With only one more episode left in 11.22.63, “Soldier Boy” serves as the build up to the day Kennedy was assassinated, and while we still have to wait one more week to see if Epping succeeds in his goal or not, we are thankfully given enough surprise reveals to keep things interesting. After being brutally beaten in last week’s episode (partially because of Billy’s own irresponsibility), Jake Epping (James Franco) finds his memory slowly fading in and out in the hospital, as Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon) tries to help him remember his mission. Realizing the memory loss is more severe than imagined, Jake and Sadie look to reinvigorate said memory through locations and people they’ve interacted with, including the mentally institutionalized Billy (George Mackay.)
What manages to be this week’s strongest point are the answers we’re given. We find out a little more about the mysterious “You shouldn’t be here” figure that pops up every now and then. The psychotic break that’s evolved in Lee Harvey Oswald (Daniel Webber) has begun reaching its boiling point, and Billy’s condition in the mental hospital is, frankly, heartbreaking to bare witness to. Not withholding the fact that Sadie is actually now playing a role in Jake’s mission, we finally get to see her evolve past just a romantic plot to fluff up the staler moments in this thriller series. It brings a sigh of relief to finally see them actually working together as a pair, and not just a couple of people getting into typical romance territory.
To be up front in the negatives on the other hand, the episode skips through the remaining couple weeks before the assassination fairly quickly. You’ll see the “___ Days till Assassination” title card appearing ten times in this week’s show, and it can be fairly distracting. Some scenes in between these title cards can last around a minute or two, and it begs the question why we needed so many in the first place. The audience could probably figure out the time jumps on their own, and wouldn’t need it shoved in their faces consistently. It also didn’t help that the great twists and turns in “Soldier Boy” could have used a little more build up before they happened.
However, that’s far from making this episode less than stellar. Those great plot punches still hit really hard, thanks to the continually great performances from the cast. With the series finale fast approaching, we may have had some of our questions answered, but there’s still plenty left to witness in next week’s episode. With Jake’s mission to save Kennedy hanging in the balance, all we can do is wait just a little longer before all our tensions and questions are eased.