Review of 'Timeless' 2.1

"Like 'Mein Kampf,' by Philip K. Dick"

Last night's Timeless roared back from the jaws of oblivion—aka cancellation by the mothership, its network NBC—with a new episode that was far better than anything we saw the first season. And it did most of this in its final few minutes.

And, indeed, there was one line which really struck me, which shows the high-intellect octane of time travel Timeless can achieve—it's when Barrett, looking at the megalomaniac writings on the smartphone crafted by their new worst arch-enemy, characterizes it as "like Mein Kampf, by Philip K. Dick."

Now I know he could have been speaking figuratively, or loosely, or just mistakenly, but the set-up in this new episode of Timeless and therefore the rest of the series is that history has already undergone changes that our heroes in 2018 don't know about. Or, even more fun, maybe they do know about it, and it's we the audience on the other side of the screen who don't know about it, because we have a different history.

In our off-screen history, it's of course Adolf Hitler who wrote Mein Kampf. Philip K. Dick does have some connection to this, because he wrote the alternate history novel The Man in the High Castle turned into an outstanding Amazon Prime series in which Hitler and Nazi Germany won the Second World War. So what was Barrett referring to?

In the new history on Timeless, unknown to us but not its characters, was Philip K. Dick a Nazi monster who earlier wrote Mein Kampf? Or was Dick maybe an American biographer of Hitler who titled his rambling bio Mein Kampf?

The possibilities are legion and intriguing. Time travel and alternate history have always been closely related—I've always thought that behind every alternate history is an implied time travel, as the agent that brought the alternate history into being. This first episode of the second season of Timeless, in that one statement about Philip K. Dick, promises all kinds of mind-boggling and intellect-puzzling adventures—or exactly what you'd want, or at very least I want, in a time travel story.

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Paul Levinson
Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code (winner Locus Award, Best 1st Science Fiction Novel of 1999) & The Plot To Save Socrates. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context has been translated into 15 languages. 

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Review of 'Timeless' 2.1
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