“It’s been a long trip.”
Charlie summarizes the series to date with five simple words during the long-awaited family reunion that comprises this week’s fall-finale episode of Revolution, “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (title taken from another Led Zeppelin track, because last week’s tribute episode demanded an encore). After a 760-mile walk from Wrigley Field in Chicago to Independence Hall in Philadelphia for the sake of her brother Danny, she’s calm and resolute all throughout, even when everyone but Miles is naturally taken captive in the first ten minutes. Blame Miles for putting his trust in an ineffective friend named Kip (special guest Glynn Turman — ex-Mayor Royce from The Wire!) who’s useless against the brute competence of Major Neville’s henchmen. Everyone is spirited away so they can be bait in Neville’s obvious trap for Miles.
Miles, of course, turns the tables on Neville by sneaking into his house and taking his wife Julia hostage. Alas, his love for Julia is his one mortal weakness. Neville has Aaron and Nora freed, but no longer has custody of Charlie and Danny, who’ve each been taken to the northside power plant where the Monroe Militia conducts all their best experiments, interrogations, and fall-finale shootouts. After locking the Nevilles in a closet, Our Heroes make haste and plans for a rescue op, part of which involves trusting Aaron with explosives. Because every TV finale needs at least one gigantic leap of faith.
Meanwhile, under the watchful eyes of the psychotic Strausser and the pragmatic Jeremy (last seen in episode 3, “No Quarter“), Charlie is tearfully reunited at last with Danny, and warily reunited with her mother Rachel. Far fewer tears on that front — Charlie thought she was dead, but recalls that their last conversation ended with Rachel abandoning her family. Deadbeat parents score no points with either Charlie or me. I appreciated that firm, surprising touch.
The tangled emotions are swept aside at the command of Monroe, who still needs Rachel to finish her work on the precious-pendant amplifier that will theoretically extend the pendant range enough for him to reactivate his collection of dead army equipment and thereby spread even more oppression over the already oppressed Monroe Republic. Strausser forces Rachel’s hand by playing a cruel game of Sophie’s Choice — either she builds the amplifier for real this time without tricks or explosives, or else she gets to pick which of her estranged children he gets to kill (or worse). After the way Rachel jammed a screwdriver through the chest of poor Dr. Jaffe last week, and basically threw his daughter to the wolves not long before that, I half-expected her to grab a gun and pop some caps in her own kids.
Rachel breaks down and agrees to continue her work with more sincerity. This acquiescence stalls for just enough time so that Miles can sneak into the plant, while Charlie and Danny overpower their guard, flee their cell and meet him halfway. While Monroe prepares for the big showdown (with Jeremy doubting whether this is a good idea, and really not boosting Monroe’s morale), Rachel finishes the amplifier at last, and proves this time that it’s not a surprise bomb like the last one. Before Strausser can reward her with icky lecherousness, Rachel overpowers him and drives a sword through his heart, succeeding where Miles failed two episodes ago in Ford City. If she maintains her present rate of murdering, by the end of the season her body count should pass Miles’.
Speaking of which: Miles eventually makes his way to Rachel. With this meeting, everyone is now officially aware that Rachel is alive. She rewards him with an unexplained slap to the face, then joins him in running away from gunfire. Once they split up, Miles and Monroe finally reunite in a scene flustered with complicated emotions. Flashbacks throughout the episode have revealed the extent to which their deep, meaningful friendship once wove their lives together:
* Five years after the blackout: Miles and Bass are combat buddies in the Trenton Campaign, an unexplained major battle that I assume was like Serenity Valley except the little guys won and conquered everything. Though Miles has an ugly-looking gunshot wound, Bass won’t leave him because they’re like family!
* Two years before the blackout: Miles comforts a drunken Bass, who’s lost all his natural family and has nowhere to turn. Young Miles and his slicked-back hair assure him that they’re still like family!
* Childhood, decades before the blackout: li’l Miley and li’l Bassy are childhood friends drawing matching symbols on their arms — the ‘M’ in a circle that would later become the Monroe Militia insignia. They have matching fake tattoos because they’re totally like family!
Today, with guns aimed at each other, Miles and Monroe remember all those bygone times and struggle with what it all means now. Bass puts down his weapon first and begs Miles to return with him to the Dark Side, because ruling with an iron fist is really hard. Miles thinks about it for several tense seconds, just as he worried last week that he might if he actually wound up in this position. After much deliberation, Miles answers that they’re not family anymore, not after all the atrocities Monroe has committed, even those perpetrated with Miles’ assistance. “You are nothing to me,” says Bass’ former Bro.
Monroe’s features are contorted in a wave of conflicting emotions. And then they fight and fight and fight. Fists at first, then dueling blades. It’s a thrilling confrontation until spoilsport henchmen intervene with a hail of unfair bullets that Miles is forced to dodge and flee. This would be well in accordance with Monroe’s past portrayal as a man of zero honor.
Outside the plant, another struggle of manhood is in progress: Aaron is trying desperately to light a fuse. Matches fail him. He owns no lighter. At first I thought he would try using his glasses as a magnifier to focus sunshine onto the end of the fuse. Instead he goes the Boy Scout route, striking metal against metal several times until…success! HE HAS MADE FIRE! Aaron is a real man now, one who just barely runs away in time before Nora’s explosives blow an escape-sized hole in the plant wall for the cast to exit through. Miles, Charlie, Danny, and Rachel are this close to freedom, and they have Aaron to thank.
Well, almost. Too bad for Our Heroes that some other faceless henchman had a great idea. Rachel’s amplifier is now turned on, fully operational, and very much amplifying its magical electricity powers. With the amplifier fired up, the henchman accosts Our Heroes with one of Monroe’s helicopters, now working quite well for the first time in fifteen years, airborne and pointing a menacing, well-oiled Gatling gun in their general direction. Now they have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.
To be continued! The promo at the end of this episode promised for the eighth or ninth time that everything we know about the show will change forever, probably incrementally, and reminds us that there’s more than one precious pendant in this world. The other eleven are just out there waiting for someone to go questing for them.
Revolution will return sometime in March with new stories of whimsy, wonder, wandering, and weaponry. Here’s hoping that any planned retooling doesn’t somehow make Miles less cool. Hopefully the long hiatus won’t prove fatal to either the show or my blog stats. Thanks for reading!