11.22.63 - Soldier Boy
The penultimate episode of the show and it begins with Jake at his lowest point; physically broken and his mind shattered. Seventeen days until the historical assassination attempt and without his memories to guide him. "He just needs some time," but that's the one thing this time traveller is running out of. A week passes, ten days to go; then it's seven, and Bill's not going to be any help any more. Then it's five days, and somebody's coming to town.
Two days to go, and bit by bit the memories are starting to come back. Principle amongst his remembrances is the most difficult: He has to kill Lee Harvey Oswald.
Twelve hours to go. And at last the Yellow Card Man from the first episode returns, unveiling his time travel ramblings, casting doubt. It's tempting to Jake, to let the future happen, to just spend out his years with Sadie. But it's Sadie who keeps him on track, his convincing of her too effective, his mission intact. Now it's a fight against time, the inertia of history trying to make things unfold as they're meant to.
Everyone, except for Jake, is ready. It's the final moments: JFK is in Dallas, and Lee Harvey Oswald is in the Texas Book Depository, rifle in hand. There's no government conspiracy here, no earthly reason why Jake shouldn't be successful. But it's not earthly reasons that will make raise the stakes and make the last episode dramatic. And it's unlikely it'll happen without sacrifice. Everything has led us to this point, even this somewhat hollow episode, that felt a bit like filler to pad out the ending a bit.
But for Jake there's 3.5 hours to go, and for us a mere 45 minutes.