The 35-year-old star talks to ET about the love square, the Jessica revelation and the final three episodes of the season.
Timeless star Matt Lanter is counting down the final episodes of the season.
The sophomore season of NBC's time-travel drama has been well-received by fans, who affectionately call themselves Clockblockers, with the Time Team -- led by Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Wyatt (Lanter), Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and now Flynn (Goran Visnjic) -- racing against time to rescue historical figures like suffragist Alice Paul and blues legend Robert Johnson, all against the backdrop of the show's central Rittenhouse mystery. As Lanter tells it, the current run of episodes has been a personal thrill.
“I’ve been getting that feedback a lot, that people are enjoying this season more than last season and that’s saying something. People loved the show last year enough to bring it back from the dead," the 35-year-old actor, who plays Wyatt Logan, tells ET. "[But] it has changed a little bit and it’s become a lot more focused -- and that was definitely with intention. People love the big, historic spectacle and we still have that, but what they’ve really done is really focus more on the character developments and the relationships between characters. And people really responded to that."
Ahead of Sunday's episode, ET spoke with Lanter about the final three episodes of the season, the complicated love square Wyatt is at the center of and what fans have to do to keep hope alive for a Timeless renewal.
ET: What has been gratifying for you to explore as you've charted Wyatt's journey this season?
Matt Lanter: I feel like we’ve gotten to know him a lot more this season. Last season, we didn’t know much about him -- he was a soldier who was hired. We learned a little bit about Lucy’s family last year with the Rittenhouse revelation. We learned a little bit about Rufus’ family and how he came to be to be in Mason Industries and his relationship with Mason. We didn’t really know much about Wyatt, except the fact that his wife [Jessica] had passed away. I feel like we’ve explored a lot of his past and his relationship with his wife coming back -- that presents a whole new dynamic and a whole new dilemma. And one of the things that I had always asked [executive producers] Shawn Ryan and Eric Kripke was, "Why Wyatt? Why is he here?" I kept asking that question. In the next episode, you get to understand "Why Wyatt?" We explain that a little more as to why he’s there with the group.
What can we expect from Sunday’s episode, which takes us back to the day Reagan was shot?
This is more of an origin story for our central characters. You find out a lot more [about their pasts]. It’s the Reagan era in the ‘80s, and we find out a lot more about that day. It’s a fun, action-packed adventure. We get to see Wyatt dive a little deeper into the Jessica thing: Why is she here? What is she doing? Especially with this revelation last week that Rittenhouse, for whatever reason, has a surveillance photo of Jessica …
Let’s talk about that Jessica revelation. Any way you look at it, it’s not great news.
So, what is the deal with Jessica?
We don’t know yet. This picture of Jessica could be many things, right? It could be, oh, she works for Rittenhouse or Rittenhouse has got surveillance on her, unbeknownst to Jessica. But now, the audience is a step ahead of Wyatt and so now we’re going to see Wyatt explore -- while he's walking on eggshells -- what’s happening around him and what are the reasons for her being back. We’ll find out all that stuff. Just be patient. But yeah, man, it’s crazy because I keep seeing a lot of people talk about how much they hate Jessica and they’re mad at Wyatt for being with Jessica. First of all, as the guy who’s portraying Wyatt, I have to understand and justify everything he does and says; I can’t understand why everyone is so mad at Wyatt. I guess I get it because people like Lucy -- we know her -- and the only reason why they’re not like that with Jessica is we don’t know much about her. People keep saying on Twitter, “He needs to break up with Jessica!” It’s not break up with Jessica, they’re married! (Chuckles.) They’ve had a deep, deep relationship and people sort of forget that because they’re watching a TV show. I get on [Twitter] and I’m so defensive of Wyatt, like, “What are you guys talking about? This is his wife. Put yourself in his position.”
If it came out that Jessica was a sleeper agent for Rittenhouse, how do you think Wyatt would handle that news?
I don't know. Although he does the right thing, it seems like Wyatt's heart comes first in trying to protect people that he cares about. We've already seen it earlier this season when Wyatt had infiltrated Rittenhouse headquarters, had a chance to take down Carol Preston and at the end of the day, he couldn't shoot Carol Preston. The reason for that was he didn't want to destroy Lucy; even though she's Rittenhouse, he'd have to go back to Lucy and say, "Hey, I killed your mom," and that'll always be hanging over him. Regardless of if she's Rittenhouse, evil or not, there's always that one part of Lucy that would think, "That's my mom and Wyatt killed my mom." We already saw him give up doing what's best for everything just to try and not hurt Lucy's heart. I would have to assume that he would give Jessica the benefit of the doubt, if that comes out and comes up. He'd have to try and figure out why she's with them, if he can change her, if he can bring her to the light side.
A love square has been brewing between Lucy, Wyatt, Jessica and Flynn, and as of late, Lucy and Flynn have gotten a lot of engagement from fans. In the last episode, it was very clear Wyatt isn't exactly a fan of the new arrangement. What is your take on that new pairing?
I think it's interesting. Part of that comes from people who are mad at Wyatt, which again, doesn't make sense to me. We've gotten to know Flynn a lot more. I've always loved the Flynn character and he's never been a bad guy per se. The Time Team all thought he was a bad guy, but according to him, he had justifications for the things that he was doing. Maybe he was a little intense with the way he went about things, but his heart was in the right place. I think the Lucy and Flynn thing is happening because they both really have nothing else at this point. Before that, Lucy had Wyatt and now that Wyatt is not there, she's literally hitting rock bottom -- and Flynn's there. I don't know. My opinion is I don't necessarily think they're right for each other, but there's no one else and they're just turning to each other. And I think Flynn likes to get on Wyatt's nerves a little bit.
Lucy and Wyatt air out their frustrations with their current romantic stalemate in last week's episode, where Lucy tells Wyatt that they "can't keep living in the past." Does this change their dynamic moving forward?
Yeah, they both came to the realization that Wyatt can't keep caring about Lucy when his wife is back. She can't really be there with him either. They've got to make a clean break, in a way, because obviously this situation is really tough. Where does that leave them? I don't know. Things can be said and it's all great to say, "We've got to be done with each other. We can't think about each other." It's easier said than done. Wyatt cares for her. You saw him say, "Just because Jessica's back, doesn't mean that I don't have feelings for you and I can turn them off." He's trying to, but he can't. She's doing the right thing in saying they have to. On the surface, it might mean that they are cooling down for now, but underneath, those feelings are still there for both of them. It's always going to be there.
With the season drawing to a close, what can fans look forward to?
We're doing episodes nine and 10 as a two-hour finale, so that'll be cool to have people be able to jump in. We're going to find a lot out. We're going to find out a lot about Jessica, and her and Wyatt's relationship. There are some big, big pieces that are going to be moved before the end of the season. There's a small bit at the very end that's a season cliffhanger and I can't wait for people to see this because it's awesome and -- I promise you -- it opens so many questions. It's one of those things that happens that changes everything we thought we knew about time travel. People's lives are hanging literally in the balance; there are literally people who could die or survive in this finale. It changes everything.
How are you feeling about a possible third season?
If there's anything I want to tell the fans: Show up for the next three episodes. I don't know that we're going to get "back from the dead" that we got last year. I think if it's over, it's over. Our fans really need to show up. If you love Timeless, get your friends, your family, everybody to watch live and jump in. Show up for these last three episodes and we'll get a season three.
Timeless airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.