Jericho S1E9/10: Crossroads/Red Flag
So, in a move that seems very anti-Jericho, let’s talk a little about love.
Because that’s what the two episodes we’re looking at this week – Crossroads and Red Flag – are really concerned with. After a major break from average life in Jericho last time we checked in, it only seems natural, this far into the post-apocalypse, that people start looking for a little of what existed before. And that just so happens to be love.
Which brings me, tangenitally, I suppose, to the romantic elements of Jericho’s first season – specifically, the love triangle between Jake, Emily, and Heather. I haven’t talked much about it so far, because things have been so wildly speeding along that I’ve hardly had time to, but this it’s really at the centre of this two-parter – as is, in fact, love, marriage, and romantic history as a whole.
Because what could be more normal, in the face of everything going mad, than falling back on the things we’ve known before? For Emily (Ashley Scott), who wakes up on her wedding day with no husband and most of the life she knew literally vaporized, that means more than one thing; her fantasies throughout the episode dot between her actual husband-to-be, and their imaginary wedding day, and her own lingering feelings for Jake, her previous relationship with whom seems to be one of the only things actually holding her down in Jericho in the first place.
As someone who writes romance (and, uh, other stuff) for a living, I’m always a sucker for a show that takes its love stories seriously, as opposed to cramming them in for Extremely Heterosexual Reasons (looking at you, Lost) and box-ticking alone. And I think that Jericho actually takes its time building this love triangle, helped, no doubt, by the fact that you’ve got the unusual trope of having a man in the middle of it – instead of two men feuding loudly and shallowly over a woman (again, Lost), you’ve got two women, who share their own significant relationship and love for each other, grappling with complicated feelings for a single man who shares great chemistry with both of them.
The love triangle here feels like an actual, genuine question, not a forgone conclusion, and I’m really into that from a character development perspective – not least because Jericho has put in the time and effort to make this feel organic, and because it adds in a really interactive edge by having me, personally, be in love with Skeet Ulrich in everything he’s ever done, too.
Anyway. Jake’s isn’t the only love triangle in town – no, his brother, Eric, has finally broken things off with his wife, April, to go be with Mistress Mary the Bartender.
I appreciate, for one, that the show doesn’t drag this out any longer, because I was getting a Little Fucking Tired of this being Jake’s main conflict – and it matches far more cohesively with his character to have made a decision about this once and for all, even if it’s not one that his family agree with. I always appreciate characters acting like actual adults in the face of romantic and emotional conflict, instead of reversing into full teenager mode, and there’s a fabulous scene between April and Eric as she admits her pregnancy to him, and tells him that she doesn’t want him to stay with her out of guilt and pity – it’s intensely emotional, but both actors find this taut, lean film to stretch over it as they both try to hold on to their dignity as their lives fall apart. I’m seriously rating Kenneth Mitchell this time around, and honestly, he might be the second best character (after Robert Hawkins, obviously) so far.
And, out on the farm, Jericho’s premier Himbo Stanely finally gets to live out his fanfiction fantasies with Mimi in a hurt-comfort injury tending scene that somehow also has all the energy of a screwball comedy at the same time. Alicia Coppola and Brad Beyer have just got the sweetest chemistry with one another, and it makes sense that they would be looking for something that feels normal in the chaos of the life they’ve been presented with – it might have been a slow-burn romance, but it’s one that feels earned, and, amongst all the romantic angst that’s been filling Jericho the last couple of episodes, it’s a pleasant change of pace.
Jericho is all about love this week – the lack of it, the re-discovery of it, the newness of it. But things are about to get thrown out of whack again, with the murder of Gracie (which I was still not prepared for, even though I knew it was coming, ugh), so we’re going to have to take a step away from love – and maybe into the complete opposite, instead. I, for one, can’t wait.
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