Welcome back to the 21st, fellow Travelers! It’s been a long year for us since we’ve heard from the Director, but only a short time has passed for the characters. We get a huge new mythology infusion this episode, courtesy of an important new character. We also check in with virtually every character from season 1, answering the question of who is and isn’t coming back this season, along with picking up the story within hours of the finale.
But first, we meet Vincent Ingram, who is in the process of describing his recurring nightmare of his experience as a survivor of the 9/11/01 tragedy. Only this nightmare has a twist, because he isn’t the original soul to live in his current body. He’s traveler 001, sent as a test case, then meant to send the future an email confirming his arrival and die in the attacks. No plan survives contact with the past, including the first one, which went wrong from the moment of arrival.
001 discovers that he’s not in the body of Anthony Corrigan, stockbroker, who, according to the historical record, was on a conference call at his desk when the first plane hit the tower, but is instead in the body of an IT guy who’d been called in at the last moment to fix Corrigan’s malfunctioning computer. 001 is locked out of Corrigan’s frozen computer, and can’t send the proof of concept email his mission requires.
He decides to save himself, since there isn’t enough time to figure out a workaround. So he raids Corrigan’s safe for its cash and stock certificates, stuffing it in Corrigan’s brief case, which also contains Corrigan’s lunch. 001 is now ready to run away from home, but guilt causes him to stop in the middle of the office on his way out and warn Vincent’s coworkers that they should follow him this minute, if they don’t want to die. Shockingly, no one follows the crazy man.
He races down the stairs, starting somewhere near the 90th floor, and gets far enough that he survives the plane’s impact, then continues to the ground. He sees the second plane hit as he’s discarding original Vincent’s wallet while keeping the cash.
In the present day, we discover that Vincent is recounting his nightmare to a therapist, Dr Perrow, who tries to reassure him that this type of dream is normal. Vincent insists that he was actually there on 9/11, and his dream is real. He knows that the future is coming for him. He’s already seen changes in the history he remembers.
The FBI is holding each team member in a different room for interrogation, but they have their com channels open, allowing them to hear everything. Forbes, who is not a traveler, tells MacLaren that Ellis is dead, and Grace and Trevor are in the hospital. MacLaren begs Forbes to destroy the quantum frame, but refuses to divulge any further information.
Forbes, however, is very forthcoming. He reveals that FBI agents have been questioning him about changes in MacLaren’s behavior for weeks. He assumes that MacLaren is being blackmailed. Then Forbes shows Mac Trevor’s com device, which has been removed from his neck. They’ve figured out that it’s a futuristic communication device.
D13, otherwise known as Derek the traveler super doctor, shows up in the middle of Grace’s surgery and describes himself as “a specialist” when questioned. He sneaks an injection of medical nanites into her that will do everything necessary to heal her within a day or two, then slips out again. I guess he couldn’t refer to himself as “The Doctor” in a room full of doctors, but I really wanted him to.
Trevor is still in surgery, with a bullet lodged near his spine, but Derek doesn’t visit him. When Trevor comes out of surgery, his doctor tells his parents that he may not regain the use of his legs.
The police question David about the dead body in his apartment. The officer plays back Marcy’s goodbye message from Helios 685 to remind the audience that Marcy and David used to be close, and MarcyBot used to have normal emotions. It sure doesn’t have anything to do with their investigation.
Next door, abusive baby daddy Jeff is busy punching walls because he’s in trouble for killing nice little white girl turned traveler and child assassin Charlotte. Jeff’s supervisor still knows that he’s a stand up guy, despite the violent tantrum in the middle of the station and the alcohol on his breath. Plus they’ve discovered that Charlotte murdered the rest of her family. As soon as Carly gives a statement vouching for him, he can have his badge and gun back.
Forbes continues to interrogate Mac by revealing more information to him. Kat’s call to Forbes on her way out of town caused him to track Mac’s car. When the car disappeared into the electronic dead zone that Ellis set up to protect his farm, Forbes gathered his strike team, and went to the farm to investigate. The director probably didn’t stop him because his intervention saved Grace and Trevor’s lives.
Wakefield, the lead investigator, kicks Forbes out of the room before he can reveal more. Mac still sticks to asking Forbes to destroy the quantum frame. Wakefield begins his own genius interrogation of Mac, suggesting that there’s something criminal about Mac spending time with his team members because they aren’t as educated or well-paid. The FBI also can’t explain the quantum frame, so they’d like to declare it illegal.
