REVOLUTION Episode 13 review: ‘The Song Remains the Same’

REVOLUTION “The Song Remains the Same”
Season 1 Episode 13

Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writers: Monica Owusu-Breen & Matt Pitts
Director: John F. Showalter

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

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito as Tom Neville in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito as Tom Neville in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Revolution finally gets it right with its strongest episode to date.

“The Song Remains the Same” is an acting tour de force for Giancarlo Esposito, who plays bad guy Tom Neville. It is obvious right from the start that the intensity this actor brings to his role inspired the rest of the cast to up their game, with the result being a far more intriguing episode than usual. Even though he is tied to a chair for most of the episode, it is truly amazing what Esposito accomplishes with just the barest grimace or sideways glance.

Whether Neville is trading insults with the maniacal Randall Flynn (Colm Feore), being pummeled by captor Miles Matheson (Billy Burke), or attempting to lay a guilt trip on rebellious son Jason (JD Pardo), you can’t help but admire the way the brutal Militia officer uses every trick in the book to advance his own agenda and finagle his way out of the tightest of spots.

Since Neville’s journey is one of the most interesting things about Revolution, another episode concentrating on his backstory and motivations was long overdue. Wife Julia (Kim Raver) makes an appearance as well, although by this time her usually cool and collected demeanor is showing more than a few troubling cracks. Having to pretend to the world that her runaway son is dead seems to have slightly unhinged our Lady MacBeth.

Kim Raver as Julia Neville. Credit: NBC
Kim Raver as Julia Neville. Credit: NBC

Over the course of the hour we see this elite Militia power couple’s world turned upside down. Due to Neville’s military failures and the inevitable discovery of their son’s rebellion, the two are forced to flee Gen. Monroe’s displeasure — and certain death. This is a far more interesting direction than where their storyline was previously headed, but one has to wonder if Mrs. Neville is equipped to handle life on the run as a fugitive. Might she take the same suicidal path as her Shakespearean role model?

JD Pardo as Jason/Nate in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
JD Pardo does the brooding rebel thing as Jason/Nate in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

If the darker mood and crisp cross-cutting of this episode of Revolution reminds anyone of the saga of those two demon-hunting Winchester boys, it’s not surprising. Director John Showalter has helmed several episodes of Supernatural, and his expert pacing and editing skills really shine here in “The Song Remains the Same.” Unlike almost all of the previous episodes, there’s plenty of plot driving the story and thankfully very little extraneous fluff slowing things down. I must also credit Showalter for the welcome return of the carefully designed and lit cinematography that enhances this episode.

Another highlight was JD Pardo’s performance as Jason. Most of his screen time involved a scene with Esposito as his father, and it was enjoyable to compare the two’s similarities and differences. The result of their interaction, although not surprising, seemed very natural due to the way the two actors were careful to underplay their emotions.

Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Someone forgot to take their meds. Elizabeth Mitchell as mom Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC

The weakest part of this episode is how Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) is all over the place emotionally. She starts out grim and determined to kill the captive Neville in revenge for Danny’s death, but daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) thinks their captive will be more useful alive, and talks her out of it. Later, she calmly explains to Aaron (Zak Orth) the big secret behind this power-less society. Seems she helped to invent and release virus-sized electricity-absorbing computer chips, but something went horribly wrong along the way, and the nano-technology malfunctioned and replicated beyond all expectations until it gobbled up all the sources of electricity on the planet. Oops.

Sadly, the long-sought after flash drive pendants and how they work to counter this effect are not even mentioned. Maybe they eat the power-munching nanites, or perhaps neutralize them. (Or maybe the writers simply haven’t decided yet.)

Be afraid, Aaron. Be very afraid. Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Be afraid, Aaron. Be very afraid. Zak Orth as Aaron in Revolution. Credit: NBC

She goes on to explain that there are now a couple hundred quadrillion of these little buggers in the air and literally everywhere, but the good news is that she thinks they can be re-programmed to stop doing what they do (and hopefully not do worse things that haven’t been thought of yet). However the fix somehow involves a suicide mission to a mysterious “Tower.” Why Rachel feels this is a trip with no return is never explained, but it is apparently so dangerous a mission that she rejects daughter Charlie’s offers of help and decides to take poor Aaron along. As the character with the next least-elaborated backstory, we all know he’s expendable, but I like Aaron and am hoping he hasn’t packed his red shirt.

Prior to her departure, there’s another mood swing leading to some furtive groping action and a heated kiss between Rachel and her brother-in-law Miles, which suggests that a romantic relationship may have once existed between the two. Troubling questions about Charlie’s  parentage naturally arise, but whether or not the writers intend to go down that road remains to be seen. It may be said that opposites attract, but I didn’t find this pairing particularly appealing.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Charlie and her mom Rachel haven’t really had enough time to develop their relationship as adults, so their interactions lack the intensity I believe the writers are aiming for.

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Almost everything else. More of the same next time, please.

My take: I think that this episode is really where the series should have been plot-wise by episode six or seven. Too much time was wasted in the long, drawn-out build up in the first half of the season. It is to be hoped that the writers have learned from this and will continue to pick up the pace.

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