We Love Lucy – An appreciation of the Timeless leading lady

Timeless - Season 2
TIMELESS — “Darlington” Episode 202 — Pictured: Abigail Spencer as Lucy Preston — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

For Co-editor Grainne Coyne Timeless protagonist, Lucy Preston, has been one of the best feminist characters to hit our screens in years. In the wake of the series cancellation announcement we decided to sing our praises for the wonder that is Lucy. 

We’ve discussed how fantastic this show is in past issues of Cinders, but season two of Timeless somehow managed to surpass season one, which was not easy, given  they only had ten episodes.  Timeless is a show of total  perfection for so many reasons. It’s received 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it has nuanced looks at parts of history that are often ignored, and raises stories of  feminism, LGBTQ stories and racism to the forefront. It is really up there with one of the best fun and moving fantasy, drama shows at the moment. So much so, I am totally dumbfounded that it  hasn’t been renewed for season three. 

There are so many things I could discuss about what I loved about this season, but there is one person who stands out to me consistently, and that is Lucy Preston. Lucy is literally having the worst time during season two. 

(Spoilers ahead for those who have not caught up). Not only has she learnt that her parents are both high up in the chain in an evil organization known as Rittenhouse, but  as a result of this, it makes her “Rittenhouse royalty”.  

From this she has lost her sister as a result of time travel, lost her mother because she chose not to become a part of Rittenhouse and lost her once close relationship to Wyatt, because Rittenhouse decided to bring his wife, Jessica back from the dead, and he decided it would be a great idea to have her move in the bunker with them all.  

So she really doesn’t start off season two great. Despite all of this, she still carries a strength and resolve to do the right thing, even if she hurts herself as a result.

So, you refuse to confess to being something you’re not. That’s brave, and I’m proud to be in your company

This was evident in season one where despite being constant life threatening situations, she isn’t afraid to stand up for what’s right,  and stand up to villains be it Rittenhouse, and even tries on many occasions to get through to their then “enemy”,  Flynn. But in season two there is a lot more vulnerability and pain from Lucy that we witness from the get go. Lucy is hurting(understandably so) and I am so glad that we got to see that this season in a realistic manner.  I love that Lucy is a historian, who uses her smarts when it comes to meeting these amazing historical icons, but  she always manages to connect to them on a personal level. From Irene Curie, Grace Humiston to even a young Denise Christopher, they all eventually open up to Lucy and she to them, and helping each other as a result. Lucy puts herself on the line for others, but all too often, doesn’t seem to do it for herself. This is evident, when we see her on her own in the bunker that we realise this is a woman who has been through a lot and is still going through a lot. 

Perhaps she isn’t handling it the right way but that’s what makes her more human to me, more real. 

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My favourite episodes  are definitely the Salem Witch Trials and Suffragette Movement episodes.  For what sticks out to me in these the most, is how Lucy again stands and defends women(a constant theme throughout their time travelling adventures). In the Salem episode, despite having an opportunity to escape, Lucy chooses to stay with the women who are accused of being witches.

“You don’t have to defend your reputation to me. You’re not like the other women, and that makes people uncomfortable. So, they mock you and they tell you you’re stupid. But you refuse to change, and then that makes people mad. So, they attack you, call you evil. I know that none of that is true. So, you talk to birds, or you like dolls. So, you refuse to confess to being something you’re not. That’s brave, and I’m proud to be in your company.”

Every day that you get to do your job, another woman out there is making sacrifices, so that  you can keep doing it. If you’re not gonna help, then just get the hell out of the way

That speech beautifully delivered by the amazing Abigail Spencer, who plays Lucy, moves me to tears every time.  

And again Abigail delivers a powerful performance as Lucy in the suffragette episode. While it is probably not completely historically accurate, its sentiment is very clear. The suffrage movement is clearly important to Lucy as it is to many women. So when it is put at risk, because of again “Rittenhouse” who at this point is just a really, evil, misogynistic organisation.  Lucy is willing to fight for women’s right to vote and women’s rights in general. There are many moments that hit me to the core in this episode, but my favourite had to be when Lucy  lectures  Grace about the importance of the suffrage and the importance of well, feminism.

It’s a speech that is not only necessary in that moment, but given everything that is happening in the world definitely can be applied to today.

“…you really have no idea what all of this is about, do you? You think because you are smart enough or tough enough to make it into the boys’ club that everybody else should be able to do that too, is that it? So you’re under no obligation to help other women. You think that Alice wanted to be beaten by police, sent to prison, force-fed. She would have spent the next fifty years living the same hell over and over again, so women like you could ride her coattails.  Every day that you get to do your job, another woman out there is making sacrifices, so that  you can keep doing it. If you’re not gonna help, then just get the hell out of the way.”

It’s wonderful to see a female heroine like Lucy expressing traits of empathy, love, understanding and, femininity.

From there, Lucy chooses to take it upon herself to make the important speech directed at President Woodrow Wilson knowing full well, her life would be at risk if she chooses to do so. Fortunately Grace was so horrified by the women being beaten at the march, that she took it upon herself to do speech directed at President Wilson. I reckon though Lucy’s passion and fury helped too. 

While there are so many shows that are putting female characters to the forefront, Lucy stands out to me not just for her clear feminist objectives, her affirmative beliefs and her big passion for history, but mostly for her determination to constantly do the right thing and is probably why I love her as much as I do. 

Timeless

While with most sci-fi shows, when it comes to depicting a “strong female lead”, they seem to follow a narrative that a woman is deemed often to be only “strong”, if she appears tough, Timeless is different. While there is nothing wrong with that in some senses, in this era of post Wonder Woman, it’s wonderful to see a female heroine like Lucy expressing traits of empathy, love, understanding and, femininity. She also unapologetically stands up for herself emotionally throughout, which I think is very important for young women to see and realise that their emotional needs to be valued by themselves and others too.  I only hope somehow get more of Timeless, so we can explore this from Lucy’s prospective and for Lucy to realise just how amazing and capable she really is.

Follow Grainne at @grainnenewsie on Twitter

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