11.22.63 – Episode 7 – Hulu Review
I’m not just saying this as a fan of the novel, but I’m also saying this as a fan of television and storytelling, “I’ve officially given up all hope for this show.”
At this point, I just don’t care. This show has gotten my hopes up and torn them away time and time again, and I don’t know what to feel anymore. While last week was a solid and promising outing from everyone, my worries about the show falling flat for the final two episodes were still there. Those worries have now grown into terrible nightmares because of this episode. With how it progressed and how it ended, the final episode will either be a clustered disaster or a lackluster amateur performance, which was a fear of mine from the beginning.
Cinematics – 1.5
So, episode six ended with Jake Epping (James Franco) being beaten to a bloody-pulp and admitted to the hospital. This episode starts off with Jake waking up and being confused about what time period he is actually in (Past or Present). It’s actually a pretty cool scene and also foreshadows a few elements that are going to be important in the final episode (hopefully), but then that’s really the last interesting and great moment in this episode. Sure, Kevin J. O’Connor as The Yellow Card Man had a pretty brilliant monologue where he told the story of his daughter drowning, but that’s really about it. The rest of the episode was filled with bad acting on the part of James Franco (sorry, buddy, you just haven’t fit for me) and amateur techniques of storytelling and igniting emotion.
This shows has done well with establishing relationships. Jake and Billy have had a good relationship. Billy and Marina have been interesting and tense. Jake and Sadie have been wonderful. Deke and Miss Mimi have been lovely, and Jake and Miss Mimi have been charming. So, just like we saw great beginnings to those relationships, we expect incredible endings, whether they are happy or sad. No, this episode denies any kind of emotional integrity to be incorporated.
During the early scenes, we find out while Jake was in his coma that Miss Mimi has passed away. One of the best factors about this show (Jake and Miss Mimi’s relationship) is gone in the blink of an eye, and what makes it worse is that it disappears during a very bland and emotionless scene. The same happens with Bill and Marina’s story. Bill dies in this episode, committing suicide for unknown reasons, other than “the past pushed him out the window.” Now that Bill is dead and Marina’s new baby could possibly be his, you’d think we’d see Marina searching for Bill or at least wondering where he is, since he kind of disappeared in the first place. Nope, Marina’s going on with her life, hating her husband but still spending the night with him. It’s like this storyline was completely forgotten, which is sad because it had AMAZING potential.
The next thing to talk about is Jake forgetting about the reason why he’s in the past. It’s part of the amnesia he has developed after being beaten. He does remember traveling back in time, Jodie, Sadie, Deke, Al, that he was following someone, and Bill, but he doesn’t remember JFK. I don’t know why he can remember ALL OF THAT and not JFK, but I’m attributing that to “the past pushing back,” so I forgive it. The problem I have with this episode’s whole amnesia bit is that the creators don’t do a good job of creating tension with the fact that “Jake has forgotten about JFK and why he’s in the past,” which jeopardizes the show’s entire external goal. What they do is flash-forward a few times and show Jake going through his daily routine of reading the paper and taking his pills. This is fine, but it doesn’t make me feel like anything is in jeopardy. I don’t feel like Jake is missing his chance to complete his goal or that the answer is RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, so I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat and biting my nails, even though it seems like the creators were trying to do just that, failing miserably in the end. This could be because I am an emotionless person sometimes, but I believe it’s because of one simple reason…
Entertainment Value – 1
I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if Jake succeeds. I don’t care if Jake fails. I don’t care about him and Sadie. I don’t care if Marina wonders about Bill again.
This show has been superficial about a lot of things, and it has gotten to the point where a lover of the novel, like me, just wants to turn it off and go re-read the novel. Honestly, I almost turned the show off during my second viewing and opened the novel to read the first chapter, which is much more compelling and interesting than the entire show has been. Sure, there have been some promising moments, particularly early on, but those moments have been destroyed by terrible storytelling decisions, like telling us about something instead of showing us (Miss Mimi’s death for example), and very bland and non-existent character development. I can forgive not caring about a character early on, because then I still believe there’s time for my heart to become invested, but we are now on episode seven of eight… so it’s too late. I’m sorry.
I thought diving into the point-of-view of Lee Harvey Oswald was very interesting, at first. I believed it to be a very gutsy and ingenious choice for the show, one that wasn’t in the book. I thought getting into the minds and lives of the other characters would help the show, but it has really just made me wish the show would’ve followed Jake and Jake alone, meaning no Bill, no Marina love story, and no subplot for Lee. There would be more time for Jake’s character development and Lee would’ve remained as a mysterious and harrowing figure until the very end. Now, I see Lee as a dweeb and don’t care if he lives, if he dies, or if he goes through with the assassination.
The only reason, at this point, I want to watch the final episode is to see if they’ll manage to save the show, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a massive cluster ball of confusion. They’re going to try and explain how everything works and (trying not to give to much away), we’ll be left with a very disappointing and superficial ending, probably with another bland emotional moment from Franco.
If this show wanted to do it right, this episode should’ve ended with the climatic moment and episode eight would’ve been all about the aftermath. Why do I say this? The aftermath is more important than Jake’s entire journey, in my mind. It’s going to need all the time it can if all the explanations and Jake’s final moments are going to have any kind of emotional resonance. Yet, like I said before, with how this episode ended we can only expect a very disappointing and superficial ending. Instead of going with an ingenious tag for episode seven, the creators went with the generic and most expected choice.
There’s no heart to the show anymore. Jake Epping went back in time to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but the audience is left with a show that takes the easy way out with its plot devices and character development, leaving you wondering why you’re not feeling any kind of emotion and what exactly is going on.
Re-watchability – 0
Two times were enough for me. The only reason that there was a second round was because I fell asleep during my first watch, so I at least gave the episode a second chance.
This week has made me lose all hope for the show. With an interesting beginning that leaves novel-lovers salivating, you won’t get the same for the rest of the episode. Cheap emotional tricks and amateur plot devices will leave you wondering what happened to the show, rather than wondering what will happen next.