After an opening montage of moments from the first nineteen episodes set to the tune of “Can’t Find My Way Home”, at long last begins the Revolution season-one finale, “The Dark Tower” (not the first time they’ve referenced Stephen King). When last we left, Monroe Republic President Sebastian “Bass” Monroe and former best friend Miles Matheson were facing off inside the tower with coilguns at twenty paces. Will this be the duel to end all duels? Here in the first minute of the episode?
Ha! As if. Just as their trigger fingers begin to twitch, Tower henchmen interrupt with another coilgun firefight. For the sake of surviving the scene, Miles, Monroe, and Nora find themselves in a sewer located below Level 11 that’s not Level 12. One final, poorly aimed coilgun burst rattles the trio so much that they fall from their precarious sewer perch into the rushing water below. The henchmen conclude that their work is done and go about their business because everything naturally went according to plan and no one can possibly survive the dangers of sewer water. Seconds after they depart, Nora surfaces and catches herself on a side wall, but Miles and Monroe are washed away. One wonders if the Monroe Militia truly searched the entire area when looking for possible Tower access points, but never mind.
Miles and Bass awaken outside on a riverbank without any weapons except their bare hands. They fight and fight and fight till they’re interrupted by shots from a Militia scout. Monroe tries ordering him to stand down before his beloved President. The guy fires another shot this close to Monroe. Miles flees while an unhappy Monroe hides and fails at adjusting to his new reality.
Speaking of his former Militia: Neville’s plans for insurrection worked like a charm. All Monroe’s men are now following him except loyal Major Franklin, who rejects Neville’s coup d’état with a line bowdlerized from Army of Darkness, scoffing that right now Neville is “in charge of two things: jack and squat.” His subsequent murder isn’t hard for Neville to stage as an act of self-defense. The Militia soldiers buy in. Jason remains skeptical, but doesn’t lift a finger against him.
Since all the characters with Tower access are already inside the Tower, Neville dreams up a crazy, far-fetched idea that occurred to no one else in the Militia, not even Monroe, before this glorious moment: bombing the doors. Neville is clearly a genius among dunces. Before infiltrating the Tower, Neville speaks quietly to Jason and insists that he needs him for this very special mission to prevent Rachel from turning on the power and ruining the Monroe Republic’s monopoly on lights. Jason first demands a promise that no harm will befall either Charlie or Rachel. Neville says nothing. Jason remains emphatic about his terms, but doesn’t lift a finger against him.
Meanwhile inside the Tower, Rachel shares a quiet moment with Grace, tells the story of how her late son Danny was a two-pound preemie who would’ve died if not for the Matheson family research, and also please please please can she turn the power back on? Grace remains disinclined to acquiesce because of the 1-in-1-billion chance that restoring power will instead destroy the world. Rachel switches to Plan B: she knocks out Grace with a chloroform washrag and steals her employee keycard, which grants access inside…Level Twelve.
In another room, Aaron uses an unguarded PC to snoop inside the Tower network and uncover the backdoor that he installed into his old MIT coding way back in his college days, the same coding that MIT sold to the Department of Defense, who in turn used it as the basis for the Tower’s operating system. Fortunately Aaron was a super-genius in another life and designed a backdoor so thoroughly disguised that it passed through the hands of countless other programmers without being noticed or excised from the programming. So now he knows he can hack the system, if only he can reach the proper mainframe controls inside…Level Twelve.
Outside, Monroe catches up with Miles and rings the bell for another round of fisticuffs. After a few dutiful punches, Miles withdraws and walks away because the plot inside the Tower is more interesting than yet another round of Mustache Dad vs. the Cape. Monroe turns petulant and actually barks at him not to walk away from him, because he started it, and so on, and at this point Monroe is just pathetic. Fortunately for his remaining shred of dignity a Militia helicopter flies overhead and spews several dozen bullets in their direction, hitting nothing. While Miles strides off unhindered, Monroe flees in another direction and pounds his face against the butt of a soldier’s gun.
