Monday night’s new episode of “Timeless” is right around the corner, and this is a big one in the wake of Wyatt’s arrest at the end of “Karma Chameleon.” His quest to save his wife went up in smoke, and now he has to face questions as to whether or not he can be trusted again. One of the people at the center of said questioning is Sakina Jaffrey’s Agent Denise Christopher, one of the moral compasses of the time-travel team so far this season. She’s helped to keep everything on track in terms of Garcia Flynn and their missions, though at the same time we’ve certainly seen her start to bond with Lucy and company along the way.
As Jaffrey tells us in a new exclusive interview below, Wyatt’s actions have put Agent Christopher in quite a predicament entering Monday’s “The Lost Generation.” We go through that struggle, and also touch on the origins of her character, some teases for the finale, and the hopes of the show getting renewed for a second season.
CarterMatt – For you, what’s been the experience like working on the show this season? In looking back at everything you’ve done I know you’ve taken on some supernatural stuff like ‘Sleepy Hollow,’ but then also some of the more grounded stuff like ‘House of Cards’?
Sakina Jaffrey – I was probably hired because of some of the more grounded stuff that I’ve done, but we are nowhere in this show unless we have reality. I found that with ‘Sleepy Hollow’ … Whether it’s with monsters or whether or not it’s time-travel or a show like ‘Timeless,’ if you don’t believe both our historical characters and our characters doing crazy things in the present, a show goes nowhere.
I do think that there’s probably a similarity between the characters that I’ve played on ‘House of Cards’ and even ‘Mr. Robot’ in that they have real integrity, which right now feels like such a beautiful thing. They believe in the institutions that they come from, and they defend those. I think you do need somebody in these shows who has integrity, and that they need to be completely grounded, as well.
How much did you know about Agent Christopher when you first got the part? Did the writers tell you much about her or her sexuality?
It was [executive producers Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke] who talked to me about the part. I don’t remember if they told me about her sexuality before we started shooting or after I first got the part, but what I did love about it is that it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter to [Shawn and Eric], it wasn’t like ‘you need to know that you’ll be playing a homosexual character.’ I think the casualness in which they told me was similar to the casualness in which it was brought up on the screen.
I wasn’t able to go to LA to meet with the writers, but I was able to speak with them on Skype and they asked me which characters I would like to engage with. I thought that was an interesting question just based on the scripts we had read. At that point I was sort of pal-ing around with Malcolm [Barrett] and Paterson [Joseph] and Claudia [Doumit], so I of course said those people! In the end it turned out that I had more of a relationship with Matt [Lanter’s] character Wyatt, and a part of that may have been because we both came from similar military backgrounds, police backgrounds.
In the aftermath of everything that happened with Wyatt last week, does Agent Christopher understand why Wyatt went and did what he did? Does she understand emotionally where he came from with it, but can’t imagine ever wanting to reconcile crossing that line herself?
I think that’s exactly it. We got a glimpse of the fact that she is deeply invested in protecting people, as well. When we went back to her house, she said that she understood the enormity of having a time machine. She also understands that losing somebody, obviously losing family is hard. Because she is so law and order, she believes that there are laws in place that help them save save people. When those laws are broken, there’s a real conundrum because she believes that the law should be able to help us out, but it doesn’t always go that smoothly.
In the next episode, she is faced with that issue. But I think she gets it. She got it with Lucy, and she got it with Wyatt losing his wife. She has to believe, just as I believe right now, that our laws and our Constitution will be the things that save us. I think it’s interesting having a character that believes in those institutions — in this next episode there are questions as to whether or not they work the way we want them to. It gets very messy, and I think the messiness is what’s interesting about this show.
I was reading the synopsis from Monday’s episode, and it suggests that Agent Christopher’s going to be paying Wyatt a visit wherever he is going to be locked away. Is there anything that you can speak to when it comes to that conversation?
I think she thinks that Wyatt has put her in a very bad position. I am not just their boss; they are my charges and I do care very much for each one of them. I’m in a bit of quandary about how to proceed; he didn’t make it easy stealing the Lifeboat! I think I’m trying to work through those things — Wyatt and Agent Christopher try to work through those things together in a really interesting way.
I’m sure this is probably one of the questions you’ve been asked the most over time, but would you be interested in seeing Agent Christopher travel through time?
As an actor I’d hop in that time machine in a second! One of my favorite aspects of the show is seeing Malcolm’s character Rufus go through time, and racially how interesting that is. I would love to be somebody who’s doing that as well, but no promises have been made to me when it comes to that (laughs), which is fine. We need somebody back home, too. Let’s see what the writers do.
I know that there’s been a lot of movement on Twitter to try to get a season 2, and the live+3 data the past couple of episodes has been really encouraging. What’s the sentiment right now with the cast? Is everyone feeling hopeful?
I think the cast just enjoys each other so much, we’re talking every day and enjoying what we do. We love our writers, and we’re really close to the writers. Shawn and Eric are so bright and engaged and have such good instincts about anything. We have no idea how it’s going to go, but the engagement from our fans — if that’s any indication, I think we’re optimistic.
But, you never know. There are surprises all the time. This is a very complicated show to shoot — we basically make a movie every week with all of the different costumes and the sets and the history. I cannot believe that we’ve managed to do this for 16 episodes. I can’t say what the likelihood is. Interestingly enough, I’ve watched the show with eight-year old and seventy-year olds, and they love it for either the fantasy / escapism aspect of it or the history aspect of it, which the kids don’t know but the older viewers know.
My personal thoughts are that if we were at a different time, we’d be reeling in lots more people. That’s my thing — I hope we have another season and we’re at a slightly earlier time where people can really get hooked in. I love that. I love that I speak to people with kids, and they say ‘my son is obsessed with the show.’ That’s all you want to hear! It’s that idea of getting to go to a different period of time, and you believe it and you believe these characters. We’ve also had great guest stars! Look at our ‘Bonnie & Cylde’ episode or our ‘Lone Ranger’ episode. They’re just beautifully portrayed characters and you want to spend time with all of them.
I do hope it continues — I do feel our fanbase is getting wider and wider.
Isn’t it kind of ironic that this is a show called ‘Timeless’ and it’s a timeslot that is causing so much frustration for some?
(Laughs) Well, they did craft us a beautiful timeslot after ‘The Voice,’ but it’s such a PG show that it could definitely go earlier and it could help us. Not to get too political, but this is a such an interesting time to have this show on the air. Not since the Civil War have we had such internal conflict that loomed so large. It’s an interesting time for it. I do think the writers are keenly aware of it — we do read scripts sometimes and [see the similarities to today] — ironically, I’ve been in two shows like that since on ‘House of Cards’ we would shoot a scene, and then the next day it would happen.
Have Shawn and Eric given out any clues for what a season 2 could be?
Absolutely nothing. I think some amazing things are revealed in the last episode of the season, but from there you can only imagine what would happen. We didn’t know about the last episode until we read the last episode!
Is there anything else you want to say about the finale?
I just think the revelations are startling. I literally gasped — let’s just say that I gasped three times when I read the last episode.
That’s all for now! Thanks again to Sakina for all of her time and candor! Remember that you can head over here to check out all news related to “Timeless,” and that will include a review of “The Lost Generation” after it airs. Also, feel free to share your thoughts on the interview below. (Photo: NBC.)