'Jericho': The ominous Allied States of America

Skeetulrich5_jericho_cbs_240 The plot thickens on Jericho -- we learn the Cheyenne government isn't just a vaguely creepy cult of personality, it's a vast, overarching conspiracy perpetrated by the sort of people who make Attila the Hun look like a tree-hugging, seal-smooching peacenik hippy. Plus, Darcy proves her smarts, Jake sees the light, and Beck starts to sense that something is amiss.

People get the spoilers they deserve
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The new president is coming to town, so the secret service is swarming. The Pres wants to address the fine folks of Jericho from Stanley's front porch, as it is apparently the only photogenic building left in Jericho (or the only outdoor set the production company really has left. Whichever.) While he's in town, Hawkins and Chavez make plans to expose the depth of the government's depravity.

Among the overt evidence that the Cheyenne government is bad news:

  • They're distributing new textbooks (A New America: A Comprehensive History) with a whole section on the decline and fall of the first republic. In their version of history, America started to go wrong after World War II when we declined to bomb the Ruskies during the Cuban Missile Crisis and when we pulled out of Vietnam instead of bombing it back to the stone age.
  • The president invites Gray to attend a new Constitutional Convention. Eric objects -- no one elected this guy, so how does he get to monkey around with the constitution?
  • Journalists seems to be on a leash -- not reporting real news, parroting the press releases that the government puts out. That stuff about a potential plague being stopped by the Mississippi? Lies. Rumor has it people west of the river are dying, too.

Plus there are databases that cross-reference voter registration with face recognition software, overbearing Secret Service guys, and lots of none-to-subtle indications that this isn't the U.S. of A. that the good people of Jericho are used to.

When Chavez is pulled off to patrol duty, Darcy and Hawkins need to improvise. Darcy pinches a secure radio, which causes the Secret Service to put everyone on lockdown. This leaves the main command center lightly staffed, which allows Hawkins to break in and download the entire Government Database of Big Bad Secrets. He must have a hell of a big hard drive. (Wow, that sounded much more obscene than I meant it to.) He finds out that the Cheyenne government has evidence that the bombs that went off weren't manufactured in North Korea, but were instead decommissioned Soviet bombs.

The problem is, Chavez took one for the team by attacking the Secret Service guys before they could spot Hawkins, and he's the one with contacts in the Great Independent State of Texas. He's now in custody. Jake proposes a workaround: There's an ink-stained wretch of a journalist covering the president's tour, and he seems like he still has a heart, a soul, a spine, and other bits of physical and metaphorical anatomy necessary to take on the government conspiracy. The journalist initially pooh-poohs the idea of the public bothering to read the story at all, then gets infused with the spirits of Woodward and Bernstein and agrees to break the story. Problem is, he apparently called his editor on an unsecured line, and he has an extremely convenient heart attack. Jake is shocked, shocked that the government would do such a thing -- although if they were willing to kill millions in major population centers, I fail to see how he can be surprised that they'd off one snarky journalist.

Jake loiters around the police station when they transfer Chavez and smacks him around a bit until Beck has his soldiers pull him off. When Chavez is being transferred, Beck figures out that he must be a Black Ops guy, and immediately tries to track down the transport team. Too late -- they're dead. Jake passed Chavez the handcuff keys while he was roughing him up, and Chavez took it from there. He meets up with Hawkins and takes the flash drive with the evidence to meet his contacts in Texas.

Highlights, thoughts and odds and ends

  • The Saga of Stanley and Mimi continues -- and hey, Bonnie's back! It's a good thing she's around, because Stanley can be a bit dense. He jokes that Mimi's friends better be prepared to buy the expensive stuff on her registry, not realizing that most if not all of Mimi's friends and family are dead.
  • Bonnie continues her helpful streak, buttonholing a J&R operative to ask her to track down any surviving members of Mimi's family. There's aren't any. Oof.
  • On a lighter note, how cute was Mimi rhapsodizing about bar codes and spreadsheets?
  • Gray seems like his typical spineless self for much of the episode -- he doesn't ask any questions of the president, he doesn't care about the new textbooks rewriting history ("I don't think it's a problem for editors to have a point of view"), and he agrees to attend the Constitutional Convention. At the end of the episode, he reveals he's going so he can work from the inside. He wants to ask the uncomfortable questions about what's happening to the Constitution and such, but he needs to be there to do it. While he's gone, he appoints Eric interim mayor. The Greens are back in charge.
  • I loved Darcy's quick thinking with the stolen radio. Instead of panicking, she manages to secrete it on an overlooked shelf in the office -- the sort of place it's plausible for someone to have left it and overlooked it. Nice improvisation, Darcy!
  • There's one file in the Government Database of Big Bad Secrets Hawkins isn't able to open -- something called Project Boxcar. Ominous!
  • Evil Overlord Valente tells Beck he's sending in a private contractor with experience in the area to take over administration of the town. Its Ravenwood, led by Goetz. He's the guy who tried to take the town back in season one, and left Jake with this threat when it didn't work: "You know, things are gonna get back to normal someday. The government will put itself back together. They'll want to help all you get back on your feet. And you know who they're gonna send to help you? Me."
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