I’m going to come right out and say it – I like Revolution. And I’m hoping that if we can get a few more episodes like last night, the rest of the world will start to agree with me.
With few exceptions, I’m always hesitant to form solid opinions after viewing a pilot … and while the first episode of Revolution was decently strong and held my interest, the series really accelerated with its second episode by giving us more peeks into the Matheson family as they existed 15 years prior, as well as a continued high level of action and some fun character development.
Charlie’s journey/mission to save her brother continued with Miles, Maggie and Aaron, while Captain Neville (and Danny in tow) continued to terrorize and patrol across the state. Eventually, Miles and Charlie split out on their own in search of Nora (Daniella Alonso), a resistance fighter with a mysterious connection to Miles who needed rescue from a slave camp – and who is apparently a good person to have on your side in a world where guns are not allowed. Enjoyable and captivating, Alonso is a welcome addition to the cast and brings a fresh intensity to her character while serving as a good juxtapose against Tracy Spiridakos’ more timid Charlie.
The night also showed us a little more of Sebastian Monroe, as we got a look at how he’s maintaining his control in a powerless world. The most interesting moments for me, however, occurred during the show’s flashbacks as we saw Ben and Rachel dealing with the aftermath of the blackout by preparing to leave home. Given the fact we know Ben was involved with whatever happened, I’m guessing they were on the run to somewhere specific. (Any theories?) I admit to being pleasantly happy in being right about the fact that Rachel was the one who pulled the trigger on the man who threatened her daughter and her family’s life – after all, everything is more fun when you raise the stakes of a character’s morality. The parallel shooting storyline when Charlie (dead set on not wanting to kill in cold blood and eventually killing in order to defend herself) worked for me and while I’m still warming up to Spiridakos in this program, I liked the fact that her character was given much more to play with tonight in terms of character development.
While last week brought some sword fighting and epic stand-offs, last night’s episode saw continued brutal killings from a number of characters: Miles, Charlie, Capt. Neville and Sebastian. I enjoy that the show seems to be taking advantage of not only its lush landscape, but also the fact that living in a post-apocalyptic world isn’t very stable or safe. Combined with the reveals that we saw last week and this week’s moment of Aaron telling Maggie about the necklace, it’s clear that the series has no intention of holding back – and for that, I’m glad.
The two big reveals of the night were unveiled near the episode’s end, as an unidentified man (known only as “Randall”) found and kidnapped Grace and it was revealed that Rachel Matheson is very much alive – and from the looks of it, imprisoned quite comfortably somewhere by the Monroe Republic. Why is she being held? (Presumably under penalty of death or some other sort of strict order.) I suspect that answer will lead to something that ties into the mythology in a larger way, as will the answer to the question of how a daughter clearly old enough to remember her mother would grow up believing her dead.
It was wonderful to see more this week from Giancarlo Esposito, who didn’t have all that much to do in the pilot but who so brilliantly brings a quiet intensity to the character in the same way Gus Fring caused you to be riveted to your seat. Similarly, it was refreshing to finally see more than five seconds of Elizabeth Mitchell who, despite her small amount of screen time, has been promised to have a larger and more poignant role in the series. Mitchell is absolutely fantastic with the way she conveys her emotions through subtle yet heartbreaking facial expressions, and she makes any character she plays a joy to watch and analyze. As any fans of LOST will attest to, bringing depth and clarity to a role that would otherwise be one-note is what she does best and if it’s not completely obvious as to why she was chosen to play this character, I urge you to re-watch choice moments of the episode, specifically the end where she’s told that Ben is dead and Danny has been captured.
I’m skeptical about finding criticisms so early on, but if I’m being entirely honest, my biggest critique right now may be that the structure of the show begs some questioning. There are currently at least six different storylines in the works (including flashbacks) and while this intense pace and movement of character development is needed, the stories eventually should gel together in a way that’s going to cause us to become fully invested in the show as a whole. For something like LOST, whose characters were established from the outset, it was easy to focus on one group or person for an entire hour while only showing two or three minutes of another. Revolution doesn’t exactly have that luxury, though it doesn’t mean that the show can’t succeed. Mapping out a serialized mythology show with a large cast of characters is tricky yet doable, and I have faith that the writers will be able to pull it off.
Revolution is still finding its footing amidst what is likely to be a treacherous television landscape as shows premiere and networks scrutinize ratings, but it’s likeable and it’s strong, and (in my book) worthy of a series pick-up. Kudos to Kripke for realizing what elements need to exist to move a story like this forward in an interesting way – I’m excited for more and to see what else this “strange new world” has to offer.
- I was confused at first with Captain Neville’s hatred towards the American flag, until it was semi-explained that it was the symbol of the resistance fighters who are apparently trying to restore order. Scenes like the one where Esposito terrorized a villager for owning a gun made me excited for the hope that one day we’ll get a back story on Captain Neville – because I can’t be the only one who wonders what changed him into the man he is today.
- Prized possessions seem to be everything on this show. We already know Charlie has her shoebox full of sentimental items and in this episode, it was revealed that Maggie carries an iPhone with her because it’s the only way she has to remember her kids.
- Any theories on who is on the other end of Grace’s computer, or for that matter, who Randall is? If he’s Militia, he’s definitely a more terrifying member and someone who Grace probably has a history of running from.
What did you think of the second episode of Revolution? What are your theories about the blackout and the character of Rachel Matheson? Share in the comments!
Photo Courtesy of NBC