'Revolution' Episode 16 review: ‘The Love Boat’

Zak Orth as Aaron and Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Zak Orth as Aaron and Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Love Boat”
Season 1 Episode 16
Executive Producer:
J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: Melissa Glenn
Director: Charles Beeson

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

My momma taught me long ago that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. If I followed her excellent advice, this week’s Revolution review would necessarily be an extremely short one. So, here I have to say I’m sorry, mom, please forgive what follows.

Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville. Credit: NBC
Giancarlo Esposito as Captain Tom Neville. Credit: NBC

In a desperate attempt to start out on a positive note, I’ll begin with the one thing that I liked about this week’s episode – there was a lot less music.

Let me explain.

It’s one thing to use musical accompaniment to enhance a dramatic narrative or the emotional impact of a moment, but in order to be most effective music needs to be used sparingly, not slathered all over everything like molasses. Overuse of orchestration can soak a story in syrupy melodrama, and Revolution’s tendency to underline almost every single scene with Dramatic Musical Emphasis has become increasingly distracting.

This week there were actually one or two tense scenes with no musical accompaniment whatsoever, allowing the viewers decide for themselves how they felt about a plot development. What a relief! In fact, I’d venture to suggest that a lot less orchestration would be a very good thing for this show. Stop telling us how we should feel and let us think for ourselves.

To recap: Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) arrives to assist the Rebel-Georgia alliance and everyone is really unhappy to see him (no surprise there), most especially Miles (Billy Burke) and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos), who would like nothing more than to instantly off the guy.

Capt/Major/Traitor Tom wastes no time in sneering at absolutely everybody he’s supposedly there to help, including son Jason (JD Pardo), whose defection to the Rebels is what forced his parents to flee the Monroe Republic in the first place. Dad is happy to remind him he is to blame.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie in Revolution. Credit: NBC

Miles exhibits that unappealingly nasty side of his and executes a Militia prisoner in cold blood. He’s also snatched and secreted away the scientist (Timothy Busfield, the face-of-the-week that Revolution is content to woefully underuse) who Monroe had been forcing to create Anthrax, as well as holding the man’s family hostage. It’s up to Charlie to stand up to Miles and show him the error of his “this is war so I can do the same thing the bad guys do” behavior. She does, but does he learn? Who knows?

Practically everyone pulls a rifle/shotgun/handgun/machine gun to threatens somebody else at some point in the episode, making me wonder just where they are getting all of that ammunition if there are no more working factories. Oh, and did I mention that almost all of the above happens on a steamboat or two? Why, you ask? For no accountable reason that I can think of.

Meanwhile, Aaron (Zak Orth) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) must’ve forgotten to pack a lunch for that long, important trek to the Tower, because they are now starving and Rachel ends up shooting a man from whom they have stolen food. Why they don’t take his horse as well makes no sense, but making no sense is par for the course on Revolution. They are later harassed by two other men whom Rachel also manages to kill.

Newspaper clipping about Aaron and his surprisingly sophisticated AI software program. Credit: NBC
Newspaper clipping about Aaron and the sophisticated AI software program he developed as a student. Credit: NBC

There’s an old newspaper clipping of eventual plot-point-Aaron in the book Rachel has been translating. See, I told you he was vital to saving the day somehow later on! Why else would they be dragging this red shirt through 16 straight episodes for no discernible reason? (See my screen cap and read the article for yourself. You’re welcome.)

Grace looks worried in Revolution. Credit: NBC
Grace looks kind of worried in Revolution. Credit: NBC

We get one final glimpse of Grace (Maria Howell) in her captive working environment. You remember Grace, right? The scientist who helped to develop the technology that killed electricity? The woman with no backstory who gets one scene every three episodes? She seems to be afraid of whatever is loose and killing people in the building where she is being held. Gosh, I wonder if we must wait another 16 episodes to find out what it is?

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • Almost everything, but especially the cringingly awful scene with Nora (Daniella Alonso) seducing Miles at the end. It was obviously supposed to be sexy, but as Alonso and Burke (both attractive individuals in real life) have so little onscreen chemistry, the result was quite uncomfortable to watch.
  • Esposito, fine actor that he is, worked every moment to try to make something of the pathetically poor dialogue he was given. The man really earns his paycheck.
  • If Rachel goes around shooting just anyone who gets in her way on her journey to the Tower, doesn’t that make her just as bad as Miles? Or Monroe?
  • Where was all the crew needed to run that steamboat?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Rachel breaks her leg. Is it bad of me that I was really hoping Aaron would then just shoot her and put us out of our misery? Now that would have been a good plot twist. Rachel is one of the most unlikeable characters in this show, but Miles is giving her a run for that title these days. And to think, I used to find Charlie the most annoying person in Revolution!

My take: For some unfathomable reason, NBC has renewed this show for a second season and 22 additional episodes. If they continue to make the characters so unlikable I doubt anyone will care if nanobots blast everyone from the inside out.

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