Homeland’s Alt-Right Season

SPOILER ALERT: If you plan on watching the latest season of Homeland (2011-) and don’t want to know anything about what happened, don’t read this.

homeland out is back in

Homeland just finished its sixth season and has already be renewed for a seventh and eighth, with a planned end to the storyline there. When the show began it was sold as the story of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine presumed to have been lost in action until he is found during a raid on a terrorist compound, after several years of brutal captivity. But the central character of the show has always been Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a C.I.A. intelligence genius who suffers from psychotic episodes. Carrie is the only one who suspects that Brody may have been compromised by the enemy, which turns out to be true. This doesn’t stop her from falling in love (lust, then love) with him, breaking up his marriage, and ultimately getting him killed. There are plenty more dramatic twists and turns, along with emotionally satisfying moments in the first three seasons, both realistic and unrealistic, but the Carrie-Brody love affair is the main throughline.

Season four was set in Pakistan, where we learned that the Pakistanis aren’t really our friends, and five was primarily in Berlin, where we learn that the sneaky Russians are still our enemies. Now, in season six, Carrie has come home to New York. No longer with, “The Agency,” she is a secret advisor to President Elect Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), who is opposed by some key players in the National Security establishment and elsewhere, who are will to do anything, including murder, to stop her. There is also a blow-hard, conspiracy theorist, compulsive liar of a talk show host, Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), endlessly complaining on his, “Real Truth,” program about how America is lost and Keane will destroy the Republic.

homeland real truth

My first reaction to the O’Keefe character was to recall Glenn Beck at his chalkboard, when he was still ranting on Fox News. But Beck now claims to regret the divisions he helped create in the American Electorate and he did not support The Donald, so he has fallen out of favor with much of the reactionary crowd he helped cultivate.

glenn beck chalkboard

Most people seem to see O’Keefe as an Alex Jones parody, though he never gets as loud and childishly angry as Jones does – and Jones’s Disinformation War followers were offended by this perceived attack on their phony hero from the get go. They, specifically, Paul Joseph Watson, writing on Jones’s website, laments the “fact” that:

The plots of earlier Homeland seasons were usually focused around Islamic terrorism, but in later series the show has kowtowed to political correctness and allowed social justice narratives to ruin the dynamism of what was once an enjoyable watch.

In truth, Homeland has always raised questions about the justness of American actions and the handling of the War on Terror (or whatever you want to call it). If that is something you want to lump under the all-purpose, and often meaningless phrase, “politically correctness,” so be it, but it’s nothing new. I have no idea what Watson thinks a, “social justice narrative,” is, since he gives no examples and puts no thought into that charge either, but I don’t see it anywhere in the show.

Watson, and many of the fans commenting on his article, also believe that the choice of a female President Elect proves, “how out of touch the producers [of Homeland] are with reality” (as if Trump won the popular vote or was somehow inevitable).

I think their real problem with the O’Keefe character is that he is too close to the real thing; a man willing to say and do anything to whip up the mob and murder truth for his own ends and perverted sense of self-importance. [Note: You can see more about Jones in my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015).]

alex jones on air

What I find disheartening is how much Homeland feeds into Alt-Right, conspiracy theorist paranoia; this season more than ever. By the end of the finale it is unclear who was/is in league with whom and if anyone can be trusted, including the new President. What is the real plan and to what end? Like so many shows, which I generally like, as shows (House of Cards (2013-) and 24 (2001-2010) come readily to mind), Homeland paints a very unreal and frightening vision of our government officials at work that is closely akin to the, “Deep State,” rhetoric of conspiracy wingnuts. One in which large numbers of public servants are ruthless to a fault and disinterested in morality, the rule of law, or anything outside their personal ambitions and sinister plots. My tinfoil head wearing critics scoff at me when I point out facts like this and come back with retorts like, “You’re so naive (or stupid) to think that government officials are all good and honest.” But that not what I’m saying. Not at all. I’m simply trying to put the faults of our government officials into a reasonable perspective. If America were actually such a pathetic, backstabbing, literarily murderous, Banana Republic, where vast numbers of bureaucrats and officers are constantly scheming to commit horrendous crimes and trample our Constitutional structures to the ground, then we would not be making up wild TV fantasies to entertain ourselves because we would be too busy living miserable lives and dying horribly in the nightmare clutches of a Police State.

