In episode 3 of 11.22.63; Other Voices, Other Rooms, the Hulu series slows things down, while simultaneously pushing the plot up a notch, in terms of Oswald, Jake’s new helper and the romance between Epping/Amberson and Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon). In this installment Bill Turcotte (George MacKay), whose sister was the first woman that Frank Dunning murdered, buys a ticket on Jake’s “man from the future” ride.
The two team up and head to Jodie, Texas where Jake gets a job and meets Dunhill yet again and the attraction between the two is instantaneous after they get past “From Here to Eternity.” The two people have a lot in common, both divorced, although Jake’s took place in 2016, and the attractive pair “know where the noses go.”
Sadie’s acceptance of jake’s fumbling and increasingly desperate apology for leaving her with 200 students to chaperone is a brilliant moment of romance that brings back memories of “that perfect” match moment. Her straight-forward “Don’t ever do that to me again,” signals a woman who will take no guff from a man and sets up Dunhill as a strong female character that is attractive to boot.
Once again, the serendipity of the two meeting in Jodie, Texas where she just happens to be the new librarian at the school where Jake has been taken on as the English teacher, is not a good thing, surely. Placing a love interest so close to the future arena of conflict is the past pushing back, although the series is approaching it rather obliquely at this point.
Oswald (Daniel Webber) is an enigma of almost epic proportions. Controlling, a mommy’s boy, a man desperate for attention and, it seems, one who has mental issues as well. Out of the two stressful events seen by the viewer Oswald reacts differently. Take for example his reaction to hearing Jake and Billy in his apartment. Lee might have been furious at this invasion to his privacy, but it was a lucid and perfectly spoken rage. No slurring of words and no outbursts of violence.
At the General Walker speech later on, however, Oswald is slurring his words, stumbling around and is, at times, almost incoherent. Was the would-be assassin drugged or does he have a mental condition (the real Oswald was said to be very mentally troubled); a hidden ailment, not unlike Jack Ruby (who died of cancer after shooting Oswald in the real world) that the CIA agent is taking advantage of.
The use of Japanese electronic devices is cute and the reminder of what 1960s Texas, and indeed the entire South, was like in terms of racism evokes anger and sadness in equal measure. The treatment of Miss Mimi (played by Tonya Pinkins who is on FOX’s Gotham as Ethel Peabody) give two instances where Jake as outsider is first surprised then enraged at the treatment of this lady.
The coffee scene in the high school office where Epping (as Amberson) offers to pour Miss Mimi a cup of coffee is the first instance. The entire room stops in shocked silence at the lapse in 1960s protocol. Later, at the petrol station, the attendant flatly refuses to sell Mimi the fuel she needs, stating that she can go to the station in “N*****town.”
Jake reacts angrily and righteously by grabbing an empty gas can and fills it. He then lets Miss Mimi in his car after throwing money at the attendant. Both of these incidents mark the time period perfectly for anyone who lived in the South, back in the day.
There is also an event triggered by a neighbor deciding that Billy and Jake are gay, something that comes back bite the duo later on. This incident is also evocative of the time period.
While this episode has slowed down the events, in order to bring things forward in terms of Oswald, it has the distinction of providing nail-biting suspense when the two men are trapped in the apartment while Marina (Lucy Fry) and Lee begin fooling around in the bedroom.
As Billy and Jake become increasingly, desperate (Jake) and turned-on (Billy) the tension becomes almost unbearable. The moment they find their “way out” things do not diminish, as expected, but become more intense and damned hard to watch.
Jake has not yet realized that Sadie is yet another instance of the past pushing back as events move ahead to “that” day. Kudos on the excellent chemistry between Franco and Dunhill. Their romance feels spot-on, as it is meant to.
11.22.63 may not follow the book exactly (But then what adaption of King’s work has?) and thus far it does not really matter. This version of King’s time travel tale entertains and keeps the viewer wanting more after each episode. The series airs on Hulu Mondays, tune in and prepare to do a little white-knuckle viewing of this adaptation.