TV Review: 11.22.63 1×4 “The Eyes of Texas”

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In this week’s installment of the Hulu exclusive series 11.22.63, Jake Amberson (James Franco) and Bill (George MacKay) have begun surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald (Daniel Webber) from his apartment in Dallas, Texas. With the date set at March 25, 1963, the pair have less than eight months left in trying to figure out if Oswald was the sole person responsible for Kennedy’s death, and or whether the CIA played a role in said assassination. Meanwhile, Jake’s relationship with Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon) takes an unexpected turn when Jake begins to fear someone is catching on to his plot, and may be making threats against him and his lover. Not to mention, Bill may also have a little more on his plate than usual when he begins to have a strange fixation on Marina Oswald (Lucy Fry), Lee Harvey’s wife.

Let’s get one thing clear about “The Eyes of Texas.” With most of the JFK plot being dwindled to mere surveillance this time around, it’s going to be the main selling point of this week’s episode. Sure, there is a great scene where Jake and Bill track Oswald to a brothel, but aside from that it’s mostly just sitting and listening to the on-goings of Oswald and his wife’s lives. The main purpose of this episode, on the contrary, is developing the romance between Jake and Sadie. While that melodrama may be a turn off for some, those of us invested in these characters will find a great deal of reason to understand why these two mesh so well together.

In last week’s episode, Sadie had been reintroduced for the first time since the pair’s brief encounter in the first episode, and it’s hard to argue it felt a bit too forced for the couple to begin bonding so quickly. However, “The Eyes of Texas” manages to help resolve those quirks as we get plenty of time with these two and the results are, for lack of a better word, cute. From a piano scene early on to a romanticized night at a local bungalow, Jake and Sadie finally have enough wiggle room to actually form a real romantic bond, instead of that overly forced kiss at the end of last week. Whenever they kiss this week, it feels purely genuine, and whether you’re a fan of romantic dramas or not, it’s hard to argue that “The Eyes of Texas” develops their romance very well. Not to forget, we also begin to see a bit of a blossoming between Bill and Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife, Marina. It’s also nowhere near as focused as Jake and Sadie’s relationship, but it’ll effectively grab you to the point in wondering where their storyline might be going.

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By the episode’s end, it does feel like a slight downer that we’re not given as much Lee Harvey as before, aside from an interesting rifle assembly scene at the beginning. Yet, as far as a chapter focused almost entirely on two characters goes, “The Eyes of Texas” has organized itself well with enough thrills and twists in the romance to make it a worthwhile part of the series. Not only do parts of Sadie’s past begin coming back to haunt her, but a nice little turn at the conclusion brings in the “past pushing back” philosophy, which will without a doubt bring people back to see what happens next. Overall, if you’re more interested in the Kennedy assassination prevention plot, as opposed to the characters journey along the way,  only about a quarter of this episode will probably grab you. On the other hand, if you’re fully accepting of Jake as a human being who wants to do good–by the world, and also do good–by this woman he has begun to fall in love with, this episode comes across as a great little love story worth hearing.

Rating: 8/10

​Donald Strohman is a Pennsylvania State University film graduate currently residing in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. Before being a part of The Young Folks team, he contributed to GameDeck and the satire website The Black Sheep. He also writes for the game journalism site GameSkinny. When he's not trying to fulfill his life long dream of becoming the "Hash Slinging Slasher", Donald enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and writing; sometimes all at once.