All eyes were on Jake this week in 11.22.63, and while some of those eyes added to the intrigue of the show, others distracted us from the story at hand.

On the Lookout

Forward: I am a huge fan of the book 11.22.63 on which this series is based. As I review this series, I will be judging the show on it’s own merits, leaving my criticism of the actual adaption to the last paragraph. That being said, you should all read the book because it’s already way better.

There was a lot going on in this episode of 11.22.63, and unfortunately not all of it worked. Most likely a function of rushing through the story to fit in as many different elements as possible, we were left with a lot of disjointed elements that didn’t have a particularly strong bearing on anything.

There was an interesting bit of setup at the beginning of this episode with Lee Harvey Oswald. We were shown his incredible skill at assembling a rifle, something reinforced by his timing himself. The guy was probably up all night shaving seconds off his time, so he’s been doing this all night for sure. This led into a recreation of an old photograph of Oswald, which was fun to see.

Armed with the knowledge of Oswald’s possible attack on General Walker, Jake and Bill follow Oswald and de Mohrenschildt to a brothel, believing that to be the night Oswald get his instructions to assassinate Walker. Naturally, things go awry and Jake’s plan to eavesdrop is foiled. It’s unclear if this was a result of the past pushing back, or if Jake is just a very reckless, clumsy person. Both are technically valid excuses, but the show didn’t tell us if it was one, the other, or a combination of the two.

That’s pretty much it as it pertains to the JFK plot…the majority of the episode (rightly) focused on Jodie High School. Jake and Sadie’s relationship is blossoming, so much so that they go on a brief, um, excursion to a secluded hotel. The two share an intimate night, learn more about each other, and fall more in love. In fact, Jake is almost about to spill the beans on his journey until a spies an envelope that was slid under his door. Pictures of Jake and Sadie…scandal!

Someone is watching Jake, which unnerves him quite a bit. This was a running theme in the episode, as Deke suggested the secluded hotel as a way to avoid the prying eyes of the students at Jodie High. There is always someone watching, but who and why is that person watching? In fact, Jake becomes a voyeur himself as he witnesses Sadie and Clayton have a conversation in the other room. Mimi assures him that it’s none of his business, but he can’t help but press Sadie for answers. It’s here we learn about Clayton and his horrible, controlling OCD and how it impacted Sadie.

It’s not until the end of the episode, when Jake is tailing de Mohrenschildt that we learn that Clayton was the one who took the photos of Jake and Sadie in the hotel. Rather than find a diplomatic solution to the exchange, Jake berates Clayton mercilessly…something that is bound to come back and bite him.

So what didn’t work in this episode? Well, there were plenty of conflicts that resolved themselves a bit too nicely. Deke didn’t seem to care about Jake’s arrest at the brothel beyond “Go to work in last night’s clothes!” That’s it? We’re done here? Jake got off the hook with Mimi a bit too easily, as well. Mimi discovers that his surname is not Amberson and that he lied about all of his certifications. Jake claims to be in the witness protection program, reciting the events of The Godfather Part II (woooo!) as the reason his in protection. Mimi buys this and we never hear of it again. For an obdurate past, Jake has awfully good luck when it comes to getting out of predicaments.

I appreciate the show’s attempt to put in as many sources of conflict as possible, especially when supported by the source material, but many of these situations are resolving themselves incredibly quickly, which is diminishing the overall tension in the series. It was still a good episode, but there were flaws and boy, were they obvious.

Adaptation Issues

This episode had more grounding in the source material than the previous two episodes did, so the show’s got that going for it. Besides the entire JFK plotline (which didn’t happen), the Jodie story is decently backed up. That’s fine, too, because the Jodie story is the A plot throughout most of the book. 11.22.63 is a love story nested in a time travel adventure.

Jake’s relationship with Sadie is what is important now, and I’m glad we were given the opportunity to explore Sadie’s past, specifically her disturbed and controlling husband. The, um, specifics about what the two went through are a little different, but the overall notion is the same, so I don’t fault the show for that at all. Jake and Sadie’s getaway trip is fairly supported too, however the two of them spend a lot of time at Jake’s house in the book. Remember, Bill is not present in the book for any of this.

Jake and Clayton, however, do NOT have a detailed encounter. Clayton has his issues with Sadie taking up with another man, yes, but he is angrier at Sadie for such sins, not Jake. Thing do come to head with those three, and it looks like that is going to happen still, so I won’t go into more details on that front.

They also changed Sadie’s middle name, which was annoying. How is that possibly an issue? The book stresses that the past, in addition to being obdurate, also harmonizes. Basically the past, when changed, finds ways to heal itself with similar threads. Sadie’s middle name is “Doris” in the book, making her full name Sadie Doris Dunnhill. The harmonization is that the woman who is now alive, after being saved by Jake, is named Doris Dunning. The devil is in the details, they say.

Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.

Alex Russo

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