Miles Matheson - Billy Burke
Charlie Matheson - Tracy Spiridakos
Tom Neville - Giancarlo Esposito
Danny Matheson - Graham Rogers
Aaron Pittman - Zak Orth
Maggie Foster - Anna Lise Phillips
Rachel Matheson - Elizabeth Mitchell
Nate - JD Pardo
Nora - Daniella Alonso
OTHER REVOLUTION SEASONS
OTHER POST APOCALYPSE SHOWS
The Last Train
Planet of the Apes
Day Of The Triffids
With almost no warning, the lights went out. Electricity, all kinds, failed. Society crashed. Charlie Matheson is living in a peaceful community when the local militia show up, kill her father and kidnap her brother. In order to get him back, she and a small band set out to locate her mysterious uncle, Miles.
This is the show that brings together JJ Abrams (LOST) and Eric Kripke (SUPERNATURAL), creators of two of our favourite shows and so hopes were high that we were in for something special. This pilot competently sets up the situation, but fails to have the kind of impact that might have been expected.
The show is not about the fall of society and the people trying to survive it, but about the feudal system that comes into place. Horses are once again the mode of transport, swords the main weapons and anyone who owns a gun has a massive advantage (apart from their being illegal in the hands of anyone other than the militia.
Giancarlo Esposito makes for a chillingly believable villain, poised just on the edge of sanity, and Billy Burke is a likeable presence (perhaps too likeable for the role of the reprobate killer), but the rest of the cast are unmemorable.
There is one great action set piece and a couple of short sequences of peril, but on the whole the threat isn't gripping and the set up is all a bit too cosy for its own good. Grit and realism aren't the cornerstones here.
There is a conspiracy running in the background as to why the electricity was turned off and who knew about it, but that's low key.Top
Miles sets out in search of Nora, a woman he used to know who he believes can be a big help. The problem is that she is shackled to a helicopter and one of the guards has a rifle.
The introduction of Nora into the mix is a welcome one because this episode sets out the relationship between Charlie and her uncle only too clearly. She is the idealist who will help Miles find his humanity once again whilst he is the pragmatist who will help wise her up to the ways of the world. It's too simple and hackneyed to carry the dramatic load alone. Nora is an acerbic, amused intermediary able to see things from both sides and make fun of them both. Things certainly perk up when she's around.
The story about her rescue and the taking of the rifle doesn't make all that much sense and the plot that they come up with to achieve this is overly complicated, but that doesn't matter all that much whilst it is unfolding. It's only afterward that you think 'OK, hang on there a minute...'.Top
Nora takes Charlie and Miles back to the rebel hideout only for it to come under seige from a militia group led by a man who has history with Miles.
Mark Pellegrino is ace, we love him, but he does always seem to play the same role. He does, however, enliven a storyline that isn't all that exciting and hinges around the fact that a sniper on the roof can keep an entire militia unit at bay. This is made even more ridiculous since the attacking commander is willing to sacrifice his men one by one to use up the bullets, but doesn't send them in all once from different directions to maximise the chances of reaching the objective. It's just too silly.
The seige plotline, however, is merely a device to let some of Miles' backstory slip out, making the character darker and more dangerous. Or at least it would if Billy Burke weren't so obviously good and noble.Top
The Plague Dogs
The gang run foul of a man with trained attack dogs and Maggie is badly injured.
Nobody is safe in REVOLUTION. That is what this episode is set up for. The flashbacks build up a character, trying to engage sympathy before the inevitable happens.
OK, so it's predictable, but it does at least attempt to kick the show out of its fairly comfortable scenario. Where is the danger? Where is the pain? Where is the suffering? Oh, there it is.
It is possible that this is the turning point for the show.Top
Tom Neville is putting Danny on a working steam train, at which time he will be lost to Charlie and Miles. Nora plans to destroy the whole train, including Danny if necessary, in the name of the resistance.
