The quantum frame device is a mysterious machine built by Ellis as part of the Director's contingency plan. In the event of an emergency, the quantum frame would allow the Director to send itself back in time. It was later destroyed after being hijacked by the Faction.
The frame is a very large machine, occupying a sizeable portion of the barn where it was built. It is at least fifteen feet tall. When powered on, the machine emits a strange blue light and begins whirring loudly.
Ellis received instructions from the Director to built the quantum frame - a mission known as Plan X. Multiple contingency plans were devised to protect the Director from the Faction; Plan X was considered an absolute last resort. Since the Director is also responsible for ensuring the survival of humans in the future, it would only abandon them if it were in imminent danger of being deleted or hijacked.
The Director is capable of sending data through time in the form of consciousness transferals - since the Director is an AI program, it is also composed of data and can apparently be sent backwards in time via the same mechanism. A Traveler's consciousness can only successfully make the journey through time if it has a host body. Since no machine in the present was previously capable of storing the Director, it could not send itself further back in time than the date of its own creation (long after the fall of humanity). The quantum frame device is capable of exactly this.
The frame was also capable of receiving and storing many human consciousnesses - thousands simultaneously.
- "Traveler 3468, abort mission. Destroy quantum frame immediately."
- — Ellis
In the final episode of the first season, the quantum frame device is built successfully and turned on. Execution of Plan X would require the Director to send itself back to the earliest possible point in time - the very moment the quantum frame device powered up.
However, the Director instead uses Ellis as a messenger and orders Grant MacLaren to destroy the device, just as the barn holding the frame is raided by the FBI. Trevor Holden had previously received a text message with the same order. MacLaren and the team are arrested; each of them repeatedly tells their interrogators to destroy the device. They later escape discover that the frame is being held in the FBI offices. They attempt to destroy it themselves, but this is revealed to be a setup: FBI Director Wakefield wanted to see if the Travelers would really try to destroy the device, that they themselves created, if given the opportunity.
The frame soon powers up after every FBI agent in the office receives a text message ordering them to congregate around the device. Everyone in the room is promptly overwritten. MacLaren and his team learn that Ellis built a bomb into the frame as a fail-safe, making every agent a candidate (including Wakefield and Forbes). This is later revealed to be a lie: in reality, the agents are members of the Faction.
- "Without the Director's processing power, consciousness transfer isn't possible. So before power was cut to the Director, in our last moment of control, we sent everyone we could to the 21st. All at once. Into the quantum frame."
- — Jenny
The Faction had actually hijacked the quantum frame to store incoming Travelers from their side. They transported it from place to place, including at least two timeshare sales presentations, recruiting hosts who were not fated to die.
Ultimately, after the Director was restored to power, the frame was discovered in the possession of Jones, a rogue programmer who had defected to the Faction. Jones was overwritten and MacLaren ordered the other Travelers to "make every fragment of [the Frame] unrecognizable."