It’s a new week, and that means there’s a new episode of the conspiracy thriller, 11.22.63. The second episode of the Hulu eight-part event series kicks off with a disturbing scene of Harry getting bullied as a child. We had already known this character had a troubled past. His dad murdered his entire family and hit Harry on the head with a hammer, giving him severe brain damage. We didn’t know his troubled childhood extended outside of the house, making this opening scene all the more impactful and disturbing.
‘The Kill Floor’ decides to take a slight turn from the main plot of the show and delve further into one of the side plots by fully dedicating the episode to Harry’s abusive father. I almost forgot that the show was about time travel, there’s an absence of reminding Jake that he is in the past. We don’t see the man with the yellow card shouting “You shouldn’t be here!” and we don’t see any weird effects happening when Jake tries to change certain events in time. It’s an interesting change that deals with a lot of dark themes.
Jake sets out to find the childhood home of Harry and prevent the murder of his family. The episode took place just days before Halloween night in 1960, the tragic night where Harry Dunning’s father kills his whole family and leaves poor Harry scarred for life. After little Harry is bullied, he walks through town wearing only his underwear and t-shirt. He makes his way into a small shop where Jake Epping is eating and writing some notes. Harry asks the shopkeeper if he can have his shorts that he stashed there so he can go to school. Apparently Harry gets bullied a lot. Jake sees the pantsless boy browsing some comics and realizes he really does need to help this troubled child.
Later that day, Jake goes to the local bar to find Harry’s dad, Frank Dunning. When he asks the bartender if he knows where Frank is, the bartender gets suspicious of Jake and starts asking him questions. Jake explains he’s from out of town, and someone told him if he stopped by that he should ask about Frank Dunning, the bartender then points him to a table and tells him Frank will be getting off work shortly. This is when we get a proper introduction to Frank. He comes out of the shadows smoking a cigarette, tossing it on the floor and approaching the bar for a beer. The bartender notifies him of Jake’s presence, and he takes some friends from work and walks over to Jake’s table. Jake being the average Joe and not the strongest man out there is automatically intimidated. They bond for a few hours over drinks, getting drunk when one of the men mentions how Frank is having troubles with his spouse. Jake says how he is divorced and tells Frank, maybe it’s best to walk away from the marriage. Frank gets upset and tells him he has no issues with his marriage and that everything is just fine in his life.
At this point, Jake is visually uncomfortable with the situation he put himself in, and Frank tells him he wants to show him something. They go on a long drive to a slaughterhouse where Frank brings out a cow and tells Jake to smash its head with a sledgehammer. Jake reluctantly grabs the hammer and is visibly nervous and almost mortified at what Frank is asking him to do. The bruting man tells Jake to imagine the cow is his ex-wife. Jake drops the hammer and Frank picks it up and smashes it into the cows head causing a gross splattering sound. Frank and his two friends walk out of the room laughing hysterically while Jake stands there absolutely horrified at what he just witnessed.
Without discussing the plot of the episode much further, the slaughter house scene displays how dark of a character Frank Dunning is. Jake realizes now he has to keep a close eye on him and even puts himself in danger a few times while trying to get Frank to be reasonable and keep the Dunning family happy. In true Stephen King style, this episode eerily shows that the charming 60’s time period we were introduced to isn’t always as bright and beautiful as we think it is. It takes some dark themes and executes them very well. We see that Jake isn’t afraid to alter time to do the right thing, or what he thinks is the right decision. Everything happens for a reason, right? Although we don’t see any weird time effects as he is altering the timeline, I can tell there are going to be significant consequences for Jake’s actions and might even make it harder for him to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy.
Next week we will be reviewing episode three, titled ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’, where Jake will move to Dallas, Texas and make revelations in his investigation into Lee Harvey Oswald.