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Spoiler alert: This post contains details from 11.22.63 episode “The Eyes of Texas.” Read at your own risk.
Who better to break down the adventures of Jake Epping than the woman behind it all, right? That’s why Bridget Carpenter, the showrunner of Hulu’s 11.22.63, is writing weekly blogs. Found exclusively on EW, Carpenter’s blogs will take viewers behind the episode they’ve just watched with everything from photographs to stories from set and more.
Dear Constant Viewer,
“The Eyes of Texas” was written by the brilliant Brigitte Hales and Quinton Peeples, and directed by our old pal Fred Toye. (Extra credit for those who spot Fred onscreen, since he pulled a Hitchcock and gave himself a cameo.)
Jake has been in the past for over two years now. He’s made himself a home (two homes, since he shuttles between Jodie and Dallas); he’s created cover stories for himself and Bill; he’s planted roots into this small town. But Jake can never truly “blend in.” He’s always being watched. He pretends that he belongs in 1962. But the Past knows better. There are eyes on Jake. And on Sadie, for that matter.
Jake would do well to remember this — after all, he has his own eyes (and microphones) trained on Lee Harvey Oswald, on General Walker, on George de Mohrenschildt. But Jake doesn’t think of this at all … too busy living his lives, too busy trying to balance his love of this world with his drive to succeed at the mission to save JFK.
In short: Jake forgets.
He’s involved with Sadie now, attempting to be truthful about his feelings for her while protecting her from his mission — and protecting her from a husband who’s not ready to be an “ex.”
Welcome back, Johnny Clayton! (T.R. Knight: one of America’s great actors.) Why wouldn’t Sadie have married him? Look at that guy! He’s handsome, courteous — the perfect gentlemen. Only … we learn in this episode that Johnny Clayton wears a mask that only Stephen King could create: a mask that conceals a twisted man.
And yet, when Sadie describes her former life with Johnny, Jake fails to understand. Here’s where being from the future hurts: You don’t get the social mores of life in the ’60s. The impossibility of breaking out of the narrow roles provided for you. The courage it requires to be your own person. Deke is as eloquent as can be when he calls Sadie a “new kind of woman.” Sadie tries to explain to Jake what it feels like to be under this kind of scrutiny (and what it feels like to be married to damaged goods) — and Jake falls short. A man of his time, he doesn’t hear what she’s telling him, and his bewilderment in this moment tells Sadie that she shouldn’t have trusted him. But Jake will do his damndest to get her back. He believes, you see — he believes he can do it all. Thwart the Past and get the girl. Like I said … he forgets.
Poor Bill, in the meantime, looks to be getting the short end of the stick. Spending most of his days in Dallas now, in a new crummy apartment listening to Marina and Lee fight. Listening to the baby cry, to Marguerite Oswald criticize. Is it any wonder that, with his eyes on Marina all the time, he should begin to feel something for her? Even though, you know, it’s essential that Bill and Jake lay low?
And I hope you haven’t forgotten about the Yellow Card Man. I’m afraid that Jake has.
Notes from the shoot:
The production design work in each episode never ceased to amaze me. The level of detail that Carol Spier and our art department created in every direction — every corner, every room — was unparalleled.
Sarah Gadon taught herself to play the piano so she could play an entirely credible Saatie in the scene. I mean, she can lindy — of course she can teach herself the piano.
Also, this happened. (I know that every time someone writes “this happened” what follows is invariably a SUPERBRAG and it’s really annoying. I know this. I apologize in advance.) That said, I got to sit in the REAL CHRISTINE, Stephen King’s immortal CHRISTINE — you guys, of course I’m going to freak out about it. Because that is the appropriate thing to do.
Also, J.J. Abrams and Stephen King visited the set. I suddenly understood why all crew members wore cargo shorts — because the second that King arrived, dozens of hardback books appeared from nowhere, all held up by eager grips and ADs and Pas, frantic to have them signed. I guess all the books had been in the cargo pockets. King signed every one. People swooned.
Here’s another exquisitely subtle art department exploration of theme:
There was a real Hotel Shamrock. (I visited the building in Dallas.) This is the CURRENT sign that is right next door, a club I haven’t gone into yet, but one that has my now-favorite name:
That green door is the door that once led many a Texas fellow to some hardworking ladies.
Weirdly, we noticed that this was happening in the city as we were shooting.
No one had time to attend so I don’t know what happened there.
Maybe not so weird after all, because James Franco is literally everywhere:
Have you noticed that in the opening credits, when we come to the record player, the logo is for King Records?
And, listen, about next week? Close your eyes if you’re squeamish.
The Past isn’t messing around this time.
Until next week, Constant Viewers,
For more insight, follow Bridget on Twitter @BridgetCarpen12.