WARNING: If you missed this episode, head over to CBS’s Innertube and watch it now. Otherwise, we’re getting ready to spoil it all to hell for you.
I won’t lie to you, it never occurred to me that, when Episode 1 ended, Emily had run out of gas; I thought she was just freaked out because she’d come across a road covered with dead birds…but given that Episode 2 begins with her walking down the road with a gas can, I guess she HAD hit “E.” Anyway, Episode 2 is full of a few too many coincidences for my liking, but let’s look at the highlights before I start bitching too much.
Jake and Robert realize simultaneously that the townsfolk are gonna need fallout shelters…and fast. The radiation’s blowing in from Denver, and it ain’t gonna be good when it gets there. But Robert knows a rather suspicious amount about radiation…so much so that it’s clear that at least a few people are getting skeptical of his claim that “I was a cop in St. Louis, and we got a lot of training after 9/11.” Sure, dude. In no way does that sound fishy. (We do discover that he’s got a wife and kids, though, so whoever he is, at least he’s got a relatively stable home life.) It’s clear that a rain storm filled with lots of radioactive material is gonna arrive in about two hours time, and anyone who’s not undercover is gonna be in serious trouble. (Although “Jericho” isn’t by and large a funny show, there’s at least one laugh to be had when it’s discovered that there isn’t a single piece of information about radiation or atomic bombs anywhere in town that isn’t dated circa 1957. Nice pamphlet about “The Dangers of Fall-Out”!) Much of the episode is spent trying to figure out how to fit everyone in town into the two shelters, one under Town Hall and the other under the medical clinic…and it gets even worse when the one under the clinic turns out to be uninhabitable due to lack of ventilation. The only viable alternative is to have people go deep into the town’s salt mines, then dynamite the entrance shut and have someone come by post-storm and help them get out again. And on the topic of people knowing a suspicious amount about certain things, Jake sure knows a lot about how to set up explosive charges…
The local bar provides us with a few bits of information this episode. The accountant who was in town to audit a local farmer – yeah, she was in the first episode, but not even long enough for me to reference her appearance – asks the bartender of her being stuck in Jericho post-bomb, “Do you think God hates me?” Jake’s brother, Eric, finally gets to say something besides “sounds good, Dad” when he shows up and informs several pool-playing yahoos of the wonders of death by radiation poisoning; we also discover that he isn’t as happily married as we might’ve thought when he locks lips with Madame Bartender. We also get a few minutes here and there with young Dale, who’s apparently got the hots for his snooty classmate, Skyler…and while it might not be entirely mutual, by episode’s end, it looks like they might have more in common than they used to. And Jake’s dad suffers some sort of attack, but it’s not clear what kind.
Emily gets a lot of screen time when, during her stroll for gas, she’s picked up by the two escaped convicts masquerading as sheriff’s deputies. (Turns out the real deputies are in the trunk.) I’m pretty sure most real law enforcement officers don’t have handlebar mustaches like one of those guys did, but whatever. Emily eventually does figure out they’re not the real deal, courtesy of one of the aforementioned too-convenient coincidences; they leave her alone in the car, and while she’s by herself, someone in the sheriff’s department just happens to say over the radio how two convicts are on the loose and might have stolen a vehicle. Once she hears this, though, she begins to develop a plan, taking them to the Richmond farm, where Bonnie Richmond – who’s deaf but can read lips – assists her in getting a gun and sneaking out an upstairs window, eventually making her way back to the patrol car to use the radio and call for help. The good news: one of the channels she broadcasts on is being listened to by Jake, who bails out of the mine and sets off the explosion to seal them in before heading off to save Emily. The bad news: another channel she uses is being listened to by the fake deputies. Fortunately, right about the time they hear her, Jake arrives, and between the two of them, the two guys get dead real quick…and just in time for Jake, Emily, and Bonnie to get into the basement before the storm hits.
The ending of the episode provides a moment just as chilling as the one provided in the first episode. It’s set up when Robert, who’s manning the radio, picks up a message in morse code…but instead of telling anyone what he’s heard, he pretends to have heard nothing. Later, however, he puts a map of the U.S. on the wall, and he begins by placing tacks on both Denver and Atlanta, indicating the sites of known bombs…but, then, he places a tack on Chicago…and one on Philadelphia…and one on San Diego. As the episode fades out, we’re on a close-up of his hand, reaching in to get another tack…and another…and another.