‘Revolution’ S1E15 Recap: Love and War

I can’t lie; I haven’t been the biggest fan of Revolution. The writing’s been generally lackluster, the characters are fairly underdeveloped, and the entire show is often peppered with weak clichés. But, I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s episode. By returning Miles and Monroe to their hometown, the writer’s struck a perfect balance of action and emotional resonance, and they gave us a genuinely great twist ending, too! Nicely done, Revolution.

The episode opened after a battle between Miles’s new army and some of Monroe’s militia. Miles’s army had easily won, and the news clearly had Monroe scared. After all, Miles and Monroe once began with a small army and turned it into the giant Monroe militia; Miles knows very well how to lead. Monroe realizes he has to kill Miles immediately, so he drags his crew (including Mark Pellegrino, er, Jeremy, who has apparentally replaced Tom as Monroe’s main man) via helicopter to his and Miles’s old hometown with a plan to draw Miles in.

Meanwhile, Aaron and Rachel arrive at their destination (I can’t remember where it is, sorry), and, rather than allow Aaron to help translate the map to the tower, Juliet sends him to fetch supplies. Aaron spots the wife he abandoned, Priscilla, in the town, but quickly loses her in the crowd.

Back at the rebel camp, Miles approaches Charlie while she’s playing with their newly-acquired militia guns. Miles attempts to tell Charlie how well she fought during the previous day’s battle, but Charlie, angry, shuts him down and straight-up asks Miles what he had done to her mother. Before he can answer, Miles receives a message from Monroe via a militia man, which must be recited privately to Miles. Monroe tells Miles to meet him in their old hometown by dawn, or he’ll kill everyone himself, starting with someone named Emma.

Que flashback: Teenaged Miles is discussing his army enlistment with his girlfriend, Emma.

During present day, adult Emma approaches Monroe. We see a quick flashback of Monroe watching Miles and Emma kiss with obvious jealousy on his face. When Miles isn’t looking, Emma meets Monroe’s gaze head-on. Interesting. Back to the present, Monroe attempts to lie to Emma about the militia’s invasion of their town, claiming they’re protecting everyone from a terrorist threat, but Emma easily sees through his bullshit because they’re “old friends.” The facade is broken, and we (and Emma) see a man being beaten to death for refusing to obey militia orders, and Emma is taken away to the town hall where the rest of the town is being held hostage.

At rebel camp, Charlie walks in on Nora and some other rebels beating the captured militia soldier. Miles has disappeared, and they’re trying to figure out where he’s gone. We next see them stopping beside a lake for a water break, and, after Nora reassures Charlie that Miles will be fine, Charlie admits that she already knows this, and she’s tracking Miles down to make sure he actually kills Monroe this time. I’m loving badass Charlie, but she’s turning into a cold-hearted solider pretty quickly. But, I guess this makes sense. After all, she’s lost most of her family and has Miles for a role model.

Anyway, Monroe visits his parents’ graves and discovers someone has recently put flowers on them. We get another flashback: Miles has fallen asleep on the couch. Emma joins Monroe in the kitchen, and he grabs her hand.

After hours of searching for Priscilla, Aaron finally finds her in a restaurant and hovers creepily for a moment before saying her name. Her response is a bit awkward: “Oh. Aaron. Hi.” Priscilla introduces Aaron to her new husband, Steve, and shoots down Aaron’s request to talk privately. Not surprising, seeing as he once abandoned her. As Aaron and Rachel leave, the camera pans down to reveal Steve training a gun on Priscilla. Sorry, but yawn. Aaron’s always been the weakest character, in my opinion, and I never particularly liked the stuff with his wife, because I felt he didn’t have a good enough reason for abandoning her in the first place. A cowardly, and stupid, move (especially for someone with two PhD’s under his belt). Despite Rachel’s insistence, Aaron refuses to leave town. He sensed something was off with Priscilla.

Moving on, Emma confronts Monroe about the man the militia killed and begs for Monroe to let her and the townspeople go. She reminds Monroe that he loved her once and she loved him (Flashback: the pair kissing in the kitchen while Miles remains asleep on the couch). Monroe receives word that Miles has arrived, but, before leaving Emma, he asks if she’s been putting flowers on his parents’ graves (Yes.) and confesses that he wants to be the person Emma remembers, kisses Emma, and then informs her that the man she remembers is dead before ordering the townspeople to be locked in the town hall basement and burned alive. Smooth, Monroe.

