There are two ways to view tonight’s episode of Revolution, both equally valid. One involves completely shutting off one’s brain to an extent that very few television shows or movies require you to do and enjoying the ride. The other involves taking it with a modicum of seriousness, which means going after ridiculous plotholes and developments. For sake of the article, I’ll do both.
Picking up from where we left off two weeks ago, “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia” continues the nuke storyline. Miles, Charlie, and Nora go into the Georgia Federation, where Monroe is sending the nuke to be detonated. The person in charge of this mission is Alec, Miles’ former protégé to whom he gave his family heirloom knife. In the past, Miles sold Alec out to Texas for the good of the Republic, and that lesson stuck with his former ward who is willing to nuke Atlanta because Monroe told him so. So Miles and him fight to the death; Miles wins and Atlanta is saved. In exchange for saving her life and territory, Madame President Kelly Foster (Leslie Hope, the latest 24 castaway to end up on this isle) gives Miles a couple hundred soldiers so that he can start his own front in the upcoming battle against Monroe.
On the positive side, “Night” was Revolution at its action best. We don’t have an attack the compound, and we do get a decent sword fight plus a nice chase-through-the-streets scene. Additionally, Georgia is completely different from the Monroe Republic, and I love seeing the different societies that have sprung up. They have steam engines. Its people don’t live in fear, at least not that we’ve seen. They’re rich because the climate allows them to grow crops year round. Georgia is even starting to trade in England. In less than five minutes of exposition, it already sounds more interesting than Revolution: Monroe Republic.
However, the episode falls apart easily when you begin thinking about it. What happened to Alec’s other partners? Why didn’t they get to Atlanta sooner considering everyone in the Monroe Republic has an amulet while the resistance has nothing? Why did Miles’ original plan involve slicing the neck of a guard instead of telling Madame President that a nuclear bomb was in the territory? What happened to the nuclear material and who handled it? Alec’s bag that transported the bomb seemed too small to carry a full radiation suit. Miles gives Madame President a de-nuclear material-ed bomb at the end, so someone must have taken care of it. Why would Flynn agree to buy a bomb for this purpose when acquiring some of the best growing soil would probably be a better reason…unless he wants to initiate a war, Charles Manson style? And is that it for the nuke subplot? It’s a nuclear weapon. Moreover, it’s a nuclear weapon in a world without electricity or any real travel. You can’t go to that well that often, and you blow it in this fashion?
“Night” is also another of those “Miles has a dangerous and secretive past!!” episodes. Alec warns Charlie about how Miles did bad things like betray people close to him, himself include. The President of the Georgia Federation similarly implies that they had a shared history, one that makes her want to slice him in two. For a rogue character, this is a standard trope and probably best used in Escape from New York for Snake Plissken. In this show, however, it loses its impact because pretty much every person we meet says some incarnation of it. For someone we spend two hours with like Mr. Plissken, it works because we’ll never get to know his backstory. Television managed to pull it off in Doctor Who, but when you’re a 900-year-old Time Lord known for saving and destroying civilizations, obviously your entire story cannot be told. Even Jack Bauer could have pulled it off because of the relatively finite time we spent with him throughout the series and his overall mysterious nature.
But Miles is not like those characters. Saddled with flashbacks, which return tonight to show us who Alec is, we’ll eventually learn what skeletons he has yet to unleash. But more detrimentally, Miles comes across as too nice a guy. He regularly seems repentant over his past, he has shown no lust for power, and he would have abandoned the resistance by now if he wasn’t in it for the long haul. Even tonight’s “everyone close to me dies!” speech seemed more remorseful than broody. So, while those “Matheson, I thought you were dead” moments are fun for a while, they’re getting very close to parody by this point.
Elsewhere on Revolution, Aaron and Rachel are making their way towards the Tower. Don’t any of our groups realize that they have an entire resistance army they can take with them as they encounter increasingly dangerous enemies? Before they can get to the Tower, Rachel needs to go on a side mission and visit her friend Jane, who knows more about the Tower than anyone (aside from Flynn). The need for trained fighters or surveyors certainly shows tonight as they’re caught in the forest. Luckily, their captors’ begin to melt because Jane uses a device that kills them, supposedly by exploding the nanites in the body and avoids Aaron and Rachel. For a show that was supposed to be based on a lack of technology, it’s getting pretty out there with the technology.
Jane initially refuses to help because the nanites that shut the electricity off are also the only thing keeping Danny and her friend or girlfriend Beth alive by eating her tumors. Even after hearing that Danny is dead, she still tells Rachel that turning on the power will cause Beth to die. Talk about the needs of the one outweighing the needs of literally everyone else on Earth. But Beth tells Jane to give Rachel the information, even at the cost of her own life, and she does so, telling Rachel never to return. I think this scene was supposed to achieve some sort of emotional resonance because the score tells us so and everyone starts crying, but it doesn’t work. We’ve never met these people before, we’ll probably never meet them again, and their struggles don’t allow for easy sympathy.
• I liked Monroe’s helicopters dropping “You are going to be nuked” cards to the citizens of the Georgia Federation.
• At the beginning, Monroe shoots his new second in command because he doesn’t believe in anyone after Neville’s betrayal. With the exception of fear, I am curious about why no one has turned on him yet. Does nobody else in the hierarchy realize how unstable he’s becoming? Is there no Colonel von Stauffenberg among them? Maybe it was harder during that brief period when Monroe had electricity but no one else did, but now that pretty much everyone has an amulet, someone might as well try. For the good of the nation.
• Miles suggested using flashlights to find the nuke because they’ll turn on when they’re near an amulet. It’s a clever idea, but I wonder how long flashlights and batteries can last.
• Neville does not appear tonight.
• So do Miles and Charlie have radiation poisoning now? I guess turning the lights on will cost us our two leads. Saving the world at the expense of the lives of the protagonists. Now that sounds like Kripke.