Jeff Fahey crops up playing the kind of greasy, slightly frazzled character who could go either way when it comes to picking sides that we have come to know him for in recent times. Unfortunately, the character is not sufficiently developed for his role in the story to be convincing.
Miles and Neville finally face off against each other and that scene is a corker with both Billy Burke and Giancarlo Esposito really pulling out top performances, but the rescue attempt on the train is utter nonsense. Miles attempts to get the bomb from being used instead of helping Charlie just get Danny off before it all goes boom.Top
Sex and Drugs
In order to get help for the wounded Nora, Miles takes the gang to the house of a drug dealer and brothel keeper who is also borderline insane. The dealer agrees to help, but only if Charlie uses her wiles to kill his enemy in cold blood.
This episode sets out its stall in terms of the characters of Miles and Charlie so clearly that there hardly seems any point in going any further. He is the former bad man with a cold heart who will be given back his humanity through his connection to his family, Charlie. She is the idealistic dreamer who will be protected and shown the ways of the world by Miles. It's plain and it's simple and it's alsoa little dull. The dilemma presented to Charlie is a good one, but it is dismissed all too easily.
This, though, is Aaron's episode. There are flashbacks to how he lost his wife in the months following the blackout (we're taking bets on how long it takes her to resurface) and his plan for dealing with the nutjob psycho isn't really much of a plan, but is a triumph of brains over machismo all the same.Top
The Children's Crusade
The group encounter a training ship, a place where children are brainwashed into being killers for Monroe's Militia. The protector of a group of orphans has been taken, so Miles and Charlie aim to get him back.
Miles' return from the Dark Side is completed in this episode, which rather shows how shallowly the character has been written. He can't pass by a bunch of innocent children needing his help.The scenario is unbelievable, the tension muted and the resolution predictable.
The only good thing is the lighthouse coming alive, letting the cat out of the bag about the pendants.Top
Ties That Bind
A hunter comes after Miles and his group, using Nora's captured sister as bait. When the group managed to release her, she tries to persuade Nora to come with her.
Flashbacks to Nora's life with her sister just after the blackout are hardly character-revealing and shed light on the subject of the sisters' relationship in the same way that a spotlight sheds light on a blade of grass. Overkill and obvious don't begin to cover it.
Also, the eventual twists and turns of the plot aren't that hard to fathom. It does manage to hold the attention whilst it is on, but hardly remains in the memory afterward.Top
Miles takes a group of rebels through an old tunnel into Philadelphia to assassinate Monroe. A cave in cuts off the air and soon everyone is having hallucinations.
This is a difficult episode to assess without knowing a good deal more about the physics of the situation. A cave in at one end blocks the air supply and yet there appears to be nothing blocking it coming in at the other end and there is such a large amount of tunnel that they have to walk through that it seems unlikely that the oxygen content of the air would fall low enough to affect in this fashion and certainly not this quickly.
That quibble aside, the hallucinations are a little dull to say the least. Aaron sees his missing wife, which is pretty much going over ground that has only recently been gone over and Charlie's dream of seeing her father again is both obvious and tedious. Only Miles' confrontation with Monroe has any spark to it and the final assertion that Miles' loyalty is in question seems somewhat unlikely.Top
Nobody's Fault But Mine
Miles takes Tom prisoner and learns where Danny is being kept. The group stage a rescue attempt and learn that Rachel is still alive.
The comic book plotting of this show reaches its peak here when Monroe is to be found in the barely guarded factory being used for Rachel to build the pendant amplifier just at the point where the rebels need to find him vulnerable. This leads to a nice action face-off between Miles and Monroe, but is spoiled by the fact that the Monroe troops are as unable to hit a rebel as are the stormtroopers in STAR WARS.
A more interesting face-off, though is the one in which Miles takes on Tom in his own home and turns him into the powerless victim for a change. The acting stakes are upped for just a little while and it is sad to see that Billy Burke really isn't the right man to play the kind of vicious killer that Miles is supposed to be.
