Following his bloody Kentucky pit stop, Jake is shaken but reaffirmed in his mission to stop JFK’s assassination… and now he’ll have help.
Bill Turcotte, the bartender from Holden and the man who has held Jake at both knife and gunpoint, is hitching a ride with Jake on his world-changing mission. Bill is either a fool or the most well-adjusted man in 1960 because, after Jake talks him through the time traveler rigmarole one time, he is game and ready to help where he can.
Despite having someone to confide in, Jake isn’t dealing with his murderous confrontation with Frank Dunning well. His PTSD leads to a dream sequence of Frank murdering the Dunning family while Kennedy reads a speech. Mr. Price’s words about killing a man never being brave clearly still dig at him.
The duo arrive back in Dallas and Jake shows Bill where the places of interest will be in three years: the book depository, the grassy knoll, and so on. Bill doesn’t get why the can’t just take this Lee Harvey Oswald out now and save time.
“There’s been 2,000 books written about it and no one knows what happened,” Jake explains. Their plan is to stick with Al’s plan: learn whether Oswald was involved in the assassination attempt on General Walker in April of ’63, which would confirm a larger conspiracy. But that’s all years away and Jake apparently wants to earn some honest cash, rather than gamble with 100 percent odds of winning, so he starts job hunting.
One would think it would be a bit easier for Jake to do what he came to do (you know, saving JFK’s life) if he wasn’t tied down with a 9 to 5, but regardless, Jake lands himself a job teaching English in a small town outside Dallas called Jodie. Jake and Bill, the time-fighting duo, celebrate with a night out at a strip club.
Bill gets loud and drunk and the club’s owner comes over to them. Bill asks if the owner is voting for Kennedy and is answered with an enthusiastic yes. The club owner gives the two his name: Jack Ruby. Bill is none-the-wiser but Jake is shocked to cross paths with the man who will become famous for shooting Oswald following the assassination. Bill then starts drunkenly telling Ruby about the time travel, which leads to a quick retreat.
A quick side note on Bill Turcotte: in Stephen King’s book “11/22/63,” Turcotte is a very minor character. He helps Jake take care of Frank and then is left behind in the narrative. This makes his character in the show a complete wild card. There could be valid concerns that Bill will, unknowingly, become someone that time can use to screw Jake and his mission. For any help that he can offer now, he certainly seems like he’ll be a liability going forward.
The show then cuts, mercifully, two years into the future. In 1962 Jake has settled nicely into his role as a high school English teacher in Jodie. He’s also become friends with Principal Deke Simmons and the school secretary Ms. Mimi. The two introduce him to the school’s new librarian Sadie Dunhill, the woman he met in Dallas right after traveling to 1960. Sadie (who was married then but isn’t any longer) and Jake get paired to chaperon an upcoming dance. Jake reschedules his prior commitment, which was bugging Oswald’s soon-to-be apartment, in order to spend time with Sadie.
After only a brief glimpse in episode one, Oswald finally makes his grand appearance on the show. The potential assassin returns from his time in Russia with a new wife. Jake is present at the airport when he lands and sees Oswald visibly upset that there isn’t press around to document his return. His mother ushers him and his wife away. It will be a couple days before they move in to the dumpy Fort Worth apartment across the street from a place Jake and Bill have been staying.
The dance chaperoning goes off like any high school dance does. Jake and Sadie bust a few kids who are spiking the punch bowl, before taking it to another room and testing it out. The chaperons wow the students with their dance moves as well. The two are bonding fast but a look at the clock forces Jake to bail on Sadie, citing an emergency, so he can go bug Oswald’s place with Bill.
Although the bugging is initially smooth sailing, the past pushes back for the first time in the episode when Oswald and his Russian wife Marina decide to show up at the house. The two are forced to hide in a closet and Jake finds a way to climb into an attic while Bill watches the two get down to some lovemaking. The attic is full of spiders and when Bill feels them crawling over his hand he screams, causing the already-paranoid Oswald to react wildly. The two barely manage to escape without being seen while Oswald shouts into the darkness.
Jake gets some flak back in Jodie from both Sadie and Ms. Mimi for disappearing from the dance and not returning, and Bill complains about the dullness of the conversations the Oswalds have. Eventually George de Mohrenschildt, the man from the first episode working with the CIA, reappears, and the Oswalds and him share words. Unfortunately those words are in Russian. Jake runs off to get an English-Russian dictionary.
When he returns, a bit more of the past pushing back is evident. Bill is bloodied and beaten and their recording equipment is gone. Their neighbor did the beating and stealing, and when the two confront him they find the equipment ruined.
Jake finally catches a break when he smooths things over with Sadie back in Jodie. She says she liked dancing with him and Jake gives her a kiss and asks her on a proper date.
Before that can happen, Jake and Bill follow Oswald and de Mohrenschildt to a General Walker rally. After the rally, an enraged Oswald confronts Walker in the street. With a crowd gathering Oswald screams that Walker is a fascist. As the episode ends, Oswald screams what is a convincing argument that Jake and Bill have the right guy.
“Wake up, you fascist,” Oswald yells. “Wake up or I’ll kill you.”
What did you think of “11.22.63” Episode 3?