Jericho S1E19: Casus Belli

by thethreepennyguignol

Welcome back, Jerichodes! Yes, I did spend the last three months coming up with that fandom name, and that’s why I’ve been absent for so long. Or maybe I was reviewing The Stand or something, and didn’t want such a garbage post-apocalyptic-show-with-a-nuclear-bomb-as-a-thematic-centrepiece to get in the way of this one. Something like that.

Anyway, I’m finally back in Jericho, and damn, it’s lovely to be home. Instead of two-handed reviews, I’m going to be doing a single piece dedicated to each episode leading in to the season one finale, because honestly, there’s a whole lot to say here.

When we left off, Jericho had spent a lot of time consolidating and expanding on its past – everything that happened before the bombs went off, everything that led up to the shift in reality that put the residents of Jericho in the position that they stumble through for the first two-thirds of the season. But now, we’re looking to the future – and we’re looking beyond the walls of Jericho (heh) too.

After Stanley and rest of Jericho’s offerings to a neighbouring town return from their trip away, it becomes clear that Jake Green, one of Jericho’s first family, hasn’t made it back. Which sends Jake and Hawkins off to get to the bottom of things, in a slightly frantic but very entertaining bit of sleuthery that manages to balance plot with some solid character momentum.

First and foremost, seeing Jake and Robert (Skeet Ulrich and Lennie James) together properly now is such a gift – the show has been teasing these moments of their partnership till this point, but, now that the big nuclear bomb under the table is out in the open, there isn’t any of that wariness or reticence that used to keep them from really having fun together as a duo. Despite the grim circumstances, they prove to be an utterly delightful pairing; the chemistry is intense here, as it’s been promising all season long, and it’s such a shame that we only get about a dozen really solid episodes of them as partners and even friends. They act as solid foils to one another – moments where Hawkins leans into more violence than Jake can handle spark with tension and energy, and their mutual talent for General Nonsense makes them a genuinely formidable force to handle.

Even though there is next to no Eric in this episode, either, there’s some really good work to characterize him going on around him. As always, the best in Jericho comes in the form of those small, human moments between long-time residents; this time, it’s Johnston Green and Eric’s squeeze, Mary, as Johnston reminisces about his less hot but more good (my words, not his) son. Recounting a story about Eric drinking a beer and a half and coming to confess to his parents in the middle of the night to apologize for his misdeeds, it seems like nothing more than a cute bit of nostalgia to show that Johnston actually has some care for Mary, despite his wife’s reservations about her. But, over in Jake’s plot, when it’s revealed that Jake sabotaged some of the neighbouring town’s equipment, Johnston’s story becomes more relevant – Jake is good to a fault. If he’s causing trouble, there must be a damn good reason for it. Jericho always manages to find a way to make these seemingly-small details weave colour into a larger whole, and

And there, of course, is. The final act of this season of Jericho makes an interesting choice here – instead of letting the climax revolve around Hawkins and the truth of the nuclear bombing, it shrinks its focus back to its small-town roots again, setting Jericho up for a war with the surrounding towns as the reality of living in this new world comes to pass. Jericho has been working towards a small, quiet success in maintaining itself since the bombs, and, now, that’s put a target on its back that it will have to contend with in the time to come. It’s a neat way to shift the the focus away from what has been driving so much of the conflict episode-by-episode; like the residents of Jericho, we’ve been so focused on what’s going on inside the town that we haven’t been paying enough attention to what kind of trouble that might bring with it.

We’re into the last few episodes of season one, and honestly, watching this again has just reminded me how much I truly love Jericho. This is smart plotting, unexpected in the way it twists from Hawkins’ big reveal back into the smaller-town but still significantly higher-stakes (in the immediate sense) storylines; it gives us genuine time to enjoy our leading duo, together at last, and doesn’t forget those small details that keep Jericho feeling like a real place with real history. I’m really looking forward to getting into the interpersonal tensions against the backdrop of the bigger civil-ish war in and around Jericho, and I hope that you’re enjoying this rewatch as much as I am!

If you liked this recap, and want to see more stuff like it, please feel free to jump into some of my other recapping projects – the Fifty Shades of Grey book series, the first Harry Potter book, Doctor WhoGame of Thrones, and American Horror Story, to name a few. I also write about movies with my brilliant co-editor over at No But Listen. If you’d like to support my work, please consider supporting me on Patreon, or buying my books!

(header image via Yidio)