Friday, September 2, 2016

"JERICHO" RETROSPECT: (1.12) "The Day Before"

"JERICHO" RETROSPECT: (1.12) "The Day Before"

In compare to a television series like ABC's "LOST""JERICHO" rarely featured any flashbacks, let alone a flashback episode. I said . . . rarely. For to my knowledge, there were at least two flashback episodes. One of them was called (1.12) "The Day Before"

The episode basically covered the last 36 hours in the lives of Jake Green, Robert Hawkins, members of their families, and other Jericho citizens like Emily Sullivan and Stanley Richmond before the bombing attacks. Thirty-six hours before the attacks saw Jake Green in San Diego trying to get a legitimate job as a pilot. But due to Jake's unwillingness to help the U.S. government investigate Ravenwood, his passport is flagged, making it impossible for him to be hired as a pilot. An old friend and fellow ex-mercenary named Freddie Ruiz tries to recruit him to participate in a cargo run operation. But since the job is sponsored by Ravenwood and involves Afghanistan, Jake rejects the job offer. Jake tries and fails to prevent Freddie from taking the job, but the latter ends up being shot and killed by the military company. Jake helps Freddie's pregnant wife Anna get out of San Diego, before traveling back east to Kansas . . . hours before the bombs detonate across the country.

Robert Hawkins' tale begins with a mysterious meeting that involves him and a group of people who are each assigned to a truck carrying a bomb. Robert is ordered to detonate his bomb in Columbus, Ohio. However, Robert and a fellow agent named Sarah Mason make plans to betray the group. He also kidnaps his estranged wife Darcy Hawkins and their two children - Allison and Samuel - in order to get them out of Washington D.C. Sarah mysteriously disappears, but the Hawkins family makes it to Kansas in time. After their arrival in Jericho, Darcy finds a weapon and tries to force Robert to let her and the kids go. But the Denver bombing diffuses the family feud and the Hawkins find themselves citizens of Jericho.

"The Day Before" also featured on other stories. A physical checkup by April Green reveals that Johnston's health might be in question. He considers having younger son Eric Green run for mayor in his place. Meanwhile, Eric has already begun his affair with Mary Bailey, unaware that wife April has secretly filed for divorce and had just received the divorce papers. Emily Sullivan discovers that her fiance, banker Roger Hammond, is considering a new job in Chicago. The couple quarrel, due to her desire to remain in Jericho. And Mimi Clark arrives in Jericho to audit Stanley Richmond's farm.

"The Day Before" never made my top ten list of favorite episodes of "JERICHO". I have nothing against the episode. To be honest, I found it very interesting. But I would never regard it as one of my ten favorite episodes from the series. I would probably rank it somewhere between eleven and thirteen. And that is pretty close. When I said that it was very interesting, I was not kidding. As far as I know, "The Day Before" might be one of three"JERICHO" episodes that heavily featured flashbacks. "The Day Before" is the only one that is basically a flashback episode.

Of the minor story arcs featured in this episode, the one featuring Mimi and Stanley's first meeting inside Bailey's Tavern struck me as amusing . . . especially Stanley's initial attempt to make a pass at her. I barely paid any attention to the one featuring Eric's affair with Mary and April's receipt of her divorce papers, due to the small attention paid to Eric and April's marriage in this episode. On the other hand, discovering that Emily nearly ended her engagement to Roger in order to remain in Jericho made me realize how fully attached she was to the town. Of course, Roger going behind her back to apply for a job in Chicago did not help matters. I suspect that this lack of mutual interest between the two made me realize that Emily and Roger were unsuited for each other . . . something they might be forced to learn for himself, now that he was back in Jericho. I found the story arc featuring the Greens and the town's mayor race very interesting. One, I had no idea that Gail Green wanted Johnston to give up the idea of continuing as Jericho's mayor. I got the feeling that she used his health scare as an excuse for him to consider it. But what I really found interesting was Johnston's inability to give up political power . . . on his own initiative. He was willing to drop out of the race for Gail's sake. But he was willing to use Eric to maintain that power. I never realized this before . . . or perhaps I had never paid attention in the past. But for the first time, I found myself wondering if Johnston was a controlling man who found it difficult to give up power of any kind.