Dr Perrow asks 001 if he feels threatened, but he explains that he has anti-time travel defenses installed in his home. Then he explains that he knows they’re after him because they’ve found him twice already.
After 9/11 he took a train to the Pacific Northwest and became close to Oliver Norton, a future tech millionaire. Vincent quietly inserted himself into the process, using his knowledge of the future to make himself and Oliver rich while he stayed invisible to the public and Oliver acted as front man. Vincent’s product was a fictional proprietary computer software that predicted stock market trends.
Oliver introduced Vincent to Irene, who became his assistant, then his wife and the mother of his child. Vincent was already reclusive and pretended to have anxiety and many phobias in order to maintain his invisibility in the historical record. Irene gave Vincent the human contact he craved, while respecting his boundaries.
001 had been ill with a future disease for half of his life before he traveled to the past. Births were rare and precious in the future. When Irene became pregnant she thought he would be upset, but he was happy. She died when the child, Taylor, was a baby, after sending a cell phone photo of Vincent and Taylor to a friend. The Director attempted to use Irene to convey a message, and it killed her.
001 becomes very agitated, yelling about the Director’s actions and the rules. Dr Perrow stops him, because she doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. He takes a hand sanitizer break, while she tries to leave, or get him to consider antipsychotic medication. He won’t consider either. He insists she stay until he’s done with his story.
The second time the Director found him was when his business partner, Oliver Norton, tried to make a cell phone call in Vincent’s office during an argument. Vincent was about to hit Oliver in the head with a heavy object, when the Director used Oliver to deliver the message: “Hello 001. You’re outside mission parameters. Self-termination required immediately.”
Oliver officially died of an aneurism, just like Irene had not long before. Vincent became sole owner of the business. Dr Perrow is about to jump out of her skin, but Vincent assures her that she has nothing to be afraid of. He didn’t kill anyone. He feels so much better after confessing his story to her, and he can’t wait for his next appointment! Dr Perrow heads to her car, where a guard brings her cell phone and a large package of cash on a literal silver platter. As soon as she takes the phone, it rings with a call from an unknown number, startling her. She doesn’t answer.
Carly’s interrogator informs her that Jeff jr has become a ward of the state because his parents were late getting to the babysitter on account of both being in jail. She starts screaming, and slips in that they should break out of the secure FBI facility. Mac has no problem with this, because he’s now fine with everyone blowing their cover instead of using their constitutional rights to get out legally. 🤷🏻♀️ Carly counts to three, they each beat up the one agent who’s in the room with them, and blithely walk out into the halls. I’m sure that the FBI doesn’t have anyone watching those rooms. 🙈
The halls are completely empty, as is normal for an FBI facility in the middle of the work day. 🤦🏻♀️ The team doesn’t suspect a thing. Carly and Mac each come around a corner at the same time, bringing them face to face. Carly draws her weapon and aims at his chest. You can tell she’s not as angry anymore, because she’s not aiming at his forehead.
Mac: Don’t forget protocol 3.
Carly: Don’t forget I was ordered to kill you.
Mac: Right. This isn’t a good time.
Marcy interrupts, and they round up Phillip. Carly, who is wearing her superhero tight pleather pants, takes out an agent as they cross an open area. As they approach an exit door, Mac and Phillip notice that the quantum frame has been reassembled in the facility’s gym. The team enters, and Mac tries to shoot the frame, but his gun has been disabled.
The whole escape was a set up by Wakefield to see if the team would really destroy the quantum frame. He thinks it’s strange that they would want to, since they built it. Why would the FBI detective assume that everyone in the barn built the device, especially since they were shooting at each other?
Wakefield tries to get Mac to show him what the device does, but Mac and the others don’t know how it works, even if they were inclined to show him. They are taken back to their cells, where Mac leads the team through a fake self-destruct sequence to piss off Wakefield, before they dramatically disable their coms. Wakefield storms out of the observation room.
Later, Wakefield’s entire investigative staff gets a text to meet him in the gym housing the quantum frame. He arrives soon after, having also received a text. Before the agents can sort the situation out, the device emits a wave that turns them all into travelers. So, that wasn’t normal procedure.
Grace sneaks into Trevor’s hospital room to share her medical nanites. Trevor is disappointed that the Director didn’t send him any nanites of his own, again, but I have faith that the Director knew Grace would share. The nanites need to be programed, which Grace does at Trevor’s bedside while he rambles hilariously, since he’s still on anesthesia. She mentions that he’s lived longer than any other human in history. Grace is totally in love with him. I totally ship them.
