NBC’s freshman drama Timeless ended its 16-episode first season tonight. Unlike the network’s other new two series that launched in September, drama This Is Us and comedy The Good Place, which already have been renewed, Timeless is yet to learn its fate following strong reviews, devoted core following and modest ratings. But in the Season 1 finale, the show did not play it safe. After wrapping the season-long story arc with a nice bow — Rittenhouse eradicated and Lucy (Abigail Spencer) and Garcia Flynn (Goran Visnjic) about to get their loved ones back — there was a jolt in the final minutes with a major twist and a big cliffhanger ending where Lucy’s mom was revealed as a Rittenhouse bigwig, and Flynn’s partner in his fight against Rittenhouse, Emma (Annie Wersching), turned out to be a Rittenhouse operative as the shadowy organization took control of the time machine it had been planning to use to change history in ways that would give it world domination.
In an interview with Deadline, Shawn Ryan, who co-created and executive produces Timeless with Eric Kripke, talks about the plot twist and its aftermath for Lucy, Wyatt (Matt Lanter) and their budding romance. He also addresses the fate of Flynn, who ended the finale behind bars, Lucy’s relationship with her mom, Jiya’s (Claudia Domit) new powers, and other elements of the plans for a potential second season of the time-travel drama which he and Kripke will pitch to NBC later this spring:
DEADLINE: Up until the last few minutes, the series was heading to a happy ending. Why did you decide to add the major cliffhanger at the end?
SHAWN RYAN: We had thought for awhile about what the best way was to give some closure for Season 1 while also setting us up for a new dynamic in Season 2. We wanted to bring Garcia Flynn’s journey to some kind of end, though I’m sure we’ll see more of him going forward. So while many people might see our Season 1 conclusion as a cliffhanger, we see it as a wrap-up of Season 1 and a launch point for Season 2.
DEADLINE: Did you have an alternate ending that would serve as a series finale in case Timeless does not come back?
SHAWN RYAN: No. Eric and I planned for success. We’ve been working towards this ending ever since the season began.
DEADLINE: In the cliffhanger, Rittenhouse takes control over the time machine. What is the plan for Season 2? Will our heroes continue to chase the mothership, trying to prevent Rittenhouse from implementing their sinister plan?
SHAWN RYAN: We are working on our overall plan for Season 2 right now and we’ll pitch it to NBC in April, so I’m reluctant to get too much into it because we’ll want to take a deep breath and evaluate the whole season before we commit to what we want to do in Season 2. What I can say is the current plan involves our heroes traveling to the past to stop history from being perverted and changed too much.
DEADLINE: What will be the general theme for Season 2?
SHAWN RYAN: Too early to tell for sure.
DEADLINE: What will be Lucy’s mom role going forward, and why wasn’t she arrested along with 100+ Rittenhouse members in the government sweep?
SHAWN RYAN: Lucy’s mom will be influential in Season 2. We don’t presume that every member of Rittenhouse was identified and apprehended in the first 48 hours after our heroes returned from 1954, though the organization was definitely dealt a big blow. So we will owe an answer in Season 2 as to why Lucy’s mom was one of the Rittenhouse members not to be identified right away.
DEADLINE: Had she been onto the time machine project from the very beginning, including the arrangement of Lucy’s involvement in it?
SHAWN RYAN: Yes. Eric and I had it in our minds even from pilot stage that Carol was secretly a part of Rittenhouse and was keeping her eye on Lucy this whole time.
DEADLINE: How would the mother-daughter relationship factor into the developments of Season 2?
SHAWN RYAN: A little early to say but I imagine this mother/daughter dynamic will be important in Season 2. Just like in Season 1 we think it’s important to investigate how these trips to the past affect and are affected by their relationships in the present.
DEADLINE: Will Flynn resurface in Season 2 or did his story arc end with the season 1 finale?
SHAWN RYAN: Well, Goran was fantastic for us this season and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Garcia Flynn on the show, though obviously his role would be different going forward
DEADLINE: How did Emma, seemingly a fugitive on a mission to take down Rittenhouse, turn out to be a Rittenhouse operative? Is she earmarked for a major role in the Season 2 developments?
SHAWN RYAN: We will definitely owe some answers and explanations for this in Season 2, but once again, it was always our plan that she was secretly Rittenhouse and she was hiding out in the 1880s for Rittenhouse reasons that we will need to explain. We’ll see what stories we want to tell and how available our actress is to be on the show!
DEADLINE: What is happening with Jiya? Do her seizures allow her to jump through time? What is the significance of that going forward?
SHAWN RYAN: We gave a little hint in the season finale that Jiya has been changed by her trip in the Lifeboat. I wouldn’t say that we’re indicating that Jiya can jump through time, but instead, that she can see different points in time from the same place. How this will affect her and how and if she’ll be able to channel this skill in a way that will aid the team is something we’ll explore.
DEADLINE: Is there romance in the cards for Lucy and Wyatt as he finally feels ready to make piece with the past?
SHAWN RYAN: Certainly, at the end of the season finale Wyatt seems to have had a big change of heart in terms of looking forward (towards Lucy?) rather than looking back (towards his deceased wife). The two seem to be on a romantic collision course, but we’ll use this hiatus to discuss if, and how quickly, that’s something we want to explore.
DEADLINE: Will Lucy be able to get her sister back or will she succumb to her Rittenhouse fate as her parents suggested?
SHAWN RYAN: I certainly think she’s going to continue to try to get her sister back. We’ll see if her mother or father can persuade her otherwise.