This is great because you can see the anguish and conflict in Wyatt. He’s usually closed off or being frustrated and angry.
They convince the kid that Wyatt saved to leave with them. He delivered Travis’s letter the first time and grows up to be someone important. He doesn’t want to leave and Lucy asks Wyatt to talk to him, which is smart on her part. Rufus says goodbye to Davy Crockett. He tells him to tell everyone he killed a thousand, with one hand. Bowie tells Wyatt he can’t leave his men, and Wyatt tells him he can’t leave his. He gives Wyatt his Bowie knife. It’s a nice gesture, and in real life, the knife was never recovered. Wyatt needs to keep it in the time machine so it will stay stable.
When they get back, Wyatt’s replacement is there. Lucy kicks up a fuss about Wyatt leaving and so does Rufus. He threatens to quit as well. Since Rufus is the pilot, they say they have no choice but to keep Wyatt. Agent Christopher (Sakina Jaffrey) looks pleased. Now we know that they think Rufus is the most valuable player, while Wyatt is the most expendable.
Lucy goes home and her mom decides to give her a little info about her father. He was a professor and she was a student. She was the one who didn’t want to get married. From the description, he could still be Flynn.
In a completely unnecessary scene,Wyatt says goodbye to his replacement and says he won’t be going back to his unit for a while.
This episode is all about Wyatt. One by one, the trio has declared their fealty to each other and the mission. Rufus and Lucy declare their trust in Wyatt in this episode. It would have worked better if we had been told about his survivor guilt in an earlier episode so we would be anticipating his reaction to the Alamo. But he got to be center stage and have some very dramatic scenes. He even looked like he belonged in that time and place.
So the second boneheaded thing was Rufus not figuring out to use the grenades earlier. Fear and confusion can affect your problem solving skills, but for an engineer, he ain’t no MacGyver. MacGyver could have done it with the powder they used for their guns. Or two sticks rubbed together.
What made the episode, again, were the performances by the guest actors. Chris Browning made an excellent Jim Bowie. He even looked like him, unlike Richard Widmark in the John Wayne movie. Alex Fernandez made an evil Santa Anna. He must have been a villain to take no prisoners. Jeff Kober made a wonderful Davy Crockett. And that’s what the best part of the show could be, when awe and wonder are mixed in with action and adventure.
Timeless airs Monday nights at 10/9c on NBC.