While dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on US soil has provided an incredible backdrop for Jericho, the story lies more in what occurred before the bombs dropped. “The Day Before” is the episode that fills in those story gaps, and never once does the episode feel forced into a spot where the writers needed to keep secrets for future background episodes. It’s a perfect combination of huge reveals and mystery.
Aside from the closing moments which briefly continue the cliffhanger of wandering survivors marching into the town, “Day Before” stays entirely in the past. It focuses almost exclusively on two characters, Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) and Robert Hawkins (Lennie James). While Green is revealed to have a slightly dark past, it’s Hawkins who steals the show.
James is fantastic in character, forced to kidnap his former family for reasons not yet known. While revelations are stunning, the episode ensures that mystery remains for future installments. It also makes the Jericho fans piece together the information they were given during prior episodes.
That’s not detracting from Green’s storyline, which adds to Ulrich’s character. His actions from previous edpisodes become far more believable. In fact, this episode as a whole becomes crucial for the series and its advancement.
Smaller, though still critical characters deepen the series further. Emily (Ashley Scott) had a relationship that was touched upon that directly affected current events. Bringing it forward in full adds a needed extra layer to a character that seems to fall back out of the spotlight a little too often.
When the credits roll, you’ll still be left with questions. “Day Before” purposely avoids answering everything while making needed progress in revealing the story fans are surely hooked on. If you’ve stuck with Jericho, this is that critical episode which cannot be missed if you plan on viewing it further.