This episode makes two in a row that I didn't particularly like.
You know what else I don't like? Reviewing a television series on a weekly basis. It's antithetical to the way I normally watch tv shows (i.e., for the fun of it), and I think it makes me both overly judgmental and aggressively aware. There's nothing wrong with being aware, of course; awareness is a rather important factor in critical thinking/writing.
However, I've accustomed myself over the past decade or so to watching serialized television shows in a more passive way than this. That's not to say that I've been accustomed to watching tv shows with my brain turned off; I haven't done that at all. However, with the best series of the past decade -- Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, and so forth -- I have never enjoyed speculating about what is going to happen in upcoming episodes. My mind occasionally went there with some of those shows, but it often recoiled away from that sort of thinking as soon as it had begun. None of this was a conscious process; it's simply how my brain reflexively wants to ingest serialized storytelling.
I didn't engage in much speculation as regards The Dark Tower, either (apart from having a vague set of expectations about certain characters showing up to join the ka-tet); same goes for The Green Mile. Currently, my mind is mostly disinterested in trying to figure out what is going to happen in the next few Star Wars movies, although I can't help but field a few theories about Rey's backstory.
But generally speaking, I'm not merely willing to sit back and allow a story to be told to me, I'm sort of insistent on it. If you have to get up and leave in the middle of the story, and you can't make it back for a week, or a year, or seven years, then I'd really kind of prefer to not try and fill in the blanks for you.
Reviewing 11.22.63 on a weekly basis, though, I find my brain insisting on doing things a different way. I'm actively trying to figure out the answers to certain questions posed by the series. I'm watching this series in a completely different mental manner than I am other shows, and I think I've done myself a disservice in that way.
I can't help but wonder if some of what bothered me both last week and this week would have bothered me if I were watching this show in a more passive way, the way I'm watching other shows currently. I'm working my way through season one of The Wire, for example, and I'm not focused on trying to analyze and critique what I'm seeing. Some of that happens regardless, but it isn't my focus; my focus is the enjoyment of the dialogue, acting, point of view, etc. I'm also catching up on the first seasons of several shows that I missed out on recently (Dark Matter, The Expanse, Killjoys, Jessica Jones, The Magicians, Fargo, Colony, Humans, and Mr. Robot), plus getting caught up on the current or most recent seasons of a few existing shows (Haven, Doctor Who, Agents of SHIELD, and Agent Carter), as well as staying current on several show airing right now (The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, Vinyl, and, believe it or not, Girls).
I'm enjoying all of those to a greater or lesser extent (although The Walking Dead is seriously trying my patience right now, and Killjoys has yet to really hook me in anything other than a trashy I-like-sci-fi-anyway-I-can-get-it way), and a few of those shows are good enough that they are both worthy of analysis and would probably grow in stature as a result of it. But that's not why I'm watching them; I'm watching them because I enjoy them.
I'd be watching 11.22.63 for the same reason, of course, probably even minus the Stephen King connection, and I think it was a mistake to deprive myself of the process of watching it the same way I've been watching, say, The Expanse.
We're pot-committed at this point, though, so let's trudge -- grimly, determinedly -- through these final two weeks and agree that we're never, ever, ever going to do it this way again.
Because I'm in a surly and uncooperative mood, this week's review is going to mostly consist of notes. Here they come: