“Revolution” 5/27/2013 (spoilers): Charlie vs. the Emissaries of Explodo

The Tower, Revolution, NBC

There’s this place. It’s called…The TOWER.


Thus does tonight’s new episode of Revolution, “Children of Men”, begin with a promise of explosions. We ended last week’s episode with Rachel Matheson triggering the grenade she carried with her into President Monroe’s field tent in hopes of avenging the death of her son Danny. Instead of opening this week with Rachel and Monroe both dead — which, let’s face it, would be a true game-changer — the grenade gets kicked out of the tent, exploding outside and destroying some tanks full of movie combustion fluid or whatever. Everyone in the tent is safe, and Rachel is easily captured and embarrassed.

For Monroe, her arrival is fortuitous. Since his captive ally Flynn seems to have lost his access privileges to the Tower, that mysterious underground bunker that purportedly contains the tempting tools of all-purpose power, Monroe is betting that Rachel — co-inventor of the nanobots that depowered Earth — won’t have the same access issues. Sure enough, when Monroe and several henchmen drag her to the Tower entrance and swipe her palm on the requisite entry device, the massive double doors retract and allow them all inside, even though Flynn is 101% certain Rachel doesn’t possess the clearance level to do what she just apparently did. It’s a long walk from the doors, past the gargantuan supercollider that consumes most of the Tower interior, and to the elevator bank that will take them down to…Level Twelve.

Their descent ends abruptly when the elevator stops at 11 and refuses to budge. Outside in the hallway: ambush! And not an ordinary ambush with bullets flying or stab wounds accumulating. No, everywhere we look, Monroe’s men keep exploding. Literally, like disgusting water balloons. While fleeting glimpses of nimble opponents tease us from afar, Rachel’s manacles magically vanish between edits as she seeks refuge in a panic room with an impregnable vault door…through which Monroe barges before she can slam it on him. Once he’s in, they shut the door and find themselves in…well, not a barren emergency shelter, but a fully furnished office, intended for use by the Vice President of the United States. A framed picture of George W. Bush on one wall narrows down the list of probable intended users.

Also inside this dedicated workspace: a weapons closet, locked and shatterproof, filled with a most unusual weapon: coilguns. They resemble grenade launchers, but use electromagnetic power instead of gunpowder. As we’ve just seen, the damage to enemies is eruptive and icky. Monroe wants one. Rachel won’t let him in. Monroe can’t believe she’d rather die than ally with him for just a few minutes. He delivers a long, disturbing speech about how he thinks many suicide victims experience a moment of regret and/or clarity right before their final moment, and wonders if she had that same moment when her own grenade proved futile earlier. She says nothing. Would she rather die with him than team up temporarily in hopes of murdering him later without dying herself?

Meanwhile, the rest of ragtag Team Matheson — Miles, Charlie, Nora, Neville, and Jason — land their helicopter four miles from the Tower, distribute weapons, and try to work through more of last week’s emotional awkwardness with as little dialogue as possible. They walk the remaining distance in seconds, and run across an old friend on the perimeter: Aaron! Rachel’s terrorist distraction against the tyrant of the Monroe Republic was supposed to be a diversion so that he could sneak into the tower unnoticed and restore electrical power worldwide. Instead he stayed in the woods and clutched Dr. Warren’s Tower operator manual like a security blanket. Once again he fails us all, as does Neville, who unhelpfully calls him “Chubs”. Aaron is equally unkind in response, but swears he can totally get them into the Tower, if only they can escort him to the door, allow him to work in peace, and somehow envelop him in a cone of magical, stress-free tranquility, possibly while cartoon birds flit around him and tweet in harmony.

Plan B: noisy, bullet-ridden firefight! Aaron has a tough time concentrating on the 62-character override code that’s required to hack their way into the Tower. He manages nonetheless, though Our Heroes use up literally all their ammunition in the process. Aaron, Miles, Nora, and Charlie make it inside. They hold the doors for as long as possible, but Jason and Neville are pinned down with no escape. Reluctantly they shut the doors while Jason and Charlie exchange longing looks that indicate their current intense situation has cured their ongoing trust issues.

Neville and Jason are captured and tied up in a militia tent, overseen by the recurring Major Franklin (Ramon Fernandez), who’s been in several episodes and found himself slowly promoted up the ladder as all his superiors have each died in battle against Miles and Co., quit due to Monroe’s manias, or were slain by Monroe himself. Also benefiting from this cutthroat workplace is Captain Reilly (Omid Abtahi, whom I’ve seen in numerous places such as Last Resort and Argo), albeit a little less excitedly. When Franklin excuses himself from the rest of the episode because of command duties, a bound and secured Neville turns on the ol’ Neville psych-warfare charm and tries to convince Reilly (or is it Riley?) that Monroe has lost his marbles and needs to be overthrown. Jason catches on to his ploy and even plays along, trying to confirm that his evil dad isn’t lying, even though Jason is fairly certain his dad is just conning the guy.

Reilly (Rylee?) spends a couple of off-camera scenes deliberating, then eventually frees Neville, assuring him that all the other men are on board for this proposed mutiny except possibly Franklin. As the audience holds its breath and waits for Neville to murder poor Reilly in response, instead he merely frees Jason and continues holding his cards very closely to his chest.

Meanwhile inside the Tower, Miles, Nora, Charlie, and Aaron take the same elevator downward, stopping once again involuntarily at Level 11, where they’re greeted by signs of carnage — i.e., exploded Monroe Militia men. Sure enough, men in the shadows begin firing their explodo-rays hither and yon, though they manage to miss every good guy, even Aaron. Our Heroes flee through a hallway leading to an animal testing lab filled with cages and monkey remains. Aaron grabs a handy lab booklet along the way as they take to the ventilation system. The booklet includes a map to the armory, and Aaron learns of the coilgun weaponry, which he recalls seeing in an episode of MythBusters, 15+ years ago when there was still cable TV. Alas, the armory is empty and the coilgun cupboard is bare. When their pursuers catch up, Miles accosts one and, with Nora’s stabby assistance, obtains himself a big, fancy coilgun.

Back in the VP’s room, Monroe finally owns up to the fact that his actions directly led to Danny’s death. He also confesses to Rachel about the son he now knows he has, but has yet to locate. In the midst of emotional reevaluation, Monroe once more proposes they team up for a few minutes, and goes so far as to personally guarantee Charlie’s safety in the matter. Miles’ safety, not so much. Too much water under the bridge, and all that. Rachel finally lets him into the coilgun cabinet and lets him pick out something nice and lethal.

Rachel and Monroe exit the room and wander into the firefight already in progress. When a stray explosion knocks heavy shelving onto Charlie, she’s saved at the last minutes by a well-timed, really gross coilgun burst from Monroe. Thus does Monroe demonstrate a moment of good faith toward his promise. Then he splits to go hunt down Miles. Minutes later, Miles and Nora find themselves backed into a corner, with Monroe standing at the other end of the hall and ready to settle accounts with his former friend once and for all. The gauntlet is thrown: dueling coilguns, ten paces, same scene, continued next week!

While they’re having their poorly timed coilgun standoff, Rachel, Charlie, and Aaron end up captured by the mysterious coilgunmen and taken down to…Level Twelve.

This episode contains two flashbacks: one occurs a week before the blackout, in which Rachel and her now-deceased husband Ben argue over whether or not they can stop the scheduled nanobot activation. The tension between them suggests that a separation period might be in order. In the other flashback, four months after the blackout, Rachel returns home from scavenging for supplies, aghast at the atrocities she witnessed along the way as a result of their invention. Meanwhile, Ben finishes a power-pendant prototype, turns on his PC, and searches for signs of life on what’s left of the Internet. A lone response is returned from their old coworker Grace.

Back in the present, in the episode’s final scenes, we finally lay eyes on…Level Twelve. It basically looks like a spacious, well-lit common area in a college dorm. Several dozen innocent citizens mill about, surprised at the presence of visitors. Rachel recognizes two faces in the crowd: Grace and a guy named Dan (Glenn Morshower), who was briefly seen in a previous episode as a Department of Defense crony. Ever since the blackout, Dan’s been in charge of the makeshift colony that took up residence in the Tower, effectively shut away as hermetically sealed hermits and sitting on unlimited power without sharing with all of Earth.

The Tower operator manual is confiscated from Aaron’s feeble possession and set aflame over his ineffectual protests. Their reasoning for leaving the power turned off is simple in their eyes. As Grace gently puts it to Our Heroes: if Rachel flips the switch, per the original design intent, she might restore power to Earth…”or she sets it on fire.”

To be continued!

* * * * *

If you missed a previous episode of Revolution, you can check NBC’s official site for any episodes remaining online, consult your local Video On Demand provider, spend money on them over at iTunes, try Hulu if you’re so inclined, or check out past episode commentary/recaps here at MCC. Your handy episode checklist is provided below, along with recap links. Thanks for reading!

9/17/2012: “Pilot
9/24/2012: “Chained Heat
10/1/2012: “No Quarter
10/8/2012: “The Plague Dogs
10/15/2012: “Soul Train
10/29/2012: “Sex and Drugs
11/5/2012: “The Children’s Crusade
11/12/2012: “Ties That Bind
11/19/2012: “Kashmir
11/26/2012: “Nobody’s Fault But Mine
3/25/2013: “The Stand
4/1/2013: “Ghosts
4/8/2013: “The Song Remains the Same
4/22/2013: “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
4/29/2013: “Home
5/6/2013: “The Love Boat
5/13/2013: “The Longest Day
5/20/2013: “Clue


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