"Karma Chameleon" is the thirteenth episode of Season 1 of Timeless. It premiered on January 30, 2017.



Wyatt and Rufus go rogue by traveling back to the 1980s in a desperate bid to save Jessica's life. Lucy covers for them in the present as Agent Christopher discovers the ship is missing. Also: Anthony Bruhl makes a startling confession.


The Mission

Wyatt's Agenda

  • In order to prevent the murder of Jessica Logan and two other women, Wyatt steals the Lifeboat and travels to March 19, 1983, to prevent the one-night-stand that results in the birth of serial killer Wes Gilliam.

Changes to the Timeline

  • Joel Bender is accidentally killed; as a result, Gilliam ceases to exist. However, while the two women Gilliam had previously killed are alive, Jessica remains dead, indicating that someone else murdered her.

Guest Cast

Historical Events and Figures



Episode Notes


  • The episode title references the 1983 Culture Club song "Karma Chameleon".
  • While Wyatt and Rufus are firing up the Lifeboat to travel to 1983, Rufus hopes that Wyatt did not pick out a pair of parachute pants for him. This is a reference to rapper MC Hammer.
  • When Wyatt explains to Rufus the mission to prevent Wes Gilliam's parents from meeting, Rufus refers to it as a reverse Back to the Future. In Back to the Future, Marty McFly traveled to 1955 and accidentally gets his future mother Lorraine Baines attracted to him. In order to ensure his own existence, he needed to have Lorraine fall in love with his future father George McFly at the school dance.
  • The episode references several NBC TV series that aired in the 1980s. Rufus' 1983 outfit is a nod to the pastel-colored suits from Miami Vice. The A-Team, Manimal, and Diff'rent Strokes are shown on the television sets in the timeline.
  • Sonny

    Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice

    Wyatt wears a Members Only jacket, which was a prominent brand endorsed by celebrities during the 1980s. Oddly enough, the slogan for Members Only is: "When you put it on, something happens."
  • Rufus's unstructured pastel jacket, t-shirt, and pushed-up sleeves are the iconic style worn by Don Johnson in the early seasons of Miami Vice.
  • The scene where Wyatt tells Claire to go home references the Western Union telegram he sent to Jessica from 1962 Las Vegas in “Atomic City”.
  • When Rufus distracts the State Trooper by telling him to help a creepy-looking kid named Haley Joel, he is referencing Haley Joel Osment from the 1999 film The Sixth Sense.


  • "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone (1981)
  • "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" by The Human League (1983)
  • "Don't You Want Me" by The Human League (1981)
  • "Crimson and Clover" by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (1982)
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