11.22.63’s third episode shifts focus back towards the main plot of the show and introduces some new themes like love and even racism. As we get closer and closer to the fateful day in 1963, Jake settles down with a new friend while he waits for Lee Harvey Oswald to return from Russia in 1962.
The episode starts with Jake going to Dallas with Bill Turcotte to settle down while Jake waits for the alleged assassin of John F. Kennedy. Bill begins to question everything about Jake; Jake has no choice but to tell Bill everything he knows and bring him along for the ride. The two partners in crime spend a night in a motel when Jake has a nightmare that flashes back to the horrific events from the end of the second episode. He sees the monster that was Frank Dunning, haunting him. Jake lunges at his sleeping partner and tackles him to the floor, choking him, shouting “I killed you!”. Jake’s nightmare apparently shows that he has PTSD from strangling Frank to death, which as a viewer makes me question how he is going to stop Oswald if just killing this one man left such an impact on him. Can he handle killing another person in order to save one more life and change history or will this take him over the edge?
Once he arrives in Texas, he and Bill go to a small town just outside of Dallas where Jake applies for a teaching position at a high school, ironic I know. Jake nails his interview when the principal asks him whether or not ‘Catcher in the Rye’ belongs in a school library. Jake response, it shouldn’t be a question since they live in America, land of the free, home of the brave. The principal gives him the job right there but says the book still doesn’t belong in the library, but he liked the answer Jake gave him. Once Jake gets the job, he is introduced to a black office secretary who we will come back to in a little bit.
Jake stashes Bill in a rundown apartment right next to where the infamous Oswald will be living in two years. The show then jumps forward two years to 1962; we see Jake has adjusted to his new habitat and is patiently awaiting the return of Oswald. Jake and Bill have set up their little base of operations in the rundown apartment with recording equipment and other gadgets that’ll help them spy on Oswald. When Oswald finally returns to the United States, he brings back a woman and a child who is presumably his. Jake decides now is the time to plant bugs in Oswald’s apartment, which doesn’t make a lot of sense since they had two years to do this. Of course, Oswald returns with his mistress during Jake and Bill’s mission, so Jake and Bill scramble into the attic of the small apartment and go to crawl out through a small hole to the outside. The scene creates high tension and ends with Bill crawling into a cobweb of small insects like the ones we saw in the first episode when Jake is hiding from the guards at the JFK rally. Bill freaks out and alerts the two lovers to their presence. Time is pushing back and trying to prevent Jake from stopping the assassination of JFK because the killing is fate. It’s supposed to happen, and time doesn’t want Jake to toy with that.
As Jake and Bill wait around for answers to come up, Jake develops a new relationship with a familiar face who is starting a new job at the high school he works at. Sadie Dunhill, who you may remember from the first episode, reappears two years after her first encounter with Jake. This time, she is divorced and finds interest in Jake, and they share a special night with each other at a school dance when they have to chaperon together. It’s a beautiful relationship, and James Franco and Sarah Gadon have great chemistry together. She also proves to be a strong female character when Jake stands her up and leaves her by herself at the dance to go spy on Oswald. She confronts him about it and tells him she wasn’t too fond of what he did to her and how she would like him to take her on a date and be a true gentleman for her. I have a feeling in the future she and Jake will be presented with some danger, but she won’t be some damsel in distress and will continue to prove to be a strong female character.
Jake also continues to show how caring he is of others. When he goes to get some gas, he sees the black secretary from before walking out of the gas station in anger and frustration. It’s revealed to Jake that the gas station doesn’t serve people of color. Jake being the caring man, he confronts the gas station attendant and asks to pay for the woman’s gas. When the attendant starts to argue with Jake, he intimidates the scrawny gas attendant and takes a gas can without paying for it and drives off with the woman.
The show begins to wrap up when Jake and Bill get their investigation set back to the start by a local bully who trashes Jake and Bill’s base of operations. Jake and Bill devise a cunning plan and pretend to be FBI agents and kick in the bully’s door and beat him up and take back their equipment. It’s scenes like this that make me love Jake. It shows how quick-witted he is and how he stays calm under pressure. At the very end of the episode, Oswald gives all the evidence Jake and Bill need when he drunkenly confronts General Walker.
11.22.63’s third episode is fantastic even if it has some moments that make you question some of the logic of the characters. Be sure to come back next Monday when we review the fourth episode, ‘The Eyes of Texas’.