In 11.22.63: Happy Birthday Lee Harvey Oswald the past pushes hard against Jake’s plans. Bill finally allows his infatuation to turn into full-blown romance. Turcotte also befriends Lee, obviously so he can be close to Marina and the young man’s actions jeopardize everything.
Jake shows how far he is prepared to go and Epping almost loses Sadie again. The English teacher time traveller puts Bill away and then is beaten because his helper made bets on the same fight. The bookie owns all the outlets and he uses Jake as a lesson to others as he believes the two men have cheated him.
At the start of the episode the act of spying on Oswald had become less exciting and more of a boring chore to Jake’s assistant. A combination of boredom, loneliness and booze turns Bill into a liability and not the helpful partner he once was. Turcotte complains that it would be nice if Jake came by more than once a week.
Lee has started his job at the book repository and as Oswald leaves the building he is met by an FBI agent who seems to know all about him. The future assassin of JKF is furious that the man spoke to Marina.
Epping/Amberson is unaware of Bill’s trips upstairs and his interaction with Oswald and his wife. Sadie’s new game is to ask Jake about the future. He is not keen to play and she asks playfully if pantyhose get any more comfortable in the future. Sadie gets her plastic surgery moved up and Deke (Nick Searcy) urges Jake to marry his girl. After calling him an idiot, Simmons goes to leave and tells Epping to see Mz Mimi.
The principal’s lover tells Jake that she has cancer and that Deke wants to take her to Mexico for some new alternative treatment. She urges Epping not to wait (in terms of marrying Sadie). Mimi and Deke both love each other dearly and even though she is dying, the school secretary thinks of Simmons being alone afterward. She asks Epping to be a friend to Deke.
Jake goes to the Dallas apartment and cannot find Bill. He hears sounds of celebration upstairs and puts on the headphones. Lee is having a birthday party and Bill is attending. Jake goes to retrieve his brother and Bill reacts badly. A drunken and resentful Turcotte struggles with Epping and knocks over a lamp.
Lee goes to pick it up and discovers one of the bugs that Bill and Jake planted in the Oswald apartment. Jake leaves alone as Turcotte insists on staying and helping Lee clean up. Later the two fight and Bill pulls a gun on Jake and orders him to leave and not come back. The lovestruck young man tells Jake to go back to the girl “it’s okay for you to have.” Clearly jealousy of Jake’s relationship with Sadie is also a factor Turcotte’s behavior.
At the hospital Sadie goes into the operation while Deke and Jake wait in the hospital corridor. The two men enter a “restricted access” hallway and Epping spies a man (Kevin J. O’Connor) wearing a fedora with a yellow card stuck in it. Alarmed, Jake decides that Sadie is in danger and he tries to exit the restricted halls double doors only to find them locked.
A sure sign that the past is pushing occurs when Jake pounds on the doors and no-one appears to hear or notice. Epping grabs the fire alarm switch and pulls it, once again the past proves it is fighting back when nothing happens. Deke tries to calm Amberson down but he grabs a fire extinguisher and bashes the door’s glass panel out.
While this desperate escape attempt goes on, Sadie is put under for her surgery. As the anesthesiologist puts the mask on her face and tells the young women to count backward, the nitrous oxide gas outflow increases what the oxygen decreases. Jake bursts in to stop the operation and the technician discovers that Sadie almost died from the gas he was giving her.
Later, Jake finds Bill sitting on the stoop with Oswald and the two are looking at a rifle. Jake murmurs about a second shooter and leaves quickly. Oswald goes to a gun range and shows his proficiency with the rifle and Jake tricks Bill and commits him into the mental wing at the hospital.
Turcotte makes matters worse for himself when he shouts that Jake is from the future, amongst other things, and that he has killed two people. The admitting psychiatrist is convinced that Bill is not competent.
Epping tortures George de Mohrenschildt (Jonny Coyne)for information by choking him from behind as he sits in the back seat of George’s car. Jake learns that the man’s handlers have no real interest in Oswald. Neither, apparently does de Mohrenschildt, who pays Lee (“a semiliterate hillbilly’) to water his grass so he can give money to Marina.
After the painful Q&A with the Minsk native, Jake is visited by the bookie who has his men beat the teacher and then angry man pistol whips Amberson. Once again, Turcotte’s actions have negatively affected the mission.
Jake is now in the hospital with severe head injuries and in his delirium believes that his former wife is in the room. Sadie is there but she is upset that he has not recognized her. It appears that the past has pushed hard, so hard that Jake may not recover in time to save JFK from being shot.
This episode of 11.22.63 proved that Turcotte has always been the weakest link and that Epping chose to ignore the fact while he pursued Sadie. Getting caught up in the madness of Johnny Clayton just made him more reliant on the lovesick and lonely young man.
It goes without saying that Tonya Pinkins is both adorable and tragic as “Mz” Mimi and Searcy is brilliant as Deke. The pairing of these two was “casting magic.”
Franco and Sarah Gadon are equally well matched. These two do not even have to be onscreen together for their chemistry to flare. The scene where Amberson proposes over the phone is delightfully done by both actors and Gadon’s delivery is spot on when she calls her proposer an idiot.
Six entire episodes have now gone by without Jake Epping returning once to the diner. With only two episodes left it seems highly doubtful that he will. It will be interesting to see what Bridget Carpenter has up her sleeve.
(On a sidenote, it was great to see Kevin J.O’Connor as the yellow tag man. He has been a personal favorite since his portrayal of Beni in The Mummy.)
11.22.63. Happy Birthday Lee Harvey Oswald ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. Will Jake awaken in time to save the president or will he have to start over? With only two episodes left and with the show being a mini-series, i.e. no chance for a second season (unlike Under the Dome), it seems that Jake will save JFK while suffering from a concussion.
11.22.63 airs Mondays on Hulu.
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