Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Castle Rock Companion - 11.22.63 episode 2

Another episode in, and it's pretty clear this is the kind of adaptation that will simply brush over the main points and not look to adapt what actually happens in the book.  If you're a purist, that's definitely going to be disappointing to you.  As for me, I'm not entirely bothered by the fact that they are changing things, just that some of the changes are really making Jake look like a much worse character, and that's a shame.

It's natural for him to be incredulous about the reality of time travel, but it's not so natural for him to be so ignorant about it and how to behave in the past.  Time travel as a concept has existed long enough, and Jake should be able to think logically about these things to act a little more carefully.  You sure as hell don't admit to someone that you're a time traveler so quickly, and how the hell did he just leave that newspaper article  about Kennedy's death lying around?  Of course this is also a dude who took a few days before he abandoned his cell phone too.  I guess I'm just going to need to accept that this version of Jake is going to bungle his way through the whole thing rather than properly planning anything.  And maybe having Bill Turcotte to help him along they can put their brains together and improve things.  I'm okay with that change, by the way.  While not exactly logical, they clearly want someone for Jake to interact with while he's spying on Oswald to  help keep things more interesting.

Despite my grumbling, I did enjoy the episode for the most part, and while Jake continued to act like a moron while trying to stop Frank Dunning from killing his family, Josh Duhamel did a great portrayal of a man off his gourd enough to eventually make an attempt at killing his family.  The scenes in the meat packing plant were truly disturbing, and I whined and squirmed when that poor cow was put in the gate waiting for its head to get bashed in.  There was a moment there when I was worried that Jake might cave and do it for the sake of trying to impress his new friends, and I was very glad when he didn't.

I also really enjoyed the scenes with Edna and Arliss Price.  While Edna is a pretty standard King character of the devoutly religious, she was fairly subdued compared to some of them.  She was also played by Annette O'Toole, who is not just an alum of former King adaptations, but specifically played Beverly Marsh in the IT TV adaptation.  This had to be an intentional choice on the part of someone behind the scenes, as the Dunning family is located in Derry, Maine in the books, and Jake runs into a young Beverly and Richie, returning to their young lives not long after their initial defeat of Pennywise in the 1950s.  Obviously, that story wasn't going to be included in this mini-series, as not only does it not have any real bearing on the narrative, it's just a wink and a nod to long term King fans that he tends to leave in his books.  But including Annette O'Toole allowed them to leave their own wink and nod to those of us who have read the book, and that was a nice touch.

Arliss' speech to Jake initially feels like it comes out of nowhere, but Michael O'Neill's performance soon made me disregard those feelings.  He speaks as if he really committed those acts, and it's a great way to warn Jake that his mission is not going to be as easy as he probably thinks it is.  Frank Dunning and Oswald may be sick bastards, but killing a man is never an easy thing.  While I liked the messy nature of Jake's killing of Frank, and find myself very grateful we don't have to witness the gruesome scene King describes in the book when Jake is initially too late, I have to say I feel like Franco missed the landing yet again.  I knew I was supposed to be seeing a Jake who is upset by the blood on his hands and weight of his actions, but I just didn't feel like he was selling it to me.  The point where he walks away from the faucet and lets the rain hit him was also such a cliche of writing/direction that it also made the scene lose weight for me.

My main hope at this point is that maybe Franco can impress me a little more as a romantic protagonist rather than an action oriented one.  Jake and Sadie's relationship is certainly a highlight of the book and I imagine we have to be getting into that next episode.  I'm also interested to see how all the various Oswalds will be portrayed.

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