If you have your mind set on a short stainless .357 levergun that you're going to scope, the Marlins are pretty much it. Rossi makes a stainless .357 Model 92 in Trapper and rifle lengths, but scoping one is not convenient. Winchester doesn't have a stainless levergun and wants a fortune for their blue ones.
True, the current "Remlins" are getting some bad press, and some pix and descriptions posted on the various forums certainly show that some pretty bad rifles are making it out the door. The upside to that seems to be that most of the issues can be corrected by someone who enjoys tinkering with his rifles, and (with few exceptions) Marlin's customer service seems to still be interested in making things right.
Some will choose to not take the risk and will just walk away, others (like me) who enjoy working on their guns will roll the dice, betting that we'll get a rifle that's basically sound and just needs some patient smoothing, honing and adjusting.
If your local FFL will work with you, I'd roll the dice. Detail stripping the rifle can be done in a few minutes with a couple of screwdrivers when you go to pick it up.
If it's a truly bad rifle with some of the horror stuff I've seen posted (stripped screws, etc.), I'd refuse to accept it and have your FFL send it back. If it looks good initially, but proves to be a dog (barrel installed crooked, etc.), then you're betting on Marlin's customer service to make it right. Everything else (gritty action, lousy trigger, etc.) can be fixed by you.
You shouldn't have to do that, and I absolutely agree with those who will jump in and pound their fist and exclaim that those crappy rifles shouldn't ever have made it out the door in the first place, but the fact remains that those of us who want something only Marlin makes are kinda stuck with that reality.