If there’s one thing Revolution has done wrong, and it’s done so, so many things wrong, it’s been the sidelining of Captain Tom Neville. It goes without saying that Giancarlo Esposito is a fantastic actor, and his casting was easily the show’s biggest get. Though to be fair, Billy Burke has certainly proven himself as a more than capable lead. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast ranges from passable-but-unimpressive to JD Pardo.
Thankfully, “The Love Boat” at least attempts to remedy this problem by putting Neville at close to the forefront as he joins Miles as a representative from the Georgia Federation. Able to instill some wry humor into the character as opposed to the relatively stoic man from the Monroe Republic, Neville really gets the opportunity to shine tonight. When Miles expresses hesitancy about including him with his troops, Neville responds “If you don’t work with me, I’ll take [all the troops and supplies] back, and you can go back to being the general of my nuts.” It’s easily the funniest line and quite possibly only memorable line of the entire series.
Throughout the rest of the episode, the dominance of Esposito is obvious. Unleashed, he has that mixture of energy and sadism that makes him entertaining to watch, and he knows how to deliver lines with just the right amount of bile. Obviously, Neville is not the type to become the leader of entire nations. But his increased screentime certainly shows the problem with Monroe. Monroe might have the men and technology, but he lacks the presence necessary to come across as a true threat. Neville is closer to Miles’ equal in skill, intelligence, and personality. Flynn, who returns in a short scene tonight where he talks with Monroe, even seems more intimidating than the head of the Republic. Monroe, on the other hand, constantly appears sad, withdrawn, and distracted. He’s no longer fun crazy; he just looks like he needs a nap.
The episode proper starts two days later in a completely pointless, albeit very well-done scene, where Team Miles ATTACKS A COMPOUND. We never get to the scene in the span of the episode, so I wonder if the show was running short or if it was an artistic decision. I feel that flash forwarding during the cold open should be done sparingly and for effect. Revolution seems to feel it should be done whenever. Thankfully, it’s covert mission rather than the norm for the show- people standing behind things and firing blindly at other people who are standing behind things and firing blindly. This compound attack is to stop the Monroe scientists who are commissioned to weaponize anthrax for the boss. After all, if you’re going to use all the 24 actors, you might as well use all the 24 plots.
Most of “The Love Boat” actually takes place on a boat- a Georgian steamship given to Miles, Neville, et al. so they can travel up the river and terminate the project with extreme prejudice. To achieve this, they kidnap the scientist in charge of the program and his family for intel. This dismays Nora and Charlie who feel there should be rules to war and are horrified to see Miles returning to his older self. Miles doesn’t care since he’s taken to the bottle, upset over the death of Emma, the character that only existed to die, from last week. As annoying as it is that we’re supposed to care about a character he hasn’t seen for at least 15 years, at least it has ramifications. Unlike the dump-her-and-leave-her death of what’s her face from the first part of the season. She had the phone with the pictures of her kids. I think she was British.
Anyway, the boat sequences are kind of repetitive, but a decent reprieve from the show’s lackluster action sequences and planning for lackluster action sequences. Miles and Neville snarl at one another. Miles broods. Charlie and Nora get mad at him. Nate is there. They have to hide from Monroe customs inspectors. Neville slaps Charlie a couple of times, and Miles says he won’t let him hurt his niece so he punches him back.
In one sequence, Charlie locks Miles in a cabin because he’s going too far down an alcoholic, self-destructive tailspin. He escapes from a steel, padlocked door; rescues her from Neville; and tells her that he’s better…appearing instantly sober. Yet later in the episode, he’s relaxing with some liquor. Now, while it seemed more like a pleasant glass of whiskey before bed rather than guzzling it straight from the bottle as he was doing earlier, it was an odd decision considering how much emphasis they placed on his drinking not 10 minutes earlier. Then he sleeps with Nora, which makes more sense.
Elsewhere in Revolution universe, Aaron and Rachel continue their quest towards the Tower. Lacking food, they try to steal some and find themselves about to be executed for their crime when Rachel kills the executioner. They run, and Rachel trips and breaks her leg. This isn’t just a sprain, the bone is coming through the skin. I’d like to thank the remarkably good Hannibal for making people feel comfortable with 10 PM network gore. Aaron refuses to leave her, even though she tells him he should continue the mission on his own, and he still has no idea what to do about anything. Even when townspeople find where they are hiding, Aaron shows his worthlessness yet again by adopting his regular fighting style of punching one guy, getting beaten/nearly killed by that guy, and then having his life saved by the woman he’s attempting to protect. (Rachel shoots the people who were just trying to protect their land, families, and property.)
With this bond formed, Rachel reveals that in the Tower Bible she got from her friend a few episodes back that Aaron’s research was used to create the nanite/light-power-off technology. I hope this show doesn’t make it that Aaron was destined to be part of this crew. The destiny angle is usually incredibly weak (see: last week’s episode of Community), and it forces meaning onto Aaron instead of letting him acquire it naturally.
Finally, we return to The Tower where Grace (remember her?) is busy typing as she’s watched by a security guard. The guard wants to go down to the mysterious “Level 12” (isn’t it a bit late in the season to start with new mysteries when there are so many other things going on?) However, when he reaches the mysterious “Level 7,” the elevator stops, and he’s torn apart by some mysterious creature. So now we have that to deal with.
• Remember when guns were scarce and ammo was precious? Near the beginning of “The Love Boat,” Miles and his squadron execute a member of Monroe’s militia firing squad-style and with assault rifles. The muskets and the swords from the first half of the season gave Revolution a unique quality to its action sequences. It was something you don’t often see, and it really gave a sense of how far we’ve traveled back. Now the show’s just like anything else.
• Rachel shoots with a gun she got from Miles. Maybe that would have helped a couple of weeks back when they were attacked by those two guys while traveling to her friend’s house.
• “And you can go back to being the general of my nuts.”