Obviously we have to start with this line, spoken by Randall to Monroe before the title crawl: "I could have gone to Governor Affleck in California." This is the future, people — after being snubbed for Best Director at the 2013 Academy Awards, Hollywood icon Ben Affleck hunkered down, preparing for the inevitable blackout. And when it came? He was READY. Harnessing his network of powerful friends, like Matt Damon and Alan Arkin, and putting his creative goodwill to work, Affleck quickly gained in strength. And even the people who would oppose him — I mean they were just rooting for the guy, you know? Good for him finding another career that really suited him.
But enough about Affleck, who won't be a featured character until at least the halfway point of Season 2. Last night's installment, "Ghosts," sent our ragtag group of rebels in multiple directions as they realized the need to TAKE THE FIGHT TO MONROE, or whatever tag next year's promos decide to run with. Lovers/fighters Miles and Nora hit Virginia to try and recruit one of Miles' old militia colleagues. On the home front, Rachel finally divulged a bit about the origins of the Blackout as their base* was infiltrated by her old boss, Randall.
*Echo Base. The Empire Strikes Back. Come on!
The part of Virginia we visited last night seemed like it had its s**t together! Very Woodbury on The Walking Dead vibe, minus the not-so-secretly psychopathic town leader. Hell, there were hand-painted signs everywhere and nerds to yell "hey, Shakespeare!" at while you're strolling the street. Even a library, which is where Miles found his buddy, Jim Hudson. Now, you don't expect to see Malik Yoba ("Yul Brenner" in the classic Cool Runnings) just hanging around stupid books, but this was his cover — "Henry Beamus." And Henry Beamus was married. Why any woman would believe that "Henry Beamus" could be a real name/person I have no idea, but "Henry" had nevertheless found happiness — something he'd prefer for Miles to not blow up (figuratively or literally, as is often the case on Revolution.
Within moments, Miles learned that he'd accidentally led a group of militia to the town and well shoot, man we're probably gonna have to sword fight our way out of this! Hats off to the choreography team who puts these together. Where the gun battles on this show often devolve into confusing sprays of bullets, each sword fight has felt fast, vicious, and logical. The only time I truly believe Miles as the "ultimate badass" we're constantly told he is? When they guy's got a sword in his hand, taking on a squad of militia.
Miles, Nora and Jim of course emerged victorious…but not without Jim's wife discovering his true identify (when he stabbed some guy to death in front of her, oops), and leaving him. "You ruined my life, Miles. Again." But by some combination of Miles' endless rogue charm and the realization that there was nothing else left for him in town, Jim decided to saddle up. Good choice, pal! Loads of sword fighting adventures ahead with quips aplenty from your old buddy, Miles.
Because the worst thing in the world would be to slow down for ten minutes and give us a walk-and-talk of the rebel camp or learn anything about our characters, Charlie's group came under almost immediate attack. How? THOSE DAMN PENDANTS. Turns out they can be accessed remotely, specifically accessed by Randall — who used the two in Rachel's possession to track her whereabouts. Why? Because Rachel was not merely a scientist, like she was on LOST, but a high-ranking developer of whatever "weapon" it was that may have (definitely) triggered the Blackout in the first place. She was working with her husband at the Department of Defense. Randall was her boss. Most of which spilled out of Rachel and into the ears of Charlie and Aaron while they evaded (and of course eventually escaped) the attacking militia. Once upon a time Randall was probably a decent guy. But the death of his soldier son, stationed in Kabul, reinforced his desire to "get the weapon built" and finally, in a still mysterious scene, order the it be executed. What is the weapon, exactly? What was its aim? 42 being a limited number of minutes in which to tell all this story, we got only hints. "There's this place," Rachel finally relented to Aaron. "It's called The Tower." And roll your eyes, snark it up (I sure do) but hey — there are worse shows to emulate than LOST. There are certainly storytelling lessons Revolution could still take to heart.
Let's backtrack a minute to look at one of the more interesting snippets of the episode, and maybe the series thus far. Randall had found his target, Rachel, and as he lead her to their fleet of trucks he told her with as many specifics as can be given at this moment what he wanted to do with a renewed power source. "Let's make this a better world, by putting power in the hands of the few." He summarizes what human beings had done with power up until the Blackout. "We just used it to wage war and kill each other." And now, starting over…maybe we can make a better world? I don't agree with him — and we're not meant to — but there's a thoughtfulness here, a sense of what this Blackout has actually meant to people and structures, that until this point I don't think had been raised. I like helicopter explosions. I like bras (and this "family" show seems weirdly willing to help me out!). I like mythology, even when it's LOST-lite. But any show dealing with BIG QUESTIONS has to be prepared to explore what they actually mean. "Ghosts" felt like a good start in that direction.
What did you think? Excited to finally hear the origins of the Blackout next week? Or bracing yourself for the inevitable disappointment of finding out two God figures tripped over an earth-shaped light switch as they were playing chess, and are still stumbling around trying to flip it back? Man, that would be a wacky season finale.
Follow Henning on Twitter @HenningFog
[PHOTO CREDIT: Brownie Harris/NBC]