11.22.63 recap: The Eyes of Texas
Lee Harvey Oswald finally entered the scene on last week’s episode, and though this one doesn’t feature as much direct face-time with him, his presence is still majorly felt throughout. “The Eyes of Texas” begins with Lee timing himself at assembling his rifle, saying things to himself like “you’re in the Marines now, son.” He takes said rifle outside and has wife Marina take a picture of him standing against the fence while George de Mohrenschildt watches. “People will want to know I stand for something,” Lee says. “I’m going to hunt fascists.” But Marina only laughs, “you look ridiculous.”
Jake Epping isn’t laughing. He’s watching from a window above, holding this same photo of Oswald, aged 50 years and slightly burnt by a fire. Jake and Bill, our time-traveling tag team, are now living in the apartment directly below the Oswalds. This makes the spying slightly easier, but also enables Bill’s growing crush on Marina. Jake looks out the window to see what Lee and George are up to; Bill looks out the window to catch glimpses of Marina. She catches him and waves back, apparently unfazed by his stalking.
Back at school, Jake walks into a music classroom where Sadie is playing piano by herself. He kisses her, telling her not to worry because “everyone’s gone.” He slips into another anachronism by telling her “smart is the new sexy” (“I don’t know anyone who says that”). He then busts out a little rendition of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There.” “That’s catchy,” she says. “Did you make that up?”
Unfortunately, it turns out that not everyone was gone. With a loud throat-clearing, Principal Deke Simmons announces his presence. He gives Jake a talking-to. Sadie and Jake are role models, Simmons reminds him. The female students especially look up to her, he says, because “she’s a new kind of woman.” They can’t see him taking advantage of her. “Discretion is the better part of valor, young man,” Deke says, sounding very much like someone who would vote for John F. Kennedy, the master of mistresses.
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Back at home, Jake and Bill are listening to their tape and hear George offering to connect Lee with his “powerful friends.” This sounds like corroboration for Jake’s theory that the CIA is going to pit Lee against Walker and use it as a test-run for Kennedy, but before he and Bill can discuss this news further, there’s a knock at the door. It’s Ms. Mimi, with a slight cough. It turns out that Jake never turned in his required immunization records after he got hired as a teacher. Ms. Mimi investigated, found out the records don’t exist, and that Jake’s real name is not “Amberson” but “Epping.” Once again, Jake is able to turn pop culture to his advantage. He tells Ms. Mimi that the reason for his confusing paperwork is that he’s been placed in FBI witness protection for testifying against the Mafia. Ms. Mimi doesn’t know any more about the Mafia than Sadie does about The Beatles, so Jake uses some details from The Godfather Part II to pad his story. The encounter ends with a serious warning from Ms. Mimi, however: “When you refuse to tell someone the truth, you deny them their dignity. And for some of us, dignity matters.”
Jake realizes he should probably tell Sadie something, if not the whole truth, so he invites her to a hotel room where they can be alone. Sadie admits that the candlelit room and record player are “a bit dramatic,” but she’s taken in anyway. She and Jake sleep together, though the camera pans out to suggest someone watching from the bushes.
NEXT: “Candy bar”
Back at the house, Bill introduces himself to Marina and returns her baby’s doll, which he found lying around. They smile at each other.
The next morning, Jake wakes up to find an envelope full of photos of him and Sadie from the night before on the bedside table. This — obviously — freaks him out. Just as he was on the verge of possibly telling Sadie the truth, he makes them get out of there quickly.
Jake suspects that the photos were taken by the CIA. He thinks they know he and Bill are getting close to their Oswald/de Mohrenschildt plot and are pushing back. Bill wants him to just kill Lee already (probably for some additional Marina-related reasons), but Jake still doesn’t know enough yet. He and Bill have gotten close enough to scare the CIA, but they still need a little bit more information.
They follow Lee and George to what they suspect is a top-secret CIA meeting. There’s even a password to get in: “candy bar.” In a twist, the place turns out to be a fancy brothel. Bill is outraged that Lee would step out on Marina like this, but Jake calmly chats with the madam and requests an escort. On the way to their room, he catches a glimpse of George and Lee. There doesn’t seem to be any covert ops going on there; George is dancing with a prostitute while a clearly frustrated Lee seethes in a chair. Right then, cops burst in to raid the place, catching Jake and Bill.