Homeland keeps bring two classic films to mind for me: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964). The first is about a communist plot to take over America, in which a soldier is brainwashed into becoming an assassin and the biggest anti-communist Senator turns out to be the real embodiment of the danger he has long been warning the people about. The second centers around a military coup, orchestrated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who believes the President is a “weak sister” and the nation needs to be saved from. If you haven’t see them, you should.

Homeland clearly borrows elements from these two films but it lacks the Kennedy Era sense of patriotism they champion. Homeland, like too many other shows and movies today, rarely seems to believe that America is an idea worth fighting for. Carrie is simply trying to stop terrorists from killing innocent people or trying to stop her friends from getting killed, and we’re just in it to see what Carrie will do next.

Episode 612

Hunting Hitler

Last Friday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day and it inspired me to write the following post about a particular piece of Fake History that recently came to my attention. That night, however, my second son decided he wanted to be born, which delayed me from finishing this for nearly a week, but it also inspired me all the more to keep fighting the good fight against nonsense. I don’t want to see my boys grow up in a nation were fairytales are as readily accepted as facts or given “equal time” in some perverse distortion of fairness. Any husker du, here’s the situation…

It was nearly two weeks ago that a friend asked me, “What do you think of the History Channel show, Hunting Hitler?” I was shocked to learn that the program, which claims Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide at the end of the Second World War and escaped to South America, has two seasons on the air and it’s not alone in this conspiracy subgenre. My friend, who’s no dummy, thought parts of the show sounded convincing but he was clearly skeptical as well. I was certain that the premise of this fable was false but wanted to look into the details a bit before passing any definitive public judgements.

WHO IS BOB BAER?

The principle “investigator” in Hunting Hitler is Bob Baer, a former CIA man who cashed out for a conspiracy career. Like one-time Nixon Aid and compulsive liar, Roger Stone, Baer is quick to proclaim that he’s, “not a conspiracy theorist,” and simply follows the evidence wherever it leads. Of course, if these men actually did that, they wouldn’t have anything to peddle. Check out Bear being interviewed by Alex Jones (aka Captain Disinformation), and his interactions with a couple of 9-11 “Truthers” on the street in this video:

The fact that Bear would appear on Jones’ program and they got along so well together is a huge red flag. The fact that he thrives on asking questions that are rooted in partial truths, at best, and filled with allusions to wild, unrealistic accusations, while never fully crossing the line and saying, “I’m a truther too,” is sickening. For example, the story about the five Israelis who were detailed after filming the Twin Towers on fire and apparently smiling and/or laughing is real, to a point. The crucial fact that Bear gets wrong, however, and which makes the story far less sinister, is that there is no evidence the Israelis were there in advance of the first plane hitting the first tower. Like the other onlookers that day they had no advanced knowledge of the attack and there is zero evidence that Israel was involved in 9-11 in anyway! What is particularly disgusting about this story, and the way Bear chooses to misrepresent it, is the fact that Jew hating is the mother of all conspiracy theories and this story in particular has been used by others to blatantly accuse “The Jews” of being behind 9-11; going so far as to claim that, “4,000 Jews stayed home that day.” You don’t get in bed with trash like this unless you are trashy.

Another extremely troubling part of this video comes at the very end when Bear claims, “I know the guy that went into his broker in San Diego and said ‘cash me out, it’s going down tomorrow,’” the day before 9-11. Then he adds that the man’s brother, “worked in the White House.” Really? And you didn’t take these “facts” to anyone in law enforcement or any credible news outlets? These claims would be very easy things to verify if they were true. It seems obvious to me that Bear is more interested in trying to look cool in front of a couple of gullible truthers than he is sincerely interested in the thousands of people murdered on 9-11. His behavior is pathetic and it’s even more pathetic that the inappropriately named “History” Channel would choose to work with someone like this.

