Jericho S2E1: Reconstruction

by thethreepennyguignol

Was I in the middle of reviewing the first season of Supernatural? Yes. Will I go back to that series when I’m finished here? Most likely. Am I taking a brief diversion up ol’ Kansas way, to finish up my recaps and reviews of my darling Jericho? Also yes. Hope that clears it up!

I’ve been missing writing about Jericho every week; it’s a show that I genuinely never tire of coming back to, even though it’s been about fifteen years since it first came out. This second season is particularly interesting to me, as it only exists because of an impassioned fan campaign to bring the show back after a painfully under-watched first season; this is a (short) run of episodes that came to be because of the fanbase. It must have been tempting for the showrunners to turn this into a sort of love letter to that fanbase: something that indulged in everything Jericho was without trying to push too much further, because, even then, it seemed tragically unlikely that it was going to get more than this scant seven-episode season to wrap things up.

But, instead of a nice half-dozen episodes to wrap things up, Jericho is here to cram as much plot as physically possible into every minute of screentime, and I love it. I’m still sad we don’t have more of this show (I’m aware of the comics, but I haven’t read them – if anyone out there has, are they worth a look?) but, gosh darn-it, I will enjoy every second of what we do have. So, without further ado, take a left at the mushroom cloud, and let’s head back to Jericho.

I actually really enjoyed this first episode back, Reconstruction, because it does exactly what it says on the tin: setting up a new line of plot for the season ahead (as the American government starts to re-establish itself and figure out how to handle Jericho’s place in the recent battle), and introducing the new conflicts and characters we’ll be dealing with. Perhaps the most significant addition to the cast is Esai Morales as Major Edward Beck, sent in to manage to conflict between New Bern and Jericho and attempt to restore peace, much to the chagrin of Jake and company, who are looking for revenge after the death of many of their own people, including our beloved lady of hat brims Johnson Green.

Morales is a really solid actor, and honestly, this is probably one of my favourite performances from him – strong writing focuses not on him throwing his weight around, but on his ability to assess and gain control of any situation he finds himself in. The tense scenes he shares with Skeet Ulrich are a highlight this week, as the canny Beck navigates what he can share and what he can hold back in an attempt to get the town’s most influential leader on his side. Beck has a grade A in pointed threatening without ever landing a punch on someone, and I love how Morales brings that sense of command and control in such a measured fashion.

Elsewhere, Lennie James and company are still trying to work out just how much the new Government knows about their plans to expose the truth behind the nuclear attacks a few months earlier. Lennie James’ plot always feels something out of 24, right down to the jittery smash-zooms and shakycam action camera, and while it’s not my favourite thing about the show for that exact reason, there is no better visual comedy moment than the nuke in his basement. There just isn’t. That will always be funny to me, especially seeing noted thesp Lennie James attempting to play this bomb in his cupboard as serious. He’s doing his level best, but even still, I keep waiting to see someone giggle in the background.

To be honest, though, I think my favourite thing about this episode – and about the show as a whole, as I keep banging on about – is how well they can draw on relationships to make this post-apocalyptic world feel grounded. Jake and Emily are officially Together now, the show capitalizing on their easy, comfortable chemistry to weave this story of genuine affection and care as opposed to hot, steamy romance, while Jake and his brother navigate their differing relationships with Johnson in the wake of his death. For all the high-level drama around the town of Jericho, it’s the people in it who really sell this show for me, the way these long-standing relationships are affected by the stressors of their new situation, and Reconstruction doesn’t skimp on that. I have a lot of love especially for Kenneth Mitchell’s performance as Eric here, arguably the man who has had the worst apocalypse out of the lot of them, his anger, frustration, and even resentment of Jake bubbling to the surface.

And then, of course, I have to talk about Jericho’s true centrepoint: Stanley and Mimi. Well, not actually – they’re really just flavour characters at this point in the season, though that’s going to change soon – but truly, they exemplify what makes Jericho so special for me. Their romance is a proper highlight of the show, especially in a TV landscape where nobody makes any bloody effort in writing love stories, and their proposal scene is equal parts sweet, screwball comedy, and well-observed character details. Brad Beyer and Alicia Coppola obviously have great chemistry, but it’s the balance of their characters and the show’s commitment to not forcing them to change as people as part of this relationship that makes it so satisfying. It’s really, genuinely excellent writing that serves to help us understand each character more deeply while moving their plots along at the same time, without feeling like it’s specifically constructed to do either – I just love it, alright?

Ah, it’s good to be back in Jericho. This is a short season, and I’m going to be savouring each and every one of these recaps as best I can. I hope you’ll join me – maybe even watch along, if you’re feeling that great need for Jericho this summer as I am – and I can’t wait to deep-dive this in needless detail.

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 CBS)