TIMELESS SEASON 2 TWO-HOUR FINALE
WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD!
Two episodes aired tonight. And that means this is the end of our second season. It was a great ride... TIMELESS is a hard show to make, as you can imagine. The nature of doing a show where 2/3 of any given episode happen in a different time period is challenging - but very satisfying.
As I've said on this blog before - I believe we made 10 great episodes. Not a bad one in the bunch. The TIMELESS fans are great and loyal and I'm also proud of our 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Now - it's hard for me when two episodes air back to back. Obviously, just by watching, you can tell that they weren't designed to be aired back to back... It's an NBC scheduling thing. It's good for the fans - you get a mini-binge watch... But for me it's tough, especially, when I directed episode 10. Inevitably I will give more time here to episode 10.
I won't go into "The General" too much except to tip my cap to director John Showalter who has directed 3 episodes of TIMELESS all of them top notch! And also to Christine Horn who plays Harriett Tubman... I think all of the actors playing historical figures have been amazing this year - but Christine kills it! I think she was great as Harriett and played her (as Rufus says) as a real badass. I really didn't interact with Christine much - this epiosde (well written by Matt Whitney)) was our smoothest prep of the season. After the second episode (the Hollywood one!) Matt really figured out how to write a TIMELESS script that fit into what we can do. The strong, manageable script and John Showalter's steady hand in prep - meant I didn't have to get too involved. Which was lucky because 210 was a beast! Anyway - back to Christine... The first time I saw her was at the table read. Table reads are when the cast and crew get together, usually the day before we start shooting, and casually read through the script. They're fun (especially with this cast) and informative to the writers director and production crew. We really get a "first-look" feel of the episode in them. But they are also light hearted and there's a lot of joking around. Christine, though, was completely focused and in character. All the presence and power she commands on screen was felt in that little room on the Paramount lot.
|House in Pasadena that played as plantation|
|Abigale in the Civil War|
Christine Horn as Harriett Tubman
Director John Showalter
|The table is set for the table read!|
Tom Smuts and Nancy Baird wrote the script. Tom is an Executive Producer on the show who runs the writers room with Arika Mittman. He also co-wrote the season opener which I directed (along with Arika) and he and I bonded on that project. He's a great and thoughtful guy and a great collaborator. Nancy has been the writer's room assistant and (I think) this is her first produced teleplay.
Tom and Nancy’s script was a great first read… Of course some of the juicy details I’d been hearing about through the grapevine… But I was impressed by how it brought together so many emotional stories… Every character got a scene that ripped them up (and which had been set up by the writers well in advance) Lucy watched her mother not change or regret her loyalty to Rittenhouse even in her dying moments… Wyatt got to confront Jessica and learned that yes she really is pregnant and that yes she is also loyal to Rittenhouse… Mason and Jiya got a beautiful heart aching after Rufus death (and I love the dialogue and the way Claudia played the moment that Rufus is lost in all timelines she can see. Wyatt confesses his love for Lucy…
And yes – Rufus is really, really dead!
Also what a stunning moment when Emma shoots Nicholas and Carol. I loved that moment and directorially wanted it to be very sudden and shocking. To help accomplish that I made sure to slow down the pacing in the moments before. As Lucy and gang enter the Chinese photo studio I made sure not to rush. And then I shot the angle through the curtain where we can barely see Lucy talking to the little girl. Next I shot a shot which begins on a closeup of Emma in period wardrobe - and then the camera slowly circles showing the whole group, next Jessica holding a gun on a Chinese man we’ve never met, but the blood trickling down from a wound on his forehead tells us the story, then Nicholas is revealed and then the shot pans to Carol in a BIG closeup looking anxious. I designed that moment to be very slow and methodical. In post music helped to build tension to these paced-down moments – and then when Carol intervenes and knocks Emma’s shooting hand down – the next few moments are very quick and sudden… BAM! Carol is shot and then BAM! Nicholas is shot.
This leads to a small action scene where Emma and Jessica run and escape through the crowds in Chinatown. Tonya Glanz, who plays Jessica, was so excited. She had loved the show before she got the job. She also lives in NYC and so she loved being in Los ANgeles for the winter. Like you guys, the fans, she had NO IDEA where the role of Jessica was going when she first took the job - so her knowledge grew as the scripts came out .. Her excitement jumped when she learned ed she was Rittenhouse and then she got even more excited to learn she was going back to the past. She loved her period costume but, literally the first thing she has to do in the bustle and high heels and tight-fitting corset was run down the street dodging through extras. It was a challenge.
One of the biggest challenges of this episode was that it had a lot of small locations - but as I read it, it came to my mind that this one could shoot ALL on the Paramount lot. I felt there are enough nooks and crannies and streets on the lot to make it work - and we'd save a lot of money by not going out (probably to downtown Los Angeles) and paying big location fees. The main New York street on the lot was brilliantly dressed by our art department. We then had our biggest challenge which was to come up with more than 100 extras to play the 1880’s Chinatown… At that time and place in history they all had shaved heads and long braided hair. We found a few extras who were bald but had to add bald caps and braids to many others. This is obviously a slow and expensive process and we didn't have time or enough Hair/Makeup department manpower to do more than 35 people. Max Day, our first Assistant Director had to move these "hero" extras around shot-to-shot to make sure they were featured.
It's all a lot of stress during the prep time, but when I walked on the set and saw it dressed like old chinatown and saw it filling up with extras, it looked so cool. There was really only two scenes where we see ALL of the extras and dressing - the one where our heroes walk through Chinatown and Lucy explains the (very interesting) history of the time, and the brief action scene I just described where Wyatt and Flynn chase Emma and Jessica. For these scenes I used long lenses to compress the action... Longer lenses have the effect of smashing everything together and making the shot look more full. I also had the grips lay 100 feet of dolly track and we did and old school long-lens raking 4 shot walking with our team as all sorts of foreground and background set-pieces whizz through the frame. I felt satisfied that, even though brief, these shots set the tone, the time and the place for the whole episode.
Also I want to gve a nod to Claudia Doumit who plays Jiya. She had already gone on one time-travel adventure... But this episode had her really stepping up her game. She had to play betrayed and drugged she had to kill a man to escape, and then she had to play a 1880's baddass and then deal with all the emotional pain of Rufus' death. It's a lot more than Jiya has ever done and a lot of performance nuances to feather throughout the hour. You may or may not know this, but Claudia is also Australian - so on top of it all she's doing an American accent. I knew she was going to kill it on this episode on the first day of shooting when she played the scenes in the Rittenhouse warehouse where she confronts Carol and kills the guard and escapes chased by Emma. Her performance was real and connected throughout. Good job Claudia!!!
|Bam! Future Wyatt and Lucy are here!|
(How amazing and surprising was that ending?!?)
|On set fun with Malcom and Claudia and Megan Lui|
Megan Lui - what a cutie - and very professional for her young age!
|Deep on set|
|Me and Max Day our first AD|
|It never rains in California - Me and the writing team Tom Smuts and Nancy Baird - as I always say "Never forget! It's a glamour business!|
|Rough Day on set - looks more like a vampire pic than TIMELESS!|