Jericho S2E2: Condor
Jericho might only have a handful of episodes for this second season, but God, they’re really cramming it in, aren’t they? They said “half of our main cast from season one might have gotten better offers since we got cancelled, but we’re about to wring every bit of plot out of every single person remaining to make every single point we can.” Hope you’re ready for that.
And speaking of points made – I’d like to discuss Jericho’s politics again.
One of the things that really stood out to me about the first series of Jericho is how…well, subversive it was when it came to the topic of post-9/11 American identity (on a mostly unrelated note, I’ve been listening to an excellent podcast called 9/12 about this very topic and it is really worth a listen), and season two is proving itself to be no different in that sense. There’s so much going here on that takes on how this new American state is creating its own myth: the new textbooks, pushing for increased military intervention and a more aggressive overseas military presence, the references to the obviously Patriot Act-adjacent invasion of privacy for “security” reasons, and the open scepticism about the new president, it’s all here.
In fact, let’s talk a little about the new president, as played by George Newbern, because I really like how this episode structures and explores his arrival in the town. Jericho, as established in the first season, feels like one of those wholesome corn-fed small towns that sums up a specific kind of hazy, hopeful Americana, and this episode is all about subverting that.
We open with Mimi and Stanley enjoying their new lives in the farmhouse as Mimi looks forward to starting a new job, only to be told that the president will be using their idyllic family home as a backdrop for a national address. It’s an obviously calculated choice, tapping in to the rural, small community feel of Jericho to make his speech seem less evidently dangerous, and everyone in Jericho – well, everyone who matters – knows it. The late and greatly missed Johnson Green is commemorated with a whatever-number-of-guns salute, and all it seems to remind anyone of is the battle that cost his life at the end of the first season. For all that it’s meant to be a noble and patriotic send-off, it feels more like a cruel reminder, instead.
George Newbern as the new president just embodies that Jack Lemmon quote about white men with hair being able to do just about anything, and there’s a carefully-cultivated warmth to him that clearly covers up something more calculating underneath. It’s all a contrast to Jake and the rest of the hometown Jericho lot, who find it harder to hide the truth from one another
because Skeet Ulrich is always looking at them with his big wet cow eyes. Hawkins straddles between the two worlds, burdened with knowledge of both, and distrusted by parties from both sides despite his attempts to do the right thing.
This whole episode, in fact, is about the tension between contrasts: the truth and the fiction, the wilder rural versus the more contained and careful government, their version versus our version. If the first episode of this season was a re-introduction to Jericho’s characters, this one is a re-introduction to Jericho’s politics and just where it stands on all of this.
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(header image via Netflix)