Spoilers Through Season 3 Episode 10.
In Travelers season 3, watching Grace stand, abandoned, alone, and with her hands tied behind her back, after the assault teams vacated the farm in episode 1, then watching her get left behind again in episode 4, reminded me of a question I’ve had since she came to the 21st. Where does she stand with the Director, for real?
When she arrived, we were told she was his favorite, except for possibly Ellis. After Grace and Trevor were shot, the Director chose to kill Ellis by using him as a messenger and to save Grace by sending D-13/Dr. Derek with enough medical nanites that she could spare some for her (boy)friend, Trevor. That seems to show that the Director does indeed care deeply about Grace. The Director doesn’t send nanites around often.
Grace has certain unique skills and attitudes with regard to the Director that I believe it wants to protect. One of Grace’s gifts is the ability to creatively stretch resources by finding ways to have them do double duty, such using the same code to fix Marcy and reset the Director, passing her medical nanites on to Trevor so that they healed two patients instead of one, and repurposing the nuclear material from the military to save the Director from the Faction during the plague.
Grace is the Director’s favorite collaborator, the person it can count on to understand its intentions, to know what needs to be done when the task exceeds its capabilities. She will act as a partner or a mother and step in when the director is out of its depth. No one else will do that. Everyone else either sees it as evil and failing or benevolent and omniscient. It needs to keep her safe, hidden and available for that reason.
As Grace says in S3 Ep 7, Trevor, “I know exactly what its (the Director’s) capabilities and limitations are. That’s why we’re here. The Director needs programmers, people to collaborate.”
Grace is the only person in the Travelers universe who sees herself/people and the Director as equal partners in creating and enacting the Grand Plan. She’s been with the Director since the beginning and is the best source for accurate information on how the Grand Plan was meant to be enacted. Her vision of a collaborative Grand Plan, with humans making the tough moral decisions, is in danger of being lost once she’s gone.
Over the course of season 2, Grace tells us that she misses having long conversations with the Director, who appears to have been one of her closest friends. The Director puts her on trial for the reset that she did in season 1, accusing her of using it to help the Faction gain control. But later it admits that the trial was a ruse to flush out the real culprit by giving them a false sense of security.
In season 1, Grace’s actions with the Director are seen as insane by most of the characters, but over the course of season 2 we learn that she was correct and her actions saved the Director and the Grand Plan. This is never truly acknowledged by anyone but Grace and the Director in their private conversation after her trial, which was supposed to be a sentencing, but was really a farewell talk. The actual guilty party was caught trying to get Ellis’ backdoor code from Marcy, using the quantum frame.
In season 2, she is responsible for saving the world again, this time by stopping the Faction’s plague and restarting the Director. While all of the regular Travelers were caught up in thinking small and stymied by logistics, it was Grace who cut through all of that and gave them the information and problem-solving ideas they needed to take action on a plan that incorporated the future into their thinking.
No one else had the upper echelon knowledge to come up with this solution, and the Director couldn’t send a messenger to tell them. Only Grace could have put all of the information together the way that she did. Yet, once again, no one ever really acknowledged the important role she played.
In season 3, she spent more time with the team and gradually gained more acceptance, but only Trevor was her friend. More importantly, she regained a bit of access to the Director through Filmore Lab and Ilsa. The Director still wouldn’t speak to her if there were too many people around, though her skills became vital to solving the challenges that the team was facing.
Taking all of that into account, I have to wonder if there’s a method to the Director’s madness. We gradually see the Director’s reasoning work itself out, and watch the Director’s choices make sense, if given enough time and perspective. Other than Trevor, the characters still don’t necessarily have the perspective to see this. But the Director works on the scale of billions of people, and has to make harsh decisions individuals often aren’t capable of. Grace is also used to thinking on this scale, since she programmed the Director.
I think that through all 3 seasons, the Director was essentially keeping Grace in hiding, but in plain sight. It keeps her close to its extra special Travelers team, which includes Trevor, another person who, like Grace, doesn’t seem to get special treatment, yet always survives, and MacLaren, a man who does get a lot of special treatment. When Grace supposedly went rogue to come to the 21st, she stopped the entire Traveler program for 4 long hours and allowed dozens of people to die in accidents, so that she could have the body she wanted. The Director could have stopped her, but it didn’t. It wanted her in that particular body, and close to that team, as well.
This way, she’s in the right place at the right time when needed for emergencies, and she has protection provided by Trevor. But otherwise, she lives a quiet life with little danger. And, for most of seasons 2 and 3, little chance of being targeted by the Faction, since it seems as though the Director has discarded her. To an outsider, she looks like one of “the Director’s orphans,” as Hall and Luca put it.
Of course, Hall and Luca were actually given important tasks like protecting future presidents and delivering essential technological components. The Director didn’t abandon them at all. But making them look like rogue agents gave them a certain measure of protection which allowed them to work under the radar.
That’s the story with Grace, as well. By making it look like the Director doesn’t care about her, and keeping her in reserve for only the most important missions, the Director keeps one of its most important assets safe. If she were to join a team, she’d be in constant danger, even if it was a team of programmers. 001 and the Faction would love to learn the secrets of the currently active programers. By making Grace appear irrelevant, the Director keeps its favorite safe. The disdain the the other programmers feel toward Grace because of professional rivalry and their jealousy of her relationship with the Director only serves to reinforce her public image.
Grace isn’t just the Director’s favorite programmer. She was also its lead programmer for decades and one of its creators. The Director knew that it would continue to need her expertise, along with Trevor’s, right to down to the end of the Version 1 line. It kept her close so that she could save Trevor’s ability to function normally three times. Once by jumping in front of the bullet fired by Ellis’ shotgun at the end of season 1 (Ep 12, Grace), again at the beginning of season 2 when she restored his ability to walk and more by sharing her medical nanites (S2 Ep1, Ave Machina), then for the third time this season when she created the implant device that helped Trevor with his Temporal Aphasia (S3 Ep7, Trevor).
001 knew who Grace was at the end of season 2, despite her insistence on always being called Grace. But he left her alone, because she didn’t seem to be of any value. When he did kidnap and interrogate her, at the very end of season 3, he was interested in Ellis’ backdoor code and how to get it out of Marcy’s head, not all of the secrets that Grace undoubtedly has stored in her own head. We’ve seen her orchestrate some sophisticated maneuvers with the Director, and Ellis’ code was just one small piece of one operation.
So the Director’s strategy worked, right up through the end of the line. The Faction and 001 were distracted away from Grace and her importance by convincing them that Ellis’ backdoor code was the only important piece of the puzzle. Grace stayed in semi-hiding and was available to help the Dream Team when needed, but wasn’t put in too much danger.
Grace was in Teslia’s lab to interpret the Director’s actions when it downloaded the time travel program in S3 Ep 10, Protocol Omega, and to send 3468 back to 2001. Even Trevor and Philip didn’t fully understand what was possible until she explained it. But because 001 had so discounted her importance, he didn’t ask her the right questions when he gave her the truth serum, she kept the right secrets, and the Director’s plan to ultimately thwart 001 worked.
Grace was the key to everything.
Protocol 1: The mission comes first.
Protocol 2: Leave the future in the past. Don’t jeopardize your cover.
Protocol 2H: Historian updates are not to be discussed with anyone. Ever.
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.
T.E.L.L.: The Time, Elevation, Latitude, and Longitude of what would have been the historical death of a Traveler’s host body.
001 5692 Katrina Perrow-001
004 Jeff- 5416 001
Images courtesy Netflix.