Bridget Carpenter blogs 'The Kill Floor'
Spoiler alert: This post contains details from 11.22.63 episode “The Kill Floor.” 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,
Do you remember your first job?
In middle school, I babysat for kids in the neighborhood. In high school, I worked at a local chain bookshop; at Christmastime I wrapped presents for an overpriced little boutique. Ordinary. A little dull.
Quinton Peeples, the writer of this episode? Quinton’s first job was hosing down the kill floor in Abilene, Texas. You could say the man knows his way around a meatpacking plant.
I don’t like Halloween no more.
The last time we saw Jake, he’d given up on saving JFK and was headed back to Lisbon to go through the rabbit hole, back to 2016. But when he finds himself in Kentucky, he can’t resist the emotional impulse to prevent the terrible 1960 murder of the Dunning family. Saving Harry’s family — how hard could that be?
Maybe harder than you’d think.
The Past doesn’t need fistfights, falling light fixtures, or fire to push back. You listened to Al Templeton, didn’t you? Sometimes events feel … random. Sometimes … the past may give you a migraine. Food poisoning. Something as mundane as a flat tire. Or maybe Frank Dunning appears at your door, eager to offer you your chapter 1. Jake’s writing a book, remember? Welcome to Halloweentown.
Constant Viewer, I sense a faint whiff of indignation. Don’t talk to me about the Past. WHY is this episode set in Holden, Kentucky? Why isn’t it set in Derry, like it is in SK’s g.d. book? Lady, have you been paying attention? Don’t you know anything about anything — didn’t you see Ritchie and Bevvie doing the lindy hop in 11/22/63? And you CUT that?!?! MY GOD, HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY?
So. A few things.
1. You love the book. Me too. I get it.
2. You love that Stephen King has characters and places cross over from one book to another — that there is a King multiverse. Me too.
3. Despite my true love for items #1 and #2 above, at the end of the day, I thought that twisting the dramatic narrative to get Jake to drive back to Derry just so we could see the kids dance … well, I just thought the dramatic urgency would get kicked in the teeth. I’m going to have to ask you to trust me here — and for us, the beautifully haunted, sad, sour Halloweentown of Holden provided exactly the setting we wanted for Jake.
This world provided something else. Jake goes to Holden with every intention of leaving once he saves Harry’s family. But after everything Jake goes through — he does change the past — and suddenly he knows … this can work. It’s possible to make a difference. It’s not easy, but it can be done. When Jake feels the benediction of the rain on his face, the blood washed from his hands — that’s when I think he knows in his heart that he can’t return to 2016 without trying to fulfill the mission that Al tasked him with.
Once you know that the Past can be changed, how do you not try?
And then there’s Bill Turcotte. He’ll have something to say about that. Next week.
This episode was elegantly directed by Fred Toye. When I texted Fred on the set, I bragged that I was a great mom. (I’d given my kids a chocolate R2-D2 for breakfast.) Fred texted me back a photo of the Jabba the Hutt pancakes he had made for HIS kids.
He’s really intolerable.
This costume remains the most frightening thing I have ever seen, and I’m including Pennywise.
More notes from the set:
Jack Fulton, the kid who played Young Harry Dunning, insisted that he was a Method Actor.
On the very first take of the Jake/Frank Dunning fight, Josh Duhamel swung the hammer so hard he broke the handle in two.
Quinton’s middle name made it into the episode:
Michael O’Neal, who played Arliss Price, told his story about how he got his Bronze Star from half a dozen different angles, and never dropped a word or messed up on a single take. Not even once.
Are you watching carefully, Constant Viewer? Did you spy the Yellow Card Man anywhere? And what about our title sequence… did you note any shifts, changes, warps? These things happen. Nothing can stay the same. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, maybe not “equal.” And maybe not “opposite.” But in Halloweentown — indeed, in the world of 11.22.63 — actions do have consequences. As Frank Dunning says, a price must be paid.
The last thing you can say about killing a man is that it’s brave.
See you next week, Constant Viewer.
For more insight, follow Bridget on Twitter @BridgetCarpen12.