Sadie's ex-husband is back, endangering Jake's plans and his life
This week’s episode picks up right where we left off: Sadie just discovered a recording of the Oswalds speaking Russian in Jake’s basement and is understandably freaked. Jake arrives and tries to calm her down, but she flees. Practically in tears, Sadie says, “Everything you say is a lie,” and tells Jake to stay away from her. This seems like a big leap from finding a weird recording, but remember that last week featured a big heartfelt speech from Jake about how Sadie is “a wonder,” which he used to soothe the lingering trauma from her marriage to Johnny Clayton. If Jake’s lying about weird Russian dialogue in his basement, maybe he’s lying about that, too. Maybe he doesn’t really love her. So she storms off. Going back into the house, Jake finds the casserole Sadie brought him along with the “I love you” note. It’s too late for that now, though, and Jake summarily throws the dish in the trash.
Then comes the first 2016 flashback in awhile. While teaching his present-day English class about Homer’s Odyssey, Jake asked them why Odysseus wouldn’t just stay with Calypso on her island, rather than return to Ithaca. This likely presages a major choice Jake will face one day — if and when he manages to save JFK, will he return to the present or stay in the past with Sadie? (If she ever forgives him, that is.) In an odd coincidence, Jake also once asked this class what they would do with a time machine. Most of them have violent answers: kill Adolf Hitler, kill Joseph Stalin, kill Saddam Hussein, kill Homer so they don’t have to read this dumb book anymore. Is violence the only application of time travel?
Back in the present, Sadie has revealed Jake’s weird Russian basement secret to Principal Simmons. Combined with the earlier brothel excursion, this is just too much for Deke, who invokes the morality clause of Jake’s contract to fire him. The only person who believes Jake is still a good guy is Ms. Mimi. Despite her suspicions about him in last week’s episode, she’s seen his goodness firsthand. In segregated Texas, he’s been one of the few white people to reach across racial lines to help her when she needed it. But there’s nothing she can do for him right now.
Meanwhile, Jake has bigger problems. It’s almost the day of the assassination attempt on Gen. Walker, so he and Bill are planning how to handle it. Based on history, Jake knows that Walker will be shot through the window while at his desk, but will suffer no more than some shrapnel in the arm. There’s a nearby church service that gets out at 9 p.m., allowing a perfect getaway crowd for the shooter. Al told Jake that if he can prove Lee Harvey Oswald took the shot on Walker, he’s also the JFK shooter, and taking him out will save history. Bill doesn’t quite understand this last point. Gen. Walker and Kennedy are such different political figures (Walker is a racist, Southern demagogue while Kennedy preaches an inspirational message of unity); why would the same guy try to kill both? But Jake’s in too deep now to ask questions like this. All that matters, he tells Bill, is if Lee shoots. Then, they’ll take him out.
However, Jake hasn’t thought very much about how they’ll take Lee out if they catch him in the act. He’s planned everything else, checking spare tires and changing spark plugs on the car in case the past tries to fight back. But he hasn’t planned too far ahead. Maybe he doesn’t want to think about it. Even further in the future, he hasn’t thought much about what to do when it’s time to go back to the present. To his surprise, Bill actually seems interested in going back to 2016 with him. But that’s for later. Now, the plan is for Bill to follow George de Mohrenschildt if they spot him around the scene, while Jake will stay with Lee. Jake will forget about Sadie because he has a more important mission to accomplish.
But actually, forget about that. When Jake goes to his house in Jodie to clean away all traces of “Jake the teacher” before the big day, he suddenly gets a threatening phone call. It’s Johnny Clayton. Sadie’s ex-husband had appeared to wilt before Jake’s threats in the last episode, but now he’s back in terrifying fashion, holding Sadie hostage at her house. Despite all that preparation, Jake quickly throws the plan to the wind. He tells Bill it’s all up to him and runs off to rescue Sadie.
NEXT: Time to clean this stain