‘11.22.63’ Recap 1×05: The Bleach Boys

The tone in this episode of '11.22.63' veers from looney tunes to shit-scary so fast.

George MacKay and James Franco in 11.22.63.
George MacKay and James Franco in 11.22.63.


Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a rel="noreferrer" href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

This episode, titled I ASSUME “Nightmare on Womp Street,” was chugging right along doing it’s normal 11.22.63 thing where James Franco says “Fuck” alot and I found a bunch of super-serious scenes really, perhaps inappropriately funny, before it took a hard left turn into so much facial scarring and accusations of “WHORE MOUTHS” I thought I was at a family reunion. My goodness. I will get to that, ALL of that, but the first 15 minutes or so raised a couple questions. So real quick:

Why is finding a tape recording of some Russians automatically such a deal-breaker for Sadie? I mean,  I’m not going to pretend to know the dating norms of the early 1960s because like what even is speaking offline?…but I also can’t picture finding a tape recorder in my girlfriend’s basement with some Russian on it and immediately jumping to “You can’t even say they’re Russian actors with a straight face can you, you stupid bitch?

Drew: Yeah, Sadie has a real good bullshit detector. “Marrying a man with a clothespin on his dick and some grand-Oedipal complex?” COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE. “Having your boyfriend tell you he’s a time-traveler while you are high on morphine?” STRANGER THINGS HAVE HAPPENED. “Boyfriend tells you he’s listening to a Russian audio-play?” A BRIDGE TOO FAR, MISTER!

Vinnie: Second question: In that flashback scene where Jake asked his class what they would do if they could go back in time–totally coincidentally–which of the students was your favorite? At first I thought it was that Glen kid that got way too into the logistics of time-travel and Jake was like “shut your fucking fuck fuck face, Glen, this is English class!” But I know deep down inside that the nameless, faceless kid off-screen that said “Yeah, kill Homer, dude” was me in high school. I would’ve said that exact same line and high-fived like three other guys in nondescript football jerseys.

Drew: I love that this show wants to be so on the nose but not on the nose enough that nobody goes “I’d go back in time and spend years of my life trying to unravel the Kennedy assassination. Not like, kill the guy who killed Kennedy. Because what if he’s just the bullet, you know? And the CIA was the gun? But I would definitely investigate the crap out of it BEFORE Kennedy got assassinated, but do very little to prevent it, because where is the fun in that?”

And then the next kid is like “Oooh, yeah, that’s way better than killing Hitler. Can I change my answer?”

And Glen is like “Right, because killing Hitler would have absolute and immediate consequences, while even–best case scenario–preventing the Kennedy assassination just gives us a giant question mark for what the world would look like today.”

And then ANOTHER kid would be like “Yeah, why aren’t we talking about preventing Martin Luther King’s death? That’s sort of racist, when you think about it.”

And then Glen is like “Wait, who killed Martin Luther King Jr., anyway?”

And the class is like “Oooh, right. We should definitely Wiki that before traveling back in time.”

And then goatee’d Jake is like “Go fuck yourselves, you fucking shitlickers.”

Vinnie: OKAY ENOUGH FUN–when Jake walked into the house and Sadie just had the bloody bag over her face? When did this show get genuinely, purposely disturbing? When did Sadie’s ex-husband go from the ruh-roh emoji to the most unsettling Joker not on Gotham? And how are they just going to casually drop the grandma-molestation bomb in the middle of this scene?

Oof. Heeby-Jeeby City, population: Clothespin Dick.

SPEAKING OF can we talk about how even underneath the horror this was all still a little funny because I’m just thinking the whole time, like, is he wearing the clothespin RIGHT NOW?

Drew: Yeah, for all the LOL’s we had last week about Jake just dismantling the scary Stephen King “disturbed man” in the middle of the street, this week makes a VERY GOOD (maybe the best?) case for why that kind of dude is still so scary. And to give credit where credit is due, it’s VERY HARD to make King’s language terrifying, when it’s people usually calling each other “dirty birds” and “cockapoos” and talking about their “whore mouths.” Literally the only time that has ever worked in a direct adaptation of King’s work without seeming completely silly was in Misery.

So okay, good job, 11.22.63. You scared the shit out of me. And I agree that it was terrifying seeing Sadie’s head covered like that. It can’t be a coincidence that it looked like what would happen if the Ku Klux Klan was in charge of the Purge.

Vinnie: Meanwhile, this show pulls the old doorbell switcheroo by making us think Bill is interrupting the Bleach Party but no, he’s still just trying to woo Lee Harvey Oswald’s wife which isn’t even the dumbest thing he does in this episode. Luckily Lee shows up all “Have you ever even read Karl Marx, bro?” and this was all really necessary.

Drew: What a great fake-out this was, though! Actually, everything that happened to Bill in the beginning of the episode was fantastic, but especially the way Jake is totally exasperated with him. There is a fine line between “James Franco being a goof” and “James Franco acting super serious” and apparently that line involves him over-explaining, for the umpteenth time, how they need to confirm the Walker shooting didn’t involve the C.I.A.

Jake: “Okay, according to history, Walker is alone when Oswald takes the shot.”

Bill: Okay, but even if Oswald is here alone, how does THAT prove he’s going to kill Kennedy in six months.


