11.22.63 S01E03 “Other Voices, Other Rooms” REVIEW
Airing in UK on: FOX, Sunday, 9pm
Writers: Bridget Carpenter, Brian Nelson, based on novel by Stephen King
Director: James Strong
Essential Plot Points:
- The episode starts in 1960
- Jake tells Bill (bartender) he’s there to stop Kennedy from being assassinated and that he’s from 2016. Jake, amazingly, believes him and wants to help.
- Bill begs Jake to let him join his mission and they journey to Dallas together.
- Jake has a crazy nightmare about killing Frank.
- Jake gets a job as a teacher at a small town school in Jodie, Texas.
- Time passes to 1962.
- Jake meets Miss Dunhill again. She’s the school’s new librarian. When Jake asks about her husband she says she’s divorced now but doesn’t want the school to know.
- Jake sees Lee Harvey Oswald for the first time, re-entering the States.
- Jake and Bill rent a second apartment opposite Oswald’s and decide to bug Oswald’s home.
- Jake is asked to help Miss Dunhill act as chaperone at a school dance. He reluctantly agrees – because he needs to bug Oswald’s house on the same night – but he and Miss Dunhill bond during a dance.
- Jake still leaves dance to go and bug Oswald’s home though.
- Oswald and his girlfriend unexpected come home to make out. Jake and Bill escape through the attic.
- But the bug works.
- Oswald stars having visits from a geology professor with links to the CIA called George de Mohrenschildt. Jake thinks de Mohrenschildt is being used by the CIA to keep an eye on Oswald, but may also be egging Oswald on to kill first General Walker (who we historically know was the subject of an assassination attempt by Oswald), then JFK. Jake still refuses to kill Oswald until he’s sure he’s acting alone.
- Raphael the guy from next door who thinks Jake and Bill are homosexuals, breaks in and steals their recording equipment.
- Jake tries to apologise to Miss Dunhill for leaving the dance and they end up kissing
- Jake goes to General Walker’s rally. Oswald and de Mohrenschildt are there.
- Oswald confronts General Walker and swears to kill him.
“Other Voices, Other Rooms” differs in tone from the first two episodes but gives more insight into Jake’s character than we’ve been given previously, while a few light-hearted moments make this a fun episode. However, it’s also slower-paced and lacks a payoff in the way the first two episodes did, but sets up for later events that will have serious ramifications for Jake’s quest in the remainder of the series.
The action picks up right where it left off with Jake and Bill, the suspicious young bartender from last week, driving away from the scene of Frank’s murder with Bill holding a gun to Jake. Here, Jake comes clean about his mission and where he’s from. Once again a character, Bill in this case, accepts the notion of time travel a little too easily. However, he has seen the newspaper clipping from the day of JFK’s death, so he’s not just taking Jake at his word (though what’s less impossible to believe – that a man can time travel or that he can mock up a news paper clipping?).
Jake and Bill stay in a motel where Bill asks Jake to go back in time and save his sister. Jake says he can’t. This would have been a good point to offer a small refresher about how the rules of time travel in the show but sadly Bill doesn’t push him on it. Bill seem oddly ready to accept Jake’s word on everything.
Bill agrees to take Jake to Dallas for $100 but during the night Jake has a nightmare about killing Frank only to awake with his hands around Bill’s neck. They manage to not to fall out over this (seriously, if Bill secretly in love with Jake?) but the event reveals that Bill’s naked back is covered in horrible scars. This is an important scene and it shows both Jake’s remorse for what he’s done and possibly how his mind has been warped by the event. There is also an insight into Bill’s past – the scars are the result of his abusive father – and also somewhat justifies why Jake is willing to take Bill along on his quest.
Jake and Bill travel to Jodie, Texas (halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth) where Jake takes a job as a substitute teacher and during his interview with the principal they discuss teaching Catcher In The Rye, which would have been published at that time. There is an interesting parallel to be drawn here: in JD Salinger’s book the protagonist Holden’s goal is the preservation of innocence, whereas America’s innocence is what Jake is looking to protect by saving JFK. This is backed up by a flash back of Al talking about the effect that JFK’s death had on society.
The boys celebrate Jake’s new job by going to a strip club where they meet the owner who is none other than Jack Ruby. History buffs will know that Jack Ruby was the man who fatally shot Lee Harvey Oswald two years after the assassination of JFK. Jake and Bill’s meeting of this character demonstrates the show’s reverence for the historic events surrounding JFK’s death.
Time passes to 1962, with Jake now fully accepted at the high school. Enter “Miss” Dunhill, the girl Jake met in the first episode, as the school’s new librarian. Jake brings up her husband, which turns out to be a bad idea. She’s pretending to be a “Miss” because there was still a stigma attached to female divorcees in 1960. But it does mean Jake can show a romantic interest in her.
Jake and Bill get an apartment in Fort Worth opposite where Lee Harvey Oswald will live to set up for surveillance on Oswald and his attempt on General Walker’s life. Jake’s character is given a little more exposition when he stands up to a racist gas station owner who refuses to sell gas to Miss Mimi, the school’s secretary, because she’s black. Jack’s anger in this scene shows how the accepted racism of the ’60s gets under his skin and it is extremely gratifying to see him quash an act of such horrible bigotry.
The focus returns to the surveillance of Oswald and Jake sees him for the first time arriving back from his defection to Russia. However, before they can get to work, Jakes is forced to chaperone a school dance with Miss Dunhill, and what follows is a seemingly incongruous but fun dance scene as Jake and Miss Dunhill share a wonderfully choreographed dance. When Jake does manage to get away and join Bill in bug planting duties inside Oswald’s home, things don’t go to plan. Oswald returns home early and the boys escape via the attic only – but time is getting annoyed with Jake trying to change things again and used spiders to scare Bill, alerting Oswald. They only just get away.
The episode ends with the boy’s attending General Walker’s rally only for Oswald to be in attendance. Oswald confronts General Walker and his fanaticism has clearly left him unhinged as he vows to kill Walker and invokes Hitler in his condemnation of the General.
While not being the most eventful episode so far, “Other Voices, Other Rooms” certainly had some excellent moments whether it’s Jake finally finding an ally in his quest or his blossoming romance with Miss Dunhill. Jake also becomes a lot more relatable through this episode. There are some interesting developments in the wider arc story as regards saving JFK and again this show continues to impress in its exploration of the good and the bad aspects of 1960s American life. It will be interesting to see whether the next episode keeps the same pace exploring the characters and taking a more reflective approach or whether the gripping tension of the first two episodes will return. Either way it will be worth coming back for the next episode in what has so far proven to be a compelling series.
- Great episode for fleshing out the world and the characters.
- Jake and Bill are a good team.
- Jake standing up for Miss Mimi is awesome.
- Miss Dunhill and Jake’s romance is really charming.
- What a great dance scene!
- “Time” is still scary, especially when it sends spiders.
- Daniel Webber plays Oswald really well.
- Why is everyone so ok with time travel?!
- Not a lot of big stuff happens.
- The guys manage to get hold of surveillance equipment suspiciously easily for the period. Especially considering how big an bulky it was.
And The Random:
- The Catcher in the Rye reference draws some neat parallels.
- Oswald’s mum is played by Cherry Jones, President Taylor from 24!
- The gas station in Jodie is called “Fannin”; Richard Fannin is one of the names used by the Man In Black in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.
Review by Ned Newberry