In the first half of the show, we learn that it's thirty-six hours before the bombs. We also learn that Hawkins is a bad, bad man. The Evil Dr. Mathra is still holding out for him to be "really, really good, he's just misunderstood," but he's bad, man! Or just a double agent. Hawkins knew about the bombs, HAD a bomb, and had a restraining order that prevented him from coming within five hundred feet of his estranged family. Speaking of his family, he kidnaps them. That's right, he flat-out loads them into the uncomfortable cab of some big truck and heists them right out of D.C. Oh, and the Family Hawkins manages to make the three-day trip from the District to Kansas in about a day in order to get there the night before the bombs go off. Because, apparently, U-Haul now has rentals that can rip the time-space continuum. Hawkins was supposed to deliver his bomb, potentially to Columbus, OH, but didn't. His kidnapped girlfriend -- who may or may not be bad and working for the bomb people -- turns up in Jericho with the rest of the refugees who aren't zombies. Meanwhile, Jake dreams little dreams of starting a flight school -- is that why he's drawn to schoolmarms of all shapes and hair colors? -- but owes a debt to a friend who saved his ass in Iraq when both of them were over there doing deeds for an independent contractor that may or may not be Ravenwood. However, said friend is eventually killed by Ravenwood when he and Jake attempt to run out on a job running arms, and Jake has to load the friend's pregnant fiancée on a bus. Back in contemporary Jericho, Mayor Dad is coming down with a flu or cold (SPOILER!), Mom is starving him (in order to POISON him), and Eric is just as wet raggy as ever with his bar wench. Turns out, though, that Before The Bombs, Mayor Dad was pressing Eric into running for the office in his stead. Ugh, do we care about Emily? Well, she and her fiancé got into a fight before he flew off to Chicago for a job interview she didn't want him to go on, but then she was sorry and almost kissed Jake (we knew that already, of course) and then was happy when the fiancé showed up in Jericho, all bearded and shocked and unzombied. This show rocks!
Previously: Hawkins was being Google Earthed by person or persons unknown. His computer told him that it would see him soon because it found it highly suspect that Hawkins plays ball with his son. I'll bet it finds it more suspect that Hawkins can't throw a football to save his life. Actually, on this show, it might actually come down to that. "Jake! We can't disconnect the doohickey from the thingamabob unless one of us throws a perfect spiral through the goal posts at Jericho High. Don't ask me why, just trust me."
Okay, here we go with the really bad idea of giving us timestamps. Seriously? If they had just dispensed with the "30 Hours Before the Bombs" and so on, I wouldn't have to smack this episode around too much. However, since it's Jericho, I do. Have I mentioned how much I love this show in all its dunderheaded glory? It's like having a crush on a big dumb jock.
Anyway, "8 WEEKS EARLIER" flashes ominously on the screen, and we're inside an airplane hanger. In San Diego, Jake -- looking oddly tubby and decidedly uncomfortable in a suit -- interviews for a pilot's job, "36 HOURS BEFORE THE BOMBS." The interviewer notes that Jake is an Embry-Riddle grad, and is "ATP Certified" with 1600 verified FAA flying hours. Jake proudly notes, "Flying's in my blood. I started working on my Grandpa's crop duster when I was ten." Yeah, well, traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, boy. Because the job in question would have Jake flying top executives and celebrity clients all over the place, absolute discretion is a must for their hired flight crew. "Hey, anything past getting the plane safely from A to B is none of my business," Jake grins. Unless A is a barbershop and B is a tattoo parlor. Interviewer is glad to hear this, and explains that it is incumbent on them to run background checks on their flight crew. Interviewer flips open a folder and notes, "You spent a little time in the Middle East over the last couple of years." Jake may have a severe hummus addiction, but he's now seeing a therapist and taking injections, so get off his back! Jake raises his shoulders defensively and prepares to deal with this: "Fourteen months in Afghanistan, six in Iraq." Man, we have waited so damn long to find that out, and it's all because Eric the Nitwit had his beard too far up his own cheating ass to follow up on Jake's statement at the Ravenwood-infested hospital. Eric's an idiot. Interviewer confirms that Jake was never military. Jake says that he worked for an independent contractor, which, Interviewer notes, he left off his résumé. Jake didn't think it was relevant. "The State Department has you flagged as a person of interest," announces Interviewer. Okay, first of all, "person of interest" is a term that law enforcement agencies like the FBI or the Justice Department use. However, what the State Department cares about is what non-U.S. citizens are up to for the purpose of denying visas. Maybe Jake isn't a U.S. citizen. Also, how is little ol' Jake a "person of interest"? Steven Hatfill is a person of interest because Ashcroft has some wild idea that he's an Anthraxy threat to our nation's security and welfare. Jake? Not so much. That we know. I also find it highly implausible that an individual's status as a "person of interest" is on a list that a private company would be able to access. It's the government that cares about that designation, and it isn't interested in making such a watch list public to any random fly-by-night company that wants to check up on someone. It would be classified information. Arrests and unpaid parking tickets, sure. Watch lists, not so much. But you know, that's why I love this show; I can argue until I'm blue in the face about how improbable all of this is, except that the way this show works? It totally could be.