Tonight’s episode of Revolution, entitled “Ghosts,” showcases some of the best and worst elements of the series. Interestingly enough, the “good” portion harkens back to one of the show’s earlier concepts that it never really explored as much as it should have. The “bad” portion, unfortunately, is particularly hurt by the fact that it’s Revolution‘s exponentially-losing-its-novelty formula.
Following the death of Danny, Miles and Nora head out in an attempt to reunite Miles’ gang- a group of soldiers who aided him in his first failed assassination attempt on Monroe. First stop, Culpeper, Virginia, where he seeks a former ally named Jim. Nora accuses the town of being “Stepford-y,” despite the fact that a) it isn’t at all and b) that reference is too old for her. She’s young enough to have been played by a child actress in the flashbacks, while most other adult characters are played by themselves. It seems odd that that pop culture reference would stick in a world without any. However, I liked witnessing a new, peaceful society and seeing its functionality. Even if we didn’t go that in depth in the world, it still felt different and welcome. Revolution toyed with this angle during the first episodes, but it has disappointingly drifted by the wayside.
In Culpeper, Jim has taken on a new life and a new name- Henry Bemis, the librarian. Jim initially refuses to go because he is finally happy. But, as is so often the case, his identity is revealed when he shows his true, bloodthirsty colors to his wife by saving her from one of Monroe’s men. With nowhere else to go, he pledges his allegiance to General Miles Matheson. They return to Echo Base, the place defended in The Stand. Did Miles just needed one person, or are he and Nora dropping people off at home before going on to find the next member of the platoon? That seems horribly inefficient.
Meanwhile at Echo Base, we see what Revolution is all about. After Flynn, who is now allying with Monroe, “pings” the amulets, of which Aaron had two somehow, he discovers the rebels’ location and launches another attack. He is particularly interested in obtaining Rachel for her keen scientific mind, despite her penchant for disloyalty and relatively decent ability to withstand torture. So Flynn leads a raid on the compound.
And that’s what Revolution is all about, isn’t it? Raids on compounds. How many episodes thus far have centered around raids on compounds? Tonight we had two. The two episodes before this one featured them. The episode before those was about setting up for a raid on a compound. Obviously, shows of this nature often have this type of hook. The vast majority of Supernatural episodes end with the Winchester fighting a monster. Crime/espionage dramas often end with the case/assignment of the week being solved/resolved. But those types of shows usually have something that Revolution lacks – an attempt at a compelling story before the climax. Whether it’s solving a mystery, figuring out how the characters are going to pull off a scam, or learning the intricacies of a crime- the audience goes on a small journey every week before reaching the expected conclusion. With Revolution, we learn that soldiers are coming. Then soldiers come. Then they’re killed with swords. It’s painfully straight forward, and the universally weak characters only exacerbate this flaw.
Nevertheless, Echo Base stays safe. Rachel destroys the amulets/trackers and starts making peace with her daughter. At night, Aaron asks her to tell him what’s going on. Although she initially refuses by saying “you don’t want to know” (and what a cop out that would be), she eventually starts her tale about the Tower.
In flashbacks, and yes, we’re not any closer to getting rid of them, we learn about Flynn. The Assistant Secretary of the Department of Defense, Flynn hears that his son was killed overseas fighting the War on Terror. Obsessed with avenging his boy’s s death, he heavily promotes Operation: Revolution as a way to end the war. Although lackies and other higher-ups express concern with his plan, in the final flashback of the evening, he looks at his son’s dog tags and tells the Tower to initiate the lights out sequence. Remember that feeling of “wow…” you got from a Lost reveal before you realized that series was built on an island of lies? This doesn’t have that.
While I guess getting some character motivation from Flynn is good, what they chose seems kind of flimsy. A weak attempt to make a remorseless character sympathetic. Unless this show decides to play more in the shades of grey, any of his talk about creating a better world will fall on deaf ears because he is just another megalomaniacal villain in the Monroe mold. After 15 years, the why behind his madness seems kind of pointless.
• The absolute best part of the episode involved Jim’s alias, Henry Bemis. Henry Bemis was the name of Burgess Meredith’s bookworm character in the classic Twilight Zone episode “Time Enough At Last.” Also, credit to the show for not having Miles defining the reference.
• Is Echo Base supposed to be a Star War reference?
• Flynn, when discussing why he chose Monroe over any other leader, mentions Governor Affleck in California. Were they implying that Ben (or Casey) Affleck took control of that region or was it just a random name?