This week, Jericho is invaded by…fake Marines! Hey, thank God Johnston used to be a Marine himself, so he can spot their chicanery…!

Okay, I’m just kidding. This was actually mostly…not entirely (more on that at the end of this blog), but mostly a solid episode. When a bunch of guys and gals in USMC uniforms show up at your town hall driving tanks, why would you question that they’re who they say they are? I mean, especially if you’re getting as close to the end of your rope as these townsfolk are. It might’ve been nice if they could’ve stretched it out for more than an episode – it all seemed to move a little too fast, particularly the love connection between Jake and a sweet young Marine named Maggie – but it was an effectively dramatic episode.

The episode scores bonus points for having not one but two laugh-out-loud lines:

1) Mary Bailey gets up in arms when Maggie the Marine comes looking to borrow a transistor from the bar’s jukebox, but Maggie responds, “You’ve got three Spin Doctors CDs in that thing. I’d be doing a public service.”

2) Later, when in a deeply flirtatious discussion with Jake, she sagely observes, “You’ve really got this brooding bad boy thing down, don’t you?”

Mayor Anderson, ever the gloryhound, makes a point of trying to suck up to the Marines…only to be sorely disappointed when he discovers that they aren’t planning to leap to Jericho’s aid. (He also demonstrates that he can’t hold his liquor very well, sounding pretty well soused even before his mayoral predecessor makes a toast before the detachment heads out of town.) Once Jake discovers that they’re a big bunch of fakers, things fall apart in a hurry, and the USFMC are led to the city limits…in a hero’s farewell? Yeah, reasonably, it’s decided that the townsfolk probably draw more from the belief that the government is back together and working to save the country than they would from the news that they’ve been lied to. Let’s just hope that doesn’t backfire…

Hawkins spends the entire episode battling back and forth with his former partner, Sarah, who is keeping his family at gunpoint until he hands over the mysterious package he’s been holding on to…which turns out to be the missing atomic bomb that Hawkins never set off. Possibly not coincidentally, it was intended for the city which the faux Marines claimed was now the center of the US government: Columbus, Ohio. (Are the producers of “Jericho” attempting to curry our favor by giving such importance to the city where Bullz-Eye holds most of its editorial meetings…?) Although it takes too long to finally come to fruition, by the end of the hour, Sarah’s dead and Hawkins’ family is safe…but his wife’s finally had enough; as she departs with the kids, you can tell by Hawkins’ daughter’s tone that she doesn’t expect to see her dad again anytime soon. Things end on an uncertain note: is Hawkins secretly working for the same people that Sarah was answering to…?

In closing, it’s now official: Stanley and Mimi are EXCRUCIATING as a couple! When they were sniping at each other in the early episodes, that was entertaining…but the hackneyed lines they’re spouting nowadays are only getting worse. Seriously, it’s so bad this week that I feel obliged to quote them directly:

Stanley: Not now, Mimi!
Mimi: Like Hell not now, cornhusker!
Stanley: Cornhuskers are from Nebraska; I’m a jayhawk.
Mimi: Mimi: You drive me so crazy, and you know that I can’t stay here forever, but the truth is…I can’t live without you, either.
Stanley: Really?
Mimi: Yes, really!

Cue the music, the big kiss…and the impending waves of nausea. Thank God this subplot was the only piece of crap in an otherwise exemplary episode. I’m not a guy to wish harm even on fictional characters, but, geez, one of those two really needs to buy it sooner than later…and given that the preview for the next episode (arriving in two weeks) indicates that one of the main characters dies, I might just get my wish.