Revolution, you are not an easy show to like. You start too late, first of all, which makes recapping you sans screeners a real energy challenge week-in-week-out. Then you're all "bitch this" and "bitch that," casually knocking down your female characters in a way I know you can write off as "appropriate to the tone of this world" but that still just feels unnecessary. (We even got an implied rape this episode, so…awesome.) You seem willing to sacrifice character authenticity or development at every turn for the sake of some new vaguely defined "mystery," which more often than not feels like "the Princess is in another castle!" text box from Super Mario Bros. The swords. OH MY GOD THE SWORDS. Flashbacks that don't so much stand on their own as they do prop a weakly told present-day story. Aaron. The way Neville's son has just disappeared completely when he looked like he'd play an integral role in this back half of the first half (second quarter?).
But the main reason you're so frustrating, Revolution is because you could be SO GOOD. Your premise is fantastic! The sheer number of stories you could tell set in a world without electrical power is PRACTICALLY ENDLESS. But then you get caught up in these boring explorations of family responsibility (the reason our gang made their way to Philadelphia last night) and friend loyalty and it's ten episodes into the season, with no episodes for four full months, and all it's amounted to is a homoerotic sword fight and a decent-looking by TV standards explosion or two. Dessert! When all we asked for was a light main course to eat alongside.
Then again, an episode with the line, "we're in Philly. There's nowhere safe" is doing more right than wrong and we should count our blessings. Like the very similarly paced Walking Dead, Revolution appears to generally know its way around an opening or closing chapter. Charlie and Co. accomplished their Rescue Danny mission, unexpectedly finding and freeing Charlie's mom in the process. Rachel was able to kill Hauser, Monroe's uber-creepy lieutenant. Aaron got to set off a series of pipe bombs, which I suppose functions as his proving his manhood? Nothing makes any character sense on this show, but explosions mark the moments at which we are supposed to feel something.
No sooner did the gang get into Philly then a) Miles took off on his own to find Monroe and b) they were caught by Neville and thrust into separate confinement. As is his wont, Neville gets off pointing out what an unfeeling CEO-type Aaron must have been before the blackout. Maybe so, Neville, but that was, what, fifteen years ago? 9/11 happened a little over a decade ago in our real world and people talk about it less than you do "the night the lights went out." Find a new story to tell! Thank God Miles showed up when he did to lock the guy in a closet -- another mention of Wired magazine and I wasn't going to make it through the rest of the episode. Thus sparing you any of these thoughts to follow? Every decision has positive and negative ramifications.
"Danny's hair has grown a little bit since the botched train rescue!" I say to the sad pit in my stomach when Charlie is thrown in a cell with her captive brother. Then: did you know that Charlie is short for "Charlotte?" MYSTERIES REVEALED. Monroe delivers his super villain speech to Charlie et al on the power of the talismans (and the depths to which he'll go to retrieve them), but I still don't understand what these characters are even doing. Why does anyone care about military escalation, or the threat of ongoing civil war, when things actually seem pretty okay on the farms (minus your dad getting shot -- sorry, Charlie!) they all live on? How is "it's the right thing to do" enough of a mission statement? Both questions of which are borderline impossible to answer with Charlie's range of acting emotions what it is. You know those "many moods t-shirts" with just one facial expression, repeated? That's Charlie. Pretty girl but move your eyebrows or something.
This episode's flashbacks were all of a piece, and that piece read "BROTHER": Miles and Monroe there for each other in moments of tremendous emotional and/or physical pain, loudly proclaiming their loyalty to one another. It's questionable what new information we learned from these flashbacks -- aside from a joke about being forced to "resort to swords" when ammunition ran out -- but they certainly did their part to set up the eventual confrontation between M&M later in the episode. Miles: ready to kill Monroe for some reason or whatever. Monroe: seemingly ready to do the same because his whole unit thinks he's a pansy who can't do it. The ultimate showdown! And they do face off with swords -- the poor (or electricity-less) man's lightstaber -- after Miles rebuffs Monroe's offer to rejoin the Militia.
I've got a question: WHY WOULDN'T MILES REJOIN THE MILITIA?! It sounds pretty okay! The alternative appears to be fighting for some abstract "freedom" (from a militia group that mostly leaves people alone) while chasing down the barely hinted at possibility that the lights might come back on, something that almost everyone seems to have gotten over fifteen years later. Why not just take a break, everyone?
If I knew more about sword fighting I could compare Miles and Monroe's respective sword fighting styles, but I've got to leave it at "fast and martial artsy" (Miles) vs. "aggressive and deliberate" (Monroe). In any case no one wins. Aaron, who has been waiting the WHOLE episode for one thing to do, sets off the pipe bombs that Nora ("she's really good at blowing stuff up," said Miles way back when, which the writer in me is forced to consider a successful plant and payoff!) gave him. Militia die. An escape from Danny and Rachel's holding facility is created. Rachel hugs her kids, because there's always time to hug your kids, before leading them away from the building. Will Miles make it? Can he rocket away from his aborted fight with Monroe in time? FAKE STAKES FAKE STAKES FAKE STHERE HE IS!
Everyone is running again, always running, until an unfamiliar sound -- a sound not heard since at least Aaron's last Wired cover -- echoes through the area. A helicopter. Armed with mini guns. Just heating up as the camera freezes on Miles' face, "OH SH*T" written all over it.
Coming in 2013: EXPLOSIONS. See you then!
[Photo Credit: Brownie Harris/NBC]