REVOLUTION Episode 9 review: ‘Kashmir’

Nishi Munshi as the exceptional archer Ashley in Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

Season 1 Episode 9
Executive Producer: J.J. Abrams
Creator: Eric Kripke
Writer: Jim Barnes
Director: Charles Beeson

This week’s Revolution finds Charlie and the gang still on their long march and choosing to journey through the train tunnels leading to Philadelphia. Almost immediately Nora must disarm a land mine upon which Charlie has inadvertently stepped. Onscreen there is plenty of sweaty tension and many close-ups of Miles and Aaron bravely refusing to leave Charlie’s side until the bomb is defused.

In living rooms across America there was much rolling on the floor with laughter. At least there was in my house. Land mines only work this way in movies and television, because in real life when someone steps on a land mine, it goes “boom” and they lose their legs or have their guts torn out (or both), but the result is almost always instant death. There is no such thing as a “step and wait for it” mine except in the minds of Hollywood scriptwriters.

Zak Orth as Aaron Pittman in Revolution Episode 9 “Kashmir.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

But in this little Fantasyland, Nora’s completely improbable bomb defusing technique creates enough precious seconds to allow for Charlie’s escape. The resultant explosion that improbably maims no one, despite happening only a few inches away from all of the lead cast members, is somehow still inexplicably powerful enough to bring down the tunnel roof behind them, blocking their way back. The fact that this super-powerful, non-injuring explosion in an extremely limited area does not make any sense whatsoever does not bother our intrepid crew, and they forge ahead with all of their limbs attached.

The next head-shaking scenario comes when selected members of the gang almost immediately start seeing things that are not there. Has someone drugged their water rations? Has some sort of funky gas container stored in the tunnels started leaking? But no, the proffered explanation is that Charlie and company are running out of oxygen due to the explosion behind them blocking off the tunnel, and that within minutes of this event there is so little oxygen that they have all started hallucinating.

Now let’s take a good look at this setup. The gang is in a train tunnel that is miles long and has dozens of exits, including airshafts, maintenance corridors and utility ducts. The Militia has supposedly sealed up many of the exits, but the idea that something of this enormous size could be made completely airtight without the use of power equipment is next to impossible. Remember, the rats infesting the corridors need air to breathe as well!

Billy Burke as the hallucinating Miles Matheson in “Kashmir,” Episode 9 of Revolution. Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

In fact, we have been told that Miles is aware of a particular unsealed exit which he has been leading them towards (and which they eventually do find), so unless someone is physically pumping all of the air out of the tunnel, an impossibility due to the lack of electricity, the idea that the oxygen level would decrease almost immediately to the point of causing everyone to hallucinate is laughable.

The hallucinations themselves do little for the story except repeat what we already have learned about these characters.  Aaron “sees” the wife he abandoned and is made to feel even guiltier than he already does. Miles imagines a happy reunion with his old pal General Monroe, acting as yet another heavy-handed reminder of his past evil deeds.

Nora’s hallucination is a pointless waste of script, a throwaway; she “sees” alligators in the water they must trek through. If this was supposed to be funny, I think the writers really missed the mark there. It was a shame that she wasn’t given something with meaning. (Should we be grateful that we didn’t get a polar bear instead?) I guess the rest of the redshirts were deemed too unimportant to get their own in-flight movie, as only Charlie’s later head-trip is shown.

Michael Harding as Colonel Starkey in “Kashmir.” Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC

After being grazed in the head by a bullet from the undercover Militia member posing as a rebel, Charlie “sees” her dad. It is implied that she chooses to come back from “the other side” upon hearing Uncle Miles calling for her to open her eyes. Since she gets shot after the group has reached fresh air again and wasn’t in any real danger of dying from her head wound (which conveniently did not bleed excessively as real head wounds are wont to do, have none of the writers ever read a medical book?), I found the suggestion that she “walked away from the light” and came back to her friends pretty silly.

Back in Monroe HQ, Rachel’s been claiming that she’s making an amplifier for the power amulets. Anyone with an 8th grade science education or who has ever been to the movies in the last 20 years can easily tell that what she’s building is a bomb. Even the usually clueless Monroe has suspicions, and drags in her old friend Dr. Jaffe to confirm it.

But Rachel doesn’t like the idea that Monroe wants to replace her with Jaffe, and in the only surprising moment of the entire episode, stabs Jaffe in the gut. She does this so that Monroe will still need her help and keep her alive. Rachel does make interesting choices, if not ones that endear me to her. Apparently she’s willing to kill anyone to save herself and her son. I don’t like her, but at least her actions are intriguing compared to the other characters in the show.

Things that didn’t work in this episode:

  • The totally implausible and laughable “science.” Puh-lease!
  • It was another “baddie of the week” show. This premise has become a standard for the series, and it seems a waste to kill off so many promising evil character guest stars. Now that I think of it, all the one-off villains have been male, as well. Let’s just pause and think about that, shall we?

Things that did work in this episode:

  • It was lovely to once again see Tim Guinee (in Charlie’s hallucination). This actor is especially good at creating a great deal of meaning with a limited amount of lines, a talent that he has been much called upon to exercise in this show.
  • The cinematography and direction was once again excellent. There is much to admire in Charles Beeson’s framing and his use of color throughout the scenes.
  • The inclusion of a few Led Zeppelin tunes was a nice surprise, even if actually superfluous to the plot.

My take: I seem to spend most of my time rolling my eyes at the scripts and wondering how to write a review when so much of what is onscreen is just plain bollocks. The enormous amount of suspension of disbelief required to watch Revolution is honestly beyond my own capabilities. Personally, I think this show is mislabeled as science fiction, it should be called what it is: fantasy.

“Kashmir” was the next to last episode before next week’s mid-season finale, and other than a little exposition about the power amulets, very little was added to the overall mythology of the series. It remains to be seen whether or not the expected slam-bang cliffhanger ending next week will keep viewers interested until the series returns in March. I predict that not that many people will care what happens to the Mathesons by then.

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