THE SHOW

Despite Bob Bear’s more than questionable character, I watched an episode of Hunting Hitler (S01E03: Escape from Berlin) and part of the next (S01E04: The Tunnel). I quickly found the presentation of its facts and innuendos to be dishonest and illogical. For example, they talk about Hanna Reitsch, a rare female Nazi pilot who was in Hitler’s Bunker for a couple days near the end. She flew Generaloberst Robert Ritter von Greim into Berlin to meet with Hitler and out again two days later. According to the show, the fact that Reitsch could get out of Berlin in a plane, “certainly sent a very strong message to Hitler that if she could do it, he certainly could.” They then go through a greatly drawn out sequence walking around subways and abandoned airport tunnels to prove that there were likely tunnels available to Hitler at the time that could have theoretically got him from his bunker to the Tempelhof Airport without going above ground. Since Hitler’s, “last public appearance,” was April 20, 1945, and there were several planes that apparently took off on April 21 from Tempelhof, the show concludes that Hitler could have got to the airport undetected and left on one of those planes. There are so many problems with this tale, including:

  • Hanna Reitsch, who proved escape from Berlin was possible, as Hunting Hitler puts it, and inspired Hitler, didn’t fly into the city until April 26 and out again on April 28, long after the day the show pretends that Hitler escaped from the city.
  • Not only do we have the eyewitness testimony of Reitsch and von Greim about visiting Hitler but we have the testimony of many others, include those who were there until the very end, when he committed suicide and his body was cremated in a gasoline fire.
  • Hitler was last filmed outside the bunker on April 20, giving medals to child soldiers, but he was seen in the public areas of the bunker up until his suicide on April 30 and he was photographed surveying the damage from Allied bombers on April 28.
    last-photo-of-hitler
  • Reitsch did not land or take off from Tempelhof, because it was too dangerous. She had to use a road that the troops on the ground had turned into a makeshift runway. It is also well known that her flight out of Berlin was the last plane to leave the besieged city.
  • Reitsch and von Greim were give poison vials by Hitler, with which to kill themselves, if it became necessary. The same kind of vials that Hitler and his longtime mistress and short-lived wife Eva Braun used, along with many others who kill themselves rather than be captured by the Russians or face a future without Hitler to lead them.
  • When Reitsch was captured by the Allies at the end of the war she expressed regret that she was not able to stay in the bunker and die at Hitler’s side. She also continued to be a loyal National Socialist until her death in 1979, refusing to the very end to renounce Hitler and the faith she had placed in him.
  • Reitsch and von Greim, like all the other eyewitnesses who survived the bunker had no doubt that Hitler died there. The accounts they all gave also call into question Hitler’s sanity in those final days. He seemed to have no realistic sense of how few troops he had left and wanted to pretend that he was not out of options, despite every fact that was presented to him, until the last possible moment. He was not a man with the presence of mind or the desire to plan for escape.

In short, Hunting Hitler’s scenario for Hitler escaping Berlin on April 21 (or any other day) makes no sense and has zero credibility, yet they have gone on and on from there, pursuing “leads” about where their imaginary Hitler went and what he did after the war.

Lenny DePaul, who Hunting Hitler bills as a Former Commander with the U.S. Marshals and, “One of the most skilled manhunters in the world,” claims in E03 that when he tracks a fugitive he has to get inside the criminal’s mind and know, “what his every thought is.” But he seems to know very little about how Hitler thought and he clearly spent no time learning anything substantive about this madman. Instead, he looks exclusively for “clues” that suggest Hitler may have tried to escape Berlin and then asks how Hitler would did it? Later he talks about how, “Any individual on the run,” has the same mindset, “Escape, escape, escape. He’s going to do whatever it takes.” In other words, DePaul assumes that Hitler was an individual on the run, despite no evidence of this and a wealth of evidence to the contrary, and he then applies some generic motivations to Hitler rather than understand Hitler’s particular mindset at the time of his suicide. There is no investigation here and no reason to believe anything DePual, Bear, and company present.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED?

