Timeless Producer & Writer Arika Lisanne Mittman Talks the Writer’s Room & Behind the Scenes on Twitter

Arika Lisanne Mittman did a Q & A on Twitter today, where she answered fan questions about the show. The questions are all compiled here for fan convenience.

Lucy, Abigail Spencer, Matt Lanter, Wyatt, Timeless, Rufus

Question: In the Pilot, Connor Mason calls the Lifeboat “Our earliest prototype.” Could there be other models of unfinished time machines sitting in storage somewhere? Attempts between the Lifeboat and the Mothership.

Arika Lisanne Mittman: There could have been… but I would say if they had them, they probably blew up when Mason Industries exploded…

Question: Does someone oversee script versus what we see on screen? I’ve loved the scripts! What we see on screen is sometimes different. Who decides what ends up on screen? And do on screen changes ever contradict writer intent?

Mittman: Great question. On Timeless the episode writer is on set, so if the actors or director want to change something, they can come to us and suggest a change or we work together collaboratively to adjust it. So everything you see even if it’s changed on set is writer-approved…

Question: Going into season 2 did you know you guys know you were always going to end the season with Wyatt telling Lucy he loved her? Did you ever contemplate having them exchange I love yous in 2.03

Mittman: Nope. That was a late addition. It just seemed right (maybe because the timing was so wrong!) to bookend ep 2.01 where Rufus told Wyatt to tell her… I don’t recall talking about it for 2.03, but personally I think it would have been too early!

Question: When did Wyatt know that he is in love with Lucy?

Mittman: Hmmm! I don’t know if there’s a definitive answer but personally, I would say he realized it on some level when they kissed in Bonnie & Clyde. But I don’t think he was prepared to deal with it then because he was still reeling from having lost Jessica.

Question: The name “Garcia Flynn” (especially since his brother is Gabriel and it’s a time travel show) – a subtle reference to Gabriel Garcia Marquez and 100 Years of Solitude? I’ve always wondered where his name came from.

Mittman: Ya know, I’m not 100% sure of that one, maybe @therealKripke can answer that…

Question: Can you tell us why we didn’t get to see Wyatt’s inner conflict with Jess vs. Lucy – like him talking it out with Rufus? I would’ve liked to know how he was feeling about it all.

Mittman: Time & space. Wish we had more time & more episodes! You’re right, it would’ve been great to have more of that!

Question: In the Atomic City episode, did Anthony break the rules by traveling into a time when he (presumably) existed? (I’m going off Matt F’s real age at least). I’m trying to think if we saw him suffering any consequences?

Mittman: Anthony was in the time travel business for a long time… who knows how long he spent in any other given time periods? Like Emma, he may have been born later than one might think…

Question: How much debate takes place when you are all working on an episode? I would imagine with so many “cooks in the kitchen” that people have different opinions about character choices, development, etc. Just curious about how those conversations unfold – sounds like fun!

Mittman: That’s the best thing about a writer’s room. LOTS of debate. WE have a diverse room in so many ways, so so many ideas – if we can’t agree the episode’s writer makes the call and @TomSmuts, myself and @ShawnRyanTV & @therealKripke approve. And YES it is fun.

Question: Here’s kind of a wobbly wobbly time travel question: if the time team goes back in time to kill any member of Lucy’s family, she would survive as a time ghost, yes? Would another Rittenhouse family line take her place? Are there other family lines?

Mittman: She would exist (assuming she was on the mission at the time) but would have no identity, no family, no one outside of the mission would know who she was. As to what would happen to Rittenhouse, that’s hard to predict, isn’t it?

Question: I heard that you guys wrote in Lucy’s clumsiness because of Abigail’s natural clumsiness. Are there any other of the actors quirks that inspired you guys, that you wrote it in for their characters too? (Lucy’s clumsiness is my favorite thing)

Mittman: We love that about @abigailspencer too. 🙂 We write @ignatius_sancho’s british-isms into the script. @malcolmbarrett’s natural humor… I think in a lot of ways we started writing to the actors more in general as we got to know them.

Question: Are there any historical figures that you’re dying to write an episode around? I have a wishlist myself so I’m curious!

Mittman: YES! So. Many. Too many to name. But generally speaking I would like to get even more diverse. Latina people in history, trans people in history, people with disabilities…

Question: How long is the process to make one episode?

Mittman: To film it? We shoot each episode in 8-10 days. It’s supposed to be 8 plus a “double up” day (where we shoot 2 eps at once) but we do sometimes have to pick a few scenes up later…

Question: What were the “production difficulties” that led to the swimming pool scene being cut? I’ve read that it was very smoky when that scene was filmed – was that part of it?

Mittman: Fires, smoke, terrible wind and running out the clock of how long we could shoot, at like 5 in the morning!!

Question: Does it mean anything that the Mothership made 10 trips before S2, but 2.04 and 2.10 didn’t have sleepers? Was there a purpose behind those two extra trips?

Mittman: They could have dropped off any number of sleepers on those 10 trips. By the time we find the Sleepers they’ve been there a while so the 10 trips do not correspond necessarily to 10 episodes. Also, Emma made trips to eliminate Amy forever.

Question: Is Flynn’s wedding ring meant to represent his commitment to his family and getting them back? I’ve noticed he never takes it off – and the show has humanized him in such a way that I really, really hope he gets to save his wife and child.

Mittman: I don’t think this was scripted, I believe it was a beautiful actor choice by the talented@goranvisnjic. I would say, if I had to guess, it was always there to remind him what he’s doing all of this for, like Lucy’s locket.

Question: Was Hedy’s reveal of the sleeper in Hollywoodland always going to be that he’s working on a dinosaur picture he calls Jurassic Park? Her hairstyle changed between shots. Thought this might have been cut later.

Mittman: There WAS some piece that got re-shot but it wasn’t for that – I can’t remember why we had to reshoot it but I think it was technical reasons… Yes, it was always Jurassic Park in the script.

Question: When Jess was brought back, she said that Wyatt had cheated on her during their marriage. Even if he doesn’t remember, does the timeline change mean that he did it, or is it some other version of him who was displaced when he got off the Lifeboat at the end of Hollywoodland?

Mittman: History changed. Jessica was alive for the past 5 years instead of dead so wyatt has no idea what he did in the new timeline. But he still ended up on the mission and in the bunker. There wasn’t any other Wyatt running around to displace, he just doesn’t remember those years.

Question: Lucy steps in to break up the fight between Wyatt & Flynn. It appeared she was hit by accident. Can you tell us the thought process behind this choice?

Mittman: Really don’t want to go into the shipping war over this but YES, of course it was an accident! Really not sure how it could have been read any other way, but yes, the script says “accidentally.”

Question: Also, Lucy must be a descendant of John Rittenhouse, right? The deleted scene from 2.01 said she was a descendant of David Rittenhouse.

Mittman: Yep.

Question: How did Garcia recruit his henchman before he raided Mason Industries to steal the Mothership? Friends? Military buddies? Trusted associates from the NSA? How did he fund his mission?

Mittman: We actually discussed this a lot in the room. We think they were a mix of fellow trusted agents, true believers in his cause, and paid mercenaries. There’s always a way to get $$ when you have a time machine. Open a bank account in 1955… sports team bets…

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