In the Tower, Nora rejoins the party and has a heart-to-heart in which she confides to Rachel that she believes Miles loves Rachel more than he loves Nora. Rachel dismisses this theory because Miles is family, and also because most of brain cells are stuck on “Revenge” mode and can’t be bothered with romantic subplots just now.
One major barrier stands between Our Heroes and…Level Twelve: all the residents. Many of them have conveniently gathered into a single party like the entire Gotham police force in The Dark Knight Rises and begun funneling down a hallway of Nora’s previous choosing. Their leader is canny enough to spot the tripwire she left in their path. As they all step gingerly over it and ruin the plan, Nora grabs a fire extinguisher, emerges from her hidey-hole, and hurls it at the tripwire. One henchman has just enough split-seconds to fire at Nora before extinguisher trips wire and explosives wipe out the entire crowd. Though the Tower population is no longer a barrier, Nora now has a nasty, gaping coilgun wound in her side.
Before taking a party of his own into the Tower, Neville towers over the captive Monroe, enjoys calling him “foolish and deranged” to his face without repercussions (or any self-awareness), and explains that he can’t just shoot him in the face and be done with him because he wants a kinder, gentler, less deranged public image. He sums up their different management styles: “You frighten; I inspire.” It’s a safe bet this PR plan is short-term.
Pause here for this week’s flashback: ten years after the blackout, General Monroe and his right-hand “Butcher of Baltimore” celebrate Miles’ birthday with a posh Philadelphia dinner and recollections of birthdays past. The nostalgic reverie is interrupted by a Rebel Alliance bombing staged to look shot-for-shot like the dinner-bombing scene from Zero Dark Thirty. Miles wakes up later in an Independence Hall bedroom with Nora and Monroe at his side. Monroe is proud that he’s not only had Miles brought back to health, but also had the bomber captured and punished. Through the window, Miles can see five coffins — one for the bomber, one for his wife, three for his kids. Monroe is thorough. Miles shows signs of slightly weakened resolve and career-track doubt.
Back in the present, then: that evening, after Neville, a still-compliant Jason, and company have entered the Tower through their blast hole, Miles sneaks into camp, frees Monroe, and explains that he’s never been able to kill Monroe in all the previous hundreds of opportunities because, somewhere deep down, he still thinks of them as quote-unquote brothers, despite all the deaths and power-mongering and torturing and indirect responsibility for Danny’s death and whatnot. Miles’ reflection ends as he reveals his true use for Monroe: as a distraction. He frees Monroe, shouts loudly for all to hear, and waits for everyone to chase a fleeing Monroe once again. Thus does Miles clear himself a path to Neville’s blast hole.
Inside the Tower, Our Heroes have Grace’s keycard and a hard choice to make: either take Nora to the nearest locked infirmary and save her, or press onward to…Level Twelve. Charlie, in a rare moment of clarity, is fairly certain they can do both if they try. Rachel disagrees because saving Nora’s life contains no elements of power restoration or mad vengeance. She demands Aaron tag along with her since his coding skills now make him integral to the plot, but this requires him to stop compressing Nora’s wound He’s sorry but goes anyway like an obedient puppy. Charlie is furious, but doesn’t lift a finger against her.
She takes Aaron’s place at Nora’s side, but a cry of pain from Nora attracts a stray surviving guard. Charlie and the guard tussle till the battle ends with Miles’ knife through the guard’s back. A feeble Nora tells Miles to go help Rachel. Miles refuses to leave her side, proving once and for all that her well-being means more to him than Rachel’s revenge. Perhaps they were meant to be, and true love has won this day!
…or not. En route to the infirmary that would likely be impregnable without a keycard anyway, Nora passes away in his arms and departs this mortal plane and the show. Though for a brief moment she seemed to be Mary Grantham to his Matthew Crawley, instead she was his Lavinia Swire.
Thus we have four parties racing to…Level Twelve: Neville, Jason in hapless bad-boy mode, and the Militia; Rachel and Aaron, basically defenseless; Charlie and a freshly grieving Miles; and any remaining Tower security goons. Naturally this adds up to one more large-scale firefight, in which Miles fails to miss a single target with his Militia rifle.
