While Revolution has been overall more successful than I first imagined, there’s one major problem that I can’t shake even when the show is at its best- everything seems to be moving too fast. As I said last week, it’s hard to know if the show adopted the right pacing until we know where the show is headed, but because I’ve recognized it as an issue since the first episode means it might be cause for concern, even if it’s not an unfixable or a detrimental problem. However, in only the third episode, the dangers of this aspect shine brightly.
Tonight, Revolution is chockfull of revelations, but none of the major ones have the impact they should because they arrive either too soon or too late in the series’ run. The biggest one(s) involves Miles’ past. Turns out that he was the first Commander General of Monroe’s militia and the dictator’s second in command. Miles trained the Monroe militia to be the brutal, bloodthirsty army we know today. Unfortunately, over the past two episodes we’ve already learned that Miles had a relationship with Monroe, is hiding something about that relationship, is running from his past, and has a mostly good heart even if he puts on a cold front. We never got enough time to form our own thoughts on what his hidden tragedy is so it’s hard to feel shocked when we learn just how deep his involvement in the roving bands of marauders was. We’re still just being introduced to these people, so Miles’ “war criminal” past seemed more exposition than twist, which is not how the show played it.
Also tonight, we meet the rebel alliance. When we first encounter them, they’re very wounded and dwindling in ranks. By the middle of the episode, they’re already under siege from a militia platoon led by Jeremy (the ever-snarky Mark Pellegrino, Lucifer from Supernatural, Jacob from Lost). Similar to my complaint above, we have no emotional connection to the rebels. The simple fact that they want to overthrow the Monroe Republic does not provide enough of a basis for me to invest in their struggle. If the show was trying to pull a The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly motif where Charlie and Miles happen upon random groups and shortly ingratiate themselves in their lives, that would be one thing. If we got to know the people in the rebel alliance and their goals, that would be something else. But, we’re clearly meant to care for these people simply because of who they are in the easiest shorthand possible. As soon we get to them, they’re battle scarred.
The other two main storylines- Danny/Neville and Aaron/Maggie- get little screen time in “No Quarter.” Danny gets angry with one of his sadistic captors and chokes him with his chains before letting him go, which seems to please Neville because pain leads to suffering and so forth.
Maggie and Aaron arrive at Grace’s house and quickly realize that something bad happened there. They discover her computer but can’t it turn, which leads to Aaron giving his life story about begin bullied on the playground, becoming a success with computers, and finding that the “world went back to being one giant schoolyard” after the blackout. To get Aaron to stop his sob story, the magic electricity amulet briefly powers a CD player, which plays Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” and Maggie’s iPhone so that she can see her kids for a couple of seconds. It’s a nicely underplayed scene that, along with the iPhone speech from last week and tonight’s bullying speech, allowed me accept that Maggie and Aaron are good at serving as the emotional core to the show, even if they are separated from everyone else. Too bad it’s probably going to be one of those two who dies next week.
• That’s right. According to the commercial, one of our gang will die. This show is really rushing through the checklist.
• No sign of Rachel or Modern Day Monroe tonight.
• The flashbacks consisted of Miles and Monroe leaving the army base and encountering cannibals. In an attempt to preserve law and order, Miles kills them, to the surprise of Monroe, and saves Jeremy who becomes the first member of the new militia.
• “Send in another man … terrific” might be the first genuine laugh of the entire series.
• Charlie talks about the militia taking the women from the compound and having their way with them. Was she raped? Was Maggie? The show broached it, and I think it’s a legitimate question.
• I liked the addition Mark Pellegrino, but you have to wonder if the show is underusing Giancarlo Esposito.