‘Revolution’ S1E20 Recap: Hello, Mr. President

Despite a thoroughly weak season overall, the final ten minutes of Revolution‘s uneven season finale offered hope that the second season will be, if not better, then at least stronger and more intriguing. I’m going to talk about why in a moment, but I’m going to get the beginning half hour out of the way first.

After a strange, somewhat nonsensical music video-like “Previously on…”, the episode picked up right where we last saw Miles and Monroe: aiming guns at one another. The two spend a brief moment debating whether or not to attack the other before the tower inhabitants arrive and start attacking. After some eye action from Miles and affirming head noddage from Monroe, the two team up and begin to shoot at their mutual enemies. The two plus Nora run, and, despite being tortured and almost killed at his hands for a month, Nora makes absolutely no argument or move against Monroe. You’d think she’d take advantage of such an opportunity, but no. The trio wide up at the tower’s water supply and end up getting separated in the water after the tower inhabitants shoot down their exit bridge.

Meanwhile, Aaron, Charlie and Rachel are still with Grace and the man whose name I’ve already forgotten. Grace still refuses to allow Rachel to turn the power back on, because a “one in a billion” chance of the world exploding is just too dangerous. Not kidding. There is literally a ONE IN A BILLION CHANCE of, as Aaron calls them, the “machines sucking up energy” destroying the planet. Way to dumb down the science while simultaneously removing all stakes, Revolution. The man in charge proceeds to inform Rachel and co. that Miles has left the building and threaten to murder Aaron, Rachel and Charlie if they go anywhere near level 12.

Back at Camp Militia, Neville approaches the reluctant major who refuses to turn on Monroe. After informing the major that, unlike Monroe, Neville is neither “brutal nor capricious” (both of which are so, so untrue), Neville tells the man he’ll set him free. I’m not sure why Neville even wasted his time with this little spiel, because he immediately picks up the man’s gun, shoots a few bullets through the tent, and then shoots the major. When Neville’s son (whose name I still can’t remember after 20 episodes) rushes in, Neville informs him that he shot the man in self-defense.

Miles wakes up on a beach with Monroe hovering over him. The two resume their feud and fistfight on the beach until a turned militiaman attacks them. After ignoring Monroe’s orders to stand down, the militiaman runs and Miles escapes.

Cue a flashback that’s slightly-less worthless than usual: Ten years post-blackout, Miles and Monroe are celebrating Miles’s birthday by reminiscing about past birthdays involving one-legged strippers and dodge ball when a rebel bomb goes off and knocks the pair to the ground.

Present day, Aaron is snooping on Grace’s computer when he discovers code he wrote as a student at MIT. Grace informs him that he wrote the tower’s operating system and asks, “Why do you think Ben found you in the first place?”

Neville wants to storm the tower, but his rightfully-suspicious son confronts him about how quickly he changes sides. Neville side-steps this by telling his son he needs his help and promising to keep Charlie and Rachel alive. Their tense conversation is interrupted by a sentry arriving with news of Monroe’s location.

After telling Grace about Danny’s birth in an attempt to bring Grace to her side, Rachel attacks an unmoving Grace with chloroform and steals her key card. Speaking of key cards, earlier in the episode Randall retrieved a spare key card hidden behind a photograph of President Bush. This will be important later.

As Miles wanders through the woods, we get our second flashback of the episode. Nora sits at an injured Miles’s beside and Monroe comes in. The trio watch from the window as five caskets are loaded onto a truck, and Miles is surprised by how many rebels attacked them. Monroe is quick to correct him: only one bomber attacked, and the remaining four caskets contain the rebel’s wife and children. Monroe plans to use the bomber as an example, and his brutality clearly shocks both Nora and Miles.

Monroe finds Miles in the woods and attacks him. Miles simply knocks Monroe to the ground and continues walking. Honestly, I am so sick of this feud. Kiss and make up already, or kill each other and be done with it. I don’t care, I just want them to MOVE ON. Thankfully, a helicopter arrives and shoots at the pair.

After Aaron revealed a backdoor he’d written into the code, he, Rachel, Charlie and Nora head to level 12. Nora and Rachel share a conversation in the hallway about Miles, and how he’s still in love with Rachel, etc., etc. I’d write more about this conversation, but I zoned out during almost all of it. Wasn’t Rachel and Miles’s past relationship only briefly established and touched upon a few episodes ago? Are we really supposed to care about this?

Anyway, a handcuffed Monroe is brought to Neville’s tent and dropped at his feet. Neville smugly greets Monroe by saying, “General. There’s been a change in management.” Snort. Monroe stupidly threatens Neville whilst handcuffed, but Neville only laughs at him and mentions Monroe’s strange fixation with Miles. Then Neville refuses Monroe’s pleas to simply kill him. He wants to have at least a semblance of a fair trial before Monroe’s execution, because he’d like to inspire the troops rather than frighten them, as Monroe did. Good luck, Neville.

Inside the tower, Nora attacks approaching tower inhabitants by tossing a fire extinguisher at them. The extinguisher is hit by gunfire and explodes, which somehow successfully cleared the hallway. Unfortunately, Nora took a fatal bullet to the gut.

