Jericho S2E4: Oversight

by thethreepennyguignol

Sorry it has been precisely one thousand years since I last updated these recaps; I got distracted by travelling the world (well, out of my city) and then spooky season. But baby, we’re back, and it’s time to get back into Jericho’s second season!

Something I’ve been really missing with this season so far is the fullness and richness of Jericho’s first season. The two felt consistently full of characters and conflicts, complex interpersonal relationships as well as the overarching storylines of the entire run. It’s not that the new characters aren’t good – I’m especially fond of Esai Morales – but they just haven’t had the same bedding-in time as the other, more established characters. And that’s just talking about the ones who came back; we’re missing huge, significant parts of season one’s most interesting characters, including my beloved Gayle. The show feels scant compared to the first season, and it’s been my biggest issue of this second limited run so far.

Which is why I think Oversight is such a significant step up for the show. With the return of Erik Knudsen and the climax of several major plotlines, it finally feels as though Jericho has its feet and depth under it again.

Oversight is a packed episode. Hawkins steps up his infiltration of Jericho’s central power system, Dale convenes with the townsfolk to start a smuggling operation, and Jake generally tries to stop everything blowing up too emphatically in his face in the process. It also features one of the show’s only major character deaths – and, like the other two, it really lands with a gut-punch.

First off, though, I love the tension the narrative puts on Jake here, as he is torn between doing the best thing for the people he cares about and the people he feels accountable to. He’s the thread that pulls the two major stories together this episode, and it’s a great way to keep him front and centre in the show without feeling as though every single thing that happens in Jericho revolves entirely around him.

I love, as well, the kind of fake-out the show does plot-wise here. Throughout the story, we get brief check-ins with a plot centred on Mimi finding discrepancies in the new firm’s accounts; it’s relatively low-key, maybe even seems like it’s going to be the start of some other storyline in another episode. Elsewhere, Dale is arrested and is on the way to being carted off to dangerous waters by the primary villain of this episode – Stanely and Jake have to make a desperate run after him and have a tense stand-off to get him back. That seems like the climax of the episode – until armed forces turn up at the ranch and have a violent face-off with Mimi and Bonnie, which ends with Bonnie’s death.

I think Jericho has always made it’s character deaths land – April’s death in the first season is probably the best episode of the whole show, and Johnson’s leads to some very powerful scenes – and this one is now different. Bonnie has been a consistently bright character in the show, her relationship with Mimi one of the sweetest parts of the whole story, and to see her go like this is particularly brutal. It’s a well-shot sequence with genuine tension, especially because it comes as such a contrast to the rest of Shoshannah Stern’s performance. Brad Breyer and Alicia Coppola put in some great performances in the aftermath, and it feels like a cut-and-dry huge moment for Jericho. That final, silent sequence, the point-of-view of Jake as he goes into the house to find Stanely cradling a dead Bonnie in his arms, hits hard after how much time has been put into making her such a central part of the town. She’s one of the first people we meet in the very first episode, certainly one of the few to genuinely welcome Jake home, and her death hits hard.

The second season finally feels like it’s starting to get going, and I’m really looking forward to covering the rest of the season. What do you make of this episode? How does Bonnie’s episode compare to other major deaths in the series? Let me know in the comments below!

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(header image via IGN)