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'11.22.63' recap: 'Happy Birthday, Lee Harvey Oswald'

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Sven Frenzel/Hulu

11.22.63

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
1
run date:
02/15/16
performer:
James Franco, Chris Cooper, Josh Duhamel
broadcaster:
Hulu
genre:
Mystery, Sci-fi, Thriller

This episode begins with another time skip. Six months have passed since the violent showdown with Johnny Clayton. It’s now Oct. 16, 1963, just over a month shy of the all-important title date, and Lee Harvey Oswald is interviewing for a job…at the Dallas book depository he will supposedly shoot at John F. Kennedy from. He gets the job, which is good for him, because he’s apparently lost his wife. Outside the book depository, Lee is confronted by an FBI agent, who’s been keeping tabs on him. Apparently Lee has been traveling a bit recently. The agent taunts him about that, and about Marina — “You have her new address, right?”

Lee then goes to visit Marina, now living with a friend, to tell her about his new job. She’s pleased but still isn’t moving back with him. She says that her friend is kind, “and I need people who are kind.” Apparently she’s had enough of Lee’s unpredictable rages and domestic abuse. She asks if he loves her; he replies that they’re married, sounding a little like Johnny Clayton in the process. So she rebuffs his offer for now, but her friend tells Lee that Marina will come around eventually (maybe not as good a friend as she thought).

Jake shows up at Bill’s house to find his partner laying despondent on the couch. Bill is miffed that Jake barely comes around anymore because he spends all his time taking care of the wounded Sadie. But then it’s back to business when George de Mohrenschildt shows up at the Oswald residence. He talks to Lee about Gen. Walker, who was shot by an unknown assailant at the end of last week’s episode. Although they didn’t get conclusive evidence, Jake is sure Lee took the shot at Walker, but he laughs it off in his conversation with George. Jake is understandably confused. He and Bill then enter into another debate about the effect of Jake’s time travel. Maybe it’s not Lee, and the butterfly effect of Jake’s time traveling has already altered that — except Jake reminds Bill that they haven’t actually interacted with the Oswalds, so they couldn’t have had an impact. Okay, so then kill Lee if you’re so sure it’s him, Bill says. Except Jake still isn’t sure. Although he’s killed two people by this point, he says that it felt awful and is clearly trying to find some way to fix this without killing Lee.

Back to Jake’s other house, Sadie is playing cards with Principal Deke at the kitchen table. Sadie wins their game but hardly reacts, as Deke notes. He tells Jake to marry her already. Jake shrugs it off, so Deke calls him an idiot and heads back to school, otherwise there will be “hell to pay” with Ms. Mimi. With him gone, Sadie asks Jake another question about the future – do pantyhose ever become comfortable? Jake has no idea. Maybe it gets worse, for all he knows. Sadie still has a large scar on her face, but hopefully her final surgery tomorrow will fix that. At last, she’ll be done with hospitals.

Jake then goes to school to talk with Ms. Mimi. They chuckle about Deke wanting him to marry Sadie; apparently he’s mentioned that opinion around the office, as well. Then things take a serious turn. Mimi tells Jake she has cancer; it’s a tumor the size of a lemon, and she doesn’t have much time left. She has two requests for Jake after she’s gone: be a friend to Deke, and marry Sadie. She tells Jake that she and Deke love each other, but they’ve spent their lives next to each other instead of with each other. Don’t wait, she warns him.

To pay for Sadie’s expensive final surgery, Jake goes to make another underground bet. Apparently he didn’t learn his lesson from the first episode, though; once again he throws down a lot of money on a supposedly risky bet.

With that taken care of, Jake heads over to the hideout. Bill is nowhere to be seen, but he hears Oswald having a party on the recorder, so he listens in. He then hears Bill and Marina talking, and freaks out. Jake heads up to the party, where he learns that everybody there knows Bill. He takes Bill aside, and they have another debate. Jake says Bill’s messing everything up. Bill says he’s become a friend to Lee and Marina and that he’s changing them for the better. For example, Lee hasn’t mentioned Kennedy once, Bill says. Jake warns that if you fight the past, the past fights back. As if to prove his point, their slight kerfuffle knocks over a lamp. When Lee goes to clean it up, he discovers the bug inside it and freaks out that the FBI is not just following him but bugging his house, as well. George and his mother both warn him to keep it cool, but Lee’s head is hot. The “land of the free” and “home of the brave” is a crock, he thinks, if the FBI can surveil him whenever they want. He starts trashing his own apartment.

