Where’s the Cream Filling?
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.
Here. Here is the cream filling. There is filling everywhere in this episode, making it, perhaps, the most uninteresting episode of the series so far. And given what is likely to transpire next week, I think it’s safe to hand off that prize right now.
Last episode saw Jake discover that Lee Harvey Oswald did (will?) act alone on 11.22.63. Jake is now free to kill Oswald ASAP, rather than wait for the day of the assassination. Unfortunately, all these Back to the Future wagers he and Bill have placed are catching up to him, and Jake gets the crap beaten out of him. This week, we learn that HIS MEMORY IS GONE.
This is annoying because we spend a good chunk of the episode waiting for Jake to re-learn what we already know. There is even an exchange between him and Oswald wherein he attempts to retrieve his memories. Sure, you could make the argument that conking Jake out is the best way for the past to stop him, but it’s also the most boring way for the past to try to stop him. In a story about time travel and obdurate histories, I’d be willing to accept a few thrills here and there. It’s a shame, too, because since this show has opted to go full-blown thriller, this was a pretty dull option. Of course, it was all done to kill time.
Speaking of “killing time” and “killing” in general, the show killed time by having Bill kill himself. Last episode saw him committed to a mental institution, and in a desperate attempt to recover information on Jake’s mission, he and Sadie visit Bill to see what he remembers. Due to his electroshock therapy, Bill is distant, stating that Jake (and the last few years in Dallas) aren’t real. He jumps out of the window, unable to deal with the mental strain of the situation. While there is something to be said by way of social commentary as it pertains to mental health and the strides we’ve made/have yet to make, it couldn’t shake the fact that this was a way for the show to delay for another ten minutes. Jake and Sadie left the scene in the exact same place, emotionally, as where the entered, so it was all-around pointless.
Jake ultimately gets his memory back right before 11.22.63 (convenient, right?) and the two prepare for the motorcade the next day. They sit in a car in the rain when things get trippy. The sky clears up and the Yellowcard Man is sitting in the seat next to him. This scene didn’t sit quite right either, because it was so…contrived? We know from the first episode that the Yellowcard Man isn’t like anyone else…he knows that Jake isn’t supposed to be there. How much does he know about time travel? Can he give Jake any sage words of advice?
The answer is yes, he can. But he doesn’t. Because drama. We learn that the Yellowcard Man is affected by time travel, forced to relive a horrible point in his life so long as the Al and Jake use the rabbit hole. So something is going on here, but it’s not clear what, and that’s frustrating too. If time travel really is the horrible thing that the Yellowcard Man believes it to be, then he should really stress that since, you know, things are about to change BIG TIME with the assassination (or not) of JFK.
We also got some scenes of Lee Harvey Oswald, but they all amounted to pretty much nothing, so you can guess what they were (If you are thinking “cream filling,” then you are wrong. He’s the cheese filling you get in those microwave soft pretzel things I ate in middle school). Next week will wrap up the series, so let’s cross out fingers that they stick the landing.
The basis for this episode is grounded fairly well in the novel, as the Jake’s gambling woes do catch up to him and he does suffer a few mental hiccups because of it. However the novel doesn’t dwell on it too much, and moreover, Jake never loses sight of his mission. He continuously works towards the goal of saving JFK, never really stopping to berate Sadie for talking to him about what happened.
Anything involving Oswald and Bill are not in the book, of course, so that’s all new. At the end of the day, this was an episode that was meant to make sure next episode would start on 11.22.63, so there were some familiar elements, but it was all in service of pacing the show a certain way.
I’m also saving the Yellowcard Man and the nature of time travel for next week, since that will be a better place to have that conversation. I’ll see you all next week and, remember, it’s not too late to read the book…
Alex Russo likes to talk about television. You can read more of his insane ramblings on Twitter.