The long-awaited second season of "Jericho
" finally premiered, and viewers get to witness the events that transpired after Jake's (Skeet Ulrich
) now famous battle cry. It is a well earned victory, one that caused a massive peanut shortage throughout the United States. But enough about the behind-the-scenes drama. What happened on screen? Was it worth the wait?
Where were we?
Things got started with a long but well constructed recap (a recap that was ultimately more exciting than the episode). The recap goes over the basics: 23 American cities destroyed by nuclear weapons. Robert Hawkins (Lennie James
) is a covert agent who was trying to stop the attacks. He still has a bomb thanks to his nifty undercover work. Oh, and there is a new government located in Cheyenne. It's corrupt by the way (just in case you were wondering).
New Bern mayor Constantino (Timothy Omundson) and Jake are brought together by Col. Beck (Esai Morales
), a tough military officer who is now in charge of the Jericho/New Bern region. Through a flashback, we see the troops come in and halt the war (by dropping 30 or so bombs on the middle of the battlefield) and apparently it is over for good. Beck explains that reconciliation must begin, and the period of lawlessness is over. After lots of chest thumping by all parties, the "meeting" abruptly ends.
Four weeks pass. Through a conveniently timed news telecast/recap, we discover that the new president is a fictional Wyoming Senator named Temarchio, who was dubbed a hero that rallied a country. Twenty-one western states allied with the Cheyenne government in order to create the Allied States of America. So technically he only rallied two-fifths of a country.
We see that other things have changed in four weeks. With the military's help power has been restored, and the town seems to be operating fairly smoothly. People are going back to work, and one almost gets the sense that things have gone completely back to normal. Except for the ominous military presence, things pretty much have.
Jake and Emily (Ashley Scott
) are officially a couple once more, and things to be chugging along just fine for Stanley (Brad Beyer
) and Mimi (Alicia Coppola
) as well. In fact, the latter two lovebirds decide to get married. How sweet. It wouldn't be a "Jericho" episode without updates on these key relationships.
What would Johnston do?
Beck likes Jake's leadership abilities and tells him that he wants him to be the new sheriff of Jericho. He also warns Jake against taking vigilante action against Constantino and New Bern. Jake turns down the sheriff's offer and ignores Beck's advice. Good to see that Jake has not changed at all since last season. Oh, and by the way, Ulrich's acting is just as awful as it was last year. Good to see that Skeet hasn't changed at all either.
Determined to avenge the death of their father, Johnston (Gerald McRaney
); Jake and Eric (Kenneth Mitchell
) organize a small party in order to sneak into New Bern and kill Constantino. At the last minute, Jake gets talked out of the operation by Emily, who insists that Johnston would not have acted so rashly. The J-word gets Jake thinking, and he decides that the vigilante mission might not be such a good idea. Unfortunately, Eric does not see the light.
Jake rushes out to intercept Eric and the rest of the rangers, but is unsuccessful. That is until Beck and the military boys show up on the scene with a boatload of artillery. That is successful. Jake lies to protect his brother, and Beck commends him on it. Jake realizes that keeping order is what Johnston would have wanted and decides to take up the offer to become sheriff.
As for Hawkins and the conspiracy…
So what is going on with Hawkins? Well, he is contacted by Chavez (Chris Kramer) one of the surviving members of his undercover team who had been traveling with the soldiers. Chavez confirms what Hawkins and the show's loyal fans already know. Iran and North Korea were not behind the nuclear attacks despite what the television may say (TV can lie!). Apparently, the Cheyenne government has been propagating those false rumors (government can lie too!). The shadowy Valente (Daniel Benzali), one of the organizers of the domestic terrorist organization that was really responsible for the attacks, seems to have wormed his way into the Cheyenne government. This means that the Allied States are pretty dangerous.
But all hope is not lost! There is a little good news. A rival government, comprised of the eastern states, has also formed. This government is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, and from what Chavez can tell they are the good guys. It is most certainly not coincidental that Columbus was the target that Hawkins was supposed to destroy when he was undercover. The bad news is that the eastern states are overmatched by the Allied States. Could a civil war be a-brewing?
Chavez tells Hawkins that the surviving members of the team have a new mission. They need to expose the lies and corruption behind the scenes in Cheyenne before the Allied States can take over the whole country. It's quite a tall order, but if anyone can do it, Super Hawkins can!
Worth the wait?
The return of "Jericho" was uneven. Although there was a decent amount of exposition, it didn't feel like anything was really happening. Ultimately though, it was satisfying. It will be interesting to see how the post-apocalyptic political landscape continues to change. One fault in the episode is that many of the major characters didn't have all that much to do, if they even appeared at all. Stanley and Mimi had their little subplot, but otherwise the episode was all Jake, Hawkins and Beck. Hopefully, we will see more from the others in the next few episodes, although the cast has been streamlined in order to fit a smaller budget, so many old favorites might not return at all.
Another problem is the glaring absence of Gerald McRaney. He was the best actor in the ensemble, and Johnston was the most endearing and compelling character. His departure has created a big hole, one that will be tough, if not impossible to fill. Of course, all of this will be irrelevant if the ratings aren't great because it has been made perfectly clear that "Jericho" is on a very short leash.
What did you think about the return of "Jericho?" Do you miss Johnston? What do you think will happen this season? Comment below!
Story by Derek Krebs
Starpulse contributing writer