Now that we’ve reached the end of 11.22.63, I don’t think it’s possible to discuss this finale episode by itself, without talking about the series as a whole around it. That Jake began his journey two months ago in Al’s diner, and ends it now in literally the same time and place as he started, seems oddly appropriate for a series that spent roughly eight weeks building and building and building to a payoff that couldn’t hope to deliver all that was promised. To quickly recap this final episode: “The Day in Question” actually only made up a small portion, thematically, of the finale, as Jake and Sadie crashed in on Oswald just as he was about to murder JFK. Jake is able to overpower and kill Oswald (bringing his series body count to three, which is pretty impressive for a community college English teacher), but not before a stray bullet kills Sadie, because television. The authorities take Jake into custody, certain that he, in fact, was the would-be assassin, before quickly realizing it’s maybe more important for Americans to see Jake as a hero than a villain, despite the truth of the matter—and though it is true that Jake wasn’t the one trying to kill Kennedy, it seems the FBI is correct in thinking Jake a villain, as he returns to 2016 to find the world a post-fallout wasteland. Anyone could have seen this coming. It was obvious, really, from very early on that this show would have to go one of two ways: either Jake would abandon his mission in favor of trying to have a life with Sadie, or he would “succeed”—and after about the third person telling him, “You shouldn’t be here,” the aftermath of that success wasn’t going to be a surprise. So the show went the latter route, which, okay—it kind of had to. I don’t know if I’d have been able to stomach eight episodes of spy-level surveillance and plotting, only to have Jake ultimately shrug it all off in favor of running away into the sunset with Sadie—who, by the way, was given one last chance to be terrible when Jake practically begs her to let him call the whole thing off so they can just get married, and she refuses to let him. Eve tricked Adam into eating the apple, Sadie is as obviously a female character written by men as has ever appeared in pop culture, and so it goes…. But back to the apocalypse: we knew, we just absolutely knew, that saving JFK would screw everything up, and yet the show treats the reality of this revelation as if it should surprise us. As if it expected us to think Jake would go back to 2016 to perpetual sunshine and a world free of war and strife. When Jake makes it back to alternate-reality-version 2016, he meets his old student, Harry, who fills him in on all the shit that’s gone down: Kennedy got reelected, General George Walker followed him in the White House, the U.S. got bombed, Kennedy opened some concentration camps (yes, really), and, oh, by the way—Harry’s whole family ended up suffering horrible, disease-ridden deaths. Thanks a lot, Jake. And Jake responds to all this helpful exposition by insisting he thought saving Kennedy would make things better. Really, Jake? Really? And so Jake must make the obvious decision: he has to go back through the time loop, one last time, and reset everything. Save for a quick, who-the-heck’s-this-weird-guy random meetup with Sadie one more time, he’s in and out in a flash, and all is back to the way it was. Exactly the way it was. And that leads to this show’s more glaring, unfixable error: after everything he’s gone through, after everything we’ve gone through, we’re back to the exact same spot as we started, before the opening credits rolled for the first time in episode one. The show tries to spin this as a happy ending, of sorts—Jake googles Sadie, discovers she’s lived a successful life and is about to receive the award for “Texas Woman of the Year” (which, good timing—hah!), and goes to see her one last time—but it can’t really obstruct the truth of the matter: before this time travel closet came into his life, he was relatively content, had a stable job he genuinely seemed to enjoy, and his friend Al was very much alive and selling the best and cheapest steaks in town. Now? He’s haunted by the memory of a woman he can’t get out of his mind and who, simultaneously, doesn’t even know he exists, seems absolutely miserable in the one scene when we see him back at work, and Al is very much dead (and the diner, presumably, closed forever—so double whammy). What a great meditation that juxtaposition—or the whole series, really—could have been: reflecting on how all our choices, from the very best to the very worst, and how all our experiences, from the happiest to the most tragic, make us who we are. Consider: Presidents before and after Kennedy have had attempts made on their lives, but it was really with his assassination that we began to understand and appreciate that our leaders were human and vulnerable, just like us. His death, one of our country’s darkest moments, has likely been what’s led us to take our leaders’ protection as seriously as we should. Instead, though, we get to end the series with Jake sharing a dance with Sadie at her awards ceremony, and he’s smiling, and she’s smiling (even though all she knows about this guy is that he traveled halfway across the country to see her—no red flags there), and we’re expected to believe that he won’t go home after, drive past his dead friend’s diner, and realize that, no, he’s not really as happy as he acted during that dance. Indeed, the biggest, most glaring unanswered question left is that exactly: when Jake does return home, and the adrenaline of getting to see Sadie one last time is hundreds of miles behind him, and he’s left with the quiet of his own thoughts in his car, what’s he going to do, really? How easily is he going to be able to resist jumping right back in the time loop? After all, he now knows that moments after he travels back to the past, Sadie is stopping for lunch at a nearby diner. How easy it would be just to hop right in and see her, and as often as he wants, too…. It’s probably unavoidable that this show had to include that scene at Sadie’s award ceremony, but it’s almost dishonest to end it there—a more appropriate ending shot would be Jake standing inside the empty diner, just staring into the time travel closet. Here’s my last impression of the show that was 11.22.63, and though I don’t necessarily intend it to be overly harsh, I also can’t pretend it’s not: this was a show that spent eight weeks going absolutely nowhere and, much like Jake, we the viewers are left at the end having gained absolutely nothing, except fleeting, cruel glimpses of what could have been. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.