So this was supposed to be the big mid-season sendoff of Revolution, where all of those dangling plot threads would get tied up, families would be reunited, and good would finally come face to face with bad in a slam bang cliffhanger ending designed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats panting for the series to return next March.
Yeah, not so much of the cliffhanger thing going on here. But I’m willing to give them points for trying.
“You die and I’m dying with you.”
The episode starts off strong with a flashback memory of Miles and Monroe five years after the blackout in the midst of a fierce gun battle with a rival militia. As they are running low on ammunition, Monroe jokes that the Militia will soon be have to start using swords. “We’ll be like pirates!” he grins, right before Miles takes one in the gut. Monroe swears to never leave his wounded best buddy’s side, blood brothers to the end.
Cut to Charlie and the gang slipping into the capital of Philadelphia (so much for security in the very heart of the Monroe Republic) and deciding to take refuge in the home of an unwilling military officer and former friend of Miles. Soon after Miles leaves to locate Danny, the remainder of the group is captured by Major Neville. He apparently had no difficulty guessing where to look for them.
Charlie gets tossed into a cell for a surprise reunion with her long-thought-dead mother, while Aaron and Nora go for interrogation with Neville, who enjoys the opportunity to make fun of one of his former heroes. (Insert pop culture reference to Wired magazine here.)
But it’s not long before Miles ends up in Neville’s house, holding Julia hostage at machete-point and attempting to trade her for Charlie and the rest. (This was Miles’ best plan, to let everyone else get captured and then take Julia hostage to trade for them and Danny?)
The Matheson girls get reunited in jail with Danny. You remember Danny, the useless red herring of this series? Poor Graham Rogers, my heart aches for him. He’s been given absolutely nothing to do in Revolution so far except take punches and knit his pretty brow. Maybe he’ll get to do more after the mid-season break, but right now he’s just a cipher.
For a moment there I thought Neville was going to let Miles slice up the wife (now wouldn’t that have been an interesting and far more evil a direction to take this story?), but Miles’ idiotic plan somehow succeeds. After conveniently having revealed that Charlie and Danny are being held by Monroe in an abandoned power plant north of town, Neville promises to kill Miles someday and then gets locked in a closet for safekeeping. Miles escapes with Aaron and Nora.
Why Miles didn’t just off Neville, like he did with all of the other evil Militia members who came after him? Seemed like very poor strategic planning to me. But it does lay the groundwork for yet another predictable fight-to-the-death sequence in the second half of the season. Nothing like seeing it coming a mile off, is there? Of course, since the second half of the season doesn’t start until March, perhaps the writers are hoping that viewers will have forgotten by then.
Anyway, after a bunch of needless exposition about how pendants and amplifiers work, Monroe gives Rachel a Sophie’s Choice dilemma, pick one kid or the other to die. Rachel caves and promises to finish the amplifier if he will let both of her kids live.
“We’ve been brothers all our lives.”
Miles and the gang find a way into the laughingly unprotected power plant. Monroe flashes back to where he experienced a bucketload of angst over the drunk driving crash deaths of both his parents and his little sisters. Damn, this man really has a good reason to be crying. (Insert pop culture reference to Harry Potter movies.) His bestest buddy Miles comforts him by saying that he is his family, and relieves Monroe of the handgun that his sadly bereft friend was thinking of using on himself.
I must add here that David Lyons as Monroe easily outperforms absolutely everyone else on this show, and it’s really criminal the way he has been sorely underused to this point. His acting adds a seemingly unending depth of layers to Monroe, and consistently fleshes out the barest bones of this character, something which, I should point out, the scriptwriters seem to have neglected to do.
Rachel finishes her amplifier and creates one of the most laughably Buck Rogers-like pieces of blinky-light equipment that I have seen outside of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Charlie and Danny escape their cell and meet up with Miles and Nora, while Rachel fights off and stabs her captor. She seems to have a predilection for stabbing people, really. Freud would have a field day with this woman.
“We are not family. You are nothing to me.”
All of the previous fuss was just buildup to the eventual showdown between Miles and Monroe. These two guys have gone from blood brothers with cute matching tattoos to mortal enemies in the space of an episode, and somehow I’m still not sure exactly why this is. In fact, I found myself starting to feel really sorry for the evil Monroe because Miles was being such a schmuck to his best friend.
I mean, Monroe lost his entire family and then the pal who saved his life and swore to be his friend forever not only betrayed, but tried to assassinate him, and then even when he forgives the guy Miles rejects him again. I can see how even a vicious, murdering psychopath might get a little miffed by this.
Regardless, the leader of the Monroe Republic and his former right hand man glare soulfully at each other for a while, trade flashbacks about their deep bond, and then finally drop their guns and get down to it.
Fighting, that is. First with fists, then with swords. (Like pirates, get it?) I can’t be the only one out there catching the gay undertone in the Miles/Monroe dynamic, although whether or not this particular dimension was intended by the writers seems to be left up to the individual viewer.
Much flashing of metal ensues, and the stunt guys earn their pay. When Monroe’s bodyguard finally shows up (where the heck were they, on a coffee break?) they prove to be ineffectual shots at close range, much like Stormtroopers in every Star Wars movie, and Miles easily slips away. Monroe looks all fussed and angry and has really sweaty standy-up hair.
Aaron blows a hole in a wall so that our fleeing heroes can escape and the last scene is of the gang hearing and seeing a now working helicopter rising menacingly overhead, thanks to Rachel’s shiny new power amplifier. The previews for next time immediately remove any doubt that Rachel will be building additional amplifiers in the future, and probably giving them to the other side, so it looks like we may yet go back to a shooting war in Revolution.
So much for Rachel’s previously peace-loving determination and hatred of evil weapon-wielding governments. This won’t remain a powerless society much longer.
Things that didn’t work in this episode:
- So Aaron turns out to be the only one who knows how to gain access into the power plant — through an intake pipe that leads to the condensers? Aaron — the former Google executive? Wait, did I miss the flashback detailing his side career as a civil engineer, because this plot point made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It just looked as if someone said, “Hey, Aaron’s got nuthin’ to do in this episode, let’s make him all knowledge-y and stuff about access pipes, cuz that’d be way cool.” Not.
- Hello, Foley sound effect guys? It’s ridiculous how everyone’s swords make such loud clashing sounds, especially when they are only being flipped up into the air. It’s really stupid, in fact.
Things that did work in this episode:
- Charlie didn’t cry, or whine, or pout once, a huge improvement over past episodes. And she even smiled naturally a few times.
- David Lyons absolutely flawless American accent is amazing.
- Aaron gets to blow up stuff for once. Giving him two things to do in this episode.
My take: March 25, 2013 suddenly seems a very long way off. Can Revolution sustain fan interest for the four months of its extended time off air? Even chairman of NBC Entertainment Robert Greenblatt admits that ratings for the show are likely “going to drop” following the hiatus.
In a TVLine interview, Greenblatt said, “But we knew that going in, so to start out this strong [in the fall] feels like a big accomplishment. We’re going to stay the course and do our best, and once we get into March I think we’ll be back in the game in a big way.”
Greenblatt added that there are tentative plans to keep Revolution alive during the winter via “original content” on digital platforms. “It’s important to not let it completely go away and then start from scratch again” in March, he explained.
If only more episodes of Revolution had achieved the tempo of this and its very first episode, and if the cliffhanger ending has actually included a cliffhanger, then I think it might have been possible to keep viewers clamoring for more. All I can say at this point is that the midseason premiere next March had better have some genuine fireworks, or else no one will be sticking around for the finish.