It is nice to see Rachel take care of one of the real bad guys of the show and the whole episode is a silly, unbelievable, but entertaining, romp.Top
Monroe has working helicopters and is making mincemeat out of the rebels, so when her family decide to stay and make a hopeless stand against the militia, Rachel decides that they need to get some firepower of their own.
OK, there is a shock ending to this episode. It's an ending that once again shows that nobody is safe and major characters can be lost at a moment's notice. It is also, however, a quite predictable moment that is signposted way in advance and renders rather a lot of what has gone before pointless.
It also casts doubt on the military tactics used by both sides.Top
Following their loss, Rachel and Charlie struggle to connect. When a figure from their past comes to take Rachel away, it is time for Charlie to step up and be counted. Miles, meanwhile tries to recruit an old friend.
There are two stories going on here. One is the hunt through an old hospital in which Charlie, Rachel and Aaron try to evade capture from what are supposed to be highly-trained military men. There's a certain built in tension to the set up which ought to have added to the mother/daughter angst to create something really special, but which ends up being only mildly exciting.
The second story in which Miles confronts an old war buddy who wants to hang up his old life and be a new man is ridiculously simple. The initial premise is good, but as soon as Miles fails to convince his target to come out of hiding, a bunch of militia soldiers show up to do it for him. There follows an epic, but rather unbelievable, action scene where three badasses take out the whole militia force without getting a scratch.Top
The Song Remains The Same
Tom is captured by the rebels who learn that Monroe has a secret deal going down that they really need to know about. The technological cause of the blackout is revealed.
The rebels are so utterly inept that it's hard to keep any faith with them at all. The way they get the information out of Tom is fine, but the fact that they leave a man they know to be ridiculously dangerous alone in a room without a couple of guards on him is absurd. Not quite as absurd as the fact that a man whose arms and legs are handcuffed to a chair is able to cross a room and pick up a nail off the floor without anyone noticing or hearing anything amiss. They also don't check his handcuffs before letting the rebel leader come and talk to him.
The twist of what is found at the cement factory certainly sets up some interesting plot developments to come, but on the whole this is more of the same and that means passable without ever being exceptional.Top
The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia
Monroe has sent his working nuclear weapon to the neighbouring state of Georgia for a demonstration of his resolve. Miles and the others are in hot pursuit, but things are complicated when the bomber turns out to be someone Miles trained, and betrayed.
The sloppiness in the storytelling in this episode of REVOLUTION is beyond anything that has come before it. That Miles might be able to use his knowledge of the bomber to track him down once in a city stretches credulity a bit, but the fact that he then manages to track him down again by wandering around hoping to catch a glimpse of him in the crowd is ridiculous, not least because the guy has no need to be out in the crowd in the first place. He ought to have gone to ground and carried out his mission as ordered, not been out and about trying to get seen. Total nonsense.
Rachel's meeting with a hostile woman who has what appears to be a working phaser holds a little more in the way of emotional connection, though, since the cause of the blackout is the only thing keeping her partner alive. The end result, though, is never in doubt and the resolution is pretty much one big cliché. Only Aaron's reaction to the woman's heat ray shows any real life.
This whole episode is one big case of 'must try harder'.Top
Monroe takes his and Miles' whole home town hostage, demanding that Miles comes and hands himself over, encountering an old flame in the process. Aaron also finds his lost wife.
Miles the brilliant strategist, the ruthless general, the cold-blooded killer, the man with a heart made out of marshmallow ... Seriously, this character gets more poorly written with every episode. Upon hearing of Monroe's plan does he gather his troops for an all-out strike/rescue mission? No. Does he ignore the whole thing as the trap that it obviously is? No. Does he go alone and give himself up to save the town? No. Instead, he goes alone with the intention of killing an entire troop of Monroe's men and saving the day. There's suspension of disbelief and there's hanging it by the neck above Niagara Falls until it is dead.
Aaron's wife turns up, inevitably, and things go pretty much as you might expect. It's all about as likely as the main story.
