The finale of 11.22.63 The Day in Question is a heart breaker. After all the trouble that Jake and Sadie go through, the yellow-card man reveals that there are loops, something that he mentioned the day before Oswald tries to kill Kennedy.
These loops, as they say, are a deal breaker. But more about that later.
Jake and Sadie face increasing obstacles as they try to stop the assassination attempt on the president with faces showing up from their past. Johnny Clayton, Frank Dunning and Billy Turcotte all appear as part of the past pushing to stop the couple from saving JFK.
It is not just the dead that try to keep the past from being altered. The living also attempt to stop Jake and Sadie, the man at the depository door (Bonnie Ray Williams) is unsure of whether Oswald is on the sixth floor or not. Jake tells Sadie that the past is pushing back the man’s memories, changing history as they live it.
The two enter the building with minutes to spare and have to run up the six flights of stairs. (On a sidenote, who ever it was who ran up those stairs in heels – Sarah Gadon or her stunt double – must be in excellent shape.)
All of the build up to the couple stopping Oswald is handled well, the running and fight with Lee and Sadie being shot are all white knuckle moments. Even those who have read the book will get caught up in the action.
Lee is stopped, Jake interrupts him after his first miss and after some tense hide and seek, Epping leaves Sadie to stay in one spot. Jake and Lee fight and Oswald gets shot with his own weapon. Jake then discovers Sadie has been injured and he rushes to her.
The Dallas police and the FBI arrest Epping believing that he was trying to kill the president. Agent Hosty intervenes when the Dallas Police via Captain Fritz tries to railroad Epping and then becomes concerned when Jake tells Hosty about being ordered to burn Oswald’s letter.
In the middle of Jake’s interrogation the president and first lady call to thank him for his efforts. Epping is released and he returns to Lisbon, Maine. Before going back to 2016, Jake promises the dead Sadie that he will make things right. When he returns to the new future he finds Al’s diner is gone and the city is in ruins.
He comes in contact with Harry Dunning who relates, rather vaguely, that Kennedy caused the ruination of the US after serving two terms, after which President Wallace took the office. Jake returns to the ruins of Al’s diner where he is accosted in the rain.
He falls back into 1960 and sees a young Sadie in a car with her two cousins. He follows her to a diner and starts to introduce himself when the yellow card man shows up outside the eatery. Jake goes to talk to the man who says that Sadie will always die no matter how many times he returns.
Epping returns to 2016. Jake is just going through the motions of teaching, even Jake’s students notice something is wrong. When Harry comes in to say that he did not get the promotion, Jake apologizes for not helping and cries while hugging the janitor.
Looking up Sadie on the Internet, Jake discovers that she is being honored at Jodie and he attends the ceremony. The two dance and just as she did when Jake met the young Sadie in 1960 she realizes that she knows him.
While 11.22.63 did not encompass all the trips that Jake takes in the book, it did manage to keep the tension tight and it ran along the same lines as Stephen King’s novel. That said, there were some things that did not track well.
For instance it is never explained how the president knew about Jake saving his life. Overall, however, the show entertains. The ending is a real tear-jerker. The decision to have “old Sadie” not be portrayed by Sarah Gadon in old age makeup was a good move, making the young Sadie’s appearance all the more effective.
James Franco played Epping brilliantly. His ability to have the audience feel his stress and tension at being in the “wrong time” and his grief at losing Sadie sold the show, as did Gadon’s performance as his soul mate.
The one annoying thing is the “loop” issue brought up by Kevin J. O’Connor‘s character. Obviously the man is speaking of his daughter when saying “she always dies.” Yet Jake takes the man’s information to mean that Sadie will always die. While the reason Epping gives up in the book deviates is arrived at via different route, it does not matter, the downbeat ending of both stories is equally upsetting.
Kudos to Bridget Carpenter for a great adaptation of King’s book and may this re-telling go down as one of the more successful on offer. The final verdict on 11.22.63 is that this was a five star tale. It followed the premise of the original material well enough and the viewers cared about all the characters.
So that in the end as the viewer watch that final dance, a plethora of emotions arise while one reaches for that damned tissue box.
Well done Hulu.