A Shocking Conclusion
What is causing time to jump back this time?
Episode 8 of The Lazarus Project starts in 2012 with Dennis Rebrov and Janet together. He fumbles through asking her out, but eventually they do agree to date. As she does, Dennis receives a troubling message. He frowns, but quickly puts it to the back of his mind.
This paves way for jumping forward to Hamburg, three weeks before the Checkpoint reset where George shot Shiv in his apartment. Janet is there with this Zhang agent. Janet uncuffs herself and the pair leave together, with Shiv showing up to stop them both. Shiv find a note from Janet that reads “It’ll be worth the wait”, which explains the blood-soaked paper in Shiv’s jacket that George found.
In the present, George is called into the Lazarus Project as it turns out two Black Holes have collided. This is what caused the explosion. This appears to be beyond their control, meaning they’re going to have to repeat the same three weeks constantly indefinitely unless they can come up with a solution.
George believes this black hole collapsing may be the result of someone forcing it to occur here on earth. The one person smart enough to do something like this appears to be Janet, and if Zhang has her, then it seems to hint that the Chinese are involved in some way.
How do George and Archie handle these loops?
After disposing of Shiv’s body (having learned from his experiences in the past), George prepares for the next step. Archie is already one step ahead though, and happens to be in Shanghai. She finds out where Zhang is after threatening her sister and prepares to stop her. Only, she finds a shield of agents at the scheduled meet that kill her. And guess what? The time loop resets itself.
This time, George doesn’t bother to see Sarah, which causes a new fluctuation in the form of her showing up that night and seeing Shiv’s body bundled into George’s trunk. George eventually sits with Sarah and tells her everything, even bringing her into The Lazarus Project to see what they’re working on. Apparently there’s no security here at all, and she can just waltz in and check out the papers with him. Anyway, as a result, Sarah to have second thoughts about him and the pair end up making love that night. More importantly though, she agrees to keep everything a secret.
What is Zhang’s connection to all this?
With another time loop, over in Shanghai Archie shows up and finds Zhang’s real location, having learned from the first time. Unfortunately, Zhang shoots herself in the head before she can give up any intel.
When time repeats again, there’s a new development. It turns out Zhang can actually remember these loops, given the Chinese have been developing their own serum this whole time. They’ve made their own machine too. Zhang meets Archie and tells her all of this, including how she’s handed over Janet to her handler but doesn’t know where they are. They were supposed to meet a day before the Checkpoint but he never showed. And that handler? Shiv.
Apparently Zhang has been tracking the Lazarus Project this whole time and knows that George is involved in all this. She confirms as much when Zhang mentions George showing up to see Janet at the apartment in Barcelona. When Archie learns this, she’s shocked.
How does George try to save Shiv? What’s on the blood-soaked letter?
In this new time loop, things go from bad to worse for George. Instead of one body he now has two; he accidentally runs down Sarah instead of stopping in front of her. It’s a momentarily blip though, as we see this painstaking reality play out numerous times. George starts to go a bit mad, while Wes decides they should get the governments involved, taking some serum for herself.
On his way back from this meeting, George finds Archie waiting for him inside the apartment. She knows what he’s done and demands he bring Shiv back. When the next loop occurs, she tells him to speak to Shiv and promise to make things right.
George attempts to try and figure out how to save Shiv, speaking to doctors and intent on finding a solution to Shiv’s collapsed lung. Ironically though, Reggie (the next door neighbour) actually happens to be a paramedic!
Not only that, but George heads off to find out what’s on this bloodied paper. Speaking to an expert, George manages to uncover the “It’ll be worth the wait” and translating the Mandarin on the bottom right hand side. And the translation? “Time Machine.”
Does Shiv survive? What does he say to George?
Over in Shanghai, Archie and Zhang find one another and talk once more. Zhang explains that these constant time loops are a result of the Chinese botching their own time machine. The black hole closing in on itself could well be that the machine is breaking every time and the only solution is to bring Janet in, with her “country-sized brain and IQ” to fix it before it’s too late.
Zhang also reveals that she’s found where Janet is located. At the same time, George grabs a sample of the serum from the fridge and hands it over to Sarah, wanting her to remember everything she’s lost before time repeats itself again. The one wildcard in all this happens to be Dennis Rebrov, who shows up to see George when he heads back home from visiting Sarah. As they discuss the time machine and what’s happening, time reverses again.
This time, George scrambles for the door and urges Reggie to come and help, given he’s a paramedic. While Shiv’s life hangs in the balance, Janet works to fix the machine in isolation, at the spot Zhang and Archie are about to infiltrate, guarded by Chinese agents. Zhang and Archie work together to save her but when they show up in the room she’s being kept in… it’s completely empty.
Over in England, Reggie manages to bring Shiv back long enough for him to tell George that “Rebrov is the key.” Dennis Rebrov shows up at Lazarus Project just after this, which is thinly guarded, and explains what’s happening.
As he speaks to Wes and the others, he tells them all about the codewords he’s been using with Janet all this time. Specifically, how they had another phrase together – one that’s more important than the others. “It’ll be worth the wait.” And what does this translate to in their coded language? “I’m in trouble, I need you. Come and get me.”
How does The Lazarus Project Season 1 end?
Unfortunate, these problems with the Chinese run much deeper than we first thought. It turns out Archie and Zhang are in the right location…but not the right time. It would appear that someone has figured out how to break the checkpoints and send Janet back through time. She’s actually in London 2012. And funnily enough, that message that came through with Rebrov at the start of the episode on his phone, happens to be from Janet. In order to bring Janet back, Rebrov confidently tells the Lazarus Project that they’re going to need his help.
But if that wasn’t a juicy enough cliffhanger for you all, Sarah rocks up in George’s apartment. Shiv is sitting up, Reggie is in shock and George wide-eyed at her appearance. It turns out she’s taken the serum and now she’s part of all this.
The Episode Review
What a cliffhanger to end things on! The Lazarus Project sets everything up for an enticing second season to come. Where Lazarus Project has excelled is in its morally grey areas between what’s right and wrong. We’ve seen that Rebrov isn’t really the “bad guy” he’s been made out to be, or not entirely anyway.
Characters like Wes have been a bit one-note but most of the other cast have been fleshed out with lots of nuance to their motivations. The time travel elements have been quite simple – at least up until the final moments here which change the game completely.
Big question marks now have to be raised around exactly what this means for all of our characters now that Janet has been essentially taken back through time. The clever foreshadowing with the mobile phone is a nice touch, while the show has managed to develop a simple but effective mythos of cause and effects for all of these characters.
There are echoes of other time travel shows here too, including 11.22.63 and Russian Doll, taking the best elements of both shows and blending them together here. It’s certainly made for an enthralling series.
Of course, there are a few subjective parts of this show. The lack of security at The Lazarus Project is a little disconcerting, while you could ask questions about how something like this even managed to get funding. It would have been nice to maybe show someone with this mutant gene winning big and setting up the whole project to take advantage of the time loops they’ve been experiencing. We already know that there’s someone working above Wes (as evidenced in episode 2) but we don’t quite know who this is. Could a second season shed light on this?
Beyond that though, most of the other elements here have been great, with the final episode managing to add some lovely little surprises. The reveal that Reggie is actually a paramedic is ingenious while Zhang actually being aware of the time loops is a neat inclusion and sets up a very different dynamic to grow into – especially if she starts to remember the deviating timelines too.
Either way, the ending sets everything up for what should be a very interesting follow-up to this enthralling sci-fi adventure. Regardless of the cliffhanger ending, this has been a great series.