Hitler had opportunities to leave Berlin and some tried to convince him to do so but he refused. Hitler was not, by any reports or indications, concerned with is own life or his people as much as he was obsessed with murdering Jews. Hitler was a fanatical conspiracy theorists, who was convinced that Jewry had to be stopped and he was willing to divert much needed manpower from the frontline fighting to ensure that as many Jews were rounded up and executed as possible. Hitler was still railing against the Jews and blaming them for starting the war in his, “Political Testimony,” which he dictated to his secretary, Traudl Junge, in the bunker, on April 29, and signed in front of her, before marrying Eva Braun in a public ceremony in the bunker. In that same document, Hitler stated that he was choosing death rather than falling into the hands of his enemies and having his body desecrated in, “spectacle, presented by the Jews, for the diversion of the hysterical masses.” He made this decision one day after the former dictator of Italy, Benito Mussolini, was killed, along with his mistress, and his remains were put on public display.

death-of-mussolini

death-of-mussolini-cu

Anyone who has spent any time actually studying Hitler knows that these were the thoughts on his mind at the end, not, “Escape, escape, escape.” This is why he not only took poison and shot himself in the same moment but had his body burned with the last of the gasoline his men could siphon from the cars in the motorpool above the bunker. The man tasked with carrying out Hitler’s cremation was Otto Günsche, who stood outside the door as Hitler and Eva killed themselves, then personally directed the removal of the bodies and burning. Günsche was captured and spent more than a decade in a Soviet prison, where he was questioned repeatedly about Hitler for Stalin, who wanted to know everything he could about his adversary and how he died. To believe that Günsche successfully lied all those years during his imprisonment, and continued to lie until his death in 2003, along with so many others who were there as witnesses until the end, is utterly ridiculous and would be laughable if it were not so serious.

SOME QUESTIONS SHOULD NOT BE ASKED

According to Hunting Hitler there is, “no physical evidence,” of Hitler’s death. In fact, enough of Hitler’s teeth survived for a positive identification by the Russians. Stalin, however, chose to keep this information to himself and even claimed that Hitler had escaped because it was in his political interest to keep the boogieman of Hitler’s ghost alive. Nevertheless, Stalin’s people took meticulous records about what actually happened to Hitler. In time, the Soviets decided to destroy the last of Hitler’s remains, as the Allies had decided to destroy the entrance to his bunker and his mountain home, to prevent these things from later being used as some kind of sick holy shrines and artifacts by his misguided followers. The photographic evidence of Hitler’s remains, however, are conclusive, along with the records of their examination, and the overwhelming eyewitness testimony. To say that it is reasonable to doubt what became of Hitler and think he might of gone into retirement while the Jewish State of Israel was created and Germany was divided into two, with half going to the communists, is to completely deny reality. It is no more rational than asking if the Holocaust actually happened and that is exactly where I fear we are headed. How long before the (NOT) Hitler Channel or some other well funded outlet is willing to create a show centered around that sick premise?

According to Tim Kennedy, a former MMA fighter and Special Forces soldier who serves as another “investigator” on Hunting Hitler, the show has a, “$2 million-per-episode budget,” which makes me want to vomit. I can only imagine the good, entertaining, and informative work I could do with two million dollars. It could fund many truthful videos and a polished website where people could find reasonable information and conclusions about the past. Sadly, the funding for sensible projects like mine does not seem to be as readily available as it is for sensationalistic garbage.  I can’t believe that this is where we are at. That such ridiculous amounts of money are being wasted asking questions that already have definitive answers, and that the audience for such foolishness is so large that you can turn a profit from exploiting their ignorance, even when you are spending two million dollars an episode. Please, tell me we are better than this, because I’m losing faith.