After stabbing the tent’s guard, Miles approaches Monroe and cuts him free. He then tells Monroe he can’t kill him because they’re “still brothers.” Seriously, Miles? MONROE IS A MONSTER AND A VILLAIN. And not even a good one! Ugh, anyway. Miles tells Monroe to run and proceeds to call the guards. He uses the diversion to slip into the tower via the hole the militia had blown into the tower’s side.

While Charlie and Aaron frantically try to help a dying Nora, Rachel wants to abandon her and keep heading for level 12. Charlie tries to stop her mother and appeal to her humanity, but Rachel doesn’t really give a damn about Nora and ignores her daughter. She wants to turn the power on for Danny, so his life and death will have meant something. Rachel grabs Aaron and the two leave.

After hearing Nora cry out in the pain, a guard easily bursts down the door Charlie had locked and attacks. Miles arrives just in time and stabs the guard in the neck. It’s nice to see Charlie, who the show has been trying and failing spectacularly to turn into a badass, still needs saving. Charlie, you’re hopeless. Please change. Nora tells Miles to go after Rachel, but he refuses to leave Nora. However, Nora dies in Miles’s arms as the trio try to get her to safety. Bye, Nora. I guess it was nice knowing you? I don’t know. I had no particular feelings about her death.

The militia meet Rachel and Aaron on the way to level 12, and Neville makes good on his promise not to kill Rachel. However, their hostile meeting is quickly cut short by Charlie and Miles’s arrival. Gunfire ensues, and the four escape inside level 12.

Neville wants the militia to blow down the door and kill everyone inside despite the promise he made to his son (God, what is his name? I could look it up, but I just don’t care enough). Aaron types in his backdoor code, but hesitates before hitting the key to authorize. Seriously, zero stakes here. A one in a billion chance is so absurdly ridiculous–couldn’t Revolution have made the threat a little more, I don’t know, threatening? Actually, I still wouldn’t have believed them, because a show threatening to destroy the whole planet along with its entire cast is no threat whatsoever (unless we’re talking Game of Thrones, but unfortunately we’re not). Aaron hits the authorization key, and the screen goes black.

At first, I thought this would’ve been a great place to end the season. It would’ve been reminiscent of Lost‘s fifth season finale, when (incoming Lost spoilers) Juliet detonated the bomb and everything went white, leaving the fate of the castaways up in the air. However, after seeing the final 8 or so minutes, I was glad they chose not to.

We got a shot of lights flickering on around the planet, and then brief glimpses of past character’s reactions to the lights returning, including Neville’s wife and the current president, who immediately commanded her men their machinery for war. The fleeing Monroe paused in the middle of a field to watch a sudden, furious lightning storm, which, I can’t lie, made for a pretty visual. But the best part happened back at level 12. Randall, who spent the whole season being sidelined by Monroe, revealed himself to be a far-cleverer character than any one else on the show. While everyone else wasted their energy attacking each other, Randall quietly initiated his own undercover plan. He locked Aaron, Charlie, Miles and Rachel in one of level 12’s rooms, away from the computers, and proceeded to override the system and launch missiles at Atlanta and Philadelphia while our heroes watched helplessly behind bullet-proof glass. As the missiles sped toward their targets, Randall informed Rachel that all he wanted to do was expedite the war and join what remained of the country together. He was a patriot, after all, and wanted peace. Just as I was marveling about how genuinely intriguing a villain Randall would be, he shot himself in the head. The last scene of the season took place on Guantanamo Bay, where the actual president from before the blackout (!!!) was hiding out. One of his men informed him that Randall had been successful in his mission, and the president (whose face we never saw) told his man to prepare for their return to the U.S.

Honestly, I planned on dropping Revolution from my viewing schedule next season, but I can’t lie–after that last scene, I’m interested enough to at least watch the season 2 premiere. Who knows, maybe season 2 will actually be good! (I’m not getting my hopes up.)

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‘Revolution’ S1E19 Recap: Tower Time

Last night’s Revolution found the entire cast converging on the mysterious tower, which turned out to be less of a skyscraper and more of an underground bunker. The show’s been building up to this tower for so long that I expected the pay-off would be halfway decent, but, silly me, I forgot this is Revolution and my (very) half-hearted hopes were dashed by a duo of useless flashbacks, several weak attempts at character development and emotional resonance, a surprising amount of blood and gore, and the seeds of a revolt against Monroe.

Anyway, let’s get started.

The episode picked up immediately where the last ended: Rachel was in Monroe’s tent preparing to pull the pin on a grenade and kill both of them. Since Rachel is one of the only semi-interesting characters on this show (plus, hello, Elizabeth Mitchell), I wasn’t really expecting her to succeed on this suicide mission. At the last minute, Rachel was knocked to the ground and the grenade was wrestled away from her by one of Monroe’s soldiers; he tossed the grenade away, and it exploded uselessly away from the tent.

