Episode 16: The Love Boat
By: Carlos Uribe
Revolution is a show set 15-years after electricity died.
How far would you go to win a war? This is a question that the episode presents to the characters. Monroe is willing to do what it takes to beat the rebels. When Randall cautions him to not be as vicious, Monroe basically ignores him. He thinks Miles wouldn't pull any punches so he can't. He's committed entirely to winning the civil war which makes him dangerous. He's willing to develop anthrax and use it against the rebels or people he thinks might be helping them. There's no question he would use them. This was the leader who wanted to use a nuclear bomb to force Georgia into surrendering to him. The rebels learns about this so our group of heroes go on a mission to kidnap the doctor from the militia facilities. It's always a bit funny how fiction always has that one scientist who is only capable of accomplishing the scientific research. Like there's only one doctor who has studied how to many diseases in the whole region. Of course, if there was more than one than it would make it difficult to justify these kind of episodes. Anyways, the conflict comes from two places. The first is that Miles kidnaps the doctor's family to force him to develop the anthrax for Georgia. This is basically the same thing he did to Charlie's mom which is a sign that he hasn't completely changed. The second is that Neville joins them and there's immediate tension between him and every single member of the group. They're forced to work with them because he controls the guns and supplies from Georgia but they set up some boundaries on how much he can do by the end of the episode. The main plot with the anthrax plot had some pretty exciting moments because of this question of how far they're willing to go and the tension that Neville brought.
Miles is willing to do anything to win the war. He knows what Monroe is capable off and that's partly what drives him to extremes. There's a moment at the beginning of the episode where he orders a fire squad to execute a member of the milita. The idea is that they're at war and guess what? War ain't pretty. It's ugly filled with constant compromises in ethics. Miles escaped the milita so that he wouldn't have to be the general who is willing to do anything to achieve victory. He is slowly changing but it's a rocky path. He goes along with the plan to kidnap the doctor's family and hold them hostage until he realizes that he's wrong. Nora threatens to transfer to another regiment because she's not comfortable with this version of Miles. Charlie locks him in a room because she plans to rescue the doctor and his family. She has help from Nora and Jason so that they can stage a mutiny and get the doctor to rebel friends that will ensure he can't be found by anyone. It is their dedication to doing the right thing that finally brings Miles on board. He helps their mutiny when Neville threatens to bring it to an end. It's a sign of character development that he's able to overcome the temptation to allow the doctor to create anthrax for his side. As for Neville? Tensions ring pretty high and there's multiple moments where the characters have to draw their guns on him. He even goes as far as to strike Charlie until Miles threatens to kill him if he ever does that again. Neville is so insulted by their lack of respect that he actually tries to have them killed. When this fails, he returns to the camp only to find out how little his pride matters as long as Miles can deliver results. The show had a lot of fun by putting Neville into their regiment as the conflict his presence created was always strong material. He might be on their side but he's definably in enemy territory.
The sub-plot is a lot less exciting. The Monroe Republic was introduced as a strong military dictatorship. We now know it's considered a third-world country but it's access to energy makes it a force to be reckoned with. It's instability with insurgents and the war with Georgia is enough to undermine it's strength. The Georgia Federation was introduced as a wealthy society that had used plantations to set up a different kind of order. They have managed to introduce steam-power into their normal lives and have developed a powerful military force in this new world. It's the kind of world-building that made the world of Revolution look alive. The previous episode had Rachel and Aaron enter the Plains Nation but it barely did anything to differentiate this new country from the Monroe Republic. It concentrated on a personal story that could have easily taken place without them having crossed the border. This is an episode that shows us more of the Plains Nation and it seems logical but lacks the creative energy that had set the Georgia Federation apart. The Plains Nation has basically developed into a cowboy society. It's a poor country where bartering isn't productive because food is scarce. The law of the land is harsh as Rachel and Aaron are forced into stealing some food. Their punishment when caught is to be executed. Of course, Rachel is able to shoot their captor but they have to run away. I understand that the Plains Nation wouldn't be prosperous but it does make you wonder why Monroe ever feared their potential army. The society itself felt vanilla and more could have been done to make it stand out within the world of Revolution.
The plot starts out decently enough with Rachel and Aaron trying to get food. They steal some and get caught. Rachel shoots their captor and the two are forced to run away. Rachel falls down and breaks her bone in a particularly gruesome scene. I don't want to see any bones sticking out when I'm eating pizza, okay? The plot then sort of dwindles down as there's long exchanges on whether Aaron should stick around or not. There is a reveal where Aaron is revealed to be important because a piece of newspaper celebrating some software code of his was in the “spell book” that Rachel has. No, I'm serious: the series actually used the word “spell book” to refer to the Tower manual. Like, I'm hoping Aaron is able to learn how to do tech skills like in an actual RPG so he can be more useful in combat. I'm sorry Rachel but simply containing all the details about the Tower doesn't make it a spell book unless it provides some kind of skill for Aaron to learn. It's more of an encyclopedia or I guess you could go with a bible. Small rant aside, Aaron insists that he sticks around because that's what a character is supposed to do on television while Rachel argues the opposite for basically the same reason. The small action that interrupts their little debate is brutal but it's only a small intermission between their debate. Overall, the sub-plot could have worked a lot better if the Plains Nation wasn't so vanilla and if it had made their debates more character-based rather than generic stances and points.
The Love Boat is a good episode of Revolution. The main plot is strong because of the question that the characters are asked: how far are they really willing to go? The tension that Neville brings to the episode is golden and executed pretty flawlessly. The sub-plot drags the episode down as the debate on whether Aaron should leave Rachel felt as generic as the Plains Nation. Can we please get them to the Tower already? It's clear nothing interesting is going to happen until they actually get there because the Plains Nation is so plain.