Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"JERICHO" RETROSPECT: (1.11) "Vox Popoli"

"JERICHO" RETROSPECT: (1.11) "Vox Popoli"

When I first read the title for this eleventh episode of "JERICHO", I found myself confused. I suspected that there was a strong reason why the series' show runners had given the episode this particular title. The problem was that I never learned any Latin. 

Following my latest viewing of (1.11) "Vox Populi", I decided to make the effort to translate the phrase. It means "voice of the people". Considering what happened, I believe this particular episode was well titled. The "voice of the people" truly made an impact on this episode . . . not just for Mayor Johnston Greene, but also local criminal Jonah Prowse.

"Vox Populi" proved to be a strange episode upon first viewing. The episode merely picked up where the previous episode, (1.10) "Red Flag" left off - with the murder of local merchant Gracie Leigh at the hands of Prowse's second-in-command, Mitchell Cafferty. The incident not only proved to have far-reaching consequences, it also had a major impact upon this episode. While Jake Greene and Emily Sullivan continue to enjoy their renewed interest in each other, their budding romance is interrupted by Prowse's ragged appearance at Emily's home. He reveals that Mitchell had not only killed Gracie, but also framed Prowse for the crime. Another scene confirms this, by revealing Mitchell telling Johnston, Gray Anderson and the law that Prowse had killed Gracie. From that moment on, Gray switches to lynch mode and organizes a mob to find Prowse. Jake recruits Robert Hawkins' help to find Prowse before Gray's lynch mob can. Unfortunately, both Jake and Robert are too late. Gray and his gang finds Prowse and quickly place him in jail. A short period of time reveals Gray being sworn in as Jericho's new mayor. The "voice of the people" - at least those belonging to the town's residents - had spoken. Due to their resentment over Johnston holding back the food from China and especially Gray's capture of Prowse, they decided to vote for a new mayor. Unfortunately, Gray's victory and his continuing paranoia went to his head and he decided it was time to lynch Prowse. 

Among all of this doom and gloom, some good happened in "Vox Populi". Dale Turner learned that he had inherited Gracie's store. And although Mitchell tried to extort goods from Dale, the latter dealt with the former on his own. Despite a few setbacks, Robert managed to find a way to click with his son, Samuel, and continue repairing his fractured marriage to Darcy. And as I had earlier pointed out, Jake and Emily seemed to be mending their relationship. However, the arrival of a group of newcomers that include Emily's missing fiancé Roger Hammond, seems destined to fracture that relationship again.

I must admit that this was a pretty good episode . . . much better than I had originally assumed. My original opinion of "Vox Populi"was that it was a bit too fractured, due to including Gray's election as Jericho's new mayor into the mix. It just seemed too out of place. But after my recent viewing, I finally understood that the situation regarding Jonah Prowse, Gracie Fields and Mitchell Cafferty played a major role in Gray's election. Jonah's arrest was the incident that got Johnston Greene thrown out of office. It was also the incident that encouraged Gray to consider lynching Jonah with the help of others. Jericho also found itself with a new mayor who was more willing to make the easy choices to placate the "voice of the people" and quell his own inner paranoia . . . instead of the hard choices that are morally right or would benefit others in the long run. However . . . Gray made his first correct choice as mayor in "Vox Populi". With Jake's urging, he ignored "the voice of the people" and his own inner emotions and made the choice not to lynch Jonah and allow the latter to leave Jericho.

If there is one thing about "Vox Populi" that I found disappointing was that Gray's election as Jericho's new mayor was never dramatized on screen. I realize that the episode's running time gave the writers little opportunity to show the actual election. Yet, I still wish it had been shown. Following Gray's capture of Jonah, the episode went into a commerical break. Then it returned showing Gray being sworn in as the the town's new mayor. I realize that Gray's election played a major role in the episode. Unfortunately, this method of showing it seemed disjointed to me.

"Vox Populi" featured some solid performances from the likes of Brad Beyer, Alicia Coppola, Clayne Crawford, April D. Parker, Sterling Ardrey, Aasif Mandvi, Richard Speight Jr., and Bob Stephenson. I was surprised to find Sprague Grayden as Heather Lisinski missing from this episode. It would have been nice for the episode's screenwriter to explain her absence, but I guess I cannot have everything. But for me, the best performances came from Skeet Ulrich, Ashley Scott, Michael Gaston, James Remar, Erik Knudsen, Gerald McRaney, Pamela Reed and Lennie James. As far as I am concerned, all of them knocked it out of the ballpark. 

If I must confessed, "Vox Populi" is not a personal favorite of mine. But after my recent viewing, I must admit that it was better than I had originally assumed. Also, it did a good job in moving the series' major narrative forward, despite focusing on the situation regarding Jonah Prowse. More importantly, the episode ended with the arrival of new survivors to Jericho. One of those survivors turned out to be Emily Sullivan's missing fiancé, much to hers and Jake's consternation. Another survivor has yet to be seen. But that person's impact will be felt in the upcoming episodes to come.

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