So Time After Time Season 1 Episode 5 gives us some hints that Stevenson isn't as stone cold as he has seemed to be so far.
This presents some interesting possibilities but may backfire as his villainy is really the sole driving factor in this show.
Having used the time machine to escape to Paris 1918 in order to find the son he never knew he had, he immediately killed a man for his clothes and money. Well, they've never claimed he's anything other than efficient.
Meanwhile, Wells and Jane are proving a really effective team once again as they figure out – via the vast and infinite Internet – what Stevenson's up to in 1918.
Then they go and ruin it with another painful "couple" moment, albeit not without humor when Wells refused to let her come in the time machine because of the danger it would place her in.
Wells: At the risk of sounding...
Jane: ... like a sexist pig?
Wells: I have yet to oink so I fail to understand the pig reference
Don't get me wrong. I understand why there's so much time spent on this relationship. It establishes Wells as the good guy. It allows Jane to assert the modern woman attitude and expectations.
It connects the two on an emotional level and raises the stakes (in case you missed the giant frying pan to the head the writers wielded TWICE) for when Wells will have to return to his own time without her.
But "fate" is becoming the new "F" word and it would be nice if the show could just trust the viewers to root for the heroes and their relationship on its own merits.
But enough about them. This episode was really played out on two fields: the WWI Parisian field was all Ripper and Son while the 2017 New York City field was good ol' fashioned cat 'n' mouse 'n' detective or, in this case, Brooke 'n' Griffin 'n' Vanessa, respectively.
First to Paris. Stevenson's son, Henry, is pretty much everything we could hope for as a foil to Stevenson. Loving son, devoted fiance, loyal soldier, and honorable doctor.
It was fascinating to watch Stevenson suss him out for any hint of the paternal psychopathy.
Stevenson: Strange thing to take a life, isn't it?
Ayers: My calling is to save lives, not take them
Stevenson: Yes, but I imagine the lines are often blurred.
Ayers: I can assure you. They're not.
And it's interesting to note that the young Dr. Ayers is engaged to a spirited career woman like Margot, as much a match for him as, say, Dr. Brooke is for Stevenson.
Everything Stevenson does in his effort to thwart history has a tinge of desperation to it. Even his chat with Wells lacks a bit of the edge it usually carries as Wells tries to sympathize with Stevenson's need to save Ayers.
His take on war is delivered with his usual bravado and the reference to Wells' future novel is cute but both characters convey a sense of resignation to the juggernaut of war, having seen what is to follow.
War can never be truly stopped. Once you unleash a beast of this magnitude, there's no way to call it off. Perhaps one day, we shall annihilate each other. We'll call it "The War of the Worlds"Stevenson
And when he finally gets Henry alone and is so very sure that he has defeated destiny and his own evil tendencies, Stevenson in an uncharacteristic moment of vulnerability, reveals his belief in his own redemption.
The man you judge - the man the whole world has put on trial in absentia - the selfish, vile prat. The Ripper. You know him so well yet beg to know why, why, WHY? He's lived a dark and dishonorable life. He's done despicable things. But that does not preclude the possibility of good, does it? My boy, my boy! Congratulations, you are the proof, the one good thing he might ever do, the punctuation of a remarkable, misunderstood life.Stevenson
It's rather a lot to take in about a character we've seen kill and boast and strut his disdain for humanity.
And when it all falls apart and he watches Henry run selflessly into the burning cafe to die in an effort to save lives, it's almost believable that he could be convinced, in his state of shock, to return to 2017 with Jane and Wells.
Almost. Not quite. But points for trying to make it seem plausible, writers.
As for the game afoot in NYC, I found this far more exciting.
Vanessa's investigation into Project Utopia had Brooke and Griffin worried. And, as it turns out, Griffin is most definitely the bigger worrier in the family, Brooke demonstrating more and more the cold, clinician side that pairs so well with Stevenson.
Her bedside manner with brother Griffin was so on point, it perfectly illustrated the power dynamic there.
This is the kind of writing that the Wells-Jane relationship could benefit from.
It was also really disturbing to find out that crazy berserker dude who had previously used Stevenson as a punching bag is actually a pretty well-developed experiment named Nick.
I mean, if calm Nick has the strength of six men, how hard was he hitting Stevenson when he was all ramped up the last time we saw him?
Meanwhile, Vanessa's sleuthing is bearing fruit despite bringing poor Dr. Myers' life to a sudden Nick-induced end.
If Utopia's FIRST trial study was on John Stevenson in 1980, does that mean he was there then as well? Which would mean that the Anders' mansion basement may not be as secure as we'd like...
There was a LOT to take in this week so be sure to watch Time After Time online for another look at Paris, Henry Ayers, and that rarely-seen soft, cuddly Stevenson... well, sort of.
I think the best thing Time After Time has going for it at the moment is the Project Utopia mystery. It's what keeps me guessing at the next step in the story.
What brings you back? Is it the relationships?
Is it the possibility of the Ripper's redemption?
Is it the chance that they'll accidentally set the time machine for pre-historic dinosaur times? Anything's possible with time travel after all...
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.