How does a world survive without electricity? How has society changed 15 years hence? How does one obtain power? How have our values transformed when every aspect of our lives has been altered irrevocably? When Revolution was first proposed, those were some of the interesting concepts that one could imagine it dealing with. After Revolution premiered, it was obvious it wasn’t going to tackle them well, but they still existed and post-apocalyptic landscapes are kind of cool. What I didn’t expect was that we’d actually have to contend with a “find the nuke” plotline. At least not this soon.
Understandably, shows of this nature often have mini-arcs. Where would Heroes be without “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World?” But the nuke seems too heavy for a show that once relied on simplicity as its major selling point. Even worse, it points to a lack of ideas and of confidence. I originally complimented Revolution for pushing its story forward with pretty much each installment. You’d expect Attack the Compound: Monroe Camp Edition to be the season finale rather than the mid-season finale. Unfortunately, tonight’s episode, “The Song Remains the Same,” shows the flipside to such forward momentum in uncertain hands. Now they’re struggling for something with which to fill up the time. This isn’t 24 (despite the large amount of crossover cast); it can let things breathe. The fact that it doesn’t does a disservice to its entire premise.
But before we get to the nuke, the majority of the episode concerns the capture of Captain Tom Neville by Team Matheson of Echo Base. After an explosive ambush takes out Neville’s caravan and conveniently kills everyone but him, he’s brought to be interrogated by Miles. Rachel wants to kill him, but Miles says not until they have information. Also conveniently, his disowned son comes to Echo Base having joined up with another resistance group. Despite initial hesitancy, Miles accepts Nate/Jason after he gets his father to tell him his plans so that he may save Julia…or something. Despite getting the information, Team Matheson continues to leave Neville imprisoned, which means he escapes his cuffs, kills two of their guys, and runs off.
While this is going on, Team Matheson takes part in another round of Attack the Compound, where they discover that Flynn was planning to buy nuclear material to build a bomb. As swords and arrows fly, Neville returns to Camp Monroe. Did he run there? All his cars and amulets were destroyed. Was there a horse he stole that allowed him to get home at the same time that Team Matheson reached the presumably closer compound? I understand that television shows and films condense distances all the time, that people will “drive” hours just to say two lines and then “drive” back. However, the difficulty of travel in a world without cars or planes is one of the most fascinating factors of Revolution world. Going across long distances without transportation this easily only helps destroy the already questionable reality of the show.
This also leads to another disappointing element of tonight’s episode. Neville tells Julia to pack her things and run away with him. Because Monroe’s insane and won’t trust Neville again after his latest plot failed, they must try to make it on their own. This is bothersome because I saw Neville as the Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Monroe Empire. Maybe he’s on the wrong side, but he provides an element of humanity and quiet dignity to the bad guys. With him gone, the Monroe segments might become Monroe and Flynn out crazying each other, and that seems potentially very boring. Not to mention that this show is not going to get rid of Esposito and Raver, so either a) they’re going to need to add a whole new empire for Neville to provide his services to or b) he’s going to end up partnering with Team Matheson. ‘A’ seems unlikely because of budgetary and story concerns while ‘B’ seems to be unfairly stacking one team with all the best players. And Giancarlo Esposito certainly proves his worth and ability to elevate the material tonight.
Continuing from where we left off last week, we still don’t get many answers regarding why the power shut off. At the beginning, Rachel babbles some pseudo-science about a couple hundred quadrillion microscopic thingies that are out there with two functions: “absorb electricity and replicate.” Aaron wants to turn the power on, but Rachel says no because she already left her daughter once and she doesn’t want to do it again. As I’ve said repeatedly, Rachel’s character and Mitchell’s acting make a lot more sense if she’s legitimately going through some severe psychological trauma after her treatment at the hands of Monroe. At the end, Julia says yes because she realizes that good people need electricity too. So, she takes Aaron, who is probably the worst fighter in the entire compound, with her to possibly sacrifice their lives as they try to take over Flynn’s Tower. As with the first half of the season, off goes Aaron on a mission with a potentially doomed female while Miles and Charlie take up the bulk of the narrative.
On the bright side, there were no flashbacks.
• In the car, Neville plays Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long.” With no electricity leading to a “forever night,” I found it a clever choice.
• Miles tells Jason “I’ll bash your little boy band face in.” To which Jason replies to Charlie, “What’s a boy band?” It could be funny except I am unable to read Charlie’s response. Is she also confused at the term boy band? Is she surprised he doesn’t know what a boy band is? I’m not a fan of the performance of Tracy Spiridakos (or of J.D. Pardo, for that matter), but her utterly blank expression destroyed the scene.
• When Miles discusses his concerns about turning the power back on, he mentions Texas in disdain and fear. This confuses me. Has Texas become particularly bad since the lights went out? Worse than the Monroe Republic with its nukes and helicopters? Does he hold a grudge against them from the 2000s? Not to mention, Miles, a military guy before the lights went out, does not seem like he’d be anti-Texas.
• How many amulets are there? I was under the impression they were rare, but we’ve seen more amulets in the past few episodes than we saw the original amulet in the first ten episodes. (That might be a bit of an exaggeration.)
• Another thing I enjoyed was Julia’s coffee clutch discussing the tragic death of her son. I like seeing how this society operates more than I enjoy seeing how it fights.