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Recap / Timeless S 1 E 2 The Assassination Of Abraham Lincoln

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The crew of the Lifeboat travel to April 14, 1865, the date of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. They discover that Flynn is working with John Wilkes Booth to ensure the success of not just Lincoln's assassination but also the assassinations of Andrew Johnson, William H. Seward, and Ulysses S. Grant. Lucy catches the eye of Robert Todd Lincoln, the President's son.


  • Artistic License – History: The idea that Lincoln's death is all that prevented the post-Civil War South from turning into a racial paradise is, to put it charitably, quite naive. However, in context, Lincoln's death did cause reprisals against the South which affected race relations. Also his death did slow down the advance of civil rights for African-Americans.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Wyatt and Rufus stop assassins sent after Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy:
    • Flynn is the unknown assassin who killed Abraham Lincoln.
    • Lucy as Juliet Shakesman is credited with saving General Grant, and even has a high school named after her.
    • On the other hand, Rufus's heroic actions were overlooked, and the credit for stopping another assassin was given to a white soldier who was present in the area.
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  • Critical Hesitation Blunder: Flynn plans to shoot both President Lincoln and General Grant in Ford's Theater. However, when he bursts onto the balcony, he sees Lucy there. The surprise results in Lucy managing to keep Flynn from killing Grant, although Lincoln still dies.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Lewis Powell, the conspirator sent to assassinate Seward, is killed in a fight with Wyatt instead of being executed as a member of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln, Grant, Johnson and Seward.
    • Lincoln himself, to some extent. Official records say that he died on April 15, 1865 at 7:22 am. Here, he dies the evening he was shot
  • For Want of a Nail: Lucy learns that the reason she doesn't have a sister anymore is because her father married a descendant of one of the passengers from the Hindenburg, who was supposed to die in the original timeline, instead of her mother. She also realizes that this must mean that the man she always thought of as her father didn't sire her.
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  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Powell is killed with the gun loaned to him to assassinate Seward.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Rufus disguises himself as a Union sergeant. A group of passing black soldiers spots him and asks him to write down the names of their relatives. However, they get suspicious, when they don't see any indication of which regiment he belongs to, and realize he's a fake. They threaten him with bodily harm, assuming him to be a regular impersonator, who tries to cash in on the glory of the Union victory. They treat him with much more respect, after he helps foil the assassination of the Vice-President.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: John Wilkes Booth is portrayed as one, described by the show as his time's equivalent of Donnie Wahlberg (i.e. a low-level actor, who can never get out from under the shadow of his more famous brother); he's more concerned with his plan being suitably dramatic than the greater effectiveness Flynn offers him. Eventually Flynn just knocks him out and kills Lincoln himself, muttering, "Actors!"
  • Line-of-Sight Name: When confronted by Robert Todd Lincoln in Booth's changing room, Lucy scans the walls and catches a poster of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, coming up with the name Juliet Shakesman.
  • The Prima Donna: John Wilkes Booth is more concerned with making a grand statement rather than a cold, calculating assassination. This is why he rejects Flynn's offer of a semi-automatic handgun, preferring to stick with his Derringer. Flynn ends up getting tired of Booth's antics, so he knocks him out, muttering "Actors!", and proceeds to perform the assassination himself.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Lucy comes home to her own engagement party and meets her fiancé, whom she's never seen before.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: When Flynn tries to intervene in the assassination of President Lincoln, Rufus advocates preventing the assassination altogether, particularly after meeting some black Union soldiers who were very optimistic about their future, as Lincoln's death brought his plans for greater racial equality to a screeching halt. However, both Lucy and Wyatt are against such a drastic change to the timeline. Rufus angrily points out that they've never had to deal with racism.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Booth ends up dying later in the new timelines, this time not as the assassin, but executed as the leader of the conspiracy.
  • invoked Technology Marches On: Flynn is insistent that Booth use his semi-automatic pistol (which he tries to pass for a Prussian design) for the assassination, so he can kill both Lincoln and Grant. However, Booth is out to make a grand statement, and he believes Flynn's weapon lacks the gravitas of his own Derringer. Annoyed, Flynn is forced to knock Booth out and perform the assassination himself.

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