Episode 20: The Dark Tower
By: Carlos Uribe
Revolution is a show set 15-years after electricity died.
Seriously, Revolution? How is it possible that the creator of Supernatural could have thought that this was a good way to end the season? The Dark Tower is a very weak season finale that failed at it's primary job. The cliff-hanger it presented at the end of the season was devoid of any real meaning. The “twists” in this episode basically red-conned what we previously knew about the characters while Nora's death dragged on for too long. I'm actually very discouraged about the second season after watching this finale. A lot of people are looking at the Wednesday timeslot as the network trying to kill the show. That doesn't make any sense because NBC actually benefits from Revolution lasting as long as possible. This means ensuring it's success and the network clearly thinks it can find it in it's new timeslot. It's noteworthy to point out that the only real competition Revolution is going to have is Arrow and that basically gets CW ratings. If Revolution dies next season it'll have nothing to do with where the network placed the show but everything to do with it's weak writing. The narrative is inconsistent, the mythology is silly, the characters are terrible, and the relationships are dull. I'll have to state that the finale really disillusioned me. Revolution has been a trouble series for the whole season and it's clear that they have no idea where they're taking this show. Revolution could have been a good series but it's never been able to pull itself together to become something remotely good. It's decent entertainment and I'll come back for the second season but I'm not terribly excited about it. I'm hoping that Revolution finds a way to pull itself together but I'm very doubtful that will happen. Revolution suffers the following key critical problems that it hasn't been able to solve for the whole season: a weak narrative, weak characters, and even weak logic. These problems have existed since the pilot and the writers have had a whole season to confront them. If anything, the writers have actually embraced them to create a frustrating series.
The weak narrative is a major problem but it's very reflective in the ending the writers decided to end this show on. The cliff-hanger is that the electricity has been turned back on, Randall breaks into the facility, and he launches two nuclear bomb. He aims them at Atlanta and Philadelphia to wipe out the Monroe Republic and Georgia Federation in one stroke. Why? He was a patriot this whole time and he wants the United States to come back. This motivation makes little sense but I'll touch on that in a bit. The bombs have been launched, the power is back on, and the final cliff-hanger is revealed. The President of the United States has been hiding out in Guantamo Bay this whole time. Now that the power is back on, he's ready to come back and lead the nation into this new world. Which what? This is so vague that it's hard to understand what's at stake or how this will personally affect our characters. We don't know enough about the world to truly comprehend how his presence will affect the nation. In other words? It's a cliff-hanger that might have sounded cool but ended up being completely flat because it's so meaningless. Now let's talk about the logic behind this...actually there is none. Why was the President hiding out? Why did they access Aaron's backdoor and cause the blackout? It just makes no sense. Why would sending the nuclear weapons to the capitol cities wipe out the nations? Are their whole militaries in those two cities? If the goal was to unite the country, how come every other nation didn't get nuked? None of this makes any sense. I get why they did this: so they could develop the Texas Republic and the California country. At the same time, it's plain stupid. As for Randall's motivations? His flashback episode indicated he had caused the blackout as he was resentful over his son's death. Now he turns out to be a patriot and his plan to give power to a select few characters turned out to be a fluke? That makes no sense and betrays the character the show had set up. This isn't a “twist” that shows us a new side of him but one that erases the person we used to know. This isn't to mention on what exactly he was doing with Monroe in the first place. Revolution had the perfect cliff-hanger: Aaron pressing the button. That would have been an exciting cliff-hanger. Predictable? Sure-but a preferable one.
Now let's talk about the weak character problem. Nora was introduced early in the series as an ex-girlfriend of Monroe who was good with explosives. The series tried to give her a sister but the writers haven't been able to develop her whatsoever. She remained a rather one-dimensional character who had a use but had little actual personality. There's a moment where she's laying dying and she encourages the characters to help Rachel rather than attempt to save her life. Why? There's no real reason except the narrative demanded that's what she wanted. There was an attempt by the writers to create a love triangle between Nora, Miles, and Rachel. This completely failed because Miles barely had any scenes with Rachel. Their relationship was hinted on but it was never developed. So when Nora talks about how he would always chose Rachel, it literally comes out of nowhere. First of all, Miles has never, ever chosen Rachel. Ever. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that he would. He ends up proving her wrong when he tries to save her life instead of helping Rachel but he fails. She dies before they could reach the infirmary. Did I feel anything? No. Nora was never a character but someone who played a role in the team. That's it. If anything, she should have died quicker. It really felt dragged out to me especially considering how inevitable it was. I might not have been rooting for Nora to die but I'm not going to miss her in the second season because the series had never been able to truly flesh her out or make her compelling. Because in the end of the day, I really can't answer the question of who Nora really was.
Revolution also has weak relationship problems. A huge part of the series is supposed to be the bromance that Monroe and Miles used to share. That is until Monroe tried to kill his best friend but even then they still remained brothers. I don't mind that the two didn't kill each other since it was obvious that wasn't going to happen. What was hilarious is when Monroe told Miles that everything he did was for him. I couldn't help but burst out laughing. Not only is that terrible dialogue, but it's terribly misplaced. The whole “I did everything for you” fits parents and lovers. It doesn't fit best friends, even if they were like brothers. That is not the kind of relationship Monroe ever shared with Miles. It was so out-of-place but it just shows how Revolution has really struggled with developing the relationships between the characters. The show sort-of leaves Monroe is in some thunder storm, having lost the command of his troops due to a coup. He's all alone and that's basically it. I know he has a whole son arc that the series has him on, but I was still hoping that he would die because he's such a two-dimensional character. Gah. Honestly, there is one very good part of this show and that comes the Neville family. Giancarlo Esposito is just an acting force to be reckoned with and he's made Major Tom Neville single-handedly my favorite character on this show. What I would like to see more in the second season is to continue his strained relationship with his son. It's basically the only relationship that still works on this show.
The Dark Tower is a pretty terrible episode of television. It easily dispatches a threat (the people inside the tower) instead of using them to create a more epic climax. Nora's death was stretched out to the point where it was annoying. If only she had an actual personality before she died. The cliff-hanger ending did the opposite of making me want to see what happens next: I laughed. I laughed at how ludicrous and idiotic it was. I have no idea what this cliff-hanger even means. Why am I going to be excited about this? If anything, I'm actually less excited about the second season than I was going in. The Dark Tower is definably a very weak note to end the season on...and a huge disillusionment on how little progress this show has made at rectifying it's progress because it doesn't seem like the writers know they are there.
So after Miles saved Atlanta from being nuked, it's going to get nuked anyways. Which also means that we'll never find out what his history with the President of Georgia was. It's this short-sighted kind of twist that really harms the show's ability to throw together a coherent narrative that can hold itself together.