11.22.63 S01E04 “The Eyes Of Texas” REVIEW
Airing in UK on FOX, Sundays, 9pm
Writers: Bridget Carpenter, Brigette Hales and Quinton Peebles, based on novel by Stephen King
Director: Frederick EO Toye
Essential Plot Poins:
- It’s now 3.25.63.
- Oswald is timing himself stripping his rifle on the living room table.
- George is still regularly visiting Oswald’s house.
- Bill has growing feelings for Marina.
- Jake almost spills beans about being from the future to Sadie by making a Beatles reference.
- Deak talks about Sadie being a “new woman”.
- Someone is watching Jake at school.
- Bill finally hears George and Oswald talking about killing Walker via the bugging devices.
- Miss Mimi finds out Jake’s real name.
- Jake tells her some BS story about being in witness protection.
- Jake invites Sadie to a romantic cabin break.
- Bill starts a conversation with Marina.
- Sadie asks why Jake doesn’t tell stories about his past.
- Jake says, “This is what I want to build on and never look back.”
- Someone puts an envelope through Jake’s door with pictures of him and Sadie kissing.
- Jake thinks it’s the CIA.
- Jake and Bill follow George and Oswald to a brothel called the Cat House.
- The Cat House gets raided by the police Jake and Bill end up in a cell.
- Deak bails them out but is not impressed.
- Miss Mimi is sick and doesn’t turn up for work
- Sadie’s ex turns up.
- Sadie’s ex won’t give her divorce.
- Sadie tells Jake that her ex was abusing her.
- Bill hears Oswald and Marina being intimate. He is disgusted.
- When Jake is once again tailing George trying to find evidence he’s CIA, Johnny Clayton (Sadie’s ex) turns up.
- He reveals he’s the one who took the photos.
- Jake uses f-bombed-filled 21st century threats to frighten off Clayton.
- Jake stops Bill from defending Marina when Oswald beats her.
- Bill gives Marina a cigarette and tells her he knows what it is like to be abused.
- Jonny signs divorce papers but leaves note in them for Sadie saying, “He’s not who you think he is”.
- Sadie, goes to Jake’s house in Jodie to surprise him but the door is unlocked. She doesn’t notice someone else lurking inside, who leaves as soon as he can.
- Sadie finds and plays the tape of Oswald and Marina getting intimate. She’s horrified.
- When Jake arrives home, she demands: “Who are you?”
“The Eyes of Texas” takes its foot off the pedal as far as the main plot is concerned to examine the social conventions of ’60s and the result is a much slower pace. For a show that has been kicking along at a decent rate, the change in speed is ultimately its downfall. While there are a couple of interesting moments that save this episode from complete disaster it’s disappointing to sit through such an insular narrative.
The episode begins, as usual with the date: 3.25.63. Oswald strips his weapon with unnerving precision while a timer ticks away in the background serving as a reminder that time is always pressing. CIA man George is at Oswald’s house (does he live there now or something?) and helps him pose for a picture with his rifle and newspaper, which leads to a clever transition to Jake holding the famous photo of Oswald that was in Al’s dossier from the future. Bill is also observing the Oswalds but he’s more interested in Mrs Oswald and this is the first incident of the narrative feeling less “Time Thriller” and more “Time Soap”.
There’s a tender scene between Jake and Sadie (previously known as Miss Dunhill) as they sit at the piano where Jake almost spills the beans by making a Beatles reference. President Deak catches the two of them mid-kiss, which leads to him warning Jake about the gossiping townsfolk of Jodie, but he avoids slipping into cliché by referring to Sadie as a “New Woman” and subtly giving the nod and the wink to proceed as long as he keep things secret. This is what this episode focuses on: the moral obligations of early ’60s America with the expectation to internalise contentious issues being ubiquitous. In previous episodes these issues have been touched on but to make this the entire focus of the episode feels at odds with the overarching narrative of the show.
