Spoiler warning: Do not read on unless you’ve watched the season finale of “11.22.63,” titled “The Day in Question.”
After three years of prep work, Jake Epping has finally come to “The Day in Question,” Nov. 22. Surely hoping he would have already dealt with the issue, Jake and Sadie are racing against the clock to get to the book depository by 12:30, where the first shot will be fired.
Time has been harassing Jake from the start, but it’s now or never and no punches are pulled on the time-traveller. The two run into a police barricade that Jake knows for a fact wasn’t there the first time these events went down. They abandon their car and run through the crowd, where ghosts from their pasts are waiting. Jake runs into Frank Dunning first, but brushes him off easily. It’s seeing Bill sitting on a park bench that both figuratively and literally trip him up. Sadie has one last face-to-face with her ex-husband, Johnny Clayton.
While the two close the distance on the book depository, Oswald sits waiting on his perch.
“They will remember your name,” he says.
After a light bit of threatening, Jake and Sadie make it into the book depository and start climbing the stairs. Time seems to be scrawling threats to the two on the wall as the climb. (A bit of graffiti on the wall reads “Redrum,” an Easter Egg for one of Stephen King’s most famous books, and eventual adaptations, “The Shining.”) The race to Oswald is intercut with shots of people that have become focus points in many of the Kennedy conspiracy theories, including the Babushka Lady shot on Abraham Zapruder’s personal camera.
Jake and Sadie really cut it down to the wire. They come through the door just as Oswald takes his first shot, the only miss, at 12:30. Jake distracts Oswald and he misses his second shot, allowing the motorcade to get away. Jake and Sadie get trapped in the room with Oswald when the door slams shut behind them.
Oswald takes a few shots at the two as they stalk each other through the floor. Oswald angrily lets Jake know he stopped him from “doing something important.” After a few more moments of cat and mouse, Jake and Oswald have their face-to-face and fight over the rifle. Jake comes out on top and shoots Oswald dead, but unfortunately Sadie was caught in the crossfire. The police enter as Sadie lies dying in his arms. He yells at the officers to help her as he is thrown to the ground, but it’s too late. Kennedy survives the day, but Sadie dies.
With all the evidence against him, including his prints on the rifle, Jake is arrested and thrown in an interrogation room. The Dallas police seem to think the whole situation is all figured out and Jake was the shooter. Lucky for Jake, the FBI agent who had been following Oswald asks for a private word. The agent lets Jake know America wants someone to blame for the attempt. Jake lets the agent know that if he is put on trial he’ll spill everything he knows about the FBI and not just that they failed to stop Oswald.
The agent still seems to think the whole thing can be pinned on Jake, at least until Jake gets a call from Kennedy himself. The president is simply calling to thank Jake for saving his life. With that, he is pretty much in the clear.
The name of the hero who saved Kennedy is not publicized (probably for the best) and Jake gets on a bus to head back to Lisbon. Sitting at the station, Jake sees Sadie as he saw her when they first met in 1960. She disappears as quickly as she appeared and Jake gets on the bus. Back in Lisbon he heads through the rabbit hole to see the utopia that Al envisioned for America.
Unfortunately that’s not what Jake gets. On the other side of the rabbit hole, Al’s Diner is a pile of rock and Lisbon isn’t fairing much better. Walking through the city, Jake sees he apparently brought about an apocalypse. He runs in to some bandits harassing a man and steps in. After they depart Jake finds the man to be none other than Harry Dunning, decked out in traditional post-apocalyptic garb. He gets invited to Harry’s underground home. Harry recognizes Jake as the man who saved his family in 1960 and Jake asks about what happened since then. Here’s the rundown on the new timeline:
- Kennedy was president for two terms
- Segregationist George Wallace was Kennedy’s successor
- Kennedy founded refugee camps in response to global bombing
- Said camps were not fun
Jake obviously decides he needs to undo his changes, which can be easily remedied with a quick trip back through the rabbit hole. He runs back to what used to be Al’s Diner and hops back to 1960.
Everything is exactly as it was on his first trips back. This time though, he notices that Sadie was actually riding in the pink car that drives by. This isn’t the visions that time was using against them before either, this is really Sadie.
He finds the car outside a diner and enters to speak with Sadie. He may not have made a great first impression as he was looking a little worse-for-wear because of his fight with Oswald and trip to the future. Before he can say much more than that they know each other The Yellow Card Man appears at the window.
Jake confronts the other troubled time traveller who warns him about the time loop he is about to stick himself in, if he interferes in Sadie’s life she will always die. Jake assures the Yellow Card Man he doesn’t plan on saving Kennedy, just winning Sadie over again. The Yellow Card Man says it doesn’t matter and when Sadie comes out to speak with Jake he apparently takes the traveller’s advice and tells her he made a mistake.
He returns through the rabbit hole to the 2016 that he originally left behind. Back at work Harry stops by to let Jake know he didn’t get his janitorial promotion but wanted to thank him for his recommendation. Jake breaks down and apologizes over and over.
“You’re a good man,” Harry says comfortingly.
Eventually Jake gets the courage to Google Sadie. He learns that she is alive and is being honored in Jodie with the “Texas Woman of the Year.” Jake makes the trip to his home from another life. An elderly Sadie receives a warm reception from former and current students before reading a poem that Deke Simmons used to keep on his.
After the speech Jake asks for a dance with Sadie. While they dance in the gym where they fell in love Jake asks Sadie if she had a good life. She says she has. Sadie swears she has met Jake before and asks who he is.
“Someone you knew in another life,” Jake says.