Jericho S1E21/22: Coalition of the Willing/Why We Fight

by thethreepennyguignol

Well, here we are, Jerichodes, at the end of my first-season recaps! It’s been such fun having the chance to look back over this season as a whole with you all, so thank you for giving me the space to do this (and reading/watching along with me!).

I’ve been watching this season with my partner, who has never seen the show before; in fact, before I convinced him to give it a shot with me, he’s been pretty set against it. It’s the Skeet Ulrich show, he pointed out. The last one of these you Riverdale S3E1: Labor Daymade me watch doesn’t fill me with hope. But honestly, he had to admit, by the end of this season, that Jericho is not only a pretty damn good show – but that it’s one of the best first seasons of the decade it came out in, and one of the cruellest-ly cut-off stories in recent televisual memory. It might not have the stellar reputation that it deserves, but Jericho still stands as a great little run of TV, even to fresh viewers in 2021.

And I think a lot of that has to do with how confident a finale this is. When this closing two-parter to the first season came out, it looked as though there wouldn’t actually be a second season at all (though, honestly, there hardly was anyway – but that’s a conversation for another time), so the show was left with trying to put a satisfying end to the story that they had been telling in just a couple of episodes. Given the enormity of Jericho, and the number of plots it had going on in this first season, that’s no small feat, but I think this finale – Coalition of the Willing and Why We Fight – manages to put a pretty satisfying pin in the arc it’s been trying to follow.

Obviously, the most significant part of this arc is Jake. He’s where our story began, and he’s where it ends. When he came back to Jericho, he was doing so as a complete outsider to the family and to Jericho as a whole. These episodes are mostly focused around how far Jake has come as part of the Green family and indeed the town of Jericho; after the loss of his father, he is the one to lead the Jericho’an against an oncoming attack by New Bern. Not only accepted, but needed; he’s the leader that his father wanted him to be, and told him he could be, in flashback sequences to his brother’s wedding that run through the last episode of the season. I don’t think it’s the most complex story in the world, but by the time that Jake makes his stand with the rest of the town at the episode’s close, it feels earned.

Maybe because so much time and effort has been put into building the relationships that make this possible. If this finale is proof of anything, it’s that Jericho’s constant focus on the humanity of its characters is probably it’s strongest hand to play. From Stanley, Mimi, and Bonnie bidding a potential farewell to their parents’ graves, to Eric and Mary’s reunion, to the scenes surrounding the loss of Johnston Green, it all feels so grounded in the reality of these relationships in a way that I just love. Particularly the rest of the Green family’s reaction to Johnston’s death – there’s very little dialogue for either Eric, Jake, or Gail, but they still pack a hefty emotional punch because of what we know these characters mean to each other. There’s this long shot of Gail standing quietly with her husband’s body, and I kept waiting for that moment where the show would give us a speech or a flashback or something more TV-y to hang on to, but it doesn’t; it lets the moment sit, and it earns the enormous sadness that comes with it, because of all the effort that’s been poured into their marriage in the first place. Some of Jericho’s best acting is in this finale, especially from the Green clan, to make this loss really feel like something that matters.

I’ve also got to say that I really dig the last moments of the romantic plot this season, between Jake and Emily. Emily comforts Jake after the loss of his father, and it’s a reminder of how much of their care for each other seems to exist outside of their romantic relationship; they love each other, regardless of how that love takes its shape, and that’s a surprisingly mature and sweet way to approach it, especially for a show that was out in the noughties. The kiss they share just before the finale’s climax is not treated as this Enormous Moment where they both Realize Their Feelings; just the two of them acknowledging where they are right now. I like that. They’ve always known how they both feel, this is just a moment to honour it before they do what has to be done.

This episode ends at a moment which might seem strange to some people; right as the battle against New Bern starts, it cuts to credits, end of the show (at least, at the time it was made). But I really like the point it ends; it’s not about whether they win or lose, whether Hawkins is exposed or not. The show’s name is Jericho, and all that matters here is that Jericho has come together for a common cause. Hawkins calls Jericho his home for the first time in this finale, and it’s a grounding his character needs at this point in the story, but a mark of what’s the most important thing for everyone here: this town. This place. It’s an elegant way to close out this part of the story without actually having to end it for good, and, after a couple of dozen episodes here – it’s the perfect way to say goodbye. It’s an ending that focuses on emotion, not action – what this means, rather than what it is, and I love it to pieces.

And that’s us for this first season! I will likely be back to finish up the rest of the show at some point, but for now, I’m taking a break to move on to another recapping project. Thank you so much for sticking around, and I really hope you’ll check out some more of my writing, either here or over at my other blog, No But Listen. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have, and that I’ll be seeing you around here again soon!

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 Christian Lind)