Jake and Bill overhear George and Oswald plotting to kill General Walker and Jake realises, far too late, that George is Oswald’s CIA handler. What’s taken him so long? Miss Mimi turns up at Jake’s house knowing his real name, a crisis that Jake manages to side-step with more lies, which makes Mimi’s speech about trust mostly irrelevant. But rather than keep this under wraps and lay low for a while Jake decides it’s off to a romantic cabin to tell Sadie the same story he told Miss Mimi. What follows is a romantic scene where Jake all but confirms he wants to stay in the past with Sadie but gets a cruel reminder of what is at stake.
When Jake suspects he is under surveillance by the CIA the narrative starts to recapture some of the espionage tension from previous episodes. This continues when the boys follow George and Oswald to a seedy brothel, for a scene so brief it seems like the writers wrote a longer scene and then thought better of it. Jake and Bill find out nothing at the place and but end up getting arrested. Principal Deke pays their bale, and seems remarkably unperturbed by the fact that he’s his employee has been arrested for soliciting prostitutes.
This all gets neatly swept under the rug as Sadie’s ex-husband decides to turn up. While this soapy stiff might be what you’re watching this show for, Jake’s love for Sadie is at at least making him a more relatable character. However with her initial reuctance to talk to Jake about her past with her ex makes the show feel like a teen drama even if the characters are way beyond teenagers. When Sadie does talk to Jake she reveals that he ex was abusing her, the reasons for which is meant to be sinister and perverse but the way it’s explained is just confusing. What is also confusing, is that given the amount of abuse Jake has witnessed during his time in the past why is he so committed to staying there? Does he know anybody who hasn’t been abused?
Jake follows George to a rendezvous while Bill is stuck on Oswald duty. After stealthily tailing George, Johnny Clayton, Sadie’s ex, confronts Jake and this meeting is one of the few high points of the episode. Played expertly by TR Knight Jonny has a chilling vacancy to him. It turns out he was the one who took the photos at the cabin. Jake’s anger flares again with more intensity than previous incidents. He antagonises Jonny, revealing that Sadie has told him what Johnny did to her. You expect an outburst from Johnny. Instead he concedes the argument with a sickening smile. Not only is this an unnerving performance but it also sets up Johnny as credible villain.
In a later scene he returns the divorce papers to Sadie, signed with a note saying; “He’s not who you think he is.” What does he know about Jake?
While Jake was meeting Johnny, back at the apartment Bill was forced to listen to Oswald and Marina being intimate, which is why he’s drunk when Jake returns. Bill and Jake hear Oswald beating his wife and Bill goes to help only for Jake to stop him telling him he can’t get involved. This seems pretty hypocritical of Jake seeing as he’s pretty much involved with everyone else in the show in some way.
Possibly the most exciting moment in this episode lasts about three seconds, when Sadie goes to see Jake at his house in Jodie and finds the door unlocked. While she’s looking for Jake in the house there’s the briefest glimpse of the Yellow Card Man from the first episode. It’s so unexpected and so unhighligted it’s downright sinister. And intriguing. What is the Yellow Card Man doing there? Is he working for the CIA? Is he the physical manifestation of “time”? While the episode has done it’s best to you off, the questions raised by the Yellow Card Man’s appearance mean you’ll want to be back next week.
As does the cliffhanger, with Sadie discovering the Lee/Marina sex tape. “Who are you?” she asks Jake, surely worried he’s some kind of pervert.
“The Eyes Of Texas” is so laboured in the way it tries to examine the repressed nature of ’60s society that it numbs its own message and wastes time getting to the meat of the story. Unlike previous episodes the pacing is completely off and the action needlessly focused on irrelevant melodrama.
- Johnny Clayton is terrifying – a really credible villain.
- The Yellow Card Man showed up! What was he doing there?!
- Too much melodrama!
- This episode’s pacing is terrible.
- Waste of an interesting narrative.
And The Random:
- The BS story Jake tells Miss Mimi is the plot of Godfather: Part III.
- The actor playing Johnny Clayton (TR Knight) is famous for his role as George in Grey’s Anatomy – he’s a nice guy in that, so he’s proving his range here.
- Here’s a compare and contrast of the real Lee Harvey Oswald photo taken in his garden by Marina and the one in the show:
Review by Ned Newberry