With Sherlock writer Steve Thompson’s new ITV drama passing its halfway point, we finally gained an answer to one of Jericho’s mysteries. Sadly, it was everything we had expected, and less.
Yes, the awkward tension between Isabella and Johnny, prompted by their dark secret, was nowt but a night of passion crowned by a broken promise to elope. The most likely explanation by a country mile.
With Annie and Johnny now (finally) together, and with Isabella carrying a torch while trapped in a passionless marriage with his younger brother, we earnestly hope matters do not descend into furtive glances across the dale and footsie under the dining table.
The viaduct’s continuing financial woes were this episode’s main thrust; with Charles Blackwood unable to pay the navvies’ wages he sparked a walkout. There was an upside though as his show of faith, offering to work the day alongside the men, prompted a terrific piece of slapstick acting from Daniel Rigby. Of course, Rigby is no stranger to comic moments, having pocketed a TV Bafta in 2011 for his Eric Morecambe.
After a foolhardy attempt to issue credit notes, which Johnny felt compelled to tell everyone were worthless, it was no surprise that big brother Blackwood set off to make peace. What does surprise, however, is that our ostensible hero seems incapable of making a decision without being taken to task by someone. On this occasion it was first manservant Easter and then Annie Quantain too.
Running in the background were Ralph Coates’ persistent questions as he sensed a rival. Yet despite the American’s money-grubbing actions and deeply questionable methods, we remain on the fence as to whether he is a force for good or ill.
Clarke Peters (The Wire) continues to spin a charismatic performance, adding texture to every moment we spend with this morally dubious railwayman, and we are predisposed to like him more as the details of his Civil War backstory inch out.
From a visual standpoint, Johnny’s hideout has offered a chance to soak in some of the engaging Yorkshire landscape; it was particularly well showcased for a moment or two when he clambered to the family graveyard. The views around the wooden shanty town can be a bit repetitive, so we would love to see more of the valley – hopefully if the proposed quarry goes ahead?
For us, Jericho’s momentum is prone to stall when we spend too much time up at the big house with matters financial, or with the colourful saloon characters. While not the most dramatic moment, the heart of this episode belonged to Annie (Jessica Raine) as she welcomed her son back home.
It may have felt like there was a plot beat or two missing, perhaps the lad changed his mind during the week off air, but the emotional scene between mother and son as they faced the hitherto unspoken subject of his father’s death was guaranteed to yank the heartstrings of even the hardest navvy!
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 4 February 2016 on ITV.
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