With the help of the eager Bill Turcotte, Jake continues to monitor and gather evidence on Lee Harvey Oswald, at the same time holding down his teaching job in nearby Jodie and falling hard for colleague Sadie Dunhill. But Miss Mimi from school has rumbled Jake’s real identity, Sadie’s estranged husband turns up and Bill starts to become emotionally involved with Oswald’s wife, making this double life increasingly complicated. Is Jake becoming too involved with the history he’s trying to change?
It’s less than seven months until John F. Kennedy is due to be gunned down in Dealey Plaza, Dallas and Jake is becoming ever more desperate to prove Lee Harvey Oswald is going to be the lone gunman. As he teaches in the sleepy town of Jodie, Bill is left in Dallas to listen, watch and record life at the Oswalds above their little flat. It’s a tiring existence but Jake now feels entirely at home in the 1960’s and is thoroughly smitten with Sadie, breezily singing her yet-to-be-written Beatles songs and dropping twenty first century vernacular into her ear. But then the oily George de Mohrenschildt is recorded asking Oswald to assassinate General Walker and Jake panics. Knowing George works for the CIA, he’s immediately concerned that the conspiracy theorists were right all along – the killing of JFK was an inside job and Oswald did not act alone. With Miss Mimi, Denholm Consolidated High’s wily school secretary turning up in Dallas after rumbling Jake’s twin identity and Sadie’s mad, sadistic husband back on the scene wanting his wife back, things turn complicated. And Bill Turcotte feeling sorry for and beginning to fall in love with Marina Oswald can only threaten Jake’s plans further.
We’re halfway through 11.22.63 by this episodes end and it’s clear the drama at play here is not so much Lee Harvey Oswald and his date with destiny but Jake Epping and the tangled web he is weaving. He’s certainly living a busy life, be it spying on Oswald at a knocking shop then getting arrested for solicitation, being stalked by Sadie’s husband who won’t grant a divorce or being put on the spot by the show’s very own Miss Marple, Miss Mimi (the excellent Tonya Pinkins). She’s found out his teaching degree is suspect and that he also goes by the name Epping as well as Amberson; thinking quick, Jake spins a tale of being put in witness protection by the FBI after turning state’s evidence against the Corleone mafia family back east, witnessing crimes involving Fredo and Sonny and Michael. Quick thinking there Jake. Once again, it’s the moments like this, with Jake mashing his twenty first century existence together with his life in Texas, 1963 that provide warmth; ditto with his romancing of Sadie using Lennon/McCartney lyrics. The constant admonishment whenever Jake swears, and the fact everywhere just looks so damn clean, makes us pine for this era as somewhere safe and cosy, despite the violent horror due to be played out, inevitably, later. No wonder Jake Epping/Amberson is so smitten.
There’s trouble brewing with Bill Turcotte’s infatuation with Oswald’s wife and will we have to wait until the final episode to see if Lee Harvey is the only gunman and acted alone? Untold mystery is at the heart of any thriller and it’s testament to 11.22.63 that a tv show set in and around perhaps the singular most well known day in American history still manages to provide so much.
11.22.63 is released Mondays on Hulu. Episode 5 is available 10/07/16.