Back at snoozeville, Aaron stumbles upon Priscilla being thrown in the back of a truck by her “husband” Steve, who informs Aaron that Priscilla is a fugitive and tells him to leave. Aaron begins to leave, but reconsiders and attacks the man. Priscilla knocks the man unconscious with a pipe.

While the town hall burns, Miles and the militia engage in a shoot-out. Miles is shot in the leg. As Monroe watches, Miles runs into the town hall to save the townspeople, but, as everyone attempts to leave the burning building, the militia begin shooting. Miles is briefly reunited with Emma before he prepares to apparentally sacrfice himself, but, before he can act, the militia men are shot by Nora and Charlie and the other rebels.

Everyone in the town hall clears out and another shoot-out begins. Monroe brings the gunfire to a halt by grabbing Emma and holding a gun to her head, then yelling for Miles to surrender. Miles refuses to shoot Monroe because he’ll hit Emma. When the other rebels protest, Miles insists he’ll kill anyone who shoots himself. Miles yells to Monroe to kill Emma because he doesn’t care about her, but Monroe easily calls his bluff (Miles was willing to turn himself in to save her, so he obviously cared for her). Emma begs Monroe to spare her life because she wants to see her son again, who is also Monroe’s son (Flashback: Monroe and Emma are sleeping together. A bit of an unnecessary flashback, but Revolution likes to make sure we thoroughly understand everything they are telling us). This news brings Monroe up short (he even tears up!), and he asks Emma where their son is, but before she can tell him, one of the rebels shoots. Emma is killed, but Monroe is only injured. Without hesitation, Miles turns on the man (Dixon) and shoots him dead. Yikes. A pretty brutal move, especially as Miles is our “hero” figure. Great leadership move, killing your own men. Very Monroe-like. Anyway, Monroe, still crying over Emma, is dragged away and escapes in his helicopter.

After Monroe leaves, Charlie confesses to Nora that, if Dixon hadn’t shot Emma, she would have. And she means it. We learn Miles and Emma had been engaged, and now Miles has seen how Monroe is willing to fight, and he’s ready to fight ugly, too.

Back to Aaron, who is getting the truth out of Priscilla. Steve was a bounty hunter tracking Priscilla because she’s wanted by the Monroe militia. Apparentally, Priscilla has an eleven-year-old daughter, and, when a militia soldier tried to hurt her daughter, Priscilla stabbed him to death. Aaron apologizes to Priscilla for leaving her because he thought he’d get her killed, but Priscilla informs Aaron that everyone he left her with died. She forgives him anyway, because everything turned out okay. Though Aaron asks her to come with him and Rachel, Priscilla refuses. Her family’s waiting for her in Texas, and the two part ways. I know Aaron’s reunion with his (ex)wife was supposed to be emotional and everything, but I honestly found myself bored by the entire exchange. How convenient for him to find her and so easily earn her forgiveness. Boring. The Monroe/Emma/Miles stuff, on the other hand, was much, much better. I loved that the two former best friends had once been in love with the same woman, and I loved how she brought out the humanity in Monroe that we so rarely see, as well as the darker side of Miles. And I do enjoy the Charlie/Miles relationship and how Charlie’s turning into a stronger, tougher person because of it. Also, giving Monroe a son is an excellent plotpoint. The man has no emotional ties to anyone anymore, with Emma dead and Miles an enemy, so a son will definitely further humanize the man and (possibly) give him a weakness.

And, lastly, we return to the Georgia federation, where President Redhead (whose name I cannot remember, nor care to look up) excuses Miles for killing his own man because the man couldn’t handle Miles, or something. Cold. The man she chooses to send in Dixon’s place, however, is none other than Tom Neville! Yay! I’m pretty excited for a Miles-Tom team-up, which will undoubtedly be ripe with tension and underlying hatred.

So, all in all, this was a pretty solid episode of Revolution. Withhe exception of Aaron, the character development was pretty impressive and genuinely engaging, and I found myself interested with Monroe’s internal struggles for perhaps the first time thus far in the series.