Meanwhile, Miles and crew were preparing to storm the tower, with five people against an army. Good plan already, Miles. Once at the tower, they found Aaron and learned Monroe had pulled Rachel into the tower with him. Rachel, who didn’t have the security clearance to open the tower’s doors, didn’t understand why the door had opened for her. In answer, we were shown a shot of men watching the group from a room filled with monitors. The tower inhabitants grabbed their guns in preparation to greet Monroe, Rachel and the others.

After showing Monroe satellites within the tower that would allow Monroe to spy on or kill anyone he so desired to, Flynn mentioned that, to properly operate the satellites’ powers, they’d have to visit level 12. Rachel immediately admonished Flynn, and Monroe knew Flynn was telling the truth. So, naturally, Monroe ordered Flynn to take him to level 12.

A surprise met the group on the elevator: the tower inhabitants opened the elevator’s doors and began to shoot everyone inside. Rachel managed to escape and find a bunker for safety, but before she could shut the doors, Monroe pushed his way inside with her. Rachel attempted to stab Monroe with a pair of scissors, but he knocked them away and demanded answers. Rachel refused to give them.

Miles and co. managed to get inside the tower with the help of Aaron and his journal. However, Jason and Tom were left behind to fight off Monroe’s men. Miles ordered Jason to shut the door on them, and the two ended up being captured by Monroe’s men.

In a flashback that occurred a week before the blackout, we saw Rachel arguing with Ben. He told her they needed to get through the week, and Rachel agreed, but said afterwards they should take a break from each other. I still have no idea why this particular flashback was included in the episode. Why did we need to know Rachel and Ben weren’t getting along pre-blackout? Who knows. And who even cares, really.

Miles and co. reached the tower level where Monroe’s men had been slaughtered. Some tower inhabitants found them and began to shoot. The crew managed to escape, stumbling across a room filled with monkeys in cages before climbing to safety through a grate in the wall.

Back in the bunker, Monroe attempted to smash open a glass case holding weapons while Rachel passively watched. After again refusing to help Monroe, Rachel admitted that she did indeed have answers to all of his questions, but she wanted him dead for murdering her son. After attempting to make excuses (for example, he wasn’t responsible for her son’s death because he wasn’t there), Monroe confessed to Rachel that he had a son, as well. Then, he admitted, “I know exactly how much blood is on my hands.” Revolution can’t seem to decide whether they want us to hate or pity Monroe; every time he does something halfway decent, he proceeds to do something monstrously awful. He’s not even morally ambiguous, just paranoid and irrational.

In another flashback, this one four months post-blackout, we see Ben trying to communicate with someone via his computer as Rachel returns home from fetching supplies. Having seen dead bodies lying in the street and a starving boy Charlie’s age, Rachel breaks down from guilt. She tells Ben she doesn’t know if she can live with what they’ve done, but Ben tells her none of that matters now, and the only thing that matters is their children. Um, great advice Ben. Who gives a damn about the thousands you killed so you could shut the power down? But this flashback wasn’t about Ben’s careless advice, it was an attempt to tie Rachel to Monroe. Both had blood on their hands, though Rachel seems to be handling it better now than Monroe. He’s simply killing more people, while she’s trying to right her past wrongs by getting rid of Monroe and turning the power back on. Anyway, the flashback ended with Grace responding to Ben.

After finding an empty armory, Miles and co. found themselves once again under fire. Rachel saw them on a monitor in the bunker. Monroe leaped on this chance to negotiate with Rachel. He promised to save her daughter if Rachel gave him access to the weapons. As Charlie is trapped beneath a shelf and about to be killed, Monroe shoots the tower inhabitant aiming his gun at her and saves her. Then, Monroe has the audacity to ask for a thank you for saving her! Oh, Monroe. Rachel grabs her daughter and Aaron, and the trio attempt to escape only to round a corner and run straight into more guns.

After saving Miles and Nora, Monroe aims a gun at Miles and demands they finish their feud once and for all. The episode leaves them aiming their guns at one another.

Rachel, Charlie and Aaron are led to tower inhabitants’ hideout, where Grace and some guy Rachel used to know named Dan are living. According to Dan, the group’s been guarding level 12 since the blackout because it’s too dangerous and powerful for anyone to get their hands on. He then burns the journal with the notes for turning the power back on, despite Rachel and Aaron’s frantic protests. According to Grace, turning the power on will result in two possible outcomes: one, the lights are back, or two, the world will be set on fire. Okay, whatever Revolution. Obviously you need a reason to delay turning on the power to keep the show going, but really? The world itself might burn? This reveal was stupid and not at all shocking, and the stakes in this world still seem relatively low, especially with the show’s main villain turning into a whimpering, paranoid fool.

Lastly, Jason and Tom spent the episode teaming up to get inside the head of the militia soldier guarding them. Unsurprisingly, they succeeded. Monroe was killing his best men, after all, and, as Tom said, he was no longer the man he used to be. The solider freed them and told them at least 12 men were on their side. Maybe this revolt will succeed in Monroe’s death? I hope so. I’d like to see Tom as head villain.

So, all in all, a fairly lackluster episode. Maybe next week’s episode will be better (Ha! Don’t count on it).

 

Rating: 6/10

‘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