Unless you’ve been living through your own personal blackout these past eight years, you’re at least tangentially familiar with the show Lost. Sprawling ensemble drama set on a mysterious island populated by out-of-place polar bears and a UN coalition of sad sacks? Some of whom time-traveled? There were episodes (there were half-seasons) where the cliff-hanging wackadoo mysteries threatened to sink the human drama of it all. But that never really happened — straight through its (polarizing) final episode, Lost never truly sacrificed character at the altar of DID YOU SEE THAT?!
The many shows looking to ape Lost‘s formula and popular appeal did and today they’re… well, still available for Netflix streaming. But definitely not on the air! In trying so desperately hard to be THE show, neither The Event nor FlashForward nor… I don’t know, The Nine ever found their foothold with viewers. Near-instantaneous resentment met each one, no matter how hard producers cried that they “knew what they were doing.” To know that their shows knew what they were doing — that was never the issue with audiences. Maybe what the people wanted wasn’t the Rubik’s Cube complications of Lost (at least not yet). Maybe what they wanted was Lost without the metaphysics… but with the same assembly of hot, ambiguously ethnic models… but with more and more overt Star Wars references… all wrapped in a package that says “I’m here to party, but I also like to think about stuff, you know?”
Welcome to Revolution, TV fans!
Last night’s episode, “Chained Heat,” continued the adventures of Charlie, her uncle Han Solo, British Chick, and Hurley as they formulated a plan to retrieve Charlie’s brother, Danny Boy, from the clutches of Gus Fring. First things first: What show is Giancarlo Esposito acting in? The intermittent southern accent, the utter sincerity with which he discusses his militia dedication, the recollections of his wife’s cooking — it’s like a Ken Burns documentary he’s stumbled into. It’s weird! But it’s also an acting choice he has made.
As in Lost, a flashback quickly illuminates what will be the central theme of the episode: killing in the name of protecting one’s family. Charlie orders her uncle not to murder a militia member who threatens their lives in the first few minutes. Sure enough, this backfires when the man, who they’d taken prisoner, tracks them down to the Mos Eisley cantina (Pontiac, Ill.). It’s no big deal — Miles, we’ve seen, is more than capable of taking down 30 guys at a time with room for banter — but hey, ammunition for Miles against his niece’s “killing is wrong” appeals. As we’ll learn, killing can definitely be alright!
Did I mention that Miles et al embarked on their Pontiac side quest in search of a woman, Nora, who Miles claims will help them take on Monroe’s army? They did. Of course she’s nowhere to be found and the group just has to deal, but each little bit of world-expanding can only be good for the show. The British Chick’s iPhone rants can’t hold our attention forever!
Interesting that so many of the commercials pegged to Revolution should be so… techy, up to and including a new iPhone spot. Didn’t the British Chick just call that stupid, even in its Jonathan Adler case?! If I were Revolution‘s advertising arm, I’d be connecting with survivalist gear-makers and canned good manufacturers trying to promote a green, post-Apocalyptic lifestyle. There is NO ROOM for smart phones in this scenario.
What there is room for is a structure lifted almost entirely from Star Wars — if not an overt copy of the first movie, then at least enough of it to bolster some ” …really?” accusations. To wit:
—Charlie/Luke Skywalker leaving home. First to find her uncle (HAN SOLO), who might help her track down her younger brother. There’s a wisecracking computer nerd (Zak Orth/R2D2) who seems to be paired up with a blonde, cranky British robot (British chick/C3PO). They love to bicker.
—”YOU JOINED THE REBELS?!?” Han Solo/Uncle Miles asks possible rebel Nora. “CAN WE EVEN SAY THAT WITHOUT PAYING GEORGE LUCAS?!”
And that’s okay! Revolution isn’t here to offer deep ruminations on the “state of things” or bask in the glory of its own overcomplicated mystery plotting. Rather, the show feels perfectly content to be simple; to not put on airs. The Taken 2 trailer tells me NBC has got its target audience pretty well figured out!
Two big developments this week: One, of course, is the return of Elizabeth Mitchell, whose Rachel is NOT dead like her children think, but very much alive, living like a bird in a gilded cage with Monroe (or so it seems). Second is the introduction of Nora, played by Carlotta from Friday Night Lights. Is it any surprise that she’d be stuck in a post-Apocalyptic nightmare after ditching Dillon’s preeminent nice guy, Matt Saracen? (We all know the answer to that one.) The former’s role and motivations are still up in the air; Nora, on the other hand, is by the end of the episode revealed to be a freedom fighter. And a total babe, but we knew that from the get-go.
The woman who housed then betrayed Danny (then typed on a COMPUTER) last week is back, this time confronted by some awful guy named Randall. He’s got a TAZER. An ELECTRIC ONE. Wouldn’t it be amazing if every episode ended on some kind of electricity cliffhanger? “Where did you guys find these awesome light fixtures?!” “Does anyone remember how to do the ELECTRIC SLIDE? They’re going to kill us if we don’t!” “How have you never seen The Wire?” Etc.
Other things of note:
—Kate, I MEAN Katniss, I MEAN Charlie is quite the tracker and bow hunter. Could she destroy that helicopter everyone was dragging through the jungle with one well-placed arrow? I have to believe.
—Not once but twice is the expression “sonuvabitch!” offered during the episode, each time in appropriate reference to someone who’s totally been a sonuvabitch.
—The University of Chicago, so known for its well-structured and definite undergraduate academic requirements, would be the first or second institution to fall in the New World Order. Who cares about your rules now?!?
—The only thing Uncle Miles loves more than himself, and probably Nora (we’ve all seen TV before, right?), is SARCASM. If you replaced hot dogs with sarcasm at the 4th of July Nathan’s hot dog contest, Miles would crush everyone because dude EATS IT UP.
All for this latest episode! Next week we’ll attempt some actual recapping and organization. I look forward to being your eager partner in Revolution!
[Image Credit: NBC]