Rating: 7.5/10

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‘Bates Motel’ S1E7 Recap: Girl Trouble

After six episodes of crazy, nonstop Keith Summers/Zach Shelby drama and scandal, Bates Motel dialed back the fast-paced story for an episode focused almost solely on character drama. Though not much happened plot-wise, the episode featured plenty of introspective Norman drama while hinting at new mysteries arriving in the second half of the season, including a strange new motel resident who may or may not (but let’s be honest, probably will) be conducting illegal “sales” out of the motel, and a stray dog Norman briefly befriends before the dog’s untimely demise (taxidermy, anyone?). Anyway, time to discuss!

Picking up almost immediately where the last episode ended, the cold open found Sheriff Romero arriving at the motel to find Norma pulling Norman (who had finally snapped out of his trance) out of the car, Dylan stumbling, injured, from the house with a gun in his hand and Deputy Zach Shelby lying dead on the stairs. Looking at Norma, Sheriff Romero said, “We’d better talk.” And talk they did. Norma told Sheriff Romero everything, including the truth about Keith Summers’s death. Then, surprising everyone, Sheriff Romero decided to fabricate an entirely new story, one which conveniently explained away the deaths of Keith and Shelby while making himself look the hero. In the new, fake story, Romero suspected Shelby of corruption, a violent confrontation between Keith and Shelby resulted in Keith’s death, Shelby hid the trafficked girl on Keith’s boat, and, when Shelby attempted to move the girl, a showdown occurred on the Bates’ property resulting in Shelby’s death at the Sheriff’s hand. The trafficked girl had been killed by Shelby in the woods before the Sheriff arrived. Dylan, outraged, demanded to know how he’d explain his injury, to which the Sheriff simply responded “You got in the way.” Romero left, and Norma and Norman shared a relieved hug so uncomfortably intimate that Dylan looked away with a weirded-out expression on his face.

The next morning, Norman is sleeping with Bradley again when Norma knocks on his bedroom door, interrupting. But, no, Norman was simply dreaming, and he’s alone. Norma is incredibly cheerful, opening Norman’s blinds and humming with the birds outside, because the motel’s opening in a week’s time. Her good mood quickly sours when Norman reminds her that no one’s made a reservation yet.

Norma sends Norman outside to fix the lattice beneath the porch, where Norman finds a mangy stray dog hiding. Inside, Dylan walks into the kitchen to find Norma making him breakfast. Dylan is suspicious of his mother’s niceness and informs her that he’s still moving out, as soon as his arm heals. “Even after everything I told you about your brother?” Norma demands, and Dylan insists he doesn’t think he’d be of much help. Too bad, because Dylan’s the only normal member of the family and would undoubtedly be a good influence on Norman. Maybe his mind will change in time; we’ll see.

As Dylan’s taking out the trash, an odd man wearing dark sunglasses pulls up in a black car and rolls his window down. After the man asks about the Seafairer Motel, Dylan informs her the motel has new owners and Keith Summers has died. The man immediately leaves.

Later, Norma stops by a local restaurant and asks if the manager will display brochures of the motel for promotion, and Norma volunteers to do the same for the restaurant at the motel. The restaurant manager refuses, because, despite Sheriff Romero’s official story, rumors are still circulating around town about the scandal at the Bates’, and the motel’s reputation is already tainted. Upset, Norma returns to the motel and dumps the restaurant’s pamphlets in the trash before noticing someone attempting to enter one of the motel rooms. The man, whom Dylan had met while taking out the trash, informed Norma that he’d had a standing room reservation with Keith Summers. After introducing himself as Jake Abernathy, he asked, very adamantly, for a key to Room 9. Norma obliged. Dylan arrived, and, after learning that Norma had forgotten, offered to get the man’s information. Abernathy rather reluctantly handed his driver’s license to Dylan, and, instead of a credit card, paid fully in cash (which he had a substantial stack of). Clearly this man had some sort of business arrangement with Keith Summers, possibly involving human trafficking, but whatever “sales” business he claims to be involved in will likely turn into a whole new scandal for the Bates Motel to face.

Anyway, poor Norman remains stubbornly hung up on Bradley after their one-night stand, despite her repeatedly blowing him off and everyone else’s insistence that the two aren’t even remotely together romantically. While picking up supplies, Norman and Dylan run into Bradley in the parking lot. After an awkward conversation, Bradley walks away, but not before exchanging a glance with Dylan. Maybe I’m building this into something it’s not, but the glance seemed loaded with the potential for a future relationship of some sort. Could be wishful thinking, but you never know with this show.