Forbes releases Mac and the rest of the team. He introduces himself to Mac as traveler 4112. 0014 built a failsafe into the quantum frame that would have leveled the entire building if the FBI had tried to break into it. It made the entire staff host candidates. The device is being dismantled and scrapped.
As they say goodnight, Forbes tells Mac that he’ll need a lot of help settling into the 21st.
The team goes straight to the hospital, where Phillip complains that it’s circular, unethical reasoning to plant a bomb, and then declare the potential victims host candidates when the bomb is about to go off. Yup. Seems pretty unlike the Director to me. Carly says that there’s no way the Director would allow that level of future technology to stay in the 21st century. Philip points out that the Director ordered the technology to be built in the first place. We’ve seen the Director be fickle, but I think someone else gave the orders, this time.
Marcy tells the others that Trevor and Grace will make a full recovery. Everyone but Phillip leaves. He stays, because that’s what Trevor would do. They have the best bromance.
While Mac gives Carly a ride home, she tells him that she’s decided not to kill him. He’s visibly relieved. She figures there was a power struggle while the Director was offline, so the order can’t be trusted. He says it must have been a hard decision, and she doesn’t answer, just gets out of the car with a mysterious smile. This is why I love her.
Marcy gets back to David’s apartment to find him scrubbing the blood stains out of the hardwood floor. He’s traumatized by the murder. The neighbor told Officer Boyd that the shooter was a stocky bald man with a thick Canadian accent. Definitely not Marcy. She tries to soothe him.
Vincent logs into his double monitor computer set up. On one screen is a battered, bleeding traveler tied to a wheelchair with an IV bag. On the other, he types, in a familiar white font, “WHEN ARE YOU FROM?”
I hope this is the one and only time we relive Vincent’s arrival story. That day, and the following week in September, 2001, were a real life nightmare for me. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to emotionally distance myself from seeing those planes hit, and the towers fall.
On the other hand, that was a fantastically dramatic way for the first traveler to arrive. It draws us straight into the action and into the new character and story for the season. It also sets up paranoia as a major theme this season. A major result of the attacks was heightened paranoia at all levels of society that’s never completely gone away.
Is Dr Perrow’s name a play on Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous detective, which is spelled differently but pronounced almost the same? She looked very troubled, almost ill, when she left his house. Does her name mean she’ll investigate his story on her own?
Dr Perrow got that call from an unknown number the moment the guard put the phone back in her hand, suggesting someone is tracking her movements.
Vincent technically didn’t kill Oliver Norton, but he was about to (in the visual, though he doesn’t tell Dr Perrow). That made Oliver a candidate for a message from the Director. Was Vincent also about to kill Irene, but he suppresses the memory and blames the Director? Does he kill everyone he’s in contact with who breaks his rules? And, since sending a message through an adult kills them, why doesn’t the Director just use that method to kill Vincent?
Given the way the episode ends, it’s clear that 001 is an unreliable narrator, at best. He’s paranoid to the point of severe mental illness, as Dr Perrow suggested. Is it a symptom of 001’s pre-existing illness, or was the host predisposed to developing a mental illness? Is he responsible for the Faction, which wasn’t mentioned by name at all in this episode, or is he a separate issue, a rogue traveler turned serial killer?
001 says that few babies are born in the future, so life is precious, but the Director frequently sends travelers back who are killed within moments of arrival. It seems to waste lives constantly, as if there’s an endless supply. Are they reusing the consciousnesses of travelers, the way they reused Marcy to fix her, and making sure that the duplicates stay geographically separated?
Dr Derek didn’t “clear” when they were using the paddles on Grace and he was injecting her with medical nanites. Was that a mistake, or is he an android?
The Director saves Grace, its favorite programmer, even though she went rogue, after it sacrificed Ellis, its other favorite, to deliver the message ordering MacLaren to destroy the quantum frame. Grace goes out of her way to help Trevor again, while the Director doesn’t care about him. The director loves Grace, Marcy and MacLaren, but won’t help Phillip, Carly or Trevor. Or possibly Grace rescued Marcy on her own, the way she did Trevor, so that she’ll have a loyal team of her own in the 21st.
I am okay with this. I want Grace on this show forever, but TV history and Travelers history suggest that she’s living on borrowed time. Maybe a loyal team of series regulars can protect her from ruthless writers who want to fridge her. She should probably start sleeping between Marcy and David, who are able to dodge bullets and survive severe brain damage.
