Bill goes from exceedingly hostile and distrustful of Jake to wanting to join him in the blink of an eye. Technically there's a whole drive from Kentucky to Dallas where the two of them may have bonded, but since we see none of it we have no indication as to why Bill changes his mind or why Jake would trust him. Bill's main purpose at this point seems to be to make Jake look less stupid by acting even more moronic than Jake has previously. He's an uninteresting and annoying character, and showing him as a victim of abuse does nothing to make me like him more or be sympathetic to him.
On a better note, we get to meet the Jodie cast of characters now, though sadly the students and their jamboree are nothing more than Easter eggs now. I suppose it makes sense to cut this for time, but I really would have liked to see a little more of them.
Fortunately we still get a good look at Sadie and Ms. Mimi. Unless I missed something, Ms. Mimi is white in the books, but I think making her black here is a good way to show Jake's frustrations with the racism of the past, and deals with those issues more head on than King does in the book. I just hope they don't drop her relationship with Deke because of it. Tonya Pinkins brings a lot of Mimi's spunk to the role which I really enjoyed in the book.
As far as Sadie, there's clearly more to be revealed about her past in future episodes, but I like how Sarah Gadon is playing her so far. She has a decent amount of chemistry with Franco, though the skipping of time makes it all feel a bit rushed. I also feel like the dance number wasn't as exciting as it could have been. Whether it was direction or choreography or the actors I'm not certain, but they didn't feel as electric as King describes it in the book.
Finally, we also get to really see the Oswalds. Cherry Jones plays a perfect doting mother, and I hope we get to see a little more of her in future episodes. Daniel Webber seems to be doing a strange accent as Lee. I'm not sure if there are recordings out there of Oswald's voice that he's trying to match but it makes his delivery awkward at times. He's certainly doing a good job of playing an unhinged man whose strong beliefs could lead him to do extreme things.
Am I losing hope for this series to end well? To be honest, yes. I don't think it's completely lost at this point, but I think it's got a long way to go win me back. It's sort of odd that things seem to be moving so quickly yet we still have 5 episodes to go. Maybe it's going to severely slow the time progression down from this point onward. We'll see.