The American science fiction thriller, “11.22.63” was released on Feb. 15, 2016, by Hulu. The limited miniseries is based on the book by the same name, written by Stephen King. The series consists of eight episodes.
The “11.22.63” executive producers are J.J. Abrams, Bridget Carpenter, Byran Burk, and King, himself. It was also produced by James Franco, who played the protagonist, Jake Epping, aka, Jake Amberson, of the series. Each episode has a running time of 44-81 minutes.
Starring alongside Franco is Chris Cooper, who plays Al Templeton; Lucy Fry, as Marina Oswald; Sarah Gadon, who portrays Sadie Dunhill; George MacKay, as Bill Turcotte; and Daniel Webber, who plays Lee Harvey Oswald.
The Rabbit Hole
In “11.22.63” Al Templeton, the owner of a cafe that looks like it came right out of the fifties, has a secret he’s keeping. For most of his life, Templeton has been traveling back in time through what he calls a rabbit hole, to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The portal is located inside a closet in his dinner. He believes, preventing JFK’s assassination, will change history for the better.
However, the time traveling closet has one rule, it brings the person entering it to Sept. 9, 1958, at precisely 11:58 a.m., every time. If that is not one heck of a rule there is an added stipulation, two minutes in present-day equals two years in the past.
The cafe owner comes to terms with his impending death, by way of cancer, which he attributes to time traveling through the rabbit hole. He tells his friend, an English teacher, Jake Epping, about his secret. He asks Epping if he will continue his task of trying to prevent the assassination of President Kennedy. Of course, the English teacher does to believe in the existence of a time traveling closet and thinks the old man has lost his mind.
However, when Templeton shows him the closet, he asks him to walk in, “keep going, keep going…,” he says, until Epping falls through the other side. In 1960, audiences see a milkman who breaks one of the bottles of milk, old cars, a pink one in particular, and a man with a yellow card in his fedora.
Back in present-day Epping is, naturally, astounded at what just happened. This is where Templeton once again asks him to resume his task of stopping JFK’s assassination. After much trepidation, the English teacher agrees.
Templeton explains his past failed attempts to his cohort, handing over his notes, pictures, and files, to help Epping avoid making the same mistakes. These snippets are not given all at once, but rather, throughout “11.22.63.” The audience is given flashes of them talking about the failed attempts and what to do to get around time pushing back.
At the beginning of “11.22.63,” fans see Epping reading a short story by one of his students and the janitor of the school. The assignment for the students was to write a story about a day that changed their lives. The English teacher is reading the story of, Harry Dunning. The story tells of the real-life occurrence of Dunning’s father murdering his entire family, which left him brain damaged, but alive. The janitor receives his first A+ ever for his story.
Fast forward to Epping accepting the daunting task of stopping JFK’s assassination. Templeton gives Epping all he will need to sustain a new life in the ’60s. This not only included his notes but an I.D. and a list of all sporting events and who won them, which allows the English teacher to win money to take care of himself.
Epping Stops a Killer
In the series “11.22.63,” the first thing Epping does when in goes back to 1960 is, places a bet on a fight. Of course, with his knowledge of the future, he wins. He uses the money to buy a car and a place to stay. Jake Epping, now James Amberson, begins his task of trying to stop JFK’s assassination. However, soon enough, Amberson finds out that time is pushing back, meaning the closer he comes to getting it right and changing the future, the more time tries to stop him, in the way of accidents, storms, or distractions.
Amberson avoided all the little accidents as he followed the person Templeton thought to be a Russian agent involved in JFK’s murder. Just when he thought it a success, time pushed back when he returned to his living quarters, the building where he rented a room was on fire, killing the landlady’s son and destroying most of his notes.
Amberson felt defeated after the fire and decides he can not complete the task. He wants to return to 2016 Maine. On his drive back to the diner and its rabbit hole, the English teacher remembers the story written by the old janitor. He realizes he can, at least, do one good thing to help someone in the future before he goes back.
His detour takes him to Derry, Maine to save the janitor’s family. Amberson makes several attempts to stop Frank Dunning from killing his family, one of which was to befriend the family patriarch in hopes he can steer him away from his savage actions. Unfortunately, this backfires when Dunning asks Amberson to kill a baby cow with a bat to the head. Of course, he is unable to do it, and Dunning and his buddies make fun of him for not being “man enough.”
Then, fans of “11.22.63” watch as Amberson makes his way to the Dunning’s house. When he arrives he tells Mrs. Dunning she has won tickets for a vacation for her and her children and they needed to leave as soon as possible. However, her husband finds out that Amberson went to their house and offered her tickets. That night, he tricks the teacher into having a friendly drink.
He threatens Amberson after accusing him of sleeping with his wife. After the second failed attempt to save the janitor’s family, the teacher buys a gun, figuring he has to take matters into his hands to stop Dunning. Amberson waits outside the Dunning household on Halloween night, when, suddenly, he is held at gunpoint by a young man named Bill Turcotte.
