Episode 8: Ties that Bind
By: Carlos Uribe
Revolution is a show set 15-years after electricity died.
Who is Nora? She's been presented as a former love interest of Monroe who has problems with authority. She's good with explosives and guns. The only reason that she's helping them is because she gave a promise to Charlie. While she's been involved in the plot, the series hasn't really done a lot to develop her character. The series decides that this will be the episode that concentrates on her but she doesn't really get that much fleshed out. This is because it doesn't focus on any of the established information that we know about her. It doesn't focus on her previous relationship with Monroe or the baby she had lost that caused her to join the rebellion. It focused on an aspect of her that is introduced in this episode and that's her relationship with her sister. Finding out she has a sister is news to the audience. The show decided that this relationship is so important that it's going to focus the flashbacks and the main plot on that. The problem is that since we barely really know Nora and know nothing about her sister that this entire plot felt contrived and it didn't really add anything to the actual character. All it did was continue this series theme that people will do anything for family or even the promise of family.
Let's take Nora in the past. We're taken back to the time right after the blackout. She's a young teenager with a little sister. The first time we see them it's a shot of the two hiding under the bed from armed men. When morning comes, Nora leaves her little sister to check on her mother. When Nora finds the dead body of her mom, she decides that she'll try to hide the truth from her little sister and to go to their father's house. This takes a while since the two are from San Antonio and their dad's house is in Galveston. It's kind of surprising that the two young girls are able to make that trek within a reasonable time frame. By kind of surprising, I mean it stretches disbelief. It would have made much more sense to have the father's home on the other side of San Antonio. Actually, San Antonio is too big for that to properly work. Whatever the case, the show is asking us to believe that these two young girls made it to Galveston without any problems. That's not the biggest obstacle to this plot. The two actresses shown to potray these young sisters are terrible and the writing doesn't do them any favors. They appear more like how television pretends children to be than actual children. Not once does it seem believable that they are actually sisters. The flashbacks are supposed to establish the bond between them but it fails in their very purpose.
The attempt to fail to establish the bond in the flashbacks hurt the main plot where the core of the conflict was with Nora's sister. Whenever the two are on screen together, the writing regresses and they never appear like they're actual siblings. It actually feels like this is the first time they've met and they don't really care that much about each other. This is partly the writing but also the casting. There are many different kinds of chemistry on television and one of those types is the one that makes you believe people are family. There is no chemistry that leads you to believe these two sisters are actually related. The entire conflict of the episode about whether Nora should chose her family or not feels forced because of this. When her sister betrays Nora's friends once Nora leaves with her, it's supposed to come as a big surprise. It doesn't not only because it's predictable but because the series failed to convince me that there's any actual bond between the two. That we don't know who Mia really is also ensures that the betrayal doesn't really resonate.
This is a pity because everything outside the relationship between Nora and her sister worked like a charm. Strausser is an effective villain whose able to get the necklace from Aaron even though he doesn't get Miles. Monroe is pleased because he knows that the necklace is key to turning the power back on. Monroe also has to deal with problems within the milita. Neville's son is being beat up for asking questions and Monroe is threatening to send him to California. Neville decides to respond by alerting Monroe that a colleague's son actually joined the rebellion. Monroe decides that he'll allow Neville to try and control his own son. It does convince Neville's wife to encourage him to overthrow Monroe. Everything that is happening at the capitol is getting more interesting than what's happening on the road.
Ties that Bind is an episode that has many good elements but it fails to come together to form a good epsiode because it's core is bad. The episode is supposed to be about the bond between Nora and her sister but it never actually establishes that bond to begin with. This is supposed to be Nora's episode but it doesn't develop her in any beneficial way. Ties that Bind needed to establish that sisterly bond in order to work.
The preview for the next episode makes it look like it's going to be the episode where Danny gets rescued and the magic pendants are fought over. The marketing decided that this wasn't the hook of the episode: the Led Zeppelin music was.