I've been impressed with this series since the beginning and any concerns I may have had before watching season 2 have vanished (like how to keep the plot going without losing the main themes, especially with the introduction of the new government). Though there has been downsizing (like Gail leaving; characters making erratic appearances, sometimes missing for entire episodes), the writers are making a concerted effort to maintain quality and are doing so in weekly shocks and unexpected plot twists. Now if the ratings would just increase...
We have confirmation that Dale is not sticking to the letter of the law which just got sticky since Goetz/J&R's new rule about registering and inspections. Stanley, appeased by getting his farm back (which frankly was more Mimi than J&R) is unwilling to help – which isn't like him. Usually he's beside Jake every step of the way. Problem is, things are getting close to 'normal' and people are naturally settling back into their routines, unwilling to make waves. But there are those who don't accept the new order (which is nothing less than a dictatorship disguised as democracy) and if they're going to do something about Cheyenne, they have to do it soon – they're becoming too powerful.
The new government has done the obvious thing – issued a new currency so we're back to paper money. Personally I think it's way too soon for that, the country's still in chaos and people (especially in outlying areas) have far more use for a barter system than a paper money system, you can't eat or farm with paper.
Hawkins' new 'friend' is already feeding information and has highlighted the next threat: a scan of the area which will reveal the bomb. How Valente justified it, no-one knows but he's obviously using every resource at his disposal to find the bomb. I thought the military presence was supposed to be temporary?! Why is Beck settling into *Jake's* office and installing fingerprint scanners?! "You now hold the distinction of being the first Jericho sheriff in history who doesn't have a key to the sheriff's office." And why is Heather on the list?! Seems she's his new assistant and is taking her job as liaison very seriously. She's doing a good job. Sounds like New Bern's residents are chafing at their strict master's collar. But then again, so is Jericho.
Since Heather is the only way into Beck's office, it becomes necessary to tell her about the conspiracy – the last person who heard this was dead an hour later but they deliberately leave out the bomb (she's smart, what else would a radiation survey be looking for?!). Sarah is the obvious bait for Hawkins to use, Beck is in enough trouble with his bosses that he'd have to follow up the lead, but Hawkins risks burning Beck as an ally. As for Heather, could she *act* more guilty? Beck is so trusting, I feel bad that they're lying to him. Is the burnt cabin the same one where Hawkins and Sarah found the dead guy? Very clever – everything Hawkins did and said after Sarah died is being attributed to her! Right down to the satellite images. It's brilliant! A way of exposing the conspiracy (and Valente) to Beck without endangering himself! Problem is – Beck's too smart, it's all too perfect, all the evidence he could want wrapped up in a big bow.
Fred – who was actually at the meeting! – turns Dale into Goetz and there was something distinctly unpleasant about Goetz's expression. He sends Dale to jail! Now this could be a demonstration of Ravenwood or even J&R's power – bypassing the local police and using the military police for their dirty work. J&R really is above the law. This is the first time Jake's used the sheriff's car and his badge – very cool. Beck countermanded Goetz's orders – there'll be hell to pay, both from Goetz personally and J&R. "This government, or should I say, this company…" - never a truer word spoken! We finally find out what the mysterious Operation Boxcar is – a plan to destroy evidence about the true source of the September attacks. Far worse than that – a disaster contingency plan designed by J&R which was the basis for the September attacks!! And our mysterious source: designed the plan for J&R! The main question left is: why? There's not a clear motive.
Another person who's taking her job seriously is Mimi and already she's found a problem: $10,000 of the new money is missing. Did someone think it wouldn't be noticed from the first shipment? First impressions: Goetz was way too calm and my instinct tells me he was faking surprise – it's gotta be him. Stealing it is stupid and strikes me as an impulse, 'right place, right time' kind of thing. He just practically threatened Mimi and she knows it. She then accidentally gets Bonnie involved. Notice how carefully Goetz speaks, as if making absolutely sure Bonnie understands him? Oh man, that was stupid! Why did Bonnie run?! It's admitting Mimi's in the house, admitting she lied to Goetz! For a smart girl, the stupidity continues – she gets the shotgun and opens fire on Ravenwood! We know how they operate and it's obvious how this is going to end. Stanley comes home to his worst nightmare – Bonnie dead, Mimi dying. The muted sound was inspired, telling the scene from Bonnie's point of view. For the character and her history, it implies that Bonnie isn't totally deaf. Well written, nerve-wrackingly acted and filmed. The writers are getting into a habit of killing off some of my favourite characters.
My only real concern is that I'm getting the impression the writers are trying so hard to ensure the series survival by driving the storyline that they're sacrificing the delicate character work they did so well in season 1 – look at the lack of interaction in important relationships: Jake and Emily, Jake and Eric, Jake and Stanley, they're barely speaking! All those sweet little moments between the characters have mostly disappeared. The relationship I'm most concerned about is Jake and Eric – the writers had developed a strong bond between the two that the writers are no longer acknowledging. Without those personal touches, it makes it hard to care for the characters. It worries me but I hope this is temporary and the writers will realise and fix the problem.
A powerful, tragic episode which raises the stakes for everyone involved. Heartbreaking.