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The Time Traveler’s Wife episode one ending explained

What’s going on with those feet?

Theo James as Henry in The Time Traveler's Wife
Sky Atlantic
Published: Monday, 16th May 2022 at 3:05 am
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New Steven Moffat series The Time Traveler’s Wife has finally come to screens, and it’s just as twisty and complex as fans of his years on Doctor Who would expect.

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And the first episode concludes with a particularly unusual twist, teeing up a potentially unpleasant fate for the time-displaced Henry (Theo James) that will play out in future episodes of the literary adaptation.

But what do *those* grisly relics represent, and what do they mean for Henry and Clare (Rose Leslie)? Read on to find out, but beware – we’ll be dealing with spoilers for the first episode, so if you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet look away now.

First, a little background. Over the course of this opening episode we learn about the unfortunate affliction suffered by Henry, who is doomed to randomly time travel throughout his and his family’s lifetimes with no control where he arrives. Also, he’s naked wherever he lands.

This leads him to have an unusual, out-of-order romance with future/past wife Clare (Rose Leslie), which is the point of the series, but also affords him some dark hints about his own future – including a couple in this opening episode.

At one point, while cleaning his apartment Henry notices a huge pool of blood staining the floor. As he goes to clean it up, it disappears, and later he explains to Clare that this is because every part of him time travels, even independent of his body. So his baby teeth, hair clippings, even fingernails are zipping around time and space just like the rest of him.

Rose Leslie as Clare Abshire & Theo James as Henry DeTamble
Rose Leslie as Clare Abshire & Theo James as Henry DeTamble HBO

At some point, he knows he’s going to lose a lot of blood – he just has no idea where (or rather, when) that blood comes from. And then things get worse.

After an argument with Clare and a time-travelling, older version of himself, 28-year-old Henry hears the distinctive swooshing noise of his time travel. Heading into an alleyway, he looks for himself…but instead is confronted by a pair of amputated feet, sporting the distinctive birthmark on the left foot that he showed off earlier in the episode.

Meanwhile, an older version of him talks to camera, and when he disappears he reveals he’s sitting in a wheelchair, hinting at the difficult fate awaiting Henry. Clearly, on some future jaunt in his middle age Henry loses his feet. And given that so much of his survival depends on him being able to run and fight his way to safety whenever he time travels somewhere, this isn’t a condition that Henry would be able to survive for long.

The detail of Henry’s teeth, blood and other body parts travelling as well is a new detail added by Moffat to Audrey Niffenegger’s 2003 novel (though it does line up with other plot points, which we won’t spoil here).

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In this adaptation, this new detail allows for some more foreshadowing that – however grisly – may keep fans who haven’t read the source material guessing about Henry’s fate. Guess we'll just have to watch on to see what's next...

The Time Traveler’s Wife airs on HBO on Sundays, and Sky Atlantic on Mondays. For more, check out our dedicated Sci-Fi page or our full TV Guide.

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