REVOLUTION Episode 20 review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe in REVOLUTION. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

REVOLUTION “The Dark Tower”

Season 1 Episode 20 (Season Finale)
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Teleplay: Eric Kripke & Paul Grellong
Story: Eric Kripke
Director: Charles Beeson

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

Miles (Billy Burke) and Monroe (David Lyons) temporarily join forces to escape the Tower guard and end up falling into a tunnel filled with rushing water. Nora (Daniella Alonso) manages to grab onto something and stays behind. The boys get washed out of the Tower onto a sandy beach and immediately resume fighting (because that’s what they do), only stopping when a Militia soldier appears and fires. Monroe identifies himself as the soldier’s commanding officer and is shocked when the man continues to shoot before running off. In the confusion Miles disappears.

Up (or down, as it were) in the Tower, Grace Beaumont (Maria Howell) is still whingeing on about not knowing what will happen if they turn the power back on, but Rachel insists that the chance that everyone would die is only one in a billion. Grace is not convinced and feels it is too dangerous to try. Dan warns Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) that any effort on her group’s part to gain access to Level 12 will result in their death. So, of course, doing just that becomes Rachel’s top priority.

Aaron (Zak Orth) goes snooping on a Tower computer and recognizes some of his own work from college. He confronts Grace and learns that they are using his code for the Tower’s operating system.

Randall Flynn (Colm Feore) finds the Tower’s bunker and smashes the framed photo of George Bush that Rachel was staring at so fixedly in the last episode to reveal a hidden key card. In the building’s medical unit, Rachel chloroforms an unsuspecting Grace so she can swipe her personal key card. Aaron and Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) look on as co-conspirators in Rachel’s plan.

In the Militia camp, Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) kills the soldier Franklin (Ramon Fernandez), and lies to his son Jason (JD Pardo) that it was an act of self-defense.

Aaron remembers that he built a virtual backdoor in his code and says that he thinks the worldwide blackout was done intentionally (well, DUH.) Nora suddenly reappears and is welcomed by Charlie.

Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Billy Burke as Miles Matheson and David Lyons as Bass Monroe. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

In a flashback to their Militia days, Miles and Monroe are together in a restaurant when it is bombed. While recuperating afterwards, Miles learns that Monroe has had the rebel bomber and his wife and three children killed in retaliation and as an example to other rebel forces. Monroe is pleased by his own actions, but Miles and Nora look on in dismay as the family’s coffins are being unloaded.

Back in the present, Monroe and Miles meet up and continue fighting and sniping at each other like two ex-lovers (because that’s what they do). Miles is still angry that Monroe changed for the worse once he came to power, and Monroe is still angry that Miles betrayed him, and whines that everything he did was for his friend. While they are bickering, a helicopter pops up and fires at them, causing them to run. A Militia soldier manages to knock out Monroe and then takes him back to camp under guard. There he is greeted by Neville, who snarls, “There’s been a change in management.”

Monroe threatens to kill Neville and his wife and son, but his former captain is unfazed. Neville believes that Monroe has become deranged and has a “borderline erotic fixation” on Miles (worst kept secret EVER). He plans not to kill Monroe, but to put the General on trial. “You frighten, I inspire.” (Someone has read too many management books.)

Old buddy Miles comes to the rescue, removing Monroe’s handcuffs and saying, “We’re still brothers…  and that’s never gonna change,” before telling Monroe to flee.

On the way to the Level 12 stairway, Nora admits that she knows that Rachel loves Miles, and tells Rachel that she thinks Miles loves her as well. “He’ll choose you every time.” Aaron, Rachel and Nora use explosives to take out the stairway guards, but Nora is hurt in the crossfire.

The Militia blows open the doors to the Tower (they didn’t need no stinkin’ 32-character access code, did they?), and Neville and the soldiers go inside and stumble across Grace. Miles slips inside again, too.

Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
Tracy Spiridakos as Charlie Matheson, Daniella Alonso as Nora, and Billy Burke as Miles Matheson in “The Dark Tower.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

While working on the injured Nora, Rachel hears the Militia approaching. Charlie wants to take Nora to the infirmary, but Rachel thinks their priority should be turning the lights back on. Charlie pleads with Rachel to stay and help Nora, reminding her that Danny is dead but that she still has a daughter who needs her help, but her mother refuses.