But the episode also featured two main story arcs featuring both Jake Green and Robert Hawkins. In the episode, (1.08) "Rogue River", Jake had seemed familiar with the private military contractor Ravenwood. I had assumed that he had simply heard about the company, while in Iraq. But "The Day Before" revealed that Jake had his own personal brush with Ravenwood, when his friend Freddie Ruiz tried to get him a job with the company. The situation takes a tragic turn when a Federal agent warns Jake that that U.S. government was investigating Ravenwood, resulting in Freddie's death. Watching this sequence made me really appreciate how much Jake was at the end of his rope when he had returned to Jericho to unsuccessfully collect his inheritance from his late grandfather in the (1.01) "Pilot" episode.

If you want my opinion, the real star of this episode was the story arc involving the Hawkins family. To a certain extent, audiences finally learned that Hawkins was part of a terrorist cell responsible for the bombs that were detonated in the series' first episode. Audiences also learned that Robert did not detonate the bomb given to him and instead, forced his estranged family to accompany him to Jericho. And apparently, Darcy was not the only one having an affair. This episode also revealed Robert's mistress at the time, a fellow "terrorist" named Sarah Mason. Only she disappeared before he could head for Kansas with his family. What made this particular story arc rather fascinating to me was the revelation on how low Robert's relationship with his family had sunk. When he had arrived in Washington D.C. to collect them, they wanted nothing to do with him. Worse, they seemed so fearful of them that they ended up summoning two Washington D.C. police officers to help them escape . . . from him. 

I had one major problem with "The Day Before". Most of the episode covered the 36 hours before the bombs dropped. And this time period had me questioning both Jake and the Hawkins family's journey to Jericho. I barely found it hard to believe that it took the Hawkins family less than 36 hours to travel from Washington D.C. to Jericho, Kansas. Barely. Perhaps Robert drove all day and night. But I absolutely found it impossible to believe that it took Jake less than 24 hours to travel from San Diego, California to Jericho. The "Pilot" made it clear that Jake had arrived in Denver, Colorado via the train, before he drove the rest of the way to Jericho on the day the bombs dropped. Both he and Anna Ruiz had traveled from San Diego to Albuquerque via a bus. Whereas Anna traveled on to Houston, Texas; Jake allegedly headed for Denver via rail. However, if Jake really did arrive in Denver by train, he would have been forced to make connections in both Los Angeles and Oakland, and skip Albuquerque altogether. And it still would have taken him at least 24 hours or more to reach Denver alone. Someone should have consulted the Amtrak route map before writing this episode. Also the show's producers and the episode's writer should have extended the time period for this episode by at least another 12 hours or so.

"The Day Before" featured some solid performances from the likes of Kenneth Mitchell, Pamela Reed, Brad Beyer, Alicia Coppola, Clare Carey, Jazz Raycole, Darby Stanchfield, Erica Muñoz, Siena Goines, Christopher Wiehl and James Parks. However, I feel that the more outstanding performances came from the following - April D. Parker, who did an excellent job in conveying Darcy Hawkins' fear and anger toward her estranged husband; Mark Adair-Rios, who portrayed Jake's friendly yet more morally flexible friend Freddie Ruiz; Gerald McRaney, who gave a skillful performance as Mayor Johnston Green, reluctant to give up power; and Ashley Scott, who did a great job in conveying Emily Sullivan's emotional attachment to her hometown. But the two stars of this episode were the show's leads - Skeet Ulrich and Lennie James. For the first time, since the series' beginning, audiences get a hint of Jake Green's past in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Ulrich did a superb job in not only conveying Jake's emotional state at what seemed to be the nadir of his life, but also how a personal experience in Afghanistan continued to traumatize him after such a long period of time. Lennie James gave an equally superb performance as the enigmatic Robert Hawkins, who seemed hellbent in not only upsetting his "terrorist" cell's plans, but also getting his family out of danger. At the same time, James was very skillful in conveying how frightening Robert was to his family on the eve of the bombings.

The previous episode, (1.11) "Vox Popoli", ended with a group of wandering refugees arriving in Jericho. One of those refugees turned out to be Emily Sullivan's fiance, Roger Hammond. "The Day Before" not only repeated that scene, but also revealed another surprising figure . . . namely Robert's former mistress and colleague, Sarah Mason. This episode not only revealed how far Jake, Robert and many other characters had come since the series' first episode, it also hinted some future conflicts to come - especially for Jake, Robert, Emily and the other members of the Hawkins family.

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