Viewers have had a week since last week’s episode of Revolution to write down their guesses as to which character would die tonight. Would it be Aaron, the softest of Our Heroes, whose death would take all sense of comic relief with him? Would it be Miles, the main character? Would it be Charlie, the character that the show keeps telling us is the main character? Would it be “Nate”, sacrificing himself to atone for his nebulous militia past? Would it be Neville, executed for the crime of being too interesting a villain?
Before that moment of tragedy, we saw at least one victory in tonight’s new episode, “The Plague Dogs”, named after the Richard Adams novel about a pair of lab-experiment dogs on the run, like our heroes except with stranger side effects. Our cast finally reunites in the ghost town of Lowell, Indiana, as previously promised, fifty miles south-by-southeast of Chicago. (One empty business sports a sign reading “G. Stein Furniture Company”, the name of a real business in North Carolina. But never mind that.) As they merge and move along, their old buddy “Nate” also stumbles out of the shadows and joins them as a willing prisoner. We’re told that his last encounter with Charlie from episode 2 (“Chained Heat”) happened someplace called Pontiac. Presumably this is Pontiac, Illinois, one hundred miles southwest of Chicago and less than thirty miles away from Chatsworth, the recently raided town that the Rebel Alliance name-checked last week. (Pontiac, Indiana, is even more out of the way, hours south of Lowell. Obviously the larger city of Pontiac, Michigan, also won’t do.)
Their objective is to catch up with Neville’s entourage, en route with Charlie’s brother Danny to Noblesville, Indiana, which is thirty miles from where I’m now sitting and typing. Lowell to Noblesville is 120+ miles beyond what they’ve already walked from Chicago to Lowell. The bulk of the episode detours them into an abandoned amusement park, which in our reality would most likely mean a ten-mile digression off I-65 to Indiana Beach in scenic Monticello. It’s not a ride-for-ride carbon copy, but the show captures the basic essence of roller coaster, water slide, Ferris wheel with extra-wide gondolas, and plastic beach chairs. The show version has more water towers, its 1950s diner looks more like a place I know at Ohio’s Kings Island, and the giant-size guitar in the background of one shot gives away its true identity as the Hard Rock Amusement Park in Myrtle Beach, SC. As a single-episode stand-in, I guess it’ll do.
Also different from Indiana Beach: the attack dogs and their unhinged master, who sics his minions on Our Heroes and then vows revenge when they kill one in self-defense. How dare they! His poor, innocent, feral dogs were minding their own business and just going about their bloodthirsty day, and then that happens! Clearly the humans are at fault and must pay. Instead of haunting them with a fake ghost like most amusement park caretakers would, this grizzled stalker attacks from the shadows and even designs a primitive deathtrap for Charlie. Luckily for her the fixtures are authentically rickety and her day is saved. Ah, if only everyone’s day could be saved…
Meanwhile on the road to Noblesville, Danny does his own bit of heroic lifesaving after finding himself trapped with Neville in a storm cellar during a genuine Indiana tornado. The twister seemingly passes; Neville shouts “Amen!”; and I couldn’t help laughing as the ceiling collapsed on him. That’s our unpredictable Indiana weather in a nutshell, folks. If nothing else, Revolution nailed that part. Alas, Danny and Neville re-enact the old fable about the scorpion and the fox, as Danny conscientiously saves Neville’s life, only to be stung by him in return. Points to Danny for moral superiority in the face of a CG storm, at least.
Meanwhile down in Noblesville, now revealed as Monroe Militia HQ, Evil Dictator “Bass” Monroe continues holding Charlie’s mom Rachel captive, perpetuating what must be a years-long tradition of interrogating her unsuccessfully, even with sadistic lackey involvement. A flashback reveals that not only did Rachel turn herself in to save her family, but that her original captor…was Miles himself! DUN DUN DUUUUUN! I suppose this should be shocking, but it’s kind of not. Now that we know the Monroe Republic is half Monroe’s fault and half Miles’, I expect we’re in for a long parade of stunning revelations about the evil Miles committed before he realized what a series of grave mistakes he’d made, like My Name is Earl with more bloodletting.
To his credit, Miles corrects one important wrong in this episode. After two acts’ worth of wishy-washy quitter angst once again, he finally takes a leap of faith into the waiting arms of family commitment, officially deciding to stay with his niece and help see her quest through to the doubtlessly heroic end. The impetus that inspires this decision is tonight’s Shocking Character Death…which would be a lot more shocking if I hadn’t totally called it last week.
Alas, poor Maggie, we knew you slightly. Your flashbacks reveal a little more history, of your children separated from you in England, of your epic one-woman journey from Seattle to Buffalo, and of your unbelievable discovery that large boats capable of sailing to England are now extinct because of wars that demolished them all and, I suppose, resulted in the deaths of every boatwright and every boating company in America. Never mind that Christopher Columbus and several centuries of pirates managed just fine without today’s boat construction technology. Were all those Carnival Cruise liners drafted into the wars and sunk during fierce naval conflicts, too?
Sorry, where were we? Yes, Maggie, then — Charlie’s de facto stepmother passes away due to femoral artery damage from one vicious stab wound courtesy of the Phantom of Indiana Beach. A sad ending to her story, after being rescued from suicidal thoughts by Charlie’s dad Ben, made a part of the family, and now…this. In her final flashback, Maggie reads to her kids from yet another classic road-trip tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a copy of which she leaves behind with Our Heroes, perhaps serving as a reminder to keep following that yellow brick road. Or a reminder of a more innocent time when adorable dogs like Toto were the norm and not the exception.