REVOLUTION Episode 11 review: ‘The Stand’

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC)
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC)

REVOLUTION “The Stand”
Season 1 Episode 11

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke

SPOILERS follow. Don’t read if you don’t want to know.

Tracy Spiridakos returns as a far less tearful Charlie Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Tracy Spiridakos returns as a far less tearful Charlie Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

After a lengthy and potentially amnesia-inducing four-month hiatus, NBC’s Revolution returned to television screens last night with “The Stand.” The long-awaited second half of the season started off with a real bang, and interestingly, contained far less whimpering than past episodes. But does it really deliver?

A longer than usual explanatory recap condensed the first 10 episodes into about three minutes. This introduction was a necessity for those first-time viewers the network is anxious to attract, and also a helpful refresher for returning fans that may have become a little fuzzy on the details since they last saw Charlie & Company walking off into the sunset back in November.

We return on the heels of the last episode, with Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), uncle Miles (Billy Burke), newly rescued brother Danny (Graham Rogers) and mom Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell), et al, fleeing from nasty General Monroe (David Lyons). Thanks to former captive Rachel’s technical expertise, Monroe is now finally able to power up his beloved black killer helicopters, which he immediately orders out to kill the escapees. But thanks to the limitless protective powers of an abandoned diner refrigerator (I kid you not) the gang manages to escape utterly unscathed.

Rachel conveniently remembers that she has a friend (guest star Leland Orser) living nearby who owns his own power amulet and whose hobby is building ground-to-air rocket launchers. (Suspension of disbelief is an essential requirement for watching this series.) They decide to borrow a few deadly weapons from him, but, unfortunately for them, he has gone over to the dark side. He attempts to betray them to former DOD agent Randall Flynn (the delightfully menacing Colm Feore), who has been the man behind the curtain for far too long in this series. There’s a brief glimpse of Randall’s captive Grace, the other tech being forced to code for evil, but little else.

Daniella Alonso as Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Daniella Alonso as the rebel fighter Nora in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Now that he has some working air weaponry, Monroe decides to prove just how evil he is by decimating a few nearby rebel encampments. Hello, a couple of dropped bombs might be far more efficient destruction-wise than raining down thousands of bullets on concrete hideouts, but perhaps Monroe didn’t really stop to think about it. (Whereas the writers had four months, so there’s no excusing them.)

Neville and his son Jason/Nate have a falling out over the deadly attacks on these rebel bases, which, to Jason’s mind, include the needless destruction of innocent women and children. Here semantics gets in the way for the thoughtful viewer, since the rebels’ families are always described as “innocent women and children,” while the Militia’s family members, who presumably also get maimed or killed when the rebels blow up a military target in town, are never even mentioned in the show. This is one of those really troubling issues inherent to all wars, and which could inspire some serious discussion, but is, of course, completely ignored.

Jason decamps to the rebels, and dad Neville declares him “dead to me” as a result. Start placing your bets now for the eventual father/son showdown.

Oh, Danny, we hardly knew ye! Graham Rogers as Danny Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Oh, Danny, we hardly knew ye! Graham Rogers as the doomed Danny in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Pulling yet another trick out of the creaky “trying to prove we’re unpredictable” box, the hour finished off with another character death. Militia helicopters blast the rebel camp where Charlie & Company are hiding and Charlie’s brother (Graham Rogers) gets killed in a spectacular fashion. We get to see his heroic death from several angles, and in slow motion, no less!

Since Charlie’s desire to rescue Danny was the focus of the entire first half of the season, his death seems to herald a major shift in the show’s direction away from our girl heroine — not to mention making viewers feel that the time they’ve invested up until now has been pretty pointless.

In reality, Danny’s character was given no development beyond his occasional use as a punching bag, so his departure has little emotional impact for viewers. (One could argue that his slo mo death scene got more screen time than all of his previous appearances combined.) What a waste. And since we all know that no one ever really dies in sci-fi, it’s a good bet that he will reappear in future episodes anyway, the same way Charlie’s dead dad still shows up in expository flashback scenes. So it’s not like he’s really gone, ya know, but he remains pretty superfluous.

Let's face it, Mom is just weird. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Let’s face it, Mom is just weird. Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

You might think that the unexpected murder of the sibling that Charlie had been so desperate to find all these months would be an appropriate excuse for her to exhibit the extremes of grief, but oddly, after the initial shock, both Charlie and her mother only come across as coldly stoic. Charlie decides to place all of the blame on General Monroe, and swears revenge.

Why does no one even mention the fact that mom Rachel was directly responsible for creating the devices that allowed Monroe to cause Danny’s death? Yes, she was the enemy’s captive at the time, but it was her knowledge and ability that created and powered the weapons, yet she seems to feel no sense of responsibility at all.  This makes no sense, because any normal person, most especially a mother, would feel an enormous sense of guilt over the part she played in this death.

Rachel’s final act is one of desecration – slicing open her son’s corpse to acquire a mysterious blinky device that will presumably power some future weaponry – and raises the weird, ickiness vibe of her character even higher. For me, these scenes make her character look even more repellent, which I sincerely doubt was the writers’ actual intention.  Time, it is supposed, will tell.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • That six people could escape certain death from an assault missile attack by hiding in an old freezer unit was ludicrous. And pretty insulting to the viewers, honestly.
  • How exactly did Charlie & Company manage to walk all the way to a rebel camp and arrive before the deadly helicopters that can fly 150mph?
  • Charlie seemed to have mysteriously found a working hairdryer in the midst of fleeing. Her salon-styled appearance was pretty laughable in some scenes.
  • How did Danny, who has held a gun exactly ONCE before in his entire life, manage to engage, aim and fire a rocket launcher so precisely as to take down a helicopter?
  • Killing off underdeveloped characters has next-to-no emotional impact, and only leaves the viewers wondering who will get offed next. (I vote for Aaron, the next least-utilized character on the show.) What was the point of this?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Many squibs died in the offing of Danny. Although his leaping about in slo mo was a bit much, it was nice that the SFX crew got to do something creative besides blowing up the occasional building. Please give them more to do. (And fire that makeup lady with the blow dryer while you’re at it.)

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