Tuned In

Jericho Watch: A Little Bang, A Little Whimper

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So long, and thanks for all the peanuts. / Michael Desmond/CBS

SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, rush home in a stolen ambulance and watch the series finale of Jericho.

So the show’s over, Jake and Hawkins have completed their mission and… America’s going to have another civil war! Except this time with an air force and nukes! Yay! We won!

OK, so this is rather odd as feel-good endings go, but realistically it was the feel-best one that the series could offer, and give credit to Jericho for going out in a way consistent with the spirit of the series (i.e., simultaneously sentimental and dystopian). Viewed more as a strategic challenge than a piece of storytelling, the finale pretty much accomplished its objective: to provide a wrap-up and closure if this is (most likely) the honest-to-God end of the series, while leaving the door open a crack just in case Jericho gets resurrected somewhere. (Sci Fi Network? The History Channel? Work with me, people!)

As an episode itself, while I thought that cramming down the season to seven episodes mostly helped Jericho—by making the storytelling more economical and giving it a greater sense of urgency—this was the first time this season things felt a little rushed and perfunctory. Ideally, for instance, the mission of recovering the stolen bomb in Cheyenne and getting it to Texas could have used a couple episodes and a little more political intrigue. As it was, the quest was not quite as challenging or spellbinding as, say, the last third of Stripes. Likewise, the turnaround on the homefront—a little digging on the computer, a brave stand at Bonnie’s gravesite, and suddenly the Alliance army detachment sees the light—came a little easy, though again, there was only so much time to complicate things. (By the way, did any Wire fans catch Jamie Hector [Marlo] as an Allied States soldier?)

As long as we’re nitpicking, by the way, in the burial scene–with the rolling mountains in the background–the Jericho production crew clearly gave up any attempt to pretend that Kansas does not look like Southern California. Post-Jennings and Rall, meanwhile, downtown Cheyenne looks pretty much like Wilshire Boulevard.

But as I’ve said before, I don’t really watch Jericho for verisimilitude or even (and I know Jericho fans will hate me for this) well-written dialogue and uncliched character stories. I enjoy it strictly for plot and on that level, I mainly have to commend the abbreviated last season, which even managed to sneak in some political commentary. (Jericho becomes the subject of an Iraq-like occupation, overseen by an evil Halliburton-like corporation, which—throwing a bone to conservatives—also wants to erase the Second Amendment.) There are the seeds there for Jericho to rise from its radioactive ashes, as its producer still hopes, whether it’s on cable, in a comic book, or simply in the imagination of the fans.

Farewell, Jericho. It was an honor to be blown up by you.