“Revolution” 9/25/2013 (spoilers): Nevilles vs. Nukes
September 25, 2013 2 Comments
Revolution is back! And this time, it’s sorry if it made you unhappy and it swears it can change!
When last we left Our Heroes, the lights had been turned back on worldwide just long enough for mad patriot Randall Flynn to launch a pair of nuclear missiles at Philadelphia and Atlanta, the two cities that were the setting for 90% of season 1. Could our man Miles Matheson, his niece sidekick Charlie, her mom Rachel whose fault all of this was, and defenseless former Google exec Aaron somehow avert an American holocaust?
The answer seemed obvious: turn the power back off, reset the status quo like any normal TV show, and wait calmly for the missiles to fall harmlessly to the ground.
That’s not what happened. If you attended the show’s panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con or read Entertainment Weekly‘s annual Fall TV Preview issue, the surprise was already spoiled for you: Our Heroes fail. And I don’t just mean in general. The nukes strike their targets and the capitals of two American territories are wiped off the parchment maps.
We’re not privy to see that happen because the explosions would be expensive and depressing. Instead, the season 2 premiere, “Born in the U.S.A.”, takes the easy way out with a six-month time jump so we can experience the same level of depression on one-tenth the budget. In the time elapsed, Our Heroes split up into teams now hanging out in three different territories, while the showrunners do their best to juggle all three arcs with equal heft. That fails, too.
In fact, the split further deepened the issues that have been preventing me from recommending the show to friends. I’ve been following along since episode one in hopes that it would find its path and evolve into a top-notch production. After tonight, I’m kinda still waiting.
The split arcs break down as follows:
Arc #1: Charlie and Bass.
Charlie’s quest to become hardcore has achieved fruition. Two months after the nukes fell, she quit the group because she couldn’t stand being around Rachel anymore, since everything to date has more or less been the result of Rachel’s series of grave mistakes. Six months later, a much hollower Charlie is drinking and sexing her way across the Plains Nation, tracking down the other person responsible for too much evil in her life: former Monroe Republic President Sebastian “Bass” Monroe. A deposed Bass is now fight-clubbing his way across America in search of meaning or money or something. Before Charlie can assassinate him with her trusty crossbow, he’s KO’d and kidnapped by persons unknown. To be continued.
I don’t mind Bass so much. I’m curious to see happens next with him now that he’s been brought low after being a power-drunk paranoiac for so long. If Charlie were to move to another country and literally phone in her appearances like Chrissy Snow’s final season on Three’s Company, that would still be more Charlie than I need. If I continue with these Revolution recaps, I’m considering skipping her scenes and subplots altogether, as if they didn’t exist.
Arc #2: Miles, Rachel, and Aaron.
The trio now live in Willoughby, Texas, a fortified city in the middle of so much unruly pandemonium, not unlike Woodbury on The Walking Dead. Their HQ is a large house owned by Rachel’s dad Gene, a doctor and new character played by new series regular Stephen Collins (Seventh Heaven!), who just finished playing the President of the United States over on a few episodes of Falling Skies. Gene’s role is that of the old-man conscience of the group, not unlike Dale or Herschel on The Walking Dead. Things get scary when we learn the town is about to be besieged by a “war clan”, who appear to be nigh-unstoppable killing machines you’d rather not engage, of a threat level close to the zombies on The Walking Dead. Sadly, our heroes fail yet again and said war clan overruns the town. Their leader is a clean-cut, disturbingly polite man named Titus Andover who’s probably a raging madman on the inside, not unlike the Governor on The Walking Dead.
None of this derivative material aids Our Heroes’ quality of life. Miles does something mysterious involving an unidentified shack, from which he emerges bloodied and then watches it burn. Rachel suffers from six different kinds of guilt and won’t stop writing in a giant diary. Aaron now has a new girlfriend, a leftover power pendant, weird fireflies fluttering around his backyard in large hordes not unlike The Birds, and a gaping sword wound in his chest inflicted by one of the war clan. With one last act of true manliness in the defense of his woman, Aaron breathes his last and dies.
2½ hours later, Aaron wakes up where they left him for dead. To be continued!
So that is a curious new wrench thrown in the works. Hopefully the rest of Willougby’s story likewise finds a way to distinguish itself from other, more popular shows. The addition of Adam Beach (Windtalkers) as the town sheriff will hopefully help, as long as he’s not driven plumb loco like Sheriff Rick from The Walking Dead.
Arc #3: Tom and Jason Neville.
That’s right: the main character, as far as I’m concerned, is still hanging in there, along with his son Jason. Neville’s no longer in charge of jack now that the Monroe Militia has essentially disbanded. He and Jason have a much more pressing matter: their wife/mom Julia was in Atlanta. Hanging on to the slim hope that she had fled town before mass destruction arrived (odds = 1:10,000,000,000), father and son search a massive survivors’ colony in Savannah, some 250 miles southeast of Atlanta, to no avail. A despondent Tom contemplates suicide until Jason tough-guys it out of him. Before they can get even more intense, visitors arrive on a clipper ship from Cuba.
Their spokesperson, alleged Secretary Justine Allenford of the United States Government, delivers a rousing speech to the bedraggled hopeless, promising to bring order and justice and cool things back to America. Also, she claims the recent disaster happened because the two erstwhile capitals had nukes and shot them at each other. They know this because she totally has the real President of the United States with her, albeit offscreen, and the President knows stuff and wouldn’t lie.
Tom and Jason know better. They’re among the very few who would.
Allenford’s probable deception and the hints of future plans for wide-scale population manipulation are offensive enough to flip a little light switch inside Tom’s head. That switch is connected to his internal hate generators, which in turn fuel his twin engines of machination and rage. All that widower’s self-pity disappears in a furious heartbeat. With a new-found purpose to his life, Tom goes back to their tent, cleans up really nicely, and begins scheming anew.
He vows to Jason, “I am going to rip them apart from the inside until they are begging me to die.”
Now we’re talking interesting TV. If only some crafty YouTube channel could begin editing each episode with a machete until all that’s left are Neville’s scenes every week, Neville’s Revolution is a show I might consider must-see TV.
Anyway: To be continued!
[If you missed all of last season and would rather read about Revolution than spend hours playing TV catchup, the MCC recap of the season 1 finale has links to MCC recaps of every episode to date, through thick and thin, for better or for worse. Thanks for reading!]