DOWNFALL

If you are interested in Hitler’s final days, I highly recommend that you watch Downfall (2004), which is currently streaming on Netflix. It is perhaps the most faithful reproduction of a historical event that I have ever seen, with a heavy reliance on eyewitness testimony and other evidence, and minimal dramatic licence. If you have ever seen any of those, “Hitler reacts to…” videos on YouTube, then you have seen a little piece of Downfall.

Those spoofs can be pretty funny but the actual film is horrific. To think how deeply and faithfully so many people fell for this tyrant’s lies and followed him faithfully into death. It only goes to show the degree to which people can delude themselves and why we must do what we can to stop ourselves from going down a similar road. We must stand up for truth and advocate for reasonable sources of information. We must not give into conspiracy theories or any other alternative facts. Nor should we accept such drivel as merely a TV show, with no real world consequences. It was wild stories and Fake Historical Documents, like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion that “proved” to Hitler he had to fight the Jews. What will be the consequences of shows like Hunting Hitler? It’s hard to say but the longer we accept them the greater the damage will certainly be.

 

I’m voting for Evan

evan-mcmullin-logo

I have previously said that I would vote for Hillary Clinton if I felt she needed my vote to defeat Donald Trump, and I stand by that statement, but I’m confident she will take Minnesota and she has done nothing to win me over. I also wrote about the “major” (minor, it’s kind of like a “Jumbo Shrimp” sort of thing) third party alternatives and why none of them appealed to me. It wasn’t until after I made that post, however, that Evan McMullin entered the race on behalf of the Never Trump Movement and I’ve been thinking long and hard about what to do ever since.

I don’t care for Clinton (or The Clintons, for that matter) but I don’t see her as a grave danger to America – guilty of every crime in the book, including murder – the way the wingnuts continue to believe. The Clintons are pretty standard politicians, actually, who are simply better at playing the game than most. But why should I vote for, “The lesser of two evils?” Why shouldn’t I vote for someone and something that I can actually stand behind and feel good about?

Since we only have two major political parties in the US – two ideological tents under which all subgroups try to get along – we have to cram a great deal of disagreement into each encampment and that leads to profound arguments about what our chosen side, “stands for.” The “left” tends to argue about whether or not they should be liberals, progressives, or socialists? The “right” has a small debate between calling themselves conservatives or libertarians, and a major argument over what a “conservative” actually is. This fight has now boiling over into a major crisis for the Republican Party and the future of the American Right.
trump-kills-gop-fear-hate

For many, Trump is a champion of, “real conservatism,” or at least a means by which real conservatives will, “Take our country back.” As I have explained before, this reactionary, nationalistic strain of right wing political thought has gone through a series of twists and turns throughout American History but it is a consistent stream, made up of fear, hate, and a reflexively anti-authority attitude that is actually very authoritarian when it comes to enforcing their dogmas. The most visceral example of this line of thinking is the Klu Klux Klan and the White Power/Pride Movement. I realize that most potential Trump Voters are not Klansman or Aryan Nation adherents – in fact they take great offense when you compare them to these groups – but their refusal to see the connection does not make it go away. It is not a random coincidence that so many hate groups actively support Trump or that they have been so vile to honorable conservatives like David French at National Review for daring to stand up against madness.

I realize that critics on the left also agree that the fascist strain of “conservatism” is the true heart of the American Right, much like critics on the right pretend that the communist strain of “liberalism” is the true heart of the American Left, but I don’t buy into the rhetoric of either extreme. I also know that, “real conservatism,” is what we make of it and now is a time for choosing. Throughout this extremely long and painful election I have stood firm in opposition to Trump and all his racist, sexist, xenophobia, conspiratorial nonsense, and downright stupidity. I have blogged about this time and time again, but that’s not enough. I am sick of laying out the case for what I abhor and need to start talking more about what I stand for.