When the dust settles, Miles, Charlie, Rachel, and Aaron have locked themselves inside the most important computer bay in…Level Twelve. Aaron quickly goes through the computing motions, brings up the command prompt, “AUTHORIZE EXECUTION”, pauses for dramatic effect…and presses Enter.Worldwide, any electrical device whose switch is still “On” whirs back to life. Outdoors, Monroe watches Earth’s first lightning storm in fifteen years. We’re treated to faraway cameos from President Foster in Georgia, Neville’s wife Julia, and Aaron’s wife Priscilla all watching various light bulbs blink for the first time in fifteen years. Foster’s response is the most dramatic: she immediately orders her soldiers to mobilize, head up to Philadelphia, and vaporize Independence Hall.
Our Heroes did it! They won! The power is back! Mission accomplished! True happiness for Charlie and Miles and Rachel and Aaron and Flynn and…oh, hey, there’s Flynn, the shrewd Department of Defense guy, in an adjacent room sealed in bulletproof glass. He’s been skulking behind the scenes using a spare keycard he knew was hidden inside the portrait of George W. Bush that we saw in the Vice President’s panic room in last week’s episode. Flynn thanks them for succeeding at their mission, which has now enabled his personal mission.
With that, he turns to a control panel marked “Override Phase” and flicks a few switches that launch a pair of ICBMs from distant underground missile silos. One is aimed for Philadelphia, the other for Atlanta. Once those two capitals are erased from the map, Flynn reasons the east coast can start over from scratch and maybe reorganize into something better than their current warring factions.
Under the assumption that everything will finish going completely according to plan and he doesn’t really need to sit around and watch, Flynn utters his last words — “I’m a patriot, Rachel” — and shoots himself in the head.
At the moment of launch, a signal is transmitted to a heretofore unseen location called the United States Colony, situated in the complex formerly known as Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. A shadowy man referred to as “Mr. President” is advised that Flynn’s plan has succeeded and it’s time for him to return home.
To be continued.
Next season, that is. This fall Revolution is scheduled to move to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern. See you then!
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Random general impressions of the season:
1. Giancarlo Esposito’s loathsome Tom Neville is the absolute best reason to keep watching.
2. Miles has all the best fight scenes, though his dialogue isn’t as sarcastic as it used to be.
3. The second half of the season was much bloodier than the first, probably because some executive noticed kids are totally into the cable-TV bleeding these days.
4. Charlie improved as a character in the second half, but was relegated to background hover mode in several episodes. Not complaining, just noting.
5. Jason seems to be the one character the writers understand least. He switches motivation whenever the plot needs him to, his romantic entanglement with Charlie is forced, and his frequent inaction makes me wonder if they have any long-term plan mapped for him, or if he’s kept around solely so Charlie can have a friend her age and some viewers under 55.
6. Was I the only one hoping this episode would conclude with a knock-down drag-out between Charlie and Rachel?
7. The season-two opener fairly writes itself, doesn’t it? Our Heroes realize the missiles must be stopped and lives must be saved. They realize their only hope is to restart the nanobots and shut down the power again. Rachel throws a hissy fit. Charlie punches her in the jaw. Aaron hits “Enter” again. Missiles fall harmlessly into grassy fields. The Georgia Federation army has a lot of crashing on its hands. The nanobots effectively reset the status quo, except somehow everyone has to walk the 1,700 miles from Colorado Springs back to Independence Hall in Philadelphia. That should keep them busy for the first half-hour.
8. I don’t watch Game of Thrones, but I’m only half-glad that nothing in this episode was as upsetting or calamitous as the Red Wedding that no one online would shut up about today. If only something about this show sparked one-tenth the conversation level. Maybe someday?
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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!
9/24/2012: “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”
11/26/2012: “Nobody’s Fault But Mine”
3/25/2013: “The Stand”
4/8/2013: “The Song Remains the Same”
4/22/2013: “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”
5/6/2013: “The Love Boat”
5/13/2013: “The Longest Day”
5/27/2013: “Children of Men“