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Film / Rewind (2013)

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Totally not the large hadron collider, definitely a time travel machine...

"None of you have any idea what we're getting into. This window is not just some weapon of blunt force, alright? Everything in the past is connected, every moment, every- every event, it all adds up to this reality that we call the present. Can we use this window to alter history? Absolutely. But we're manipulating nature in its most fragile state."
Dr. Lyndsay Bryce, on Time Travel

A Pilot Movie (for a series that was never picked up) that aired on Syfy channel in 2013, Rewind follows the time-traveling exploits of two CIA field agents and a civilian scientist who travel to the 1920's in order to preemptively avert a terrorist attack in the present day.

After a devastating nuclear attack on New York City by embittered Nobel Prize winning physicist Benjamin Rourke, the trio of Dr. Lyndsay Bryce, Sean Knox, and Danny Gates are brought together to make use of untested time-travel technology to prevent the attack. The technology generates unpredictable windows to seemingly random dates and places in the past — and a new window leading to the Washington DC of 1929 has just opened up. With less than 24 hours on the clock, Mission Control and the Token Trio of heroes must work quickly to figure out who (if anyone) and what (if any events) they can influence (in the very narrow window of time they have) in order to change the future.


If they succeed, they may be able to avert a tragedy that took millions of lives. If they fail, they'll be stranded in 1929.

The show was never picked up for a series, leaving viewers to wonder what would become of the heroes after an ominous, open-ended Sequel Hook in the last five minutes of the film.

Can be watched in its entirety on YouTube.

Compare with Timeless, a series with a near-identical premise that released three years later (and avoided the chopping block three times!)

Unmarked spoilers below; proceed with caution.


This work contains examples of:

