REVOLUTION: Like mother, like daughter

Posted on September 26, 2012 by

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REVOLUTION: “Chained Heat”
Season 1 Episode 2

Writer: Eric Kripke
Director: Charles Beeson

“If it’s man-made, then maybe we can fix it.”
In the premiere of Revolution last week, the big question was “what would happen if the world’s power suddenly turned off?” This week’s episode was full of suggestions that the big blackout was actually a man-made event, and probably not a natural phenomenon or some alien-induced event (please let it NOT be aliens, just for once).

Daniella Alonso as “Nora” in “Revolution.” Credit: John Domoney/NBC

“She’s really good at blowing stuff up.”
This second episode also delivers another hefty dose of carefully choreographed sword fighting, the forest rescue of Miles’ (Billy Burke) old girlfriend turned resistance fighter, and several flashback sequences designed to show us just exactly where Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) gets her inner strength and noble sense of purpose.

The flashbacks reveal that Charlie’s shining example was her “do whatever it takes to keep my family alive” deceased mother. Just a week after the power outage, Mom Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) is shown shooting and killing someone who threatens her family and attempts to take food out of the mouths of her babes.

Elizabeth Mitchell as “Rachel Matheson,” Morgan Hinkleman as young “Charlie.” Credit: John Domoney/NBC

They call what Rachel does “murder” in most places outside of a sci-fi fantasy show, but in this topsy-turvy world of no power and civil unrest killing looks to have become the go-to response in most disagreements.

It is somewhat inconceivable that a mere week after the mysterious blackout the entire societal system as we know it has utterly collapsed to the point of murder over a package of Lunchables. What has happened to all of the police, the National Guard, and for that matter, common sense?

Series creator Eric Kripke has stated that “the government report we read said it would be hard to maintain any sort of civil order five days in — and that was coming out of Congress!”

And, as we all know, Congress is never wrong, right? But I digress.

In the present day, Charlie appears to have learned well by example and volunteers to kill a prison warden in order to rescue both Uncle Miles’ girlfriend (Daniella Alonso) and the other prisoners. To her credit Charlie does feel guilt afterward, and ponders what she might be becoming.

Tracy Spiridakos as “Charlie Matheson” and Billy Burke as “Miles Matheson.” Credit: John Domoney/NBC

As hard as Spiridakos is trying to inject life into her role as Charlie, so far it’s been difficult to feel a real connection with her character. Hopefully the writers will tone done the dramatics (and the whining) she is called to do in favor of more reasoned character development. Right now it is difficult to feel empathy for Charlie and impulsive decision-making style. She could also use a few more one-liners; right now all the good lines seem to go to Billy Burke as her Uncle Miles.

The very much alive but captive Mama Matheson appears unexpectedly, as a hostage of President of the Republic and General of the Militia Sebastian “Bass” Monroe (David Lyons).

“I have your son.”
“Bass” (I’m sorry, but his nickname is also the name of a fish and I find it hard to not giggle whenever someone calls him that) has kidnapped Rachel’s son Danny to force her to reveal what she knows about the power problem and to serve as bait to lure Miles out of hiding. Apparently Monroe and Miles have “issues.”

Monroe also finds time to make annoying references to his continued unwanted attraction for Rachel. I suspect that if he had a moustache, the black-hearted Bass would be twirling it. He resorts to twisting arms instead.

Giancarlo Esposito as “Captain Tom Neville.” Credit: John Domoney/NBC

Danny (Graham Rogers) seems to have royally screwed things up and his captor Captain Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) will never let him forget that if the boy hadn’t been so foolhardy as to challenge the militia members who came to pick up his dad, they would never have ended up killing Danny’s father.

But why is it taking so darned long for Captain Neville to deliver Danny to General Monroe? Charlie and her pals seemed to get from suburbia to Chicago overnight, and that was on foot.

Where exactly has Monroe set up his military headquarters? With his penchant for Civil War scenarios, it is possible that Monroe has set up shop somewhere in the Deep South, which would result in a very long walk indeed. It’s surprising that we haven’t seen a more frequent use of maps in this sans-GPS world.

Several more people appear to have access to a limited source of power through the USB amulets or, as I suspect, the amulets are a merely a piece of technology that can that somehow reverse a power-limiting field.

Maria Howell as “Grace,” the owner of one of the amulets in “Revolution.” Credit: John Domoney/NBC

It turns out that owning one of those pretty pendants is a big benefit if you want to chat with your rebel friends on a Commodore 64 — or to power up your cattle prod for a little torture, as the mystery figure who arrives in the final 30 seconds is seen doing.

Call me crazy, but those amulets seem nothing more than a MacGuffin, just a plot device that everybody will chase after (and fight and kill for) throughout the series, but which are just a distraction from the big reveal, which has to be the eventual revelation of who turned off the power, and of course, why they wanted to cause a worldwide outage in the first place. Only time will tell, of course.

One last thing still puzzles: that 15-year power outage seems to have also eliminated all eighth grade science teachers, civil engineers, librarians and, most surprisingly, shirt collars. Considering that practically everyone in Revolution sports a Henley-style shirt, I’m beginning to suspect that Eddie Bauer may be behind it all.

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[Official Show Site at NBC]     [Previous Recap: "Pilot"]

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