I believe Evan McMullin feels much the same way and despite the fact that he has no reasonable chance of winning this election we do have a shot at winning the future of the Republican Party, or whatever comes after it. We can strive for a Conservative Movement that appeals to the better angels of our nature and fights to make them manifest. An optimistic, inclusive, reasonable, intelligent, mature, and patriotic conservatism that knows America has never stopped being great.

“So, who is this Evan guy, anyway?” I know that’s probably what you are thinking since he hasn’t received the kind of coverage that Gary “what’s Aleppo?” Johnson and Jill “magic trick” Stein have. Evan is a former CIA Officer and investment banker who has also worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and served as an advisor to House Republicans. He has intimate knowledge of the War on Terror (or Islamic Extremism, or whatever you feel like calling it) both in terms of killing terrorists and helping refugees. In ever interview I have see of him, he comes across as very thoughtful and empathetic. You can check out his website for his official position on major issues but to me this is all about character; his character and the character of what we want America to be.

If you watch just one interview with Evan try this one:

I don’t think you can fake what he has and it is so markedly different from the rest of the pack. This isn’t a carnival barker, class clown, career politician, or ideological zealot. This is a genuine leader. Eighteenth century figure Joseph de Maistre once famously said, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” I fear in our case he is right. Our hyperpolarized, conspiracy obsessed, self absorbed, opinion over facts, Reality TV Show, soundbite culture is stumbling around like a drunken idiot looking for his car keys. There may soon come a point at which we find them, get behind the wheel, and cross a line from which there is no coming back. Or we can chose to sober up, but it will take more than just a good night’s sleep. It will require us to actively engage in a new lifestyle. One in which we demand more of ourselves (“Ask not what your country can do for you?..“) and vote for people of substance. Men and women like Evan McMullin.

The circus was cancelled

A couple weeks ago I scheduled an appearance on Nick Spero’s Circus Maximus Internet Radio Show on the Renegade Broadcasting channel.

twitter circus maximus james k lambert

Nick is a conspiracy theorist, White Nationalist (aka White Supremacists), who actually believes that the Jews run the world, or that they are a grave threat to the world, or some such nonsense. I thought it might be interesting to question him about how he thinks and what lead him to this warped view of reality. He promoted our “debate” several times on Twitter and the day before he messaged me to ask if we were still on. He also asked how he could see my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), so we could discuss it. I sent him a link to the media screener and thought everything was good-to-go. The next night I logged onto Skype and found the invitation he had sent me from the Renegade account but once I accepted it and told him I was ready he said nothing. I went on to Twitter and messaged. Still, nothing. Finally I found the live broadcast of his show, now in progress, and there was a guest host named Chris, rambling on about Osama bin Laden being a CIA Agent and a typical mix of lies, half-truths, and misconceptions haphazardly slapped together with bubblegum logic. So I messaged Nick again and told him, “I’m out of the pool.”

I have heard nothing since that night but I see Nick is continuing to tweet hateful drivel incessantly, so it’s not like he’s in a coma or something. Did he decide I wasn’t worth talking to? Did he fear he would end up looking bad on his own show? Did he suspect I am an secret agent? I don’t know that I could believe any excuse he might give at this point so what good is speculation? What I can say is that people like Nick are remarkably similar to all the other conspiracy theorists I’ve talked to about President Kennedy’s assassination and other fairytales. Their delusions are socially less acceptable than wild JFK stories but they are no more or less rational. They all deny, “the official story,” and anything that comes from, “The Government,” or sensible historians, because all authoritative information is, “disinformation,” in their minds. They all look very selectively at the “facts” (true and made up) because only things that “prove” the conclusion they have already decided upon are important. And they all have a hard time maintaining a consistent train of thought.

And yet they generally receive more attention and have more followers than I do. So it goes.

11.22.63 part 1

I’ve finished watching the first four episodes of Hulu’s new original mini-series (or “event series” as they are billing it) 11.22.63 (2016). I’m a sucker for a good opening title sequence and this one grabbed me, much like Amazon’s recent alternate history series, The Man in the High Castle (2015-), it makes you feel like you are about to see something quality. It’s great to see so many new players in the content creation business and putting out serious efforts to win over audiences.