That night, Norma is woken up by a banging noise coming from the kitchen. When she investigates, the house and yard are empty. Hmm. The next day, Emma stops by to see Norman, but Norman has no desire to see her and tells Norma to inform Emma that he’s sick. Emma clearly doesn’t buy this and, crying, begins to leave the house. Norma, taking pity, invites Emma into town with her to buy curtain sheers and have lunch. On the drive, Emma brings up Bradley and Norma drills her for information. Emma knows where Bradley is, because she does yoga beside her father’s shop, and offers to show her to Norma. The two spy on Bradley, whom Norma recognizes, and Norma has a quick, highly sexualized mental image of Norman and Bradley hooking up. The mental-image scene was short, but highly creepy and incestuous.

Back at the motel, Norma catches Norman feeding the dog (now named Juno) and chides him. As the two are doing dishes, Norman begs his mother to let him keep the dog, and Norma eventually relents. However, Norma quickly changes the subject to sex, which, as suspected, is extremely awkward and weird (even more so than a normal mother/son sex talk because it’s the Bateses). Norma warns Norman away from sleeping with Bradley (a girl Norma doesn’t particularly like because she visited Norman a day after the Bateses moved in) by telling him about the chemicals released in a woman’s body during and after sex that affect the woman’s mind. When Norman insists he really likes Bradley, and their relationship isn’t just a fling, Norma informs him that she’s hired Emma to work part-time around the motel. Angry with his mother for interfering with his life and attempting to control who he dates, Norman storms out and heads to Bradley’s.

When Norman rings Bradley’s doorbell, she attempts to blow him off once again, but Norman is adamant that they talk about their relationship. After Norman confesses that he has feelings for Bradley and feels a connection between them, Bradley tells Norman that those feelings aren’t reciprocated. After making a comment that she shouldn’t have slept with “someone like [Norman]”, Norman gets angry and leaves. Bradley follows, and we hear Norman repeating his mother’s reasons for not trusting a girl like Bradley to himself. Bradley catches up to Norman, who begins to go into one of his trances. I was afraid he was going to hurt her, but after saying “You’re not a nice girl,” Bradley apologizes and hugs him. Norman calms and snaps out of it. Disaster averted.

At the motel, Jake stops by the lobby, startling Norma, and compliments her on the motel. The two exchange a polite conversation before Jake asks to resume the standing room reservation he had with Keith. The man needs not only Room 9, but the entire block of rooms surrounding Room 9, for the first week of every other month. And, as he claims, he (and his “business partners”) like privacy, so the rooms don’t need to be cleaned for the entire week. Not at all weird, Mr. Abernathy. Norma, rightfully suspicious, asks if the man’s business is illegal, and he laughingly replies that it isn’t. Sure.

Lastly, Norman arrives home from Bradley’s. Juno barks across the street when she sees him, but, after encouraging her to come to him, Norman spots headlights down the road. Panicking, he yells at Juno to stay, but it’s too late–Juno has already started crossing and is hit by the car. Already upset over his exchange with Bradley, Norman freaks out, insisting Emma’s dad can save the dead dog. His frantic yelling even appears to scare Norma, and the episode ends with Norman confessing that he was wrong about everything and Norma running to get the car.

Bates Motel has been one of my absolute favorite new shows this season, with each episode consistently delivering great story and character material. This episode, though not as stuffed plot-wise, gave the audience a reprieve from the ongoing action and allowed us to delve farther into Norman’s increasingly psychotic mind. As a big fan of character-driven stories, these types of episodes are gold for me, and Norman Bates is an excellent character to study and watch onscreen. A great episode, all around, and I can’t wait to discover more about Jake Abernathy, and hopefully see the beginnings of Norman’s taxidermy obsession.

Rating: 8/10

‘Hemlock Grove’ Review

Hemlock Grove is so unconventional that I’m not even sure where to begin.

Let’s see…

The show centers around the small, supernaturally-charged town of Hemlock Grove, where young girls are being murdered by a mysterious being who might be human or monster or a mixture of both. The main suspect is gypsy Peter Rumancek, who has just moved to town with his mother, Lynda, after the death of his uncle.

