[Warning: This article contains major spoilers about Episode 5 of 11.22.63. Read at your own risk!]
Johnny Clayton (T.R. Knight) finally got what was coming to him on this week's episode of Hulu's 11.22.63 - or did he? According to Knight, the character was as much a victim as he is a sadistic villain.
"I think he's a total tragedy," Knight tells TVGuide.com. "If you think about just a villain vs. hero kind of thing, I think that kind of black-and-white thinking, at least in my brain, is unhelpful. ... I think you've got to dig a lot deeper than that, and figure out where it all came from."
Where it all came from, in Johnny's case, is physical and sexual abuse dating back to when he was a child. In case you missed the passing reference in Episode 4, Sadie (Sarah Gadon) tells Jake (James Franco) that Johnny keeps a clothespin clipped to his penis to this day. (In the 1940s and '50s, it was apparently fairly commonplace for mothers to put clothespins on their sons' penises in order to discourage masturbation. Stephen King, who authored the book 11.22.63, uses the clothespin theory to account for the psychosis of serial killer Ted Bundy.) Unfortunately for Johnny, the harsh punishment evidently turned into a fetish. On Monday's episode, we also learn that Johnny's grandmother used to touch him in the bathtub. Perhaps she was the one who introduced the clothespin? Either way, the lasting effects on Johnny have not been good.
"Clearly this is someone who's got some stuff to work through. He's got some issues," Knight says. "There was a lot of repression and a lot of oppression going on, clearly, at that time. And sadly, some of it still exists. But I think he's on a different level. ... Clearly he's so severely damaged that he's seemingly beyond help. He's got his own idea of these rules to justify the way his brain works, which is just not accurate. It's not right."
It all comes to a head in Monday's installment, which finds Johnny kidnapping Sadie, slashing her face from forehead to jawbone, and trying to force Jake to drink a glass of bleach. Fortunately, Sadie is able to disarm Johnny by bringing up memories of his sexual abuse, distracting him long enough for Jake to toss the glass of bleach in his eyes and run into the living room with Sadie.
With a temporarily blinded Johnny stumbling around, firing a gun at Jake and Sadie in an attempt to finish them off once and for all, some quick thinking by Jake allows him to get the upper hand once again. He drives a fire poker into the side of Johnny's head and, if that didn't kill him, Sadie fires a shot into her ex-husband's chest to do the trick.
But even though Johnny's out of the picture, the repercussions from his showdown with Jake and Sadie will have lasting effects. "The wake he leaves, the ripples are felt for quite some time," Knight promises.
See what else Knight has to say about his character in the video above.
New episodes of 11.22.63 are available every Monday on Hulu.