Season 1, Episode 14
Date of airing: February 1, 1997 (CBS)
Nielsen ratings information: 12.6 million viewers, 8.4/15 in Households
One might have wondered how long it will take for Gary to be involved in a conspiracy that leads to a repeat of the JFK assassination plot, or alternatively to the reveal of the crash of an unidentified flying object, together with its deceased unidentified humanoid pilots. One might have wondered how often Lucius Snow went through Kennedy-like situation and how many he was able to prevent, and how often he failed. You know all the tragic accidents and events in American history, but without Snow there might have been a lot more, and that is usually something you don’t tend to think about when watching a show about characters changing the future and preventing catastrophes. And now Gary gets the chance to prevent an American tragedy from happening, and it might even be the event that turns the guy into a true silent heroic character, always in the background, waiting to spring into action and prevent your death, and then going back to his hotel room and bitching about the fact that he still hasn’t gotten a job, let alone a life to live. No girlfriend, no real friends who are not pushing him to get to the race track and make some money, instead just the newspaper from tomorrow and an assassination plot against the president every once in a while.
This episode also want a tad bit further in things regarding the paper. The smeared title page headline showed that the paper was warning Gary of what’s to come, which means the paper was giving Gary not only the future of today, but the future of two days from now, meaning the paper could easily be from the day after tomorrow, if the writers wanted to get down that route. Granted, it was just a plot device to have Gary figure out the headline of the day of tomorrow the day before tomorrow, and to end this episode with him on a run before everyone even figures out that the president might be in some crosshairs, but it’s also a good plot device for a two-part episode, and to dump Gary into a seemingly inescapable situation, during which he will have to face the villains to save the day, and maybe even risk his life to do so. And when the story even goes so far as to giving some back story involving Snow, then there even is a way to enjoy this episode and give some back story to its fantastical premise. Who knows, maybe we will know a lot more about Snow by the end of the series.
But I didn’t enjoy the episode much, because it happens to be extremely predictable. Even without having seen the episodes once many moons ago, there is reason to believe that J.T. Marley is indeed alive, and listens to the name of Dobbs; that Crumb might be suspicious of Dobbs already, as well as Gary’s innocence in the whole thing Crumb might not even know anything about, and that Snow’s way of trying to prevent Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 pretty much has nothing to do with the story now, because all the 1963 back story wants to tell Gary is that he has to face the same adversaries today as Snow probably had to face 33 years ago. Who knows, maybe in this weird and messed-up series universe, it was Lee Harvey Oswald who received tomorrow’s newspaper and it was him who was framed for the assassination, and after Oswald got assassinated, Snow was given that duty. Of course that wouldn’t explain Snow’s decision to fly to Dallas the day of the assassination, but wouldn’t that be a fascinating headscratcher, even if it happened to distort well-known American history on a fictional television show, especially when it comes to making Oswald the scapegoat in the show, when he was the assassin in the undistorted version of real-life history. I don’t know, if the writers would have brought that twist in EARLY EDITION, might the show have gotten some criticism, similar to how FRINGE got some words about depicting the twin towers in its first season finale?
In a way, this episode was just a big setup. A lot of back story regarding Lucious Snow, and a lot of preparations to lead Gary into the conspiracy and to have the viewers figure out how he is going to prevent the president’s murder, as well as the ongoing frame job against Gary. Maybe without the Snow back story, the premise would have been enough for a one-hour story only, but the thing is, the back story helps to put a spotlight on the narrative, and I found it fascinating to learn what Snow was doing to prevent an American tragedy, as Gary was going through his very own American tragedy. But yeah, there were some stupid moves being executed here. First of all, the terribleness that is Dobbs’ character, and secondly, the way Crumb wasn’t even fully invested in what was happening here. Getting persuaded by the Secret Service to order a search warrant for Gary? I’m pretty sure you need a super compelling reason to raid someone’s hotel room, and Crumb definitely did not have anything more to call a compelling reason than a hunch that wasn’t even his own to begin with. Even the raid on Michael Cohen’s offices and homes in April of 2018 started off with compelling reason and evidence for his actions that were against the law. Gary should sue, because his hotel room was definitely raided due to a hunch.