Episode 18: Clue
By: Carlos Uribe
Revolution is a show set 15-years after electricity died.
I like the idea behind Clue. I really do. It's smart to put together a whole bunch of characters that barely trust each other in an isolated area. It's smart to have members of their group show up dead as they quickly figure out that the killer is one of them. There are a few problems with Clue that ended up being it's downfall. The first is that the characters killed are supposed to be high-value targets but they basically only exist in this episode. It makes sense since Revolution can't kill any of the main characters but it would have been nice if we at least knew who these one-off characters were beyond “pilot” and “random guy”. I honestly have no idea who the second character who was killed was or what he was doing on the mission. He's basically a red shirt despite having a name. The whole impact of these murders could have hit home if the audience had at least some idea of who they were. It's by necessity that these characters couldn't be crucial to the narrative but that doesn't mean they had to be total strangers. Is anybody going to miss the pilot? The second character who got killed? Nope. It feels like a cheap narrative trick to have these unknowns be the first two characters killed because it felt like Revolution was playing it safe. Nobody that mattered was going to die which hurt the overall stakes that the main characters were in danger from this killer. The only two characters that did die were at the end of the episode and it was disappointing for two reasons. The first character that died was in only one episode before this and he held promise for the tension he couldn't maintained with the rest of the rebellion. The second character is the one who did kill the people and his death was simply a waste of the actor's talent. Yes-the character deaths should be recurring characters that we know but they shouldn't feel like the writers didn't properly utilize the actors or were wasting any promise that the characters had.
The title “Clue” refers to the boardgame and movie that's all about figuring out whose the killer. There's multiple suspects, potential murder weapons, and a detective tasked with solving the crime. The detective in this episode is Miles. It's a bit odd that not a single character suspected him of being the killer considering the mistrust that they had for each other. It's just as odd nobody really suspected Charlie. Just about every other character was fair game and the writers tried their best to give them proper motivations to build the level of mystery. Nora is suspected because she had been broken by Monroe and she's under pills whose side effects include paranoia and psychotic behavior. It doesn't help that she was found unconscious near a knife with a cut on her arm. The theory that she gut hurt while killing one of the guys was floated around but Miles refused to believe it was her. Neville is suspected because he's Neville and nobody in the group trusts him. Nate is suspected because he was seen speaking with a militia officer who had offered him a job to kill Miles in exchange for Charlie's safety. He refused the job but the pocket knife found in his pocket made him a primary suspect. Seaborn is suspected because he had been able to easily get Nora out of the militia camp and could be a spy from the Monroe Republic. It is Seaborn who is last murdered by the real killer. The final suspect is Jim who had been away from the characters for the last few weeks. His motive is that the militia was threatening to kill his wife, he didn't really believe in the cause, and he's mad at Miles for ruining his personal life. This is supposed to come as a big betrayal but it doesn't really work because we never really got to know Jim or his relationship with Miles. We're simply told they're friends and that was as far as the writers went. His motive makes sense but the reveal that he was the killer felt like a practical choice rather than an organic one. It doesn't help that he's barely been present since he was introduced. He was supposed to be a general that helped train the rebels but he's largely been absent from having any role in the narrative. His betrayal therefore lacks any shock value and is a disappointing way to end what could have been a promising character.
The sub-plot involves the tower. Rachel and Aaron finally reach it but they've been beaten by the Monroe Republic. They were able to easily set up base despite being in the middle of two Plains tribes. I'm not sure why this threat is established seeing as how they play absolutely no role in this episode. The Plains Nation is also developed a bit in the main plot with the “clue” plot in that the killer tries to place the blame on the tribes by leaving the bodies as to how they would leave it. In other words: the Plains Nation is developed a bit but it remains a non-entity despite the references to it. Anyways, Rachel and Aaron can't just walk into the Tower anymore. They have to figure out a way to get to the door. As for the Republic? They also can't get into the Tower since the people inside it have managed to lock Randall out. Which makes Randall nervous since the only reason he's alive is because he promised he could get Monroe inside with the promise of giving him weapons that make the drones look like little toys. This is basically just a way for the show to stall anyone getting into the Tower for a whole episode. This will allow the rest of the characters to catch up so that they can turn the power back on or what-have-you. This doesn't mean that nothing happens as the episode actually ends with a pretty good cliff-hanger.
Nobody might be able to get into the Tower but Rachel shifts her goals. The whole reason she had traveled to the tower was because she wanted Monroe dead. She was hoping that his enemies would gain the technology they need to defeat and kill him. She doesn't care about helping people but about her singular cause of revenge. So when she sees Monroe in the camp, she changes her tune. She decides she's going to avenge the death of her husband and son by killing Monroe. Aaron can use the distraction she creates in his assassination by using the book's override codes to get into the Tower. It's a plan he doesn't like because this means Rachel is going to die but he has no alternative plan. Rachel basically manages to infiltrate the base by stealing a militia costume. She walks into Monroe's tent and makes them aware she's there. I'm not sure if that was necessary when she could have just thrown the grenade at him. I guess she wanted him to know who killed him. This would have been an effective cliff-hanger because viewers would wonder if she can or is able to carry it out. The episode takes it a bit further by having her actually pull the pin and such so that it'll explode. There's nothing quite like cutting to black and all you hear is the noise of the grenade being armed. It'll be interesting to see if the series is actually interested in killing off two major characters in one stroke. Will Rachel die? Will Monroe die? It's actually a pretty good cliff-hanger that makes me want to see what happens next. There's two episodes left in the season and the narrative momentum is slowly picking up even as it takes a huge detour with the whole “clue” case going on.
Clue is an okay episode of Revolution. It suffers big problems because it can't make the life-and-death stakes for the main plot work and revealing Jim as the traitor had no real impact. He was too undeveloped and his relationship with the characters wasn't fleshed out enough to really make it shocking. Since we knew him for such a short period of time, it's difficult to care that he betrayed them. The sub-plot was better even if it stalled the antagonists being able to open the tower due to that pretty great cliff-hanger. The show does suffer some problems with the Plains Nation being more of an idea than an actual country while the characters who have technology doesn't seem like it's a big deal to the people around them.