Stephen King's novel has finally come to life in Hulu on Feb. 15 and the James Franco-led adaptation may just be as thrilling as the original literature despite the few necessary changes that were made. The 90-minute episode had viewers who have read King's book pleasantly surprised at not only a faithful adaptation of the thriller but some extra surprises to keep them interested as well.
The first of eight episodes already established the time-traveling Jake Epping, played by Franco, and wasted no time in throwing him in the middle of things. A noticeable change that was made to compress the book's timeline was the year through which Jake enters the past.
"I think that people who know the book will feel rewarded, but I also think that there are enough surprises and deviations to make it fresh... In the book, Jake Epping goes back for a very lengthy, long period of time [...] I compressed that time. And by the very nature of TV, it's just going, so episode-by-episode, there are some great cliffhangers," Showrunner, Writer and Executive Producer Bridget Carpenter said.
The premier episode sets up Jake's motivation in the beginning. He just got divorced and he feels as if he has nothing else left to lose so, when his friend, local diner owner Al Templeton, reveals that he has a pantry that connects to the past and he wants Jake to go back in time and stop JFK's assassination, he goes for it.
There are, of course, rules that Jake must remember. For instance, Al told him that the pantry will always connect to one specific time and date and, everytime he returns to the past, time resets and his previous changes to the past are erased.
The most important bit of information is that time does not like it when the past is changed, and this is what Jake learns firsthand as, with every attempt to change something, he is met with tragic events afterwards and strangers remind him that he is not supposed to be in that time. It turns out that each change he makes in the timeline is the direct cause of the tragic events and, the bigger the change he makes, the more massive the consequences are.
With three years to go before the JFK assassination, Jake spends his time as a teacher while researching more on Lee Harvey Oswald's involvement- whether he acted alone or had accomplices. He is finally able to gain some knowledge about Oswald's involvement after following the assassin's only friend, George de Mohrenschildt, who was meeting with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The first episode ends with Jake deciding to go back to the present, but not before driving to the home of one of his students, Harry Dunning, to prevent Harry's father from killing the family on the Halloween night of 1960.