The police aren’t the only ones interested in Peter; he also attracts the attention of teenaged, wannabe novelist Christina, Peter’s own cousin Destiny, the town psychic, and Roman Godfrey, who believes he is a “warrior” tasked with solving the murders and catching the killer himself.

The town, and show, is full to the brim with a cast of colorful, odd characters, including, but not limited to, Roman’s sister, Shelley, a soft-hearted girl with a monstrous appearance, Roman’s mother, Olivia, a secretive and intimidating woman who is hated by the majority of the town, Roman’s cousin Letha, who claims she has been impregnated by an angel, and Letha’s father, psychiatrist Norman, who serves as confidant to Shelley.

As the elusive killer is hunted, the town and it’s inhabitants’ various secrets and hidden monstrosities begin to slowly unfold, often in horrific, and occasionally gory, detail.

Weaknesses include several instances of clunky, awkward dialogue, a plot that was nearly nonsensical at times, a vaguely misogynistic ending and Oliva’s incredibly unnatural accent. Also, though the show starts slow, the pace quickly picks up a few episodes in, and you’ll find yourself drawn to Hemlock Grove‘s strange story and fascinatingly complex cast of characters.

By no means great TV, Hemlock Grove is still impulsively watchable, surprisingly entertaining, and well worth binge-watching over the course of a weekend or two.

Rating: 7/10

Binge-Watching v. Serial Viewing

I’m currently working my way through Netflix’s newly-released series Hemlock Grove, and it’s making me consider which is the best, or most rewarding, way to watch a TV series.

Personally, I like both options: binge-watching and serial viewing. I have numerous shows I’ve been following on television for months/years, but I also like to binge-watch past, or currently airing, television shows on Netflix. Recently, I binge-watched The CW’s Supernatural over several weeks, and now I watch the show on a weekly basis. Both ways I watched it, I enjoyed it.

However, not all shows seem to work well in a serial format. Both Hemlock Grove and Netflix’s previous release, House of Cards, probably wouldn’t have lasted as serial television shows. Both tell their stories with a slow place; if they had aired on television, viewers likely would’ve gotten bored within the first few episodes and dropped off. However, when viewed straight through, the shows tell a coherent, in-depth multi-part story. Highly gratifying story-telling, but in a different way than traditional serial viewing.

Another thing I’ve noticed when binge-watching any show is my inability to grow attached to the characters in the same way I do with serial viewing. I’ve been watching The CW’s The Vampire Diaries since its premiere in 2009, so I’ve been following the characters’ stories and journies on a weekly basis for four years now. I feel much more attached to Stefan and Elena than I do Jim and Pam, since I’ve only begun watching The Office on Netflix earlier this month. While I love both sets of characters, I feel like I know the former much better than the latter. I’m a huge fan of character-centric stories and strong characters, so this is a pretty sizeable hit against binge-watching for me.

As an avid television viewer for nearly a decade now, I’ve found that TV shows are a highlight of my week; something to look forward to watching, discussing with friends, family, or other fans, and debating what’s occurred and what’s to come. With the show Lost, half the fun of viewing was debating and theorizing about the show’s mysteries. When binge-watching, the mystery is all but gone; how can there be any suspense when the next episode, or episodes, are readily available? While fans can still discuss the show after (or while) binge-watching, the fun of a weekly chat/discussion is eradicated.

Honestly, I don’t believe Netflix is ruining the way we watch TV, but simply causing it to evolve. I love Netflix, but I’ll never stop tuning in to watch shows on a weekly basis in favor of pure binge-watching. And more often than not, I’m able to catch-up on a show on Netflix and begin watching it on a weekly basis. Netflix is helping build fanbases rather than destroy them.

In the end, neither option is really better than the other. Too many variables need to be accounted for, such as the audience, the way the story is told, the story’s pacing, etc. Some shows are capable of being enjoyed equally well either way you watch, while others only work one way or the other.

I love television, so I’m happy with both options if it means I have constant access to quality storytelling and characters.

Anyway, back to binge-watching Hemlock Grove. Oh, and I’ll also be tuning in to a new episode of ABC’s Once Upon A Time (another show I’ve been watching since the premiere).