  • And Mission Control Rejoiced: Just when it seems like the time window has closed — trapping Lyndsay, Danny, and Sean in 1929 — it flickers open again, allowing them to return to the present. Mission control rushes down to the portal room to welcome the trio back, and there's a party afterwards to celebrate a job well done.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Overlaps with Time-Passage Beard. In the month since the attack, Sean has been stuck in a prison cell for derailing the interrogation of culprit Benjamin Rourke. Sean has nightmares about the blast destroying New York City and and the death of his estranged wife, who was in New York when the bomb went off. (It's not likely that the prison would allow him to have a shaving razor, but his stubble still functions to accentuate his sorrow.)
  • Big Applesauce: The bomb in the van destroys New York City at the beginning of the film. The rest of the film follows the efforts of the cast to save New York City before the bomb can be planted.
  • The Big Board: Two can be found in mission control, and one pulls double duty as a String Theory example.
  • Bomb Disposal: There's a full bomb squad called in to defuse the nuclear bomb Benjamin Rourke planted in New York City. After a highly stressful Wire Dilemma, they snip one of the wires with a 29 seconds left on the clock — only to find that it's still counting down. 29 seconds later... boom.
  • Boxed Crook: Sean's choice when General Randall Webb comes calling on him in prison. Either stay in prison for a very, very long time, or join the General on a mission that just might change the world:
    Sean: General, why do I get the feeling you didn't just come here to ease my conscience?
    General: I want to bring you in on something. This is an approval for a 48 hour furlough. Top Secret. You'll be under my personal supervision.
    Sean: You've gotta be kidding me.
    General: The President has authorized me to pull together a "measure of recourse."
    Sean: Re-wh-recourse?! What, what recourse, General? You think... you think anything we do right now is gonna make this better? Things don't get better now, General. I took a chance... I blew it. I can't get it back. And not matter what that grand jury says, it's not gonna be worse than knowing that.
    General: Look. We've known each other too long to waste time like this. Here's how this is going to work. Tomorrow one of my men will be here to take you to an undisclosed location. It's very simple. You have a choice. You stay here, keep feeling sorry for yourself, and nothing changes. Or you go with them — clean yourself up, get your act together, and be a part of this operation.
    Sean: You haven't even told me what the operation is, General.
    General: It's a second chance, Sean. An opportunity to make things right.
  • Butterfly Effect: The premise of the show - if the trio can neutralize the mugger who killed the Benjamin Rourke's wife decades before the mugging-gone-wrong, Rourke won't create the bomb that destroys New York City.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Discussed, and thanks to careful planning it's mostly Averted. Mission Control has built a powerful simulator that can predict the effects of changes made in the past, and any major actions taken by the time-travel trio are run by Mission Control to make sure there won't be any unintended consequences. Stealing a sweet 1920's hot rod for a few hours? Mission Control's records show that the owner is working the night shift at the nearby hotel, he won't miss it. Murdering a petty criminal means his sickly little sister will die too? No worries, in the original timeline she's dead within 3 years — not enough time for a little girl to make a serious impact on the future. Got into a fender bender AND a shoot-out with some other motorists, and worried that the cops are gonna be called? According to an old survey mission control just happened to have on hand, the only other drivers who use that road are rum runners: no chance that they'll involve the law!
  • The Cameo: David Cronenberg as embittered physicist Benjamin Rourke.
  • Cyanide Pill: Lyndsay brings enough back in time for the whole team. This is part of the "Zero Footprint Policy" for time travel; she'd rather they die than irreparably alter the future by remaining in the past. (This seems rather short sighted of her; the present is already dealing with the effects of New York City being destroyed by a nuclear bomb and the immediate surrounding covered in fallout, it's not as if the three of them could do much worse.)
  • Deadline News: The fate of the news crew reporting on the "abandoned van" in the opening scene, which turned out to contain a nuclear bomb. A massive chunk of New York gets taken out in the explosion, and the news crew was close enough to see the police cordon around the bomb. Needless to say, they were incinerated in the bomb's initial blast.
    Reporter: The mayor's office is remaining silent on the matter, only to say that the truck was found abandoned in midtown, and that the bomb squad has been deployed.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Overlaps with Sequel Hook: Pentagon Liaison John Malcolm waits in the portal room, calmly smoking a cigar as the time window suddenly flickers back online. While the swirling mass of temporal energy stabilizes, he dons a heavy parka and stuffs a loaded gun into his pocket. The window reveals a snowy forest landscape, and Malcolm disappears through the window into the past. Back at the post-mission celebration, Sean notices that the daylight outside the facility is rapidly fading to an eerie, night-like darkness — Smash to Black.
  • Establishing Character Moment: For the minor characters at mission control at least:
    • Ellis is introduced listening to jazz on a record player and calmly repairing a bit of complex wiring in what looks like a server stack. He's old (and old fashioned) but he clearly knows his way around electronics.