Rachel takes Aaron and leaves Charlie behind with Nora. A Militia scout hears them and breaks in. He is choking Charlie when Miles arrives to stab the guy in the throat and save the day (well, sort of). He tries to carry Nora to the infirmary, but she dies in his arms in the hallway. (Told you so! This was blatantly foreshadowed in “The Longest Day.”)

Neville and his men stop Rachel and Aaron on Level 12. Miles and Charlie appear and wipe out most of the red shirt soldiers, except for Neville and Jason (because they have season two contracts). Grace slips away. Rachel, Charlie, Aaron and Miles use the key card to get into the Level 12 Command Center and lock the doors behind them. While Tom searches for a way inside the room, Aaron runs the shutdown script hoping it can turn on the world’s power again. The screen goes black for several moments.

After a few silent seconds of doubt, we see power begin to return all across the globe. Apparently nobody bothered to flip any switches to “off” 15 years ago, because lights start flickering on en masse everywhere, and of course, people react with amazement at their electrical appliances suddenly working again.

Seeing the power return, Georgia Federation president Foster (Leslie Hope) makes immediate plans to attack Monroe Militia headquarters in Philadelphia. Monroe himself is now wandering out beyond of the Tower in the midst of a terrific electrical storm – something the world hasn’t seen in 15 years.

I guess this means no Dragon*Con this year?? Credit: NBC
I guess this means no Dragon*Con this year?? Credit: NBC

Flynn blasts his way into the Command Center, locks himself in the control booth and launches the Tower’s nuclear weapons towards Atlanta and Philadelphia. He tells Charlie and company that he wants to unite the nation, and declares himself “a patriot” right before shooting himself in the head. With no way into the control room and the clock ticking down, the group can only watch the screen as the ICBMs make their way to their targets.

The President of the United States Colony in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba marvels at the return of electricity. An aide arrives, announces that “Randall Flynn did it,” before adding “It’s time to go home, Mr. President.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • How exactly did Miles and Monroe get washed down and out of the Tower when the Tower is completely underground?
  • I used to like the flashbacks because they were often better written than the modern storylines, but they have become too repetitive and don’t really advance the story any more. Just drop them.
  • They blow open the Tower’s blast doors with plastic explosives? Really? Surely the vice-presidential bunker would be better shielded than that. You should need nukes to get in, at the very least.
  • What exactly was the point of Randall’s suicide? There was just no need to kill himself whatsoever.
  • Most of the “science” in this episode was so nonsensical that it made my head hurt. Just how far away from Atlanta is the Tower? In range of the expected nuclear fallout, perhaps? Are remaining seasons (heaven help us) all going to take place entirely underground because everyone is avoiding the radiation? And don’t get me started on the implausibility of all of the world’s unmaintained electric power plants suddenly springing instantly to life and the power grid automatically restoring itself without any human intervention whatsoever. Ridiculous! I could go on and on, but why bother?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • Effective use of blacked screen and then cut to commercials after Aaron hits the enter key. Too bad this was the first (and only) truly suspenseful moment in the entire series to date.
  • Guantanamo Bay being the home of the exiled President was a nice touch.
  • There were no shoehorned-in pop culture references this episode, except for the title. (And, BTW, the continuing choice of episode titles with their often tissue-thin connection to the stories? Ugh.)
  • Nora got a decent-enough death, and Miles even cried.

My take: Daniella Alonso did a nice job trying to flesh out her sadly underwritten part for nearly 20 episodes, and it’s my opinion that her departure is for the best, especially for her, as this show is going nowhere fast.

Since the entire premise of Revolution was centered on the idea that the world was completely stripped of electricity, and now it’s not, it can be assumed that the producers intend to take the second season in a completely different direction. So what exactly was the point of the first 20 episodes, then? What a waste of a good premise! It seems that no one knew how to really make use of it except to smother it in tired tropes and then abandon it for lack of creativity. What a shame.

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