REVOLUTION Episode 6: Not Enough ‘Sex and Drugs’ to Help

Miles (Billy Burke), Aaron (Zak Orth) and Tracy (Tracy Spiridakos) try to get for help for Nora in “Sex and Drugs.”

REVOLUTION “Sex and Drugs

Season 1 Episode 6
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: David Rambo
Director: Steve Boyum

Sex and drugs, but no rock and roll.

It’s hard to understand exactly why Revolution is popular. NBC is touting its self-proclaimed “epic adventure drama” as “#1 New Series of the Season,” and viewer numbers certainly bear out this claim. According to Nielsen, Revolution is the highest rated new series amongst the coveted target 18-49 year old demographic, making it a genuine fall breakout hit, and helping to up the network’s average viewership a whopping 42 percent from 2011.

So just what is so special about this ratings darling? It certainly can’t be the already tiresome sans-electricity scenario unreeling at snail’s pace speed or the stagnant coming-of-age plotline made even more unendurable by the A-to-B acting range of some of its stars.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

With the best actors in this ensemble being criminally under-used, and the least given the most screen time and oodles of close-ups to showcase their pouting and whining skills, it’s really inexplicable.

The elaborate and nearly always bloodless fight sequences all hail straight from fantasyland. I give props to the inventive stunt choreography and those who perform it each week, but it’s a bit like watching an extended stunt show reel instead of any kind of realistic combat. This should not be surprising, as realism is not this show’s strong suit.

The pop culture references shoehorned into each episode are momentarily amusing, but they’re not enough to buoy such a positive viewer response. And since one could definitely trod through the scripts by stepping into the plot holes and never touch logic once, it can’t be the writing.

So what’s left? I suppose it’s the big names behind the series, and a certain sense of sci-fi fan hope that Revolution would turn out to be good TV. It could most certainly be better. Right now I see very few reasons to care about the characters, or their quest, or the eventual explanation behind the un-powered premise.

“Sex and Drugs,” which actually contained very little of either, was just another Snidely Whiplash villain-of-the-week episode that did nothing to progress the overall plot.

Zak Orth as Aaron, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

In a nutshell, Miles (Billy Burke) takes Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) and crew to visit old frenemy Drexel (Todd Stashwick) in order to get medical help for the stabbed Nora (Daniella Alonso). Drexel turns out to be a psychopathic drug-dealing pimp who offers aid in exchange for Charlie killing the next-door neighbor who torched his heroin-producing poppy fields.

Charlie, hardened by the big road trip (you can tell this because she rips up her pretty postcard collection in a heavy-handed sequence trumpeting the loss of childish innocence and hope), agrees to do so, but is saved from actually doing the deed by her Uncle Miles, of course.

So, I guess it’s okay to kill every Militia soldier and spy and random bad guy (with families and children and lives and dreams and hopes of their own), but not revengeful neighbors.

You see, in the black-and-white world of Revolution there are no grays to confuse the issues. How much more interesting the storyline would have been for Grandpa to have been a rival drug lord instead of simply an angry father, and was any thought given to exactly why his darling daughter chose to walk away from her safe little home and child to play house with the drug-dealing whoremonger next door? Lots of more interesting questions came to my mind than the writers were willing to explore, obviously.

Miles, the supposedly reformed killer, is allowed to snuff anyone who stand in his way or even looks at him funny, without repercussions. It’s strange how all of those bad guys never even get a chance to reform while he is around, isn’t it? The black-and-white approach to morality is laughable.

Priscilla (Maureen Sebastian) and Aaron (Zak Orth) struggle for survival post-blackout.  Credit: NBC

Aaron (Zak Orth) finally gets his share of expository flashbacks and we meet the wife (Maureen Sebastian) he dearly loved and then eventually cowardly abandoned due to his own deep-seated psychological insecurities. Huh?

The unexplored implications of this nerd-turned-millionaire’s post-blackout failure as a protector and a provider are mind-boggling. How endlessly sad that the writers chose to play up the ridiculous false stereotype that geeks are totally incapable of fending for themselves in the real world. It’s nice that Aaron saves the day by episode’s end, but how much sadder is it that he finally gets to “prove his worth” by accident, and then only by killing someone?

In other news back at HQ, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) gets promoted to Major, son Nate/Jason (JD Pardo) tells Monroe (David Lyons) about the power amulet he saw Aaron carrying, and Danny gets delivered to his mom in one of the most un-wrenching reunions ever filmed.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • The lack of chemistry between Orth and Sebastian. Despite all of the clinging and protestations of love, I just didn’t feel it. Perhaps the two actors only met the day they filmed their flashback sequences.
  • Drexel’s McMansion house looked more like the facade of a Days Inn.
  • The semi-nudity of Charlie taking a bath. Great for the teenage demographic, I suppose, but completely gratuitous.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Todd Stashwick as the drug-dealing villain of the week Drexel. He came, he saw, he chewed the scenery with gusto.
  • Charlie got punched in the head. Obviously there’s something wrong with me because my first thought was, “It’s about “@*%^” time!”

My take:

Charlie is still the most annoying twenty-something on the planet, but she cried a lot less in this episode, so that’s a plus. I suppose that writing her character out of the script would be a bit too much to hope for? Yeah, well, I can dream.

Overall, except for gleaning a bit of Aaron’s past, this episode was pretty dull and did not live up to the expectations of its title. I have stopped caring if the gang ever makes it to Monroe HQ or if Matheson family is ever reunited. Well, at least the villains are somewhat interesting. It looks like we’ll get a little taste of the power behind the power outage next week, or so the promo implied.

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