Turcotte asks him what he is doing at the Dunning household. Which leads to the English teacher, telling his captor, of his plans to kill Dunning before he kills his family. Which leads to him explaining he is from the future. Amberson tells Turcotte of his sister’s death and that Dunning shot her. He wants to help him kill his sister’s murderer.
Soon, Amberson finds himself inside the Dunning household. Despite time pushing back, he succeeds in stopping Dunning from killing all but one of the janitor’s siblings.
Surveillance of Oswald
In the series, “11.22.63” fans watch as Amberson establishes residency near Lee Harvey Oswald renting the apartment next to him in Fort Worth, Texas. The English teacher gets a job at the local high school, in the nearby town Jodie, where he runs into a librarian, Sadie Dunhill, and they form a relationship.
Amberson and Turcotte’s first order of business is to wiretap Oswald’s apartment. They sneak in his place at night and are nearly caught by Oswald when he unexpectedly comes home with his love interest Lucy Fry. This forces the duo to flee into the attic to escape detection.
Cut to Amberson and Turcotte’s apartment; they continue to set up the other end of the surveillance equipment in their place. While the teacher goes to work, Turcotte is left to listen in on the happenings in Oswald’s abode. They find nothing to incriminate him.
Months go by with no real evidence of Oswald making any plans about killing the president. During this time, Dunhill and Amberson’s relationship becomes stronger. However, she is not yet divorced due to her abusive husband’s refusal to grant one.
When her husband, Johnny Clayton, shows up and threatens Amberson, the teacher strikes back and tells him, if he does not give her the divorce, he will divulge his secrets. Taken aback, Clayton leaves, only to strike back at a later time with murderous intent.
Clayton takes his wife hostage, and the fans of “11.22.63” watch as Amberson runs down the street, to her house, to save her. When he arrives, Dunhill is sitting at the kitchen table, the right side of her face is slashed open from the top of her skull to her chin line.
Dunhill’s estranged husband tells Amberson if he does not drink the bleach, he has set before him, he will kill her in front of him. After some struggle, Amberton throws the bleach into their captor’s eyes and they run. Partially blinded, their assailant starts blindly shooting at them.
The couple hides until Amberson gains the upper hand by whacking Clayton with a fire poker, which makes him drop his gun. Dunhill grabs the gun and kills her husband.
Turcotte takes a liking to Oswald’s wife, Fry, and slowly begins to work his way into her life when consoling her after one of Oswald’s abusive rages. This leads to the two starting an affair and Turcotte becoming best friends with Oswald.
When Amberson finds out that has been sleeping with Fry, he tells him he has to stop and the two fight. Amberson moves out, leaving Turcotte behind. At this point, it would seem the plot to stop JFK’s assassination has gone stale.
However, after much thought, Amberson had Turcotte committed because he thought he would end up being the second shooter. He was able to do this using real-life ruse that Turcotte thought Amberson was from the future and was there to stop the impending assassination of JFK. During his admittance, the young man yells these things out to the doctors, which only backs up Amberson’s accusations.
Amberson had all intentions of coming back to get his friend out of the psych ward. However, he was in an accident which left him with memory loss. Amberson forgot about his friend and the reasons he was in 1960. Dunhill reminded him daily of the things he needed to remember. Unfortunately, this only made him feel more inadequate, and he was driven to depression. With the clock ticking down to assassination day, he needed to remember and, of course, he does, in the knick of time.
Later, Dunhill and Amberson making their way through the city trying to get to Oswald in the federal building before time is up. In the next scene, Oswald setting up his sniper and aiming at the presidential motorcade coming down the street. In the knick of time, Amberson yells out, “Stop,” which distracts Oswald and he misses the president.
In a rage, Oswald comes toward the couple shooting. They try to hide from him, but a bullet hits Dunhill, killing her.
Back to the Future
After stopping Oswald’s assassination attempt, Jake travels back to 2016. The series “11.22.63” has a theory that the world would have been better if JFK lived. This was debunked upon Amberson’s return.
When he falls back through the rabbit hole, he comes out to a wasteland. Buildings are in rubble, the diner is gone, and feral people are traveling the empty roads. Amberson fights off the ferals as he walks through the city.
He is saved by, none other than, Harry Dunning and learns that JFK served two terms and then George Wallace was elected president. War broke out forcing Kennedy to make refugee camps. This did not help, and the people of the world suffered greatly.
In the series, “11.22.63” the only way to undo what he had done is to travel back in time to reset everything because, remember, every time he goes in it starts at Sept. 9, 1958, at exactly 11:58 a.m. So he does this, but when he arrives, he sees Dunhill, in the pink car with her cousins, and follows her to a cafe. He introduces himself to her, and the temptation to stay and be with her can be seen on his face. But, he does not pursue the relationship with her in order to save her life.
Amberson leaves 1960, for good. He, then, goes to the small town of Jodie to find Dunhill after seeing she was to be honored at a librarian conference. Now 80, she is receiving a lifetime achievement award as her ex-lover watches. He later asks her to dance, and the story ends.
By Tracy Blake
Edited by Cathy Milne
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘11.22.63’ Finale: Showrunner Explains That Ending, Book Changes and Alt 2016
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