At least they have the guts to kill off one of the main minor characters in the story.Top
The Love Boat
Monroe has a biologist weaponising anthrax. Miles and Tom Neville reluctantly team up to get him back, but Charlie disagrees with their further plans for the man.
The title of this episode is ironic because there really isn't a lot of love going around. Giancarlo Esposito's Tom Neville has become a snarling caricature of a villain and it is unbelievable that nobody has put a bullet in his head by this point. It is also unbelievable that the team are able to wander so freely about Monroe's top secret testing facilities in order to get the man they are looking for.
Then the episode goes on to borrow scenes from APOCALYPSE NOW, which just makes the whole thing suffer by comparison.
Rachel breaks her leg in the walk to the Tower and Aaron shows a determined loyalty that he didn't show to his wife, an unbelievable fact that Elizabeth Mitchell's character brings up. The only really interesting development is Aaron learning that he is somehow linked to the Blackout.Top
The Longest Day
An attempt on his life leads Monroe to question the loyalty of his troops. Charlie and Nate get buried in rubble and Miles refuses to leave them. Aaron comes up with a way to save Rachel.
This episode is filler and almost nobody is any further along than they were at the beginning, though a few character traits are brought to light. Rachel's ice cold personality is the strongest of these as she refuses the cure that saved her to a dying boy simply because she wants to push on. She is rapidly becoming even less likeable than Monroe.
Poor Monroe. He is losing his mind to paranoia because he can no longer trust anyone. The story in this episode, though is so obvious that the final twist, when it comes, is enough to elicit a groan of 'I told you so'.
And the only good things to come out of the 'finding Charlie' scenario are some nice action set pieces and a cliffhanger worth waiting for.Top
Nora is returned to Miles with the news that Monroe is taking troops to intercept Rachel at the tower. Their attempt to catch up is sabotaged and it is clear that the group contains a traitor.
This is a nice, lean episode that strips things down to the basics of the game it is named after (Cluedo in the UK). Who is the killer and who is going to get dead? Simple, straightforward, a little predictable, but with enough tension and action to get by with.
Nora's torture scenes at the start are hard and uncompromising and it is nice that the show doesn't try to pretend that she wouldn't break.Top
Children Of Men
Everyone gets inside the Tower, but they are not alone and various groups start shooting very destructive guns at each other. Tom and Nate, meanwhile, have to find a way to deal with being captured by Monroe's men.
Wow, the guns in the Tower are pretty nasty things. Everyone dies in a spray of blood and the action is fast and furious. This is where the show has been heading all season and it seems that the makers have finally found the story that they wanted to tell. It's stripped down and lean and sets up the finale nicely, even ending on yet another confrontation between Miles and Monroe.
There are hints about what really went on with the creation of the blackout and the potential issues with switching it back on.Top
The Dark Tower
Tom's in charge of Monroe's men, Miles and Monroe are trying to kill each other, Rachel is willing to turn the power on at all costs and everyone is shooting at everyone else.
Let's get one thing straight - very little that happens in The Dark Tower makes sense in the cold light of day. Tom takes over Monroe's militia with absurd ease. Miles can shoot everyone with pinpoint accuracy except the one person who matters the most. In fact, the refusal of everyone to do the one thing that they have all sworn to do (ie kill Monroe) reaches levels of absolute absurdity here.
This is, what, the third time that Nora has gotten injured in her side and Rachel couldn't care less about that, placing another wedge between her and Charlie. At this point, Rachel has proven to be the biggest villain of the piece and maybe someone should have taken her out earlier. The big twist at the end certainly would suggest that she ought to STOP AND LISTEN to someone once in a while. She was told this would happen.
The thing is, of course, that it doesn't all happen in the light of day, and there is so much shooting and explosions and double-dealing and backstabbing and more shooting that the sheer pace and effrontery of the episode gets it by.
REVOLUTION has not lived up to its potential, but it came good enough to justify its second season, so perhaps it might yet find its identity.Top
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