Season finale: Journeyman

Journeyman season finale

I’ve been a little bit slack doing these Winter season finales. In my defence, there have only been a few so far and it’s often been quite hard to work out whether something’s properly finished or not. Bionic Woman‘s still with us and didn’t have a proper finale; Life‘s still with us but did have a proper finale.

Journeyman, however, subject to the great gods of NBC deciding otherwise, has passed on to TV heaven, although it has left this proper – and really rather good – finale behind.

Journeyman started off with a promising opening episode, but by the third episode, it hadn’t really done anything to make us want to stick with it. Which is why a whole load of people didn’t.

I did, although it seemed like force of habit at first. And after a few more episodes, Journeyman became a bit more engrossing. As well as introducing a few clever twists, it began to work on a couple of core themes: time paradoxes; and the effects on the hero’s relationships that his continual disappearances caused.

On the time paradoxes side, Journeyman explored the whole gamut, looking at the effects of trying to change your own past, leaving things from the future in the past, meeting yourself in the past, how small changes in the past can create large effects in the future and so on. It also had a mysterious scientist who seemed to know more than he was letting on about Dan’s mysterious new ability.

While the relationships side of thing didn’t really explore anything new – and was no different, really, from shows that have depicted the effects on relationships of police work, etc – it did manage to be touching at times. Unlike most traditional sci-fi, for which proper, well acted, adult emotions are an anathema, Journeyman brought tears to the eyes a number of times as Dan meets his errant father in the past, almost loses his child and wife, and is generally put through the ringer – all because of something he never wanted in the first place.

Journeyman‘s finale – and probably final episode – exhibited both of these strengths, with Dan meeting someone else who claims to travel in time and coming to terms with how he feels about having to help people to his own detriment, even when he has a possible cure to hand.

What could have been a rushed attempt to cram every nugget of information and plot revelation possible into 40 minutes managed to be both satisfying as a standalone episode and as a conclusion to the series. We learn just enough about everything for our curiosities to be satisfied and our intellects stimulated, but enough to still want more, should miracles happen. The final scene is possibly one of the most quietly affecting I’ve seen in a long time.

While Journeyman clearly suffered from being a little too humourless and a little too bereft of explosions and guns to attract interest from viewers, it did at least provide some quality episodes and thoughtful drama. I’m actually going to miss it.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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