    • Charlie is introduced complaining about Ellis (and calling him "NASA", his nickname) moving things around and making too much noise with his jazz. Viewers get the sense that Charlie is fussy, modern, and somewhat casual with his work acquaintances. He has enough clout that he expects things to be done his way and gets upset when they aren't.
    • Priya is introduced berating an underling for confusing "Prussia" and "Russia", then chastising Sean for messing with her $90,000.00 sample of refuse from aqueducts in Pompeii, circa AD 79... and then waxing poetic about the how garbage reveals the truth of history. She's controlling, but highly competent and professional. She's also passionate about her job.
  • Exact Time to Failure: A highly volatile time-window generated by largely untested technology is estimated to stay open for exactly 17 hours, because "the radiation levels said so." Everyone treats this estimate as a hard deadline: there's a countdown clock and everything. Even when the trio travels through the window and destabilizes it — forcing Ellis to recalculate the amount of time the window will remain open based on the ambient radiation levels emitted by the window — the new estimate is accurate to within seconds of the portal closing.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: A similar theory is given to deny the military men the idea of just taking out Benjamin Rourke before he’s even born, let alone becomes a threat, by killing his father in 1929: Rourke is a very important figure whose scientific contributions have benefited millions the world over. The changes to the timeline that would result from killing him off would be apocalyptic. The cliffhanger at the end makes clear that, somehow, Malcolm decided to disobey this and the heroes are left staring at a possible Time Crash.
  • The Lost Lenore: The film includes not one, but two women whose deaths motivate their husbands to get involved in time travel:
    • The Benjamin Rourke's wife, Sylvia — she was killed in a mugging-gone-wrong 37 years before the events of the film. Her death drives his research in the field of time travel, hoping that he'll discover a way to save her. His desperation to save her (and the sense that he's running out of time as he grows older) eventually causes him to plant the bomb in New York City that forces the government to make use of their secret time travel project.
    • Sean's wife Jessica — she was in New York City when the bomb exploded. He blames himself because he took a field assignment in Libya after promising her he would retire from such work, and by the time he returned to the states she had moved out and taken a job in New York. His guilt over her death is part of the reason he accepts General Webb's invitation to join in the mission to 1929.
  • Newspaper Dating: How the command center determines the date and location that the windows open up on. They send out a very tiny drone with a camera attached, and hope to blunder into something or someone that can tell them where and when the window leads to.
    • The first window seen in the film leads to a field in Gloucester on July 22nd, 1934. The drone picked up the date and location by listening to a radio broadcast.
    • The window the team intends to travel through opens up in the basement of a hotel. Once the drone gets out of the building and onto the street, a random passerby just happens to hold up a copy of The Washington News with the date "Friday March 8 1929" on it.
  • Nice Hat: Before they can go back in time the trio need to dress up in period-appropriate clothes — that includes hats! Hats were de rigueur in the 20's, and a whole system of etiquette was in place to determine who wore what kind or hat, plus when & where those hats should be removed. Though she doesn't spend any on-screen time explaining the ins and outs of hat etiquette to the trio, historical costumer Priya provides a fedora for Sean, a newsboy cap for Danny, and a cloche for Lyndsay.
  • No Equal-Opportunity Time Travel: Brought up once by Danny (the only African American member of the expedition) while the trio is hijacking a car in the past, but never mentioned again.
    Danny: I'm the driver.
    Sean: No, I've seen you operate a stick shift—
    Danny: No, no, you're not getting it man. It's 1929. South of the Mason-Dixon Line. I'm the driver.
  • Ominous Message from the Future: Discussed more than once, but the idea is always abandoned:
    • Mission Control debates sending a message back in time warning of the attack in present-day New York, but they discard the idea as too risky.
      Charlie: Maybe we could just go into the past and send a message forwards? Like, warn them that New York is going to happen?
      Lyndsay: Charlie we've already discussed this, it's too risky. We can't just assume that... who would believe us?
    • Lyndsay toys with the idea of warning her mother's family about the tumor that will eventually kill her mother, but her professional ethics would mean she would never forgive herself for altering the past that drastically:
      Lydnsay: This is Fairfax County. My mother was born close to here.
      Sean: You mean will be.
      Lyndsay: That's right... none of us even happened yet. She hasn't even been born and I... I already know how she's gonna die. They found an inoperable tumor on her spine when I was four.
      Sean: I'm sorry.
      Lyndsay: Oh, it's okay, Mr. Knox. It's just... you wanna know something amazing? I could whisper the right thing into the right ear and I could change all that right now. I could save her. But then... who would I be? Losing her made me who I am. Would I be different? Happier? I don't know. What would you change?
