If there’s a theme in episode four of 11.22.63, The Eyes of Texas, it has to do with keeping secrets. Jake Epping/Amberson (James Franco) is recognized on several fronts for not being the person he claims to be. It was really just a matter of time (pun intended) until it happened. I imagine it would be nearly impossible to fit in completely when you come from 53 years in the future, especially when you ignore all the warnings you were given about interacting in the past.
First, Miss Mimi (Tonya Pinkins) confronts Jake about discovering his real name. When she didn’t receive his immunization records for his job at the school, she tracked him back to Kentucky. “I believe in trust,” she tells him. “You wouldn’t break our trust, would you?” Being kind to her in previous episodes pays off as she accepts his excuse of being in witness protection after witnessing a mob hit, with details straight out of The Godfather.
Following this and a warning from the principal, Deke (Nick Searcy), Jake decides to be proactive and tell Sadie (Sarah Gadon) the truth. When an envelope of pictures appears under the door at the Hollyhock Bungalows, though, he thinks the CIA has discovered him and he retreats from his original plan. He later learns that instead of the CIA, it was Sadie’s “ex” husband, Johnny Clayton (T.R. Knight) who has been following them.
It seems that he never granted Sadie a divorce and has no intentions of doing so. After Jake convincingly threatens him, though, he relents. Sadie then receives signed divorce papers with a note warning her that Jake isn’t who he says he is. Doubts cross her mind only momentarily because she’s still swooning over his delivery of flowers the day before with his declaration of love, “I love everything about you. You are a wonder.”
That’s incredibly sweet, but Jake needs to focus on his real purpose for being there. He seems sloppy about collecting evidence of Lee Harvey Oswald’s (Daniel Webber) impending crimes. You can’t just follow him and George (Jonny Coyne) into a whorehouse and play Peeping Tom without calling attention to yourself and ending up in jail. What’s worse is that he’s oblivious to how his sidekick, Bill (George MacKay) is breaking the rules behind his back.
Bill is smitten with Marina Oswald (Lucy Fry) and cannot stand when recording their conversations includes the married couple having sex. Worse is when they fight. After a particularly violent incident, Bill makes himself known and comforts Marina, without Jake suspecting a thing. If he did know, it shouldn’t surprise him. I mean, he can’t expect the young boy to not do something he himself doesn’t seem to mind doing.
As 11.22.63 continues, I’m becoming more frustrated, but not in a good, suspenseful way. I fully expect there to be obstacles for Jake, but not so many of his own creation. I can’t decide if eight episodes are too few or too many to adapt Stephen King’s novel. It’s not slow by any means, but perhaps, like Jake, it’s too unfocused. At the midway point, it’s time for the show and the character to get serious about their business.