Oh, okay. The problem with this show is that Jake’s plan is neither foolproof nor actually that logical. Bill raises all these super valid points and Jake is like “ONLY I GET TO TALK ABOUT FUCKING CONSPIRACIES, FUCKER.”

It’s gonna be great when Jake changes his name to Frank and waits 20 years for this to happen.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMg47ABzINw]

Vinnie: I can’t even hate on Jake’s escape plan though, because one time I let someone bleach my hair but it wasn’t really professionally done mostly because it was in a dorm room and everyone was “up on their vapors” as I assume they say in the 1960s and long story short I got so much in my eyes that if, hypothetically, I was trying to shoot everyone in the room I definitely would’ve missed and been highly susceptible to fire pokers to the forehead.

Drew: The tone in this episode veers from looney tunes to shit-scary so fast. Like when they all have to be quiet and hide because there are some bake sale high schoolers at the door. Johnny has a very specific, very O.C.D. way he wants this to go down. “No you have to drink the bleach while I watch, instead of me just using the gun on you or my ex-wife.” And then Jake is all “Um, that’s not going to happen,” and Johnny is like “No it IS going to happen!” I thought the best fake-out was that they made such a big deal about the glass shard, when clearly the thing to do when someone offers you a glass of delicious bleach (btw, what a great job for Johnny! “Door to door bleach salesman, best in the biz!”) is to throw it in their goddamn face and then run run run!

Was I the only person who thought that Johnny should have run out of bullets? Come on, it’s not 2016; that shit isn’t a semiautomatic. There’s six bullets in that chamber, tops. Although I was a little sad to see the end of Johnny Clayton. Especially now that I realized he’s played by T.R. Knight from Grey’s Anatomy and not, as I previously believed, the love child of Danny Strong and an emoji.


Vinnie: The part where the doctor tells Jake “There was NOTHING WE COULD POSSIBLY DO lol jk she’s fine just a little scarred” makes a lot more sense when you realize it was a prank by Ross the Intern from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, which if I recall correctly last aired in 1963.


Drew: Also, what terribly quaint practices they had back then! Not just the hospital–which didn’t send EMTs because what the fuck is an EMT?–but the police man who A) allows his former high school principal to jack a murder suspect out of his hands and dictate the terms of the case and B) is apparently satisfied with Jake’s answer of “Um, we broke up and I totally LOVED hitting her ex-husband in the face with a fire poker. Like I SUPER loved it.” And the cop is like “Well, you passed the ‘Are you a Sociopath’ quiz with flying colors, because we don’t know what a sociopath is yet. You are free to go, sir!”

Vinnie: How am I supposed to take anything away from Jake getting mad at Bill for missing the assassination attempt other than Jake is just a huge stupid dick? Bill–poor, stupid, stupid Bill–is on the other end of the phone crying about his dead sister and Jake gets such a disappointed look on his face. Like, dude is in the hospital cleaning up a situation involving brutal murder, assault, and clothespin dicks and has NOTHING to do with Lee Harvey Oswald, and Jake is still like “Focus up, Bill.”

Drew: Apparently when you fuck with the past, the past is also free to fuck with people who aren’t experiencing it as the past, because it’s their present? Which is just “reality.” So a BETTER tagline for this show would be: “Sometimes when you fuck with a time traveler, reality will warp to make you see your dead sister in order to keep you from finding out this arbitrary thing about a botched attempt on the life of a guy who seriously has upside-down American flags in his yard, like THAT’S a thing, now.”

Vinnie: And I can’t even rationalize Jake’s dickishness with “BECAUSE OF LOVE,” because what has this show done to convince us Jake and Sadie’s relationship is worth consistently bailing on saving the universe? It might’ve helped to see them building some chemistry but oopsie-wozzle we skipped ahead two years straight to Jake straight plagiarizing the Beatles and showing up on her doorstep with flowers. We’re…what? Five episodes in? And I should just buy that Jake has such undying love for this girl–even after Clothespin Dick turned her into Fr-adie Kreuger–that he’s spending time getting photos framed and NOT learning Russian?

I repeat–this awkward sprinting English-teacher POS is mad at Bill for dropping the ball when he’s out getting pictures framed? Do you know how time-consuming it was to get pictures framed in 1963? Well I don’t, but I assume everything was time-consuming in 1963.

Drew: Also, if he REALLY loved Sadie, wouldn’t he go back to the present day and then go back to the past and kill Johnny Clayton first thing instead of dicking around with that OTHER guy he murdered? Remember? Remember when JAKE DEFINITELY MURDERED THIS TOTALLY RANDOM GUY BECAUSE A JANITOR WROTE AN ESSAY ABOUT IT?

Vinnie: I really wish that when Jake told Sadie he was a time-traveller, she was like “So am I” but she was from way before 1963, like dinosaur times, and she was actually there to KILL John F. Kennedy to prevent the smear campaign that was Jurassic Park and literally none of this would’ve surprised me more than how unsettling Sadie looked with the bloody bag on her head.

Drew: I mean, morphine existed back then, so it’s not inconceivable that Sadie is like “Shhhhhh, no problemo, Mr. Space Man!” and when she gets out of the hospital she’ll sober up in time to teleport back to her superiors at Brontosaurus HQ and report “Dude is shit crazy. ABORT THE MISSION!”

‘11.22.63’ Recap 1×05: The Bleach Boys