      Sean: Doc I wouldn't know where to start.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: The War Room for the military commanders of the time travel operation has plenty of screens with blinking red & black wireframe diagrams of the time window, inscrutable and vaguely scientific looking protocols, and plenty of scrolling updates that surround The Big Board. By contrast, the support staff have a bulletin board and a single screen that mostly just shows a larger version of what's on the bulletin board.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different: Time-holes that allow for operatives in the past to remain in constant, crystal-clear radio communication with Mission Control, no matter how far they travel away from the time portal - very convenient!
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: The time window is essentially a wormhole that allows for safe, steady, reliably-traceable time travel with two-way communication.
  • Portal to the Past: How the trio time travels.
  • Prescience by Analysis: Charlie's role in mission control — he built and programmed the "Panopticon," a device that analyzes the effects of proposed changes to the past by combing through millions of data points (like weather patterns, stock market fluctuations, newspaper articles) and generates a prediction of what the present will look like if those changes are made. It works by giving people and events in the past an "impact index," or a score that estimates their importance to the timeline. A high impact index signifies that a person or event is integral to maintaining a timeline as close to the present as possible, while a low impact index indicates a person or event whose removal or alteration probably would not damage the timeline or irreparably alter the present. When Pentagon Liaison John Malcolm suggests assassinating Benjamin Rourke's father before Benjamin is conceived, Charlie shoots that idea down. Rourke is a Nobel prize winning physicist with a high impact index: without Rourke's contributions to physics and industry, millions of lives would have been affected and global economic powers would shift dramatically. In the simulation he runs through the Panopticon, Japan's economy collapses post-WWII, heavy industry moves to Korea, and a flu pandemic kills 25 million people in and around Tokyo in 1947. When Sean hits on the idea of taking out Sylvia's killer, Charlie is the one who gives the go-ahead — Ronald Marsden, the mugger who killed Sylvia in 1975, has a much lower impact index than Rourke, so "neutralizing" him would not affect the present as dramatically as removing Rourke would.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom: Invoked by Sean when he's confronting Ronald Marsden in 1929. After first stunning Ronald with his knowledge of Ronald's criminal history and planned future heists, then shouting that Ronald's beloved sister will die if he "goes down this path," Sean grabs Ronald by the lapels and throws them both into the path of an oncoming train. Sean shouts that if Ronald isn't going to shape up they can both "meet god," because Sean's got nothing left to lose. The terrified Ronald begs Sean to free him, and Sean pulls him out of the path of the train without a moment to spare. The near-death experience convinces Ronald to leave his life of crime and devote himself to finding a licit way to care for his sickly little sister.
  • Recurring Extra: The same extras can been seen in the background of the two scenes featuring Jessica in New York city — despite the fact that they're chronologically separated by more than a month (and occurring in two separate timelines).
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: According to General Randall Webb's account of what Dr. Bryce told him, there is a distortion field around the facility housing the time travel mechanisms that protects it from "changes in time." The General is fully aware that if he leaves the facility, he won't remember the mission he assigned to Sean, but he encourages Sean to "give him a wink" if he makes it out alive. After the past is altered, it's shown that all personnel in mission control remember the devastation of New York City, and they're elated that their efforts to undo the damage have worked so well.
  • The Roaring '20s: The trio travels back in time to 1929.
  • San Dimas Time: Sean, Danny, and Lyndsay spend seventeen hours in the past. Seventeen hour pass for mission control, and the trio arrive seventeen hours after they left.
  • Scientist vs. Soldier:
    • Dr. Lyndsay Bryce is upset that she's being forced to work with the military in her time travel research, and takes the first chance she can to insult Sean's intelligence and qualifications for the work when he steps into the lab due to his military background.
      Lyndsay: General I don't mean any offense, but soldiers who specialize in high stress situations — there have actually been studies that show that they demonstrate very little brain activity.
    • Once the workings of the time-travel project are explained, the military aligned characters instantly jump on the "assassination" option, even when the scientists keep mentioning that the possibility of a Butterfly of Doom is too great for them to go about assassinating people in the past all willy-nilly. The Sequel Hook makes it clear that the military (or at least Pentagon Liaison John Malcolm) decided "the hell with it" about the consequences and entered the time window again, likely to commit a past-assassination.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The trio travel to 1929 to kill Ronald Marsden, but they learn that in 1929 he's taking care of his sickly little sister Jenny. In the original timeline, Jenny died in 1931 while Ronald was in prison for car theft. Jenny will die in 1929 if Ronald is taken out — so Mission Control (in particular Pentagon Liaison John Malcolm) sees no issue with killing Ronald if Jenny perishes either way. Lyndsay, Danny, and Sean don't feel comfortable with condemning a little girl to death when they can prevent it, so Sean intervenes by forcing Ronald to have a near-death experience on some Railroad Tracks of Doom and threatening to come back if Ronald doesn't shape up and leave his life of crime. It works — when they get back to the future, they find out that Ronald stopped his life of crime, Jenny didn't die in 1931, and Ronald ended up a decorated hero in WWII. In their altered continuity, Ronald never killed Benjamin Rourke's wife Sylvia in a mugging-gone-wrong in 1975, Rourke had no reason to plant a bomb in New York City, and millions of lives are saved.
