The reason why you shouldn’t go back in time and change history is here.
The TV adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63 premieres today only on Hulu’s streaming service. While some might be thinking that this might just be another visualization of a King horror novel, give 11.22.63 another look with the lens of time-travel. It’s produced by J.J. Abrams, who has most recently been reigning over a slew of science fiction successes lately, from the record-breaking Star Wars: The Force Awakens to the modern Star Trek movie reboots. The series also stars James Franco, playing a role unusually separated from Seth Rogen and also a far cry from his comedic position in the controversial movie The Interview.
The show, which has been separated into eight parts, revolves around Jake Epping (James Franco), a Maine teacher who is experiencing the usual rut from a dilapidated life–his job is at a cul-de-sac, his wife is signing divorce papers, and so on in the usual stream of hard times that average people will likely go through.
His life warps entirely when his friend, Al Templeton (Chris Cooper), shows Jake a wardrobe that he has been hiding for years. When Jake steps inside, the time is 11:58. The date is October 21st, 1960.
Jake steps out, alarmed, but Al reveals to him why he has shown him this reality-reshaping door. Al wants to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy, discover the intricacies of Lee Harvey Oswald’s involvement, and mold a better decade and a better future. Al’s argument is that with a living JFK, Lyndon Johnson could have never begun the Vietnam War and so on. Jake (of course, for the sake of plot) agrees to this monumental task and plunges into the ’60s, trying to follow through on rescuing one of the most conspiracy-inspiring Presidents in American history.
What Jake finds is that, with some degree of difference between the TV show and the book, the past does not like being tampered with. In his genuine venture to save the life of one of America’s most famous and progressive Presidents that with every move he makes, some horrifying event will take place in return. A mass of cockroaches. His house burns down.
What this all can be equated to is the “butterfly effect,” the idea that if anything in history was changed, for example the death of a single butterfly, the entire subsequent course of the world would be altered irreparably. And there is a fairly big level of impact between one tiny insect’s murder and the murder of the leader of a world superpower, so viewers can expect an equal level of complete time deterioration.
Some critics have argued so far that 11.22.63 spirals out of control in the same way time does in the show. Brian Moylan of The Guardian argues that Jake’s sidesteps with a blonde love-interest named Sadie and his blossoming romance with the decade itself lose the audience, but that overall, it wraps it all together in the end.
Ultimately, the show will hopefully do justice to Stephen King’s mind, which has created Carrie, Under the Dome, and Stand By Me to be adapted into visual form so far.
11.22.63 will premiere every Monday on Hulu.