Jake leaves the party but sees Bill kissing Marina through a window. When Bill gets back, they get into a fight about it. Jake swears at Bill, Bill punches him, and they go to the floor. Jake calls him dumb, but Bill replies that if he was so dumb, how did he hide his affair with Marina from Jake for so long? Jake’s been so busy taking care of Sadie he apparently hasn’t paid any attention to Bill’s comings and goings. A resentful (and by the point pretty drunk) Bill is mad that Jake gets to be with Sadie but he can’t be with Marina. Bill was always the main one on surveillance duty, which means he had to listen to Lee beat up Marina for months. Jake replies that Marina isn’t the person they came to save, but Bill doesn’t care. He pulls a gun on Jake and tells him never to come back to the house. “Fuck you, fuck your mission, and fuck JFK!” The past fights back in many forms. Maybe Bill is now a tool of the past stopping Jake’s mission.

NEXT: Things fall apart [pagebreak]

Jake tells Sadie what happened with Bill. She tells him to go to the police; again he reminds her that the police would do more harm than good. Jake tells Sadie they should just worry about her, which seems to be the mindset that got him into this problem in the first place. Spending all his time worrying about Sadie made him lose track of Bill and the mission, and now everything’s spinning out of control.

The next day, it’s time for surgery. Sadie asks Jake at the hospital to tell her something about the future. He says that everyone walks around with their phones in their hands, so she asks him to tell her something actually real. He says he loves her. It’s a sweet scene, quickly disrupted when Jake sees the Yellow Card Man walk into the hospital and follow Sadie into the operating room! We haven’t seen him since Jake first came through the rabbit hole, but Jake remembers him and knows that it’s not a good sign. He tries to get back through into the operating room, but the door’s locked. As the Yellow Card Man (in disguise) starts messing with Sadie’s equipment, Jake starts banging on the door, and when that doesn’t work, hammering on it with a fire hydrant, freaking out Deke next to him. He eventually fights his way into the operating room and stops the surgery. Just in time, apparently, because the doctors suddenly realize she wasn’t getting any oxygen.

Sadie’s stuck with the scar now, but Jake doesn’t care. Sadie asks if she’s in the way of what Jake’s doing. He denies it, but it certainly appears so.

Right now, though, she isn’t even the biggest impediment. Jake goes back to Bill’s house and witnesses him on the front porch talking with Lee and examining his rifle. “The second shooter,” Jake whispers to himself. “Jesus Christ.”

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He comes into Bill’s house. Bill reminds him of his warning, but Jake says it’s important. He was just at the hospital with Sadie and saw Marina there, going into labor and calling for Bill. Bill agrees to go with Jake, but it’s a trap. Jake was actually taking him to a mental hospital. He tells the doctors that Bill needs help, which Bill’s ranting about Jake being from the future only confirms. The doctors assure Jake that Bill, now being held down by orderlies and injected with sedatives, won’t be able to leave without Jake’s written permission, since he’s clearly not competent. Jake’s not messing around anymore.

With Bill locked away in the asylum, Jake heads to confront George. He sneaks up on George in his car and semi-garrotes him; he’s good at that now, after killing Frank Dunning that way. He interrogates George, saying he’s from the CIA, but George desperately reveals that Lee has never been a recruit. George hangs around the Oswalds because he and Marina are both from Minsk and he knows she doesn’t have many friends in America. He gives money to Lee because giving it to Marina directly hurts Lee’s pride, causing him to beat her. Jake asks him about the Kennedy plot. George replies that Kennedy is taking on “those communist s—s” who took over his country… Why would he want to kill him?

That seems to scuttle all conspiracy theories. Jake flashes back to his conversation with Al. Al told him that if Lee was part of a conspiracy, then it was George who roped him in. And if there was no conspiracy, then it was just Lee alone, and Jake needs to kill him. There is no other way, according to Al.

Jake calls Sadie from a phone booth to tell her that he’s about to do what he came to do. He proposes to her over the phone, and asks her to come to the future with him. She promises to give him an answer when he comes home.

But as Jake hangs up, he’s confronted by the bookie from the bar. He bolts down an alley, but they pursue him and beat him. Jake had tried to make more money by placing the same bet on the same fight all over town, but apparently they were all part of this one guy’s “franchises.” Not only that, but Bill had made the same bet, too (that’s what they get for not coordinating anymore). Convinced that he’s been cheated, the guy decides to make an example of Jake. His men beat Jake bloody and senseless before he delivers the final blow. They leave Jake unconscious in the alley.

Jake swims in and out of consciousness as lights flicker overhead in the classic sign of the past messing with him. He sees both Sadie and his 2016 ex-wife, Christy, floating before his face, telling him they love him. Turns out Sadie is the one actually with him as he lays unconscious in a hospital bed. She tells a doctor that Jake doesn’t even recognize her. The doctor replies that he’s had a traumatic head injury and needs time to recuperate. But he’s already been out for so long, Sadie says. How long will it take? No answer. 

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