  • Seeks Another's Resurrection: The motive of Benjamin Rourke, the scientist who sets off a bomb in New York City — his wife Sylvia was killed in a mugging-gone-wrong in 1975, decades before he planted the bomb. He knows about the untested time-travel technology the government is hiding, and he's leveraging the deaths of 9 million New Yorkers against the institution currently conducting research into the technology, hoping that they'll be able to undo his wife's death (thus removing his motivation for planting the bomb in the first place).
  • Sequel Hook: Overlaps with The End... Or Is It?: Pentagon Liaison John Malcolm slips away from the post-mission celebration and enters the window as it flickers open again — his briefcase contains a gun and a heavy parka, perfect for the snowy weather on the other side of the window. (Clearly, someone has prior knowledge of the "random" places and times the window leads to, and when those random windows will appear.) Back at the party, Sean watches the sky fade from mid-day sun to an ominous darkness in a matter of seconds with a big Oh, Crap! look on his face. Seeing as the series didn't get picked up for production, the sequel hook ends up being an unintended loose end.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The goal of the time-traveling squad is to prevent a terrorist attack that destroys New York City, by neutralizing the threat decades in advance.
  • Sherlock Scan: While Benjamin Rourke is being interrogated, Sean is the only agent to draw the connection between the bomb Rourke planted and Rourke's deceased wife Sylvia. Sean realizes that Rourke is still wearing his wedding ring almost 40 years after his wife was killed, and tries to get Rourke to divulge why he planted the bomb if there's nothing that can bring Sylvia back.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Inverted when Sean locks himself in the interrogation cell with Benjamin Rourke at the beginning of the film — he takes a fire extinguisher in with him and smashes the access reader on the inside of the door, which puts the door in lockdown mode. This disables the access reader on the exterior, preventing anyone from getting into the room while Sean tries to reason with Rourke.
  • The Slow Path: Invoked and averted- if the trio doesn't make it back to the window before it closes, Lyndsay's brought along enough cyanide pills for herself, Sean, and Danny.
  • String Theory: More than one:
  • Suicide by Cop: How Benjamin Rourke ensures that he doesn't make it out of the interrogation room — when the CIA agents finally get around Sean's Shoot Out the Lock barricade, they charge into the room guns drawn. Rourke grabs the firearm of the officer closest to him, which is pointed right at his head. The officer holding the gun reacts... as expected.
  • Swirly Energy Thingy: How the time window appears.
  • Techno Babble: Any time Dr. Bryce talks about the time windows and how they function:
    Danny: So it's a... some kind of hologram, a video projection of a grassy field?
    Lyndsay: No it's a little more complicated than that. The window is a rupture in the wave function of the universe. It's unstable, prone to changing suddenly, and in irregular fashion.
  • Temporal Sickness:
    • Sean seems to get hit by portal-travel-sickness on his first trip back in time. He's left dizzy and slightly disoriented by the trip, and sees a vision of Jessica's face. He shakes it off soon enough.
    • Danny doesn't fare as well as either Lyndsay or Sean — his companions find him convulsing and shivering near the time window, and he needs a few moments to compose himself before he can get back on his feet. When Lyndsay asks him about his experience, Danny says that when he traveled through the window, he felt like he re-lived a memory from when he was five years old and nearly drowned in a pool.
  • Time Travel: The premise of the show: go to the past, change the future.
  • Token Trio: The three time travelers are: Sean (a white man), Danny (a black man), and Lyndsay (a white woman).
  • Trapped in the Past: What will happen to the trio if they don't get back to the window before it closes.
  • The War Room: As the bomb disposal squad is trying to determine the best course of action in New York, they're taking orders from a location helpfully introduced as "The White House Situation Room." The denizens of the situation room are also directing the interrogation of the scientist responsible for the bomb.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Benjamin Rourke, the scientist who planted the bomb in New York City — he's driven by the death of his wife Sylvia years prior to the events of the film. He believes that he can bring her back if he forces the government to use secret time travel technology to alter the past. His methods for doing so involve killing millions of New Yorkers, then leaving his interrogators with cryptic clues about the time-travel technology before offing himself. If he succeeds in his plan, the time travelers will undo his wife's death and his past self won't have motivation to plant the bomb. If he fails his wife remains dead and half of New York City remains a smoking crater... not that it matters to him, because he'll still be dead.
  • Wire Dilemma: The bomb disposal squad at the beginning of the show has this problem. Unfortunately for them, cutting the wires does nothing...


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