A would-be killer got a birthday party and our protagonist got the snot beat out of him. It was one heck of a night on 11.22.63!

Make a Wish

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.

In an episode that took poor advantage of the fact that “Happy Birthday” is no longer a copyrighted work, Jake had more than a few roadblocks thrown his way. Most were dealt with by the end of the episode, even if the execution was a bit clumsily.

Bill Turcotte has become one heck of a problem here. In addition for being hot for Marina, he attends Lee Harvey Oswald’s birthday party and gets pretty darn drunk. Because of his drunkenness, Lee discovers a bug in the lamp Bill knocks over. While he doesn’t suspect Jake or Bill, he now knows that his apartment is no long safe. Bill’s budding friendship with Lee has been a problem for some time now, and its been somewhat tedious to watch, so I’m glad this is behind us. Jake tricks Bill into coming to the hospital (“Marina is giving birth and she’s asking about you!”), only to have his thrown in the loony bin. The claims that Jake is a time traveler won’t help his case much, so it looks like this problem is solved.

Meanwhile Sadie, who knows and is apparently okay with Jake being from the future, gets a little visit from the Yellow Card Man. She’s going into surgery for a follow up to her attack, and the past is fighting Jake by screwing with the operation. If it wasn’t for Jake’s interference, she would have died from a faulty anesthesia machine. This was an confusing plot point, and I’m not quite sure what the takeaway was. It seems like Sadie’s death would force Jake to focus MORE on preventing the assassination. Would the past want to keep her near Jake so he would have the conflict that…he’s been having? Or does the past want her dead because she was supposed to be murdered by Clayton in the last episode? This was a bit of a head-scratcher, as the overall intent was a bit lost.

When all was said and done with the aforementioned problems, Jake still had to deal with the fact that he doesn’t know if Lee Harvey Oswald is working alone or not. He decides to threaten George de Mohrenschildt to get some answers. He nearly strangles George and questions his involvement on the plot to kill JFK. This was one of the more ludicrous scenes this episode because IF HE DIDN’T HAVE THE IDEA ALREADY, HE SURE AS HELL DOES NOW. Armed with knowledge that Oswald is working alone, or at least not under George’s orders, there’s no reason for him to really wait until 11.22.63. Why doesn’t he just kill Lee now? Oh, we still have two episodes left. That must be why.

Finally, all of Jake’s gambling has caught up to him. While Jake kept things low profile, Bill has been going out and making the same bets with much wilder stakes, so the attention was never dodged. The people who take his bets (what’s the word for these guys?) find Jake, and things don’t end particularly well. It’s a dark moment to wrap up what is, essentially, the second act of the series. The next two episodes will be pretty heavy, folks!

Adaptation Issues

A lot of new material here, of course, mainly thanks to Bill. This whole plotline has been here, mainly, to give the show some extra tension. The more sources of conflict the better, right?

Well, no. With the constant distractions in Dallas, we miss out on seeing how much Jodie has really changed Jake’s life. His relationship with Sadie is really undersold and Deke/Miss Mimi are really bit players in all this. The tension in the book came from an almost Spider-Man-esque sense of desire versus responsibility. The personal journey of Jake is being lost amid the Bill/Lee/Marina drama.

The show seems to be harmonizing with the book much more now that Bill is out of the picture. We’ll have to see how things pan out as we head into these final episodes. I just hope they nail the ending

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

Alex Russo

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