With all the hugs and pop songs, it's like The WB is still with us. Jake Green returns to his hometown of Jericho, Kansas after a five-year absence. He hugs half the town, and lies to them all about where he's been. We can only hope that this turns out to be a Grosse Pointe Blank spinoff. After arguing with Mayor Dad about an inheritance, Jake drives off into the sunset. Where a mushroom cloud has appeared over Denver. Jake manages to crash into the only other car on the road, and limps away. Then he comes upon a stranded school bus, which apparently went way off the road after hitting a deer. If the driver hadn't died in the crash, he'd be so fired. Jake performs a juicebox-assisted tracheotomy and prepares to drive the kids back to town. But uh oh, the bus is almost out of gas! It doesn't actually run out, though, so that part just makes you think that the writers couldn't even get one episode's worth of suspense out of a nuclear explosion. Meanwhile (and this show has almost as many "meanwhile"s as hugs), the sheriff finds another bus, but this one turns out to be a prison transport. Since Tommy Lee Jones isn't around, the sheriff and a deputy both get killed by an escaped prisoner. Back in town, the power's out, and people are freaked. The obligatory paranoid loon thinks they've been attacked by aliens, but lends Mayor Dad his ham radio for a small fee. The obligatory black guy is more useful than the entire police force put together. There's almost a riot at the gas station, but Mayor Dad turns up in time to speechify, calming everyone down. They're so calm that they take the news that something bad also happened in Atlanta pretty well, considering. At the end, Jake's potential romantic interest, who seems to have missed all the goings-on, literally runs across a flock of dead birds scattered across the highway.
Ooo, Jericho's title is all staticy. Spooooky. Skeet Ulrich rides a train to Denver. The Killers tell me about stuff they want to do. Skeet uncovers a car in a large, empty garage. He drives to Kansas, and passes through a town that has a "Guns Ammo & Gifts" store. Kansas doesn't believe in commas. Skeet gets tired of The Killers and changes the station to WPLT, your trusted source for major plot points, with traffic on the eights. Apparently the President has called an emergency session so that he can give an address about "the issue of global violence." As Skeet turns off the highway, WPLT continues, "Recent attacks have pushed this administration to take extreme action, raising more fears than it's alleviated." You wanna vague that up a little more?
Skeet pulls up at a large roadside stand and cuts off WPLT before the announcer is forced to say something specific. As Skeet steps out of the car, the guy running the stand gasps and runs over. His name is Stanley Richmond, and I have to give props to the CBS website for actually giving these people names, because otherwise I'd be calling him "stand-guy" for the rest of the recap. Although I'd at least have the first four letters of his name right if I did that. Stanley does his part by identifying Skeet as "Jake Green," and then lifts him clear off the ground in a hug. Once Jake escapes, he greets Bonnie, Stanley's deaf sister. Jake tells her, "You grew up!" and even manages to sign that much, since it's basically just pointing and raising a flattened palm. Stanley asks where Jake's been, and Jake shrugs, "Around." He eventually claims that he's been in the Army. By which he means, "prison."
Geese honk as a woman comes out of the farmhouse. Stanley explains that the woman is from the IRS. She's wearing a business suit that ends above the knee, spiked heels, and no stockings. An IRS agent. From DC. Maybe this is a hint that sheâs actually trying to seduce Stanley (or Bonnie). Jake asks, "IRS? Audit IRS?" No, the other one. Stanley says it's not going well, but quickly changes the subject by saying that he and Jake should get together. Jake explains that he's just in town to see his grandpa, and then he's leaving again. Stanley nods, asks Bonnie to get Jake a pie, then hugs him again.
Gracie's Market, a.k.a. the General Store. If you like, you can also follow Jake's progress through town on this map. For all the good that'll do you. In the window is a sign urging people to reelect Mayor Johnston Green. A kid named Dale Turner sweeps. Gracie Leigh, a.k.a. Kitty Farmer, a.k.a. Maude Pearson, chatters away at Jake. He feigns interest as she mentions that someone with a lovely wife bought "the old Thompson place" and paid in cash. I strongly suspect she is talking about Robert Hawkins, who we'll meet later on.