Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Review - '11.22.63', Episode 4 - 'The Eyes of Texas'

If there was any sort of clearly defined goal for this episode of 11.22.63, then it would have to have been to add further complications to Jake and Bill's mission. These complications came in a variety of forms, and from a variety of directions - to such an extent that it has become increasingly difficult to determine what is simply coincidence, and what is the subtle influence of Time pushing back against Jake's efforts to change the past. This, of course, is probably the whole point - and, it remains just as interesting an aspect of this series as it was in the first episode.

That being said, though, I do have to admit that the extent of Time's ability to push back against Jake has seemed to be occasionally inconsistent. In the first episode, for example, we had some rather overt efforts to keep Jake from eavesdropping on an important conversation at a restaurant. And, in the second, there was a strong implication an unfortunate bout of food-poisoning was a result of Time's efforts to spot him from preventing a murder (or, perhaps, Jake simply assumed that was the case). But, here, Jake and Bill have been observing Lee Harvey Oswald (Danial Webber) for a while, now, with no real issue.

Perhaps I've simply misunderstood how these efforts to push back against Jake are supposed to work, though? It seems likely that it is particular moments, rather than individuals, that are the issue. Jake, for example, could be free to follow Lee Harvey Oswald is much as he wants, during those moments when Oswald isn't doing anything especially important - but, when we start to get close to an actual moment in time when an important piece of information is revealed, or an important decision is made, then Time will push back most more overtly.

At any rate, after another indeterminate jump forward in time, which sees Jake and Bill moved to a new house as they work to maintain their surveillance of Oswald, things still seem to be moving rather slowly - at least, as far as their investigation is concerned. As far as Jake's relationship with Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon) is concerned, though, things seem to be progressing rather smoothly - or, at least, that seems to be the case, until Sadie's ex-husband, Johnny Clayton (T. R. Knight), is able to track her down. Announcing that he doesn't intend on going ahead with their divorce after all - being set on convincing her to come back to him, despite the fact that Sadie clearly wants nothing to do with him.

This, obviously, adds some unexpected complications to the romantic relationship growing between Jake and Sadie - especially when Jake learns to the abuse that Sadie had endured in their time together. On top of that, there is also the revelation that Johnny had actually been following the two of them, before openly approaching Sadie - and, that he seemed set on trying to scare Jake off by threatening to ruin their reputations in the small town.

There was definitely something 'off' about Johnny Clayton, even disregarding what we learn about his treatment of Sadie during their time together - with T. R. Knight doing a very impressive job of giving an unpleasant edge to the character's generic 'niceness'. Jake may have been able to intimidate him, here - but, there is definitely a strong implication that his role in the series isn't over, yet.

At the same time, Bill's growing infatuation with Lee Harvey Oswald's Russian wife, Marina (Lucy Fry), is also bound to add complications of its own, in the long run - especially with the revelation that Marina, too, has been a victim of abuse. Bill's desperation to intervene when an argument between the married couple grew violent, while Jake felt equally compelled to stop him, provided an almost painfully clear indication of the ways in which Bill well-meaning desire to help may, inadvertently, ruin their long-term plans.

Bill's tentative efforts to reach out to Marina, too (returning her child's doll then, later, consoling her after her argument with her husband grew violent) managed to find some strange balance between being kind of sweet, yet still inappropriate. Bill can be a difficult character to get a proper handle on - but, moments like this show that he is, essentially, a decent and well-meaning young man. It's really just a shame that it is these same traits that, at this point, seem likely to lead toward him becoming a detriment to the long-term mission.

One other fairly significant complication presented itself in the form of Miss Mimi (Tonya Pinkins) who inadvertently discovered that Jake isn't really who he claims to be, while chasing up some important documents on his behalf. This led Jake to, once more, delve into his knowledge of the future as he used plot-points from The Godfather to improvise a story about being in witness protection. It was an amusing scene, certainly - though, I'm not entirely sure I can accept Miss Mimi being so easily convinced by Jake's story, here.

Overall, while this episode had its fair share of interesting little details - there was really nothing, here, that felt overly compelling. Even worse, these separate elements didn't really even seem to come together - leaving the episode, as a whole, feeling somewhat messy and unfocused. The only truly 'stand-out' moment of the episode came with Jake and Bill's efforts to trail Oswald and George De Mohrenschildt (Jonny Coyne), whose connections to the CIA Jake has been trying to uncover since the first episode, to a high-class brothel. It was a sequence that managed to be both genuinely tense, and oddly amusing, as Jake ineffectually tried to manoeuvre himself close enough to hear their conversation. And, the fact that this whole series of events led to Jake and Bill being caught up in a police raid (and, needing to reach out to Principle Deke to bail them out) was hilarious.

While this episode may not have been quite as tense or compelling as 11.22.63 has been, previously. it still manages to amount to little more than a small dip in quality for a series which has been very entertaining, so far. Most importantly, though, the episode ends with a moment of revelation that promises to make the next especially interesting - so, even if I wasn't quite as impressed with this episode as I would have liked, I am still very eager to see how things develop next week.

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