Who would have ever thought that nuclear war could be so upbeat? This episode goes from serious to exuberant to depressing and then back to optimistic so rapidly that the viewer is likely to get emotional whiplash. People are worried about radiation poisoning; suspicions are circulating that some townspeople may have murdered one of their own to prevent a panic; the growing realization that food is running out is apparent; and the picture emerging of a widespread nuclear holocaust... Things are grim. In light of all these depressing facts, what could possibly be more appropriate than a hootenanny barbecue?
My main dispute with this episode is the 90210-esque love story between Dale, the unpopular guy, and Skylar, the popular girl (who has the cliche snobby friends who do not approve of their fraternization). Complete with whatever horrid pop-rock music they thought would properly punctuate the teen angst of the moment. I don't care. I don't care about this snobby girl at all, and I sure don't care about the semi-mute Dale, who seems to be a good guy, but has absolutely no personality whatsoever. I don't know why they thought to shove it into the story in the first place - he is a cardboard cutout and she is a cliche. People in Jericho have two reactions to the nuclear bombs: most people just ignore it and kind of wander around as if nothing is going on; a select few start overreacting to everything. No one feels real to me. They aren't weeping and flooding their churches, no one riots or tries to hoard food, nobody starts carrying their gun around everywhere they go... no one acts like the world just changed- this conveys the impression that it hasn't changed, and it doesn't make sense.
I really want to like Jericho. I really want to explore how a group of characters deals with the apocalypse. But, the writers seem to want to focus on interpersonal relationships (like the affair between Eric and Mary or how Jake and Emily sort out their ill defined complications or the tedious Dale and Skylar subplot) and only use the seriousness of the situation as a backdrop for them.