Grace says that Trevor is the longest lived human in history. That almost has to mean that she doesn’t know that 001 is alive, and that he’s older. Grace and Trevor probably personally know 001, as well.
The others know Trevor’s old, but do they know how old? His number is higher than Grace’s, and last season Phillip only seemed to know that Trevor is at least 100 years older than him. If any of them would know, it would be the historian. So how old is Trevor? Some of his statements last season suggested having been in an old body. Was he old when body transference was invented? Vincent originally volunteered because he was dying. Did Trevor as well?
Forbes: A few weeks ago I received a top secret interdepartmental communication asking if I’d noticed any changes in you. I told a pair of special agents with very expensive sunglasses that yeah, I noticed […]. And your wife noticed too. Nothing either one of us could point to, but enough to say that something is up.
Forbes: They wanted me to ask you about this. They tell me it’s a communication device. It’s made from something called graphene, a technology we’re working on, but we’re not quite there yet. They suspect that it’s powered by the natural electricity of the human body, capable of broadcasting an encrypted signal for miles. This one came from the high school senior that’s in surgery right now.
Graphene is a real form of carbon that does actually have the potential for futuristic wireless communications, among many other uses.
Vincent: I have defenses in place. Deuterium oxide in the radiant heating system acts as a fair space-time attenuator. It slows neutrons. Don’t worry, it’s not radioactive.
The fact that Vincent is bringing up deuterium oxide, a component of heavy water, which in turn is often used in the process of nuclear fission, is a clue that nuclear reactions are being used in the future, and are important to time travel. If I understand him right, he’s circulating heavy water in pipes under his floors because that slows down neutrons, which makes time travel impossible. It also heats his house. Possibly the travelers’ consciousnesses, and the Director’s messages, are carried through time on neutrons they become attached to in a controlled nuclear reaction, and the neutrons need to be traveling at a certain speed to enter a host? Any theories out there?
Between the enclosed spaces they live in, the graphene, the heavy water, and the nuclear fission, it’s no wonder they’re all sick in the future.
Phillip asks for someone to check on his abandoned turtle, Poppy.
An FBI agent suggests that it’s strange for Marcy to know martial arts better than some street thugs. Where I come from, kids start taking martial arts at age 3, and it’s common for women to learn to physically defend themselves. I know an avid female kickboxer who’s not much bigger than Marcy and works security at rock concerts.
I don’t know how it works in Canada, but in the US it’s not illegal to have a hobby that involves spending time with people less fortunate than yourself. I love this show, but they could’ve written the FBI investigation better. This could be a 3k word essay picking apart how badly written the FBI and police scenes were in this episode. More if I were a cop.
Surely the guy who reads people their Miranda rights on a regular basis would ask for a lawyer at some point, instead of breaking out? The authorities have nothing on the team, or else they’d charge them. Ellis died of an aneurism, and he has the gun powder on his hands to prove that he shot Grace and Trevor. The team should just say they are a group of amateur engineers whose argument got out of hand. That’s actually close to the truth.
Was Grace right when she suspected that the Director was compromised before the reboot? Did the Director send the order for the quantum frame to be built at all, or was that actually the Faction hijacking the Director? As far as I’ve been able to sort out the end of season 1, the Director wanted the frame destroyed, and the Faction, and/or Vincent, wanted MacLaren and the team assassinated. Now we have this unusual wave-like mass traveler transfer, traveler Forbes saying he doesn’t know what he’s doing (hasn’t received the usual thorough training), and telling Mac the device will be scrapped. Or maybe the 25 travelers that were just created will dismantle it and set it up somewhere else, for the Faction and/or Vincent to continue using, while Mac, the Director and the FBI think it’s been dismantled.
Protocol 1: The mission comes first.
Protocol 2: Leave the future in the past. Don’t jeopardize your cover.
Protocol 3: Don’t take a life. Don’t save a life. Unless otherwise directed.
Protocol 4: Do not reproduce.
Protocol 5: In the absence of direction, resume your host’s life.
Protocol 6: Traveler teams should stay apart unless instructed otherwise.
3 thoughts on “Travelers Season 2 Episode 1: Ave Machina Recap”
Absolutely love these recaps. All sorts of insights, and explanations of a few things I couldn’t figure out. One question- what does the comment (slang?). “ I totally ship them” mean?
Google says “A word used to express that you approve of a relationship. Often used to describe your opinion on a coupling or pairing”
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Happy to hear you enjoy my recaps! “Ship”, in this sense, is short for “relationship”. Shipping people means you want them to be in a relationship together.
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