Unlike Amazon Prime and Netflix, however, Hulu is still rooted in the old TV model, where a new episode comes out once a week, rather than an entire season coming out on the same day. This is the way that HBO, Showtime, and other traditional outlets are still producing their shows, even as they make the online move, and it makes sense, in a way. They want to ensure that you continue to subscribe for the entire run of the show, rather than binge watching everything in a weekend and then canceling your free trial. The problem with this thinking, however, is that you want to keep people as subscribers forever, and if other services are releases an entire season all at once, and putting out enough series year round to keep us subscribing, they may seem more attractive than the old school way of doing it. We’ll see.

Any husker du, if you’re not familiar with it, 11.22.63 was originally a time travel novel by Stephen King. It centers around the assassination of President Kennedy, who was killed on that day, but it’s really the story of a Maine English Teacher (something like King himself) who is given the opportunity to change the world. It is the only Stephen King novel I have actually made it through – to be fair I haven’t really tried many of them – but it has also been give high praise by a number of people I have run into, King fans and non-fans alike. I was excited when I heard they were going to make a movie out of it; more so when I learned it would be a multi-part breakout show to put Hulu on the content creation map. The final production, however, is a mixed bag.

11.22.63 is well acted and the sets look very nice, especially the vintage cars, but it suffers the same fate that many other shows based on books do: It’s just not as good. I understand that the show’s creators felt they had to cut some things from this 1,600+ page book, but their choices make little sense to me. Without giving too much away, why did they expand Bill Turcotte’s (George MacKay) role and get rid of all the failed attempts to alter the past that Jake Epping (James Franco) went threw before trying to take on the assassination? More important to me is the way the show deals with conspiracy theories.

Mild *Spoilers* It’s been awhile since I listened to the audiobook but I am sure that George de Mohrenschildt was not so prominent, nor was the main character so convinced that de Mohrenschildt was working with/for the CIA in the book as he is in the show. In real life George de Mohrenschildt was a Russian living in Texas who befriended Lee and Marina Oswald. Many conspiracy theorists are convinced de Mohrenschildt was the key figure who brought Lee into a massive plot, despite the lack of any evidence to prove this. They find it very suspicious that de Mohrenschildt committed suicide shortly before he was going to testify in front of a Congressional Committee – the House Select Committee on Assignations (HSCA) – and they suspect he was murdered. The problems is here are many: 1) De Mohrenschildt changed his story from what he originally told he Warren Commission. 2) De Mohrenschildt wrote the manuscript of a book, which was given to the HSCA and is a part of the public record. 3) De Mohrenschildt spoke to the press about his unclear and wild accusation and this too was a part of the public records. You don’t kill somebody, “before he talks,” when he has already talked. Lastly, 4) de Mohrenschildt tried unsuccessfully to kill himself on more than one occasion before succeeding and spent time in a mental hospital.

In the 11.22.63 show’s version of history, de Mohrenschildt is seen meeting with mysterious men in Dallas, in 1960, while Oswald was still living in the Soviet Union, and de Mohrenschildt is overheard using the full name – Lee Harvey Oswald – a man he had not yet met. None of this ever happened, nor was de Mohrenschildt standing by in Lee’s backyard while Marina took the infamous photos of her husband with his weapons, but 11.22.63 pretends as if he was. The show seems to be trying hard to appeal to the conspiracy segment of the audience and play along with the fantasy that something, “doesn’t add up,” about the whole deal.

The biggest problem I have with the filmed version of this story, however, is the fact that I do not find it as compelling or creepy as the book. Nevertheless, I feel invested in it now and want to see how the other half plays out. I suspect it may get more intense from here on out. With an 8.9 rating on IMDb, out of more than 6,800 votes, and the backing of Executive Producers J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, it probably doesn’t matter what I say about it one way or another, but I’ll tell you my final thoughts anyway a month from now, when it’s all over.