Luckily, Deke comes to bail them out the next morning, but as punishment, he drives Jake straight to school and insists he teach his class. Ms. Mimi reprimands Jake for his disheveled look (Deke didn’t give him time to shower or change), but it looks like she has bigger problems to worry about. Jake catches her coughing, harder this time. This bears no small resemblance to Al’s cancer coughs from way back in the first episode. The past has been relatively quiet recently; no red lights or swarming cockroaches or migraines for a while. Maybe now it’s fighting back by targeting Ms. Mimi, for some reason. Or maybe she’s just sick.
Jake doesn’t have much time to ponder that, either, because he immediately spots Sadie talking to her ex. Johnny Clayton is back in town. When Jake asks her about this, Sadie reveals that she’s not quite a divorcee yet; Clayton is refusing to sign the papers. She thought she’d gotten away from him, but apparently her mother told Clayton where to find her. The reasons she ran away, as she tells Jake, is that her husband abused her. On their wedding night it was revealed that he wore a clothespin on his penis. When Sadie laughed at it, Johnny hit her. When she cried, he hit her again, and raped her. Jake asks why she didn’t leave him then and there. Sadie says she tried telling her mother, who only replied that taking care of her husband was a wife’s duty. Jake reacts to this with confusion and shock, but Sadie interprets it as revulsion. “I ruined it, I ruin everything,” she says, tearfully driving away.
Then Bill arrives at the school to inform Jake that George wants to take Lee to an important meeting that same day. They split up, Jake driving in pursuit of George while Bill monitors the Oswalds on tape. He hears Lee giving Marina a family photo so their child can have it if anything happens to him. Then they start having sex, which angers Bill so much he rips off his headphones.
NEXT: Things get broken
Jake hides behind a car to observe George meeting with two other men. A dog starts barking loudly, potentially the past interfering. When Jake turns around to shush it, he finds himself face-to-face with Johnny Clayton, who has followed him there and wants to know if Jake got his “message.” It was Clayton who spied on Jake and Sadie, not the CIA. Clayton has a genteel manner and tells Jake they can settle their dispute without profanity. “F— you,” Jake says. “If you ever come near Sadie again, I will kick the s— out of you and leave you in a ditch. You get my message?”
This wakes Clayton up. He tells Jake that there will be “consequences” for both him and Sadie if they don’t break up their affair. Jake asks if Clayton’s wearing his clothespin. This freaks Clayton out, especially when Jake reminds him that they live in a small town and “people love to talk.” Jake tells him to give Sadie the divorce, and Clayton appears to back down.
Jake then goes to Sadie’s place. He’s got flowers and chocolates in hand, but an even better speech prepared. “People want to think life is flowers and hearts. It’s not. It’s messy. Things get broken…But it’s not all bad, because the person standing in front of me is a wonder.” The speech works and Sadie embraces him, though another camera pan suggests someone (Clayton or otherwise) might still be watching.
Back at the house, Jake finds a drunk, angry Bill laying on the couch. Lee and Marina have once again gone from lovemaking to fighting, and it’s driving Bill nuts. He wants to go fight Lee, but Jake holds him back, reminding him that they can’t interfere. Bill calls him an asshole and storms off. A little later, he finds a beaten Marina sitting on the outdoor fire escape. He gives her a cigarette and a shoulder to cry on.
Back at school, Ms. Mimi is nowhere to be found. Deke says she’s out sick, and comes off angry in his interaction with Jake. Ms. Mimi might be in serious trouble. In any case, her replacement seems somewhat less chill about Jake/Sadie than Ms. Mimi was.
Jake later apologizes to Bill for their kerfuffle. “We’re doing a crazy thing, and I know now I couldn’t do it without you,” he says.
“We’re a team,” Bill affirms. They’ve come a long way from Holden.
Later, Sadie stops by Jake’s place in Jodie. She’s got baked goods and a note saying “I love you,” but Jake’s nowhere to be found. As Sadie walks around looking for him, a shadowy figure moves in the background, heading out quietly. She stumbles upon Jake’s tape player and starts it up, unleashing audio of Lee and Marina speaking to each other in Russian. Jake finally arrives, but it’s a little too late. “Who are you?” Sadie asks.