‘Timeless’ Exclusive: Co-creator Shawn Ryan Dishes on Those Big Season 2 Finale Twists

Clockblockers were blown away by the Season 2 finale, especially when the unimaginable happened. Although Rufus’ death was prophesized in Jiya’s visions, fans didn’t expect the writers to follow through with their foreshadowing teasers and actually kill our treasured Hero in a Hoodie. We weren’t only shocked, we were heartbroken. Just when we were on the cusp of cursing them out, the writers delivered a pleasant surprise.

In another mind blowing twist, Future Lucy and Wyatt appear in an upgraded version of the Lifeboat and they are hell-bent on saving Rufus. 1. Phew! 2. Awesome!! 3. We need Season 3 to start NOW!!!

We’re left hanging with so many questions and I tried my best to get some answers from ‘Timeless’ co-creator, Shawn Ryan. He can’t say much about what lies ahead, but he does provide great insight on the spectacular second season.

Ryan walks us through the Timeless Writers Room’s thought process. We discuss why they decided to kill Rufus and how they always planned to instantly ease fans’ fears. We explore the parallels between Harriet Tubman and Jiya’s visions and how they cause Rufus to question his beliefs. He also describes the importance of creating tension between the concept of Fate vs Free Will. Lastly, we joke about what kind of narrative twists the show would and wouldn’t have in future seasons.

Enjoy our interview!

I really love how thoroughly you, Eric Kripke and the writers crafted this season because it is obvious how much careful thought you put into each character’s actions and all of the storylines. The emotional roller coaster of Rufus’ fate, his attempts to change it and the fact that this is a time travel show…We know there’s always a chance they can try to save Rufus.

How much can you reveal? What are you all thinking about how to get Rufus back and what will the Time Team do to go about getting him back?

For obvious reasons, I don’t want to say too much about what we might do in Season 3. We certainly want there to be some hope at the end of Season 2 – that there was a path to getting Rufus back. He’s a beloved character on the show and, in many ways, is the heart and conscience of the show. So we certainly didn’t want to wait until Season 3 [to reveal] that there’s a possible path back.

So that’s something that we’d have to figure out in the writers room. We think we’ve left ourselves in a place where there’s some good, interesting storytelling to be had on that front. We hope we get the chance to do it.

Going back to the Season 2 breaking of the story…Eric has always loved posing the Fate vs Free Will thing. It’s worked so well in the storytelling on ‘Timeless.’ We sort of dove into it in places in Season 1, but especially in Season 2. To have Jiya have these visions and see Rufus’ death and to learn that her visons seemingly come true, even if they come true in different kinds of ways. I sort of joked on the Timeless Writers [Twitter account during the finale]: “Hey, we’ve been telling you all season that Rufus was going to die, but you didn’t believe us.”


We kind of used the popularity of the character against the audience. I think the audience just assumed that that fate would be avoided because he’s a beloved and valuable member of the team and of the show.


So it was interesting to us. How do you write that? How do you really draw all the proper emotion out of that? But then have this twist at the end that gives you hope. Well, maybe it’s not permanent. That was important.

If you go back and look at the whole season again, sort of knowing what you know now, you’ll see that there are some breadcrumbs along the way that set-up a lot of this stuff.

Flynn talks with Lucy. At one point when she’s talking about the journal and she’s like, “How is it possible that I gave you this journal?” and Flynn says something about, “Well maybe Rufus and Jiya will someday figure out how you travel back to your own timeline.“

So we put that in there knowing what was going to happen in the finale. It is fun sometimes to hide those things in plain sight and let the audience assume we’re going in a different direction.

Okay. Another thing I really loved was the twist that Harriet Tubman also had visions and clearly saw Rufus.

That’s a true historical fact. She really did believe she was sent visions by God.

Oh wow! That’s so cool.

That’s not something we made up…she would act upon those visons. That was something that came from our historian and we thought, “Wow this is so great! It sort of parallels exactly what Jiya is going through as she’s meeting with Stanley, the old pilot who’s in the mental ward.”

That was something that really gets Rufus to question [his beliefs]. He is a proud atheist who believes in Free Will and has declared himself such at a couple points throughout the course of the season. To be confronted by that from someone he admires so much; it shakes his belief a little bit in Free Will vs Fate. Which presages his own death, interestingly enough.

Will Jiya continue to have visions? Will that continue to play a role throughout next season? I mean, I kind of wanted Harriet Tubman to join the Time Team too. I just really like their dynamic.

Laughs heartily. That would be incredible.

That made me wonder: Could they ever pick up someone from the past and bring them aboard the Time Team?

Well they did bring JFK back to the present.

Yeah, but for keeps? They could help them on their missions and stuff…you know?

Laughs One of the things we really struggle with and what I’m about to say might be strange considering how we ended the last episode was –

We do consider ourselves more of a historical drama show than a sci-fi show. Although we have a very hard sci-fi twist in the [finale], which was so rare for us.

The visions and the bringing people from the past onto the team are all things we’d ultimately be very, very careful about and won’t dip our toes in the water until we are absolutely sure. Because ultimately, where this show emotionally exists is in sending our heroes back to different time periods and seeing them interact with historical figures, either famous or not famous, in ways that shine a light on the present. We are more interested in that than in getting hardcore sci-fi, so that’s just something we’d have to balance in future seasons.

Definitely. Now, Rittenhouse, it seems, is going to be run by Emma and Jessica at this point, even though Lucy is destined to take it over?

It seems that way. Although I would say that it’s also been clear that there are aspects of Rittenhouse that Carol referenced to Lucy before and there are all sorts of aspects that Lucy hasn’t seen or is aware of yet. So there’s always a possibility that there’s some other portion/aspect/wing of Rittenhouse that could be introduced as well. We’ll see.

Maybe there’s a branch out there that isn’t as bad as this side?

Or maybe there’s one that is worse. That’s something we have to figure out.

Okay. Because Rittenhouse so far just gets scarier and scarier.

Although they’ve gone from a monarchy to a dictatorship in the last episode. Laughs

I know. Emma just took the mantle now when she’s just as scary.

I found it interesting because I’m the one on the writing staff that always espouses anti-royalty sentiments. As an American that scoffs at the idea of monarchies and royal weddings, like the one we’re going to see next week, I think those things are ridiculous.

I always like the idea that Carol’s insistence on blood and legacy and family dominance…That Emma would be the hard-scrambled kid that worked her way up and topple that idea. That was interesting to me.

Yeah, it was interesting learning about Emma’s past too throughout the course of this season. There were so many great episodes that showcased each character’s storyline and their past. I really like the character development all around and learning more about them.

Thank you.

What do you think Clockblockers? Did Ryan’s insight offer any comfort? Are you still reeling from the Season 2 Finale? Do you have any theories on what storylines the writers might pursue in Season 3?

Stay tuned for juicy scoop on Lucy’s relationships with Flynn and Wyatt! Ryan offers his personal viewpoint on Wyatt’s questionable actions and Flynn’s special connection with Lucy.

In case you missed it:

‘Timeless’ Exclusive: Showrunner Shawn Ryan remains optimistic about renewal and is grateful for fans’ “roar”

‘Timeless’ Season 2 Finale Advance Review: This Changes Everything

3 thoughts on “‘Timeless’ Exclusive: Co-creator Shawn Ryan Dishes on Those Big Season 2 Finale Twists

  1. Love this show. Love the Characters